THE GARDEN FANATIC
“These days of autumn are beautiful as days can be.”
“Beauty for some provides escape (like) autumn sunsets exquisitely
-- Aldous Huxley
It’s true, autumn officially begins this Monday (my mom checked
for me). And we return to the season that is not only considered the
“second spring,” but is also one of the most ideal times for
Although quiescence, rather than rapid growth, follows September
and October, these are excellent months to complete planting that
summertime activities left undone. Inspired by cooler temperatures
and beautiful days, we can approach gardening with renewed vigor and
Fall chores include preparing the garden for planting. Planter mix
and leaf mold should be added to the soil, along with Gro-Power and
gypsite. The garden will be ready for planting of bulbs and
perennials. I also mulch the remainder of the garden and keep my
roses well watered and fertilized.
One of my fall pleasures is shopping for bulbs with my traveling
wife, Catharine. She now reminds me to refrigerate our tulips and
hyacinths for later planting. Paper white narcissus will soon be
sprouting indoors, and anemone, iris and ranunculus have been put to
Fellow garden fanatic Suzanne M. explains that the autumn is the
best time to plant for several reasons:
“First,” she says, “temperatures are cooling, yet the soil retains
the warmth received from the summer. This allows the roots of plants
to establish quickly, without the need of constant attention. Second,
if the Santa Anas don’t drive off the storm fronts, we can normally
expect some rain, reducing the quantity of water needed from either
the sprinklers or the faucet. Finally, blooming plants of this season
are the loveliest of the entire gardening year.
“You have to plan.” Suzanne continues. “Plan your fall garden and
even see the possibility of a water feature for family and friends.
Then just do it!”
And so we will.
Along with bulbs, there are several possibilities for fall
planting. Over the past few years, Dipladenia amoena has become a
real landscape pleaser. It is a compact shrub with lovely pink
flowers, twining stems and dark green, glossy leaves. A consistent
bloomer much of the year, Dipladenia merits your consideration in
flowering beds, containers, and hanging baskets. Plant in rich soil
and provide full sun in Laguna and partial shade inland.
Although sometimes difficult to locate, one of the most rewarding
of the climbing roses, is the single, blood-red bloom of Altissimo.
Very fragrant and excellent as a cut flower, this rose blooms freely
throughout the fall. Its dark green foliage is particularly resistant
to disease. Look for the salmon pink blooms of America and creamy
white Sally Holmes as worthy alternatives.
Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) is flowering now and into the winter
in many different colors, particularly yellow, red and purple. Bushy
to four feet, it needs little water on the coast. A valuable
perennial for your garden, many of the sages are prolific bloomers
and range from ground covers to shrubs.
Annual color is happening. Pansy, dianthus and chrysanthemum have
arrived at your favorite nursery just in time for autumn! There is
still plenty of time to plant all of the other fall flowers as well.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) offer colorful displays of red,
mauve, apricot, yellow and white flowers. Planted in full sun, they
provide wonderful massed color for garden beds, along drives, or in
Our dazzling Laguna sunsets began last week. Their intensity and
range of color never fails to delight me. Although transient
loneliness and Ben’s birthday celebration try to distract me, the
lure of my autumn garden is like the Sirens’ song. Its beauty, filled
with opulence of bloom and richness of color, provides a welcomed
escape from my ordinary life. See you next time.
* STEVE KAWARATANI is the owner of Landscapes by Laguna Nursery,
1540 S. Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. He is married to local artist
Catharine Cooper and has three cats. He can be reached at (949) 497
2438, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.