Fall gardening in California: October nursery haul

In California, fall means rain, and rain means the best time to plant. Fall planting means bigger plants with more blooms in the spring and summer, and established plants that won’t die over the dry season. Last fall, I didn’t plant a thing. With El Nino coming, and hopefully rain this week, I am feeling a little more confident. Plus I have to get some things in the ground to fill in where everything died or all my dirt is going to wash away when the heavy rains hit.

Once again, I headed to my favorite nursery with a plant list and good intentions and once again I was completely derailed. In my defense, I did get the rosemary and they were out of Galvezia which has done well for me but has not bloomed yet. Here’s what else came home with me:

cuphea strybing sunset tended.wordpress.com cuphea strybing sunset flower tended.wordpress.com

Cuphea ‘Strybing Sunset’ will be a 3’x3′ dense, shrubby perennial that can take a bit of shade. It’s supposed to be very easy to grow so we’ll see. Plus, the tiny adorable flowers have tiny, adorable, burgundy EARS. How could I not take this one home?

leonotis menthifoila tended.wordpress.com

Leonotis menthifolia has the same flowers as leonotis leonuris, grows to a dense 3’x3′, and does not get woody at the base? Sign me up! These were kind of on the list – I needed something to fill in around a variegated agave.

salvia splendens sao bor ja

Salvia splendens ‘Sao Borja’ This one is from Annie’s Annuals and I have no idea where it’s going but it’s amazing. It will grow quickly to 6′ tall, likes shade, and attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. SOLD.

baby streptosolen tended.wordpress.com

Streptosolen jamesonii ‘Marmalade Bush’ According to Annie’s Annuals, this will be an easy to grow, year round flower covered hummingbird magnet. Right now it looks like this (above) but I’m hoping it’s going to look like this:

Streptosolen streptosolen_jamesonii_CLUSTER

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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:

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.

Plant pairing: kangaroo paw and blue oat grass

kangaroo paw and blue oat grasskangaroo paw and blue oat grass

Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) and Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos).  The silver blue of the grass really sets off the orange: exponentially more striking than Kangaroo Paw on its own. Kangaroo Paw likes sun, heat, and drainage. If you’ve got clay, you’ll probably need to amend your soil. It’s supposedly a perennial but mine never make it through our wet bay area winters so I think of it as an annual. A beautiful, irresistible, expensive annual. At least the Blue Oat Grass is easy.