Vibrant swaths of flame-stamped foliage coupled with cooler morning temperatures sees summer’s fleeting tail, making way for fall and its tradition of celebrating a successful harvest and capping an end to the growing season of the year’s hard work. Although it might be signaling the end of the growing season for your established yard residents, the fall season presents an ideal time for undemanding gardening and ensures your plants are healthy and thriving for the garden’s spring show.

Fall gardening in many aspects is the best time to plant, particularly for trees and shrubs where the summer heat and drought can keep you from getting any of your wanted plants into the ground. With cooler and wetter fall conditions arriving, the soil will be a much more forgiving place for your plants compared to summer and spring. While the ambient temperature is dropping and slowing top growth of plants, the soil’s temperature still retains some of the summer’s relatively warm profile (compared to cool spring soil), effectively providing your plants an extended rooting season that will encourage more root development and faster establishment—making for stronger, healthier, and better-looking plants in the spring. Coupled with dropping temperatures, the fall season brings with it higher amounts of precipitation which aides plants in the reduction of drought conditions and frequency of heat-induced stress states that hinder potential and optimal growth as well as their overall health.

While gardening in the spring and summer requires more watering and maintenance, your plants need a less intensive approach in the fall. Resulting from the Earth’s annual tilting from the sun (fall-winter seasons), less direct sunlight and consequently cooler temperatures provide your flora a break from the needs that the sun and heat put on them, helping each plant devote more of its energy and resources into a successful dormancy for the quickly approaching winter. Fall is also a desirable time to transplant the established individuals you’ve been meaning to relocate but haven’t been brave enough to commit to in the summer. Fall transplants need little water and maintenance to ensure they are happy and healthy. “Less watering is better watering,” so they say.

Planting in the fall is also desirable if you are wanting to establish and divide perennials in your garden. Native perennials that bloom from spring to summer (i.e Garden Phlox) are excellent candidates to plant, divide, or move across your garden when the cooler weather arrives. Spring gardening is generally a rushed affair. With every other task you have for the spring, dividing and establishment of perennials just add to the list. However, waiting until fall (post-Labor Day) to purchase and transplant or divide your garden perennials will allow ample time for your warm-season bloomers to establish. Fall dividing will ensure that your garden’s flowering potential is at a maximum, leading to a substantial increase in blooms compared to a spring division.

Working your yard in the south is a tough measure, summer’s long drought and high temperatures make for unpleasant and undesirable conditions when wanting to enhance your garden, killing any ambition of starting your planting projects; fall can provide a respite from the daily maintenance needed to keep what you have alive and will let you get to the more exciting parts of gardening. Whether you’re dreaming of buying and planting the flora that will finally make your garden pop or simply moving your shrubs and trees to fill in empty spots that will round out your yard perfectly, fall gardening will keep you and your plant cool and happy.

Happy Planting. 

- Dylan L. Hackett

Reflection Riding Native Plant Nursery

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

Plant Native. Shop Local.

Learn more about Reflection's Native Plant Nursery and plant sale events.

Posted by Dylan L. Hackett  | Category: Botanical

Friday night we have a fun paddling trip and then several events making a full fall day on Saturday. Come see us! Be sure to check details and RSVP on Eventbrite so we know you're coming. Several of these events have capacity limits.

Spooky Canoe Trip


October 25

Join us for a spooky evening of moonlight canoeing and learning about nocturnal animals.

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Feed the Endangered Red Wolves


October 26

Join one of our wildlife care experts for a question and answer session on the red wolf and then help take part in feeding the wolves.

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Autumn Upcycling Crafts: How to Upcycle Glass


October 26

Tips on glass upcycling!

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Intro to Zero Waste Workshop


October 26

Learn how to reduce your waste, live more sustainably and take care of the Earth with Zero Waste Chattanooga!

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Posted by Mark McKnight

Join us for Wolf Awareness Week

October 21st, 2019

Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center today announces programming and public education opportunities during Wolf Awareness Week, October 21-26, 2019. 

Throughout the week, follow along on social media (Facebook & Instagram) as we highlight different ways Chattanooga area residents can get involved in the efforts to save the endangered red wolf.

Citizens interested in helping expand the reach of Wolf Awareness Week are encouraged to join the “Chrysalis Crew,” a dedicated group of social media ambassadors helping us spread the message through word of mouth. To join, simply text REFLECTION to 77222 for more information. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to end 

 “Wolf Awareness Week gives us all an opportunity to reflect on the state of the all-American but critically endangered red wolf. This majestic creature used to roam throughout Hamilton County but was sadly misunderstood by our ancestors and ultimately we hunted it to extinction in this part of the country,” explains Tish Gailmard, Director of Wildlife at Reflection. 

The American Red Wolf is the most endangered canid in the world with approximately 20 individuals in one wild recovery area in northeastern North Carolina and a captive population of approximately 256 among 41 participating institutions. The American Red Wolf population began declining over many years from predator control programs, human interactions, and habitat loss. In 1980, the American Red Wolf was declared extinct in the wild. In 1987, through captive breeding efforts, the American Red Wolf was re-established in the wild. 

Right here in Chattanooga, visitors can observe red wolves in captivity at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, located at 400 Garden Road in Lookout Valley. Every Saturday (outside of breeding season in mid-winter), nature center wildlife care experts give a brief overview of the red wolf breeding program. Visitors who preregister online at have the opportunity to throw meat to the wolves, virtually guaranteeing a sighting of these endangered canids. Currently, the program begins at 11:15 am but times change during the year. Interested visitors should refer to the website before planning a visit.

Posted by Mark McKnight  | Category: wildlife

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