Enjoy the Great Weather and Plant Now for Spring Blooms.
When that first crisp morning hits the coast you can tell that fall is in the air. This is truly my favorite time of year. As we slip into October the days feel just a bit warmer. Since I was a young man and working at my first nursery in Marin, I was taught that this was California’s second spring, basically a great time to get that last bit of planting in before the winter season creeps up on us.
The reason this is such a great time to plant is that the soil temperatures are still warm enough to promote root development and the air temps are cooler which keeps the plants from getting stressed. All these components make for a well-rooted plant before the winter begins.
This is an easy time to get caught up in all the fall bloomers, but I think it is important to remember all the spring blooming shrubs as well. They could be planted now and enjoyed next spring. Some of my favorites are Spirea, Deutzia, and Mock orange with its wonderfully fragrant flowers. Some of these shrubs lose their leaves in the winter but are well worth it for the show they put on next year. Some other plants to plan for are all the Biennials (plants that grow for the first year and bloom the second year and then die) like Foxglove, Canterbury bells, and Hollyhocks. For all of us on the coast, these plants can go for years as our temperatures are not that extreme.
Now is also a good time to think about that row of hedges you’ve wanted to put in, or that group of trees for privacy or that climbing rose for that arbor you just didn’t get to this season. The beauty of this time is, as we drift into winter, Mother Nature helps us with the watering. This is also a time to think about re-seeding your lawn or putting in a new lawn by seed. Just remember to cover your seed with a light dusting of peat moss, or it will be lunch for the birds in your neighborhood. If you enjoy wildflowers then consider scattering a can of wildflower seeds in your meadow or along your drive to add some native color. Some of these products are mixed specially for butterflies and hummingbirds, so consider your options when shopping—you might just add a little wildlife refuge in the process of beautifying your property.
This is also a great time to plant all the spring blooming bulbs. These beauties herald the start of spring and bring a bit of cheerfulness to the landscape in a somewhat drab time of year. Most nurseries are well stocked this time of year with selections of tried and true favorites as well as exciting new introductions to add to your collection. This is also an opportunity to consider gathering some bulbs to be forced inside during the winter. Some of the all-time best are Narcissus, Hyacinth, Amaryllis, and Crocus. If the idea of forcing bulbs is new to you, I would suggest going to your local nursery and speaking with the staff to find out how to get started.