Plotting and Planning for Next Year

Gardens are always evolving and growing. And it’s no different at The Growing Place. This fall we took a critical look at the Learning Gardens in Naperville and started to dig in. Its been great fun! In this week’s blog we’ll talk about what we’re doing and how you can incorporate what we do into your gardens.

Most of the plants in our Learning Gardens in Naperville have been labeled with names and whether they are perennial or annual. We maintain these gardens to educate and inspire as well as provide a soothing place for you to enjoy.

Amending Soil

We realized that our garden soils had not had any organic material added to them for many years. So we decided to add our composted garden compost, leaf mulch, garden mix and mushroom compost to the areas we were re-planting. Any combination of the above will help to make your garden soil more workable (friable).


We turned the soil as deep as our shovel would go, added the amendments and Bio-tone (root starter) then we tilled it again. This will help the plants we planted this year get established and also get us off on the right foot next spring. This is a very important pro-active step to prepare for planting in the spring!

Planting and Planning

Plant perennials by mid-October and trees and shrubs by early November. When planting anytime, it is important to 'tickle' the roots to loosen them and encourage them to grow into the surrounding soil. A light layer of mulch will help insulate them and keep them moist. Water is hugely important, not too much or too little. Proper watering into November if it is dry will help the roots continue to grow into the surrounding soil.

Through next week, we’re combing through our gardens, inventorying what’s there, what’s missing and what we should add.

In our Dry Shade Garden under the canopy of a beautiful Red Oak we’ve added many new plants including Heuchera. Planting them in groups of three or more for some plants to create swatches of contrasting color and texture. We’ve also added larger single plants like Mukgenia, Aralia, Aruncus, and a dry loving fern for focal points.

In the Butterfly-Hummingbird Garden our dear Jeanette Goodlow, 'mom' to hundreds of butterflies each year, has shared her vast knowledge to add just the right plants to entice butterflies and hummingbirds . We can't wait to welcome them next year!

We are quite excited about the Rock Garden. There were many plants that we wanted to add - so we did. Now that it is completed we stepped back and looked at it and we think it is beautiful! The blending of larger leaf plants, small grasses, lesser known sedums, blue-grey and burgundy, shiny and fuzzy foliage plants with rocks emerging looks like swathes from an artist's brush.


Then there’s the to be named garden with a smoke bush in the center. It was a sunny garden, but the oak tree has grown and turned it into a more shady garden. It’s still work in progress. We will be thinning out some of the Euphorbia that have re-seeded. We’ve even transplanted a gigantic hosta to bring the garden closer to its original symmetrical layout.

We’re also updating the Moist Sunny Garden by adding a few key natives, moving some plants that have out grown their spot and removing some plants that have not thrived. Fall is a good time to evaluate what’s in your garden and even label some of those late sprouters, like perennial hibiscus, so you know that they are there next year.

What we don’t get planted this year, we’ll put a marker in the ground with a plant name so once it’s planting time in spring we can just plop those plants in the ground. We will also put plant markers by what we have planted so we'll know what to look for in the spring.


Laying Sod

It’s a great time to put sod down. The cooler temperatures will help those roots grow, grow, grow. We’re replacing some of the sod around the gardens right now. Our grass gets so much traffic, it’s time to re-sod. We do have sod available at both locations. If you need more than we have, let us know so we can bring it in for you.

Have a specific fall gardening question?

You can always give us a call or stop in to ask. We also have a free “Gardening 101: Putting the Garden to Bed” class scheduled for October 24 at 10:00am in Aurora where we will cover the basics and answer any questions you might have.

Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Spring Hours

March 30-June 30

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: 11am-5pm

Memorial Day Hours

Monday, May 27


Growing for the future with
right plants in right places.