Colorful Fall Foliage

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Cover vegetable plants with bird netting to keep quail and other birds away.
    • Broadcast wildflower seeds and annual ryegrass on hillsides to stop erosion and give you lots of flowers next spring.
    • Spray citrus and other tender plants with Cloud Cover to give them some protection from frosts.
    • Plant Paperwhite Narcissus in pots for Christmas gifts.
    • Primroses and pansies will add instant color to pots and flower beds. Combine them with bulbs for an extended season of bloom.

Reds and Yellows Galore

What a beautiful fall we are having and what a fine opportunity to choose shrubs and trees that will decorate your garden each year with their bright, warm colors.

Some unusual shrubs are showing their colors right now. Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’ is a deciduous shrub that grows 4-5’ tall and is prized for its profuse spring flowering of bottlebrush-like spikes of fragrant white flowers, and excellent yellow, orange and red-purple fall color.

Smoketrees, Cotinus coggygria, are multi-stemmed shrubs that grows 10-15’ tall. After the flowers they are covered with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs. In fall the bluish-green leaves turn bright red. The variety ‘Royal Purple’ has dark purple leaves throughout the summer and fall.

Spiraeas are a large family of shrubs with tiny flowers in clusters. The spring-blooming varieties, like ‘Bridal Wreath’, have long arching branches covered with delicate white flowers. In the fall they are again colorful as the leaves turn a red-orange-yellow fall color.

We have many fine trees to choose from for fall color. Start with the Japanese maples, small trees that are beautiful in every season. Depending on the variety, leaves may turn to bright yellow, soft apricot, or brilliant scarlet. Look for trees now that provide you with just the look that you want.

Ginkgo is commonly called maidenhair tree, which refers to the resemblance of the fan-shaped leaves to maidenhair fern leaflets. In fall the leaves turn bright golden yellow leaves and are spectacular when backlit by early morning or late afternoon sun. The leaves drop all at once forming a golden carpet around the tree.

Some of our edible plants in addition to producing delicious fruit, will also add color to your landscape in the fall. Blueberries are deciduous shrubs that typically grows 5-8′ tall. After you enjoy their nutritious berries in the summer, you can watch their leaves turn attractive shades of red in the fall.

Pomegranates celebrate the end of the season with their bright yellow leaves – a nice contrast to dark green evergreens. Currant bushes, particularly the Crandall black currant, have now turned a soft, orange-red.

Persimmon trees come into their own in the fall. Their spectacular bright red to orange fall color is followed by orange ripening fruit that hangs majestically on bare branches into late fall.

Even the peach trees are attractive right now. Their light green leaves have taken on a soft pinkish hue. Some plum trees, like Satsuma and Burbank, as well as the tasty Pluots, turn shades of red, yellow and orange.

And don’t forget the beautiful grapevines for colors from bright yellows to intense reds.

Dress up your garden with the bright reds and yellows of shrubs, trees and edible plants.

It’s Time for Trees

Saturday, December 6th, 2008 by Jenny Watts
    • Choose living Christmas trees now. Most will be able to be kept in their containers and used for one or two more years as a Christmas tree.
    • Clean up rose bushes by removing spent flowers and raking up old leaves, but wait until February for heavy pruning.
    • Primroses and pansies will add color to your flower beds and containers all winter.
    • Don’t overwater your houseplants in the winter. Empty saucers after watering.
    • Feed the birds this winter and enjoy the pleasure of their company. Bird feeders come in many styles and make wonderful gifts.

B&B Trees have arrived from Oregon Nurseries

When the leaves have fallen from the trees and the garden seems to be asleep for the winter, many new plants are arriving at the nurseries in a form called B&B, or “balled and burlapped.” Trees and shrubs, which are not generally grown in California, arrive at this time of year from Oregon nurseries in B&B.

These plants are grown in field rows in the rich soil of the Willamette Valley in Oregon for two or more years. Some kinds of plants develop faster when field grown and make bushier and somewhat more sturdy specimens than container grown stock of the same age.

B&B plants are dug up with soil intact, wrapped with burlap, and tied with twine. Most of these plants are large, evergreen or deciduous trees. They transplant best during late fall and early winter.
Dogwoods, Japanese maples and tulip magnolias are the most popular along with hemlocks, cedars, ginkgo trees, redbuds, beech trees and, of course, Christmas trees.

These include Colorado blue spruce, Douglas firs, Alberta spruce, Grand firs, White firs and Noble firs. There are many fine specimens available now.

Dogwood trees have either white, pink or red flowers and some varieties have variegated leaves as well. They grow to about 20 feet tall with spreading branches that cover themselves with flowers in the spring.

Tulip magnolias range from the smaller star magnolias, with their many-petaled white flowers, to the larger multi-trunked trees with pink or purple flowers that look like giant tulips on bare branches.

Japanese maples have been developed over the centuries until today there are over 250 cultivars grown. During the B&B season, a number of varieties are available, ranging from lace-leafed dwarfs to tall, graceful trees.

Specialty trees include Gingko “Saratoga”, with its beautiful, apple-green fan-shaped leaves that drop in the fall in a blanket of gold; Tricolor beech trees, which have an attractive layered look to their branches and striking leaves of green, white and pink; and Japanese snowbell with its delicate pink bell flowers that hang down from the branches in clusters in June.

When selecting a B&B plant, be sure the rootball is sound and hasn’t been broken. Avoid plants that feel loose in the rootball, as it may indicate that some of the small roots are damaged. Always pick the plant up by the rootball, not by the trunk or stem.

To plant, dig a hole only as deep as the rootball so that it will be sitting on firm soil. Leave the burlap on the rootball as it is placed in the hole. Fill the hole up half way with native soil, then cut the strings and lay the burlap down into the hole. Fill up the hole and water the tree.

Don’t miss out on the fine selection of beautiful specimen trees and shrubs now on display at local nurseries.

Trees for Fall Planting

Friday, November 7th, 2008 by Jenny Watts
    • Fragrant hyacinths make a colorful display in a garden bed, or can be grown in pots. They come in red, pink, blue and white and can be planted now.
    • Clean up the garden by raking leaves and old flower blossoms out from under your shrubs. Roses and camellias especially appreciate this.
    • Spray citrus and other tender plants with Cloud Cover to give them some protection from frosts.
    • Enjoy birds in your garden by hanging bird feeders around the yard. You’ll see many different kinds as they migrate through this fall.
    • Clean up water lilies by cutting off dead leaves. Leave hardy lilies in the pond and sink them down to the bottom of the pond for the winter.

Trees of Hope

When you plant a tree, you do so with a vision. A vision of a large spreading shade tree that will someday shade you from the hot summer sun, or a vision of bushels of fruit to fill the jars in your pantry. You may envision the beautiful blossoms in the springtime in a row along your driveway, or flaming accents of colorful leaves set against the green landscape.

Fall is a wonderful time to plant trees.  It gives them a chance to sink their roots deep into the soil over the winter so they are ready to make the most of the spring growth spurt. 

There are many beautiful maple trees, from small Japanese Maples, to October Glory Maple (Acer rubrum), a beautiful, round-headed tree growing 40 feet tall.  Trident Maple grows to only 20 feet tall and wide with glossy green leaves that turn bright red in the fall.

Other medium-sized maples include Pacific Sunset, Norwegian Sunset, and Queen Elizabeth, which is more upright and can make a dense, tall screen for a background planting.

Tall maples include Autumn Fantasy maple, which is a beautiful, fast-growing tree to 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. The large leaves consistently show very good fall color, turning a bright rose-red as the weather cools.

Sycamores are hard to beat when it comes to shade. These giant trees grow 40 to 80 feet tall. They can take harsh conditions, drought and tough soils. The bark is attractive as it flakes off leaving light-colored patches behind.

Ginkgo, or Maidenhair trees, are a stunning sight in the fall. Their fan-shaped leaves turn golden yellow and drop all at once, creating a golden carpet beneath. They are tolerant of drought, heat, and poor soils.

Chinese Pistache is one of the best trees for filtered shade. It grows 30 to 40 feet tall with a round crown. The leaves turn brilliant orange and red in the fall. It takes heat, tolerates most soils, and can be grown as a lawn tree or where it gets little summer water.

Trees are such an important part of any landscape that one must give plenty of thought to finding just the right one.  Fall gives you the opportunity to become acquainted with some new and interesting specimens that may prove to be that special one you’ve been looking for.

Trees take years to grow and when you plant one, you’re not only planting it for yourself, you’re planting it for those who will come after you and share the land that you now call home. Planting a tree is an affirmation, an act of hope, an investment in the future.