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

A tale of two salvias

salvia elegans and salvia uliginosa tended.wordpress.com

One of my favorite things about this time of year is for a few short weeks, my Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) and Bog Salvia (Salvia uliginosa) are in bloom at the same time.

Pineapple sage can pretty much deal. Drought tolerant, heat tolerant, grows in clay soil… And it gets nice and big: 5’x’5. The leaves smell like pineapples. The red flowers start at the very end of summer and last all fall.

Bog salvia likes a lot of water (and Pineapple sage happily adapts). It can get to be 6′ tall but probably not more than 3′ wide. The cool thing that I’ve discovered is that it will flow in around your other plants and you get this beautiful effect of the blue flowers weaving in through other flowers or foliage.

These are growing in a raised bed where they have completely filled in around a lemon tree, a rosebush, and a columnar apple tree. I cut them both down almost to the ground the first week of the year when I prune my roses and don’t touch them the rest of the year. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them both.

salvia elegans and salvia uliginosa tended.wordpress.com

salvia elegans and salvia uliginosa tended.wordpress.com

More beautiful, colorful container garden ideas

mixed containers tended.wordpress.com

Here are a few more of the gorgeous containers in my mother’s garden. The big pot in the back is Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ underplanted with a green and gold variegated ivy. The pot in the front is Heliotrope ‘Fragrant Delight’ and Lysimachia nummularia ‘goldilocks’ (Creeping Jenny).


  1. Pick a theme each year. Here we have: green, chartreuse, purple, black, dark blue.
  2. Repeat plants from container to container or use plants that are very similar. Don’t make every container the same, but each container should have either a color or a plant in common with another container.
  3. For mixed containers, pick and upright grower, something that will spill over the edges, and a filler plant if your upright grower is thin or spiky.
  4. Group your containers by theme and watering requirements.

colorful containers tended.wordpress.com

The front blue pot is more of that gorgeous chartreuse Creeping Jenny. Behind it is Salvia elegans (golden pineapple sage) and Sweet Potato Vine ‘Midnight lace.’ The salvia will get a LOT bigger and put out red tubular flowers that hummingbirds love, and the leaves smell like pineapple when you crush them. (Yep, that’s basil, a geranium, and a gerbera daisy in those other pots. There’s a WHOLE bunch of other pots!)

colorful containers tended.wordpress.com

Here is the pot on the left in the above photo. This is Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), Sweet Potato Vine ‘Golden Lace’ and Creeping Jenny.