This month I am going to focus on bulbs, trees and pumpkins! Dig, drop, done!

For those frustrated by gardens already too full, flower bulbs are delectable treats to tuck easily amongst established shrubs and perennials.

Spring-flowering bulbs are planted in the fall because most need a period of cold conditioning to activate the biochemical process that induces them to flower.

In general they are best planted when soil temperatures have started to cool, and, optimally, at least six weeks before the first hard, ground-freezing frosts. This translates to anywhere from early October to November and even December in our climate.

Whether a garden bed is bursting at the seams or rather bare, there’s always room for bulbs. And the process is as easy as dig, drop, done, enjoy!

Many Benefits of Planting Trees

Most often, we plant trees to provide shade and add beauty to our landscape. These are great benefits, but trees also provide many less obvious benefits. Consider all the benefits listed below and remember fall is the perfect time to plant trees for an increased success rate next spring.

• Trees are perfect for planting as living memorials, to remind us of loved ones or to commemorate significant events in our lives.

• Even though you may own the trees on your property, your neighborhood may benefit from them as well. Through careful planning, trees can be an asset to your entire community.

• Tree-lined streets have a traffic calming effect, traffic moves more slowly and safely.

• Trees can be placed to screen unwanted views or noise from busy highways.

• Trees improve our air quality by filtering harmful dust and pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide from the air we breathe.

• Trees give off oxygen that we need to breathe.

• Trees reduce the amount of stormwater runoff, which reduces erosion and pollution in our waterways and may reduce the effects of flooding.

• Many species of wildlife depend on trees for habitat. Trees provide food, protection, and homes for many birds and mammals.

• Evergreen trees on the north side of your home and shrubs around the foundation of your home can act as a windbreak to reduce the cooling effects of winter winds.

• The value of a well-landscaped home with mature healthy trees can be as much as 10 percent higher than a similar home with no or little landscaping. (Topping trees will reduce their value.)

Preserving, Firming Up a Pumpkin

There are ways to help keep your pumpkin fresher and firmer.

Cut open the top of the pumpkin and clean out all the seeds. Fill a washtub, sink or large bucket with cold water, and soak the pumpkin in the cold water.

If you have fine detail work to do, you may want to let your pumpkin soak overnight. This will firm up the pumpkin flesh and allow you to do carving that is more intricate.

You can add a small amount of unscented Clorox bleach in the water to prevent premature mold and bacteria growth.

Once you have carved your pumpkin, you can add a thin amount of petroleum jelly on the exposed cut edges. This will help seal moisture in the flesh of the pumpkin. If the pumpkin dries out, it will shrivel.

You can try to revive it by soaking it in a bath of cold water for one to eight hours. Longer is better. Overnight will not hurt.

You can prepare your pumpkins ahead of time and keep them fresh for a future party or gathering. Soak them first. Wrap them in plastic wrap to hold in the moisture and store them in the refrigerator (not the freezer). They will stay fresh this way for a very long time.

Once you remove a wet pumpkin for display, you should immediately dry it off. This prevents mold from having a chance to grow.

Now, enjoy all that the month of October has to offer and I will . . . See you in the garden.

This monthly column is written by Sandi Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Washington.