Fall–the Best Time to Plant

Fall is a waiting time of year, our senses anticipating something. We wait for the heat to subside; we wait for the leaves to turn; we wait for the sugar levels in grapes to rise; we wait for the rain; and we wait for this ideal time when we can begin again to put plants in the ground.
 Fall is without doubt the best time of our year in Sonoma County, Northern California, to dig our native plants and numerous bulbs into the ground. Many natives go summer-dormant, but when fall comes, the natives are happily anticipating the rain after six months of drought. Plant now, and they send their roots into the soil, soaking up the winter rains, establishing themselves now for the brilliant spring flush of color and the expected six months of drought again.  (Above is the Arbutus marina, to the left is Ceanothus.) Let the rain do its job; plant in mid-summer, and you must use so much water to keep the plants alive. Actually, native plants don’t like summer water; they’re not accustomed to it–you can kill them by over-watering. Plant in the fall when the rains and the natives have their regularly calendared relationship. Try to find a Garrya elliptica, or silktassel, a spectacular winter-blooming native–like a Christmas tree in the garden, with its long silk tassels contrasted against dark green shiny foliage. In the spring, you will be rewarded by some of the most striking colors on natives like Ribes, Ceanothus, Cercis,  and others.  And in case you thought there were no summer or fall-blooming natives, that’s when our wild Eriogonom (buckwheat) exhibit their glorious blossoms, white, cream, red, small pompoms or huge sprays of white lace. (Red Buckwheat is to the left.) The buckwheats will never let you down in late summer when everything else seems to be brown. Native asters will be there to keep them company, too. Now’s the time to plant. Our natives wait breathlessly for the rain and the cool temperatures, only to prepare to show off in the spring and to attract the bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects to our gardens.


About writersandy

Writer, Gardener, Crafter
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