Magazine article Sunset

October; What to Do in Northern California

Magazine article Sunset

October; What to Do in Northern California

Article excerpt

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Fall-color shrubs Because color can vary from plant to plant, buy them in rich autumn shades while the leaves are changing. Among our favorites are Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Velvet', Cornus alba 'Spaethii', Cotinus 'Grace', and Viburnum opulus 'Aureum'.


Native plants Most chapters of the California Native Plant Society have sales this month, prime time for planting natives such as ceanothus and Matilija poppy. Visit to find one near you.

Plant now

Bearded irises Sunset climate zones 7-9, 14-17: For a thick clump in spring, plant three rhizomes 1 foot apart--two with the leafy growing ends pointed outward, and the third aimed to grow into the space between them. Set rhizomes so their tops are just beneath the soil surface. About 80 vintage cultivars from Ruth Bancroft's Private collection will be available at the Fall Plant & Iris Sale (Oct 11, ruthbancroft or 925/944-9352) at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek.

Plants between pavers Zones 7-9, 14-17: Groundcovers have the best chance to get established in the challenging small strips between steppingstones if you plant them soon. Low, sturdy types that can withstand some foot traffic include blue star creeper (Pratia pedunculata) for regularly irrigated areas, and creeping and woolly thyme (Thymus praecox arcticus and T.pseudo lanuginosus) for drier spaces.

Potatoes Zones 7-9, 14-17: For a late-winter or early-spring harvest, Plant seed potatoes this month or early next. Megan Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm (woodprairie, com or 800/829-9765), which sells several varieties of certified organic seed potatoes, recommends these for fall planting: 'Caribe', 'Reddale', 'Rose Gold', and 'Russian Banana', Many types are also available from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply ( or 888/784-1782).

Wildflowers Zones 7-9, 14-17: For the earliest spring blooms, broadcast seed into weed-free soil this month. …

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