Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Color and New Beginnings

Fall is a strange season in California. On the one hand we have the shorter days and the cooler temps; but in my Zone 9 garden hard frosts are rare, so winter to us looks a lot like spring in other places.
~Click any photo to enlarge~

We do have lovely fall color, but since many of our wooded areas are largely evergreen (oak and redwood) some of our best fiery foliage is found in our street and garden trees, like Liquidambar, Crape Myrtle, Ginkgo and this Chinese Pistache; one of my favorite fall performers.

Not only does the Pistache have gorgeous leaves and a long season of color, but it also has these terrific multi-colored berries.

In our mild climate, fall/winter color can be found in many places.
This Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' has been green all summer, and is just starting to launch its winter bracts. By January each will be a couple of feet taller and topped with a golden, star-like flower. The winter replacement for my Rudbeckias!

The fresh, new growth of Euphorbias, like this 'Helena's Blush,' is particularly lovely right now.

Grevillea 'Coastal Gem' is another winter bloomer; I often compare it to prostrate rosemary, and use it similarly.

Still marveling at the lush, spring-like growth (and even a few flowers) from my Cerinthe major. Mild temps and some early season rainstorms are encouraging it I think!

This is the best my coral 'Flower Carpet' roses have looked all season. I'm realizing that not having a lot of overhead rain is actually a blessing in terms of foliage health and flower quality.

OK, the jury is still out on Aeoniums in the garden; I think I like them better in pots. This healthy fellow grew from one slender rosette planted in April.

This Diascia has been the Energizer Bunny of the garden this year; planted as instant color from 4" pots in April, it has not flagged since; in fact the cooler temps and extra water have given it a boost.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Ball' is a gorgeous little shrub that looks sheared but isn't; the glossy foliage and black stems look great all year round in a neat mound less than 3' tall.

The garden has many subtle lovelinesses in the fall, like the feathery blooms of Miscanthus 'Morning Light'

Speaking of 'Morning Light' here's another one; a variegated variety of Westringia fruticosa (Coast Rosemary.) This forms a wonderful rounded shrub ~4'x4' and has a white rosemary-like flower.

Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmunds' (Serpentine Manzanita) is one of my favorites; in time it forms an open shrub of great character with smooth, mahogany red branches. In late winter it is covered with pinkish lily-of-the-valley flowers that are very popular with hummingbirds; the fall berries appear to be tasty as well!

These Senecio vitalis were also small sprigs in the spring; love how their colors echo those of the Stachys 'Primrose Heron' in the background.

The other thing that makes California winters look like spring are the plants the re-emerge at the first sign of cool weather. My artichokes were looking pretty sorry a few weeks ago, but now they are sprouting with vigor (this is a winter crop, especially near the coast.)

And with the rains come the weeds...or are they? These are the seedlings of the California Poppies that will be, um, covering the garden in early spring (I let a few original plants go to seed, that's all it takes!)

And of course, no post from my garden would be complete without a hummingbird shot! This little fellow was bathing in the sheeting water on the side of the water feature while the bigger birds splashed above. Thanks for visiting!


  1. Great images here, Laura, especially the hummingbird! I have that same Senecio in a container in the house. I hope it will winter over well inside. I also have the one shown in your first photo. Mom gave that one to me, and I'm not sure of its name.

  2. Beautiful plants. It's so fun to see how big they've all gotten. And you're giving me ideas...I shall be in touch. Cute hummer!

  3. I love your photos, Interleafie (LOL, may I call you that?) I'm most taken with the pic of the Helena's Blush Euphorb - I love the variegated ones and haven't seen that one locally yet.

    The Grevillea's hot. I use that one all over. Tough, deer-resistant, and sturdier than creeping rosemary in my wet climate.

  4. SO JEALOUS!!! I'm powering down for a cold 5 months and will miss all the green and beauty. I'll be fantasizing about it on my blog. :-)

    Best wishes,


  5. Kylee, I have no idea how these will do over the winter, they are an experiment (had a windfall of succulents from the garden show, so was able to be lavish!

    Thanks Katie, I'm all about the ideas...

    Haha, Gen you can call me whatever you want, just call me! The downside of Helena is the bloom is rather awkward, at least in the first year. But I lost one of my grevilleas, not sure why. Saw a new subdivision landscape (not my design!) all reduced to unidentifiable nubs except for a bank of grevillea, thought that was a good sign!

    Shawna, I will do my best to keep you in garden fantasies, k?

  6. Great photos! I love the hummer. You have many of my same plants....similar clim here with a coastal influence in So CAL. I am looking for ideas for my new front planter....thanks for many.

  7. Laura! Don't give up on the Aeoniums! Plant MORE of them, THEN decide! I swear, they just need a little time to grow on you. I especially love them associated with Nandina 'Firepower' - the Nandina does a beautiful job of covering up some lankiness of stem once they start getting tall.

    I have had NO luck with E. 'Helena's Blush'! Isn't that SAD? I am having a pretty good time of it with E. 'Blackbird', however ... cross your fingers!

    Love love LOVE what is happening in your garden! Everything looks absolutely MARVELOUS!

  8. Your succulents are really good-looking.

  9. Any secrets for having these wonderful blooms around?