November often brings rain to Sonoma County CA, but none as of this writing. Our Mediterranean climate dictates six months of sun and six months of
cold and rain. Not so, in recent years. Even the coldest microclimates in the county have not yet had any freezes. Today it was 83° at my house. However, one mile away, it was 73°. That’s the way it is here, forcing us to garden very differently from one area to the other.
I walked around my garden today and was surprised at the number of plants still in full bloom. They’re lovely, but I kept thinking to myself, Give it a rest! Many deciduous trees, while mostly still fully clothed, are showing off their brilliant fall colors–the Japanese maples, Chinese
Pistache, Bradford Pear, Liquid Amber, Ginkos, and the Fuyu Persimmon, among others. With a couple good winds, their leaves will cover our yards and streets.
My two Mexican Marigold shrubs, Tagetes lemonii, burst into bloom a few weeks ago, triggered by the shorter day length. Figure that one out! It’s big, floriferous, and exceptionally fragrant. You have to love a strong marigold smell. But it certainly does brighten up a yard during shadowy winter days. The same goes for the Japanese Anemones–snow white on tall dark green stems and taking over the entire front garden. I have dug them up and pulled them out, only to have them gallantly return the following year, more vigorous than ever. I have a love-hate relationship with them. While they’re definitely invasive, they’re
beautiful, drought tolerant, and seem to thrive in both sun and part shade. They are visible from the street and do make a startling display. Walkers and strollers invariably ask what they are. There is a pale purple variety, too, but what I’d really love is if they were
electric blue. No such luck, yet. But I do have some Burmese Plumbago, Cerotostigma griffithii, in the garden to give me a display of blue as other blues are waning.
It’s leaves are beginning to turn scarlet and crimson now, adding to the feeling of fall, a ground-level echo of the colorful deciduous trees. The Gaillardia and Lantana are also still in full flower with their Halloween-Thanksgiving-style mix of red, orange, and
yellow. I’m glad to see them blooming so profusely as the butterflies are still hanging around before we begin to get our lower temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Oh, one last thing. It’s been said that we in California don’t have a colorful autumn like the fabled ones in the Northeast. I suppose that’s true. However, we do have our own style of blazing autumn. And since we’re in Wine Country, we mustn’t forget some of the most brilliant colors of all–the vineyards, from mahogany to burnt orange to scarlet red to yellow. Tourists travel here from all over to see our fall-painted vines. It’s a sight to behold, along with all the colors of our deciduous trees and still blooming flowers. Enjoy!