Unexpected fall color

fall persimmon with plumbago tended.wordpress.com

Orange and light blue are one of my favorite color combinations. This is my 4 year old Fuyu persimmon tree wearing its fall colors, in front of a cape plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).

The persimmon had several weeks of  brilliant fall color which overlapped with the plumbago’s very long bloom time. The plumbago fills up a back corner of the yard where it doesn’t need pruning, or water, and it’s still in full bloom. Because it’s almost always in full bloom.

The persimmon has been in the ground about 4 years and is finally starting to take off. It even gave me a few persimmons this year. It seems not to mind the heavy clay soil or me neglecting it. Persimmons are truly the easiest fruit trees to grow.

More on plumbagos, easy fruit trees, and fall color

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A garden for lazy gardeners at Filoli

low maintenance garden tended.wordpress.com

Filoli is kind of known for those formal English style gardens, but there are plenty of ideas for us lazy gardeners, too. Everything in this border is low maintenance and drought tolerant. No deadheading, pruning, or cutting things back. And the foliage mix here is so good that even after most things are done blooming, the garden is still totally stunning.

low maintenance garden tended.wordpress.com

Repetition of purple-black shrubs as a transition between the trees and the low growing perennials at the front of the border.

black and silver tended.wordpress.com

Black and silver. Berggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’) and purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria). In a smaller space you could use Loropetalum chinense ‘Purple Diamond’

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides tended.wordpress.com

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. This was growing all over the place. It just flows in around everything and gives you a low dense mass of green with the most intense blue flowers.

More useful stuff:

How to grow a pomegranate tree

how to grow a pomegranate tree tended.wordpress.com

Pomegranates are one of the easiest, and prettiest, fruit trees to grow and work well in the ground or in containers. And it’s so cool to have a fruit tree that has been in cultivation since ancient times. This gorgeous specimen pictured above is one of several that were growing in perennial borders around the house at Filoli. I’ve got one in my yard and if I can’t kill it, neither can you.

If you are growing your pomegranate in a container, a dwarf variety will work better. In the ground, just figure out how much space you have and go from there. A pomegranate will tolerate a wide variety of soils, including clay. Plant in full sun.

It grows more like a bushy shrub than a tree. You can get it looking more tree like by pruning lower branches and suckers. You can also you can thin out areas that are crowded or cut out crossed branches. Any overall pruning should be done very lightly: flowers and fruit grow from the ends of the branches.

Pomegranates are drought tolerant but regular water will give you more flowers and fruit. In a container, let the soil dry out a bit before watering. Feed it in the spring and fall.

Finally, be patient. Mine was in the ground for several years before I got any pomegranates.

how to grow a pomegranate tree tended.wordpress.com

how to grow a pomegranate tree tended.wordpress.com

October planting list

coreopsis mango punch

Fall is the one time of year I can plant things in my garden and they won’t die of neglect. New plants get the entire winter rainy season to get established so they can withstand heat, drought. This time around I am going to tackle my garden in chunks and get one area looking good before tackling the next area. And I’ll be going to my favorite nursery with a plant list (I’m sure I’ll still come home with a bunch of randoms).

In the spirit of picking my battles, I’m ceding part of the back garden bed to my dog for her dirt baths (for now). I’m also going with low maintenance, proven, plants I can’t kill. Here’s my list – I’d love to hear what others are planting!

Brass band rose (pictured below in my garden) This one might have to wait until the bare root roses come in. This is a big healthy rose covered with long lasting orange-peach blooms. It’s past its peak now, but will keep blooming through November. I’ll replace a couple of sub par roses with one of these.

Proven plants that I can’t kill:

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) I’ve got one now. It’s easy, it’s stunning, and it’s a fall bloomer. The leaves smell like pineapples and there’s always a hummingbird in there somewhere.

Bog Salvia (Salvia uliginosa) to weave into the Pineapple Sage. I love this combination so why not repeat it?

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) I have several varieties but this one smells the best and honeybees love it. I wish it reseeded like my Spanish Lavender but it doesn’t so I guess I’ll have to buy more.

New ones to try:

Corepsis ‘Mango Punch‘ (pictured above) I like these simple, graphic flowers and you can never have too much orange. I’m going to try this one under my roses. It’s supposed to be tough, so I’ll plunk a few in other parts of the yard and see how they do.

Geum chiloense Small hot colored flowers on tall spikes are striking and see-through to add some depth. I’ll try these in a couple of places as well.

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) I’m planning this one as an alternative to Helichrysum petiolare which I love but is invasive so it’s off the list. I want a tough, silver-leafed, low water plant to fill in some difficult areas. According to the Marin Master Gardeners, it attracts beneficial insects, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

brass band rose tended.wordpress.com

Plants you can’t kill: Matilija Poppies

Matilija Poppies tended.wordpress.com

Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) growing in my front yard.

I planted a one gallon pot of these a few years ago in the fall, and didn’t do a thing. Seriously. Not a thing. Now I have 6-8 foot tall stems covered with these giant fried egg flowers starting in the late spring and blooming all summer. They’ve filled in about 4-5 square feet of space and are still spreading. It smells good, butterflies like it, and the deer don’t. It doesn’t get any direct water, but some nearby plants get weekly water once a week during hot weather.

Plant them in full sun in the fall when the rainy season starts. That’s it.

Well hello there, Orange Stalked Bulbine, my new favorite plant

orange stalked bulbine tended.wordpress.com

Saw this one growing at Gunn High School in Palo Alto of all places. I was not expecting to go to a soccer tournament and see great gardens. I’m telling you, when it comes to gardens, Palo Alto does not mess around.

Anyway, this is Orange Stalked Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’).

According to Monrovia, this is my kind of plant:

Once established, needs only occasional watering. Long bloom season, showy flowers, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant, easy care. And it’s a succulent.

I must have it.

Here’s another view:

orange stalked bulbine tended.wordpress.com

The easiest California garden ever

portola valley garden

This beautiful garden is actually at a riding barn in Portola Valley (the building is one of the stables). A gnarled old olive tree is surrounded by rudbeckia (black eyed susan), phormium (new zealand flax ‘bronze baby’), stipa gigantea (giant feather grass), erigeron (seaside daisy), and buddleia (butterfly bush). Everything here is perfectly suited for our heavy clay soil and Mediterranean climate of wet winters and long dry summers. This is practically a no-maintenance garden if you plant in the fall to catch the winter rains.