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Spruce up fall gardens; tour Plant Museum grounds

What a great time of the year to be outside giving extra care to your garden.

It's not too late to add color. In previous columns, I shared ideas for both colorful annuals and perennials.

Get those lists out, and make a trip to your local garden center or nursery.

While there, pick up a large container of mums, if nothing else. Place it by your front door, and it will make your entire front yard look better.

Purchase a plant with just a few flowers open and loaded with buds. You'll get color for a longer time this way. Also pinch off the blooms as they wilt to encourage more flowers and keep your plant looking tidy.

If possible, purchase several potted mums and group them together at your home for an even greater impact. Keep the soil moist, and use a water soluble fertilizer to keep the blooms coming for as long as possible. Plant them in a partially shaded area in your garden once the blooms have subsided.

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This is also a great time of year for gardening events.

One you won't want to miss is Conversations in the Park at the Henry B. Plant Museum. An ongoing exhibit, Strolling in a Perfect Paradise, showcases the museum's gardens. Complementing this exhibit, the Friends of Plant Park have scheduled a special tour of Plant Park, called Conversations in the Park. There are two tours scheduled: Oct. 23 and Nov. 13, both starting at 10:30 a.m.

Sally Shifke, spokeswoman at the Henry B. Plant Museum, said the tours will let people catch glimpses of what the garden looked like in the 19th century.

Post cards will be displayed throughout the garden showing it during the 19th century, so visitors can compare the then and now. The Friends of Plant Park are continuing to renovate, she said, to eventually replicate the magnificent gardens surrounding the Tampa Bay Hotel.

The first tour will be guided by master gardener Chris Ross and Friends of Plant Park president Sue Isbell. Landscape architect David Rigall will lead the November tour.

Reservations are needed for both tours, so contact Heather Trubee at (813) 258-7304 or htrubee@ut.edu to save your spot. Begin the tour by meeting on the veranda outside the museum's front door at 10:25 a.m.

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This is a busy time at the park, as there is also a photography contest running through October. Photographs must feature Plant Park.

You may catch just the right light for a winning picture during your Conversations in the Park tour, so come armed with your camera. The top prize is $125, as well as a $250 contribution to the Henry B. Plant Museum in the winner's name.

The winning photograph will be displayed during the Victorian Christmas Stroll. The museum's website and Facebook page will display the entries of the top 10 winners. For details about the contest, visit plantmuseum.com.

Enjoy these tours as well as some relaxing time in your own garden before the hectic holiday season is upon us.

Mary Collister can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

Spruce up fall gardens; tour Plant Museum grounds 10/21/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:54pm]

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