Time to think about garden plans.

It is almost winter or what counts for that mild season in California; a good time for taking stock of our gardens and plan for next year. What do I want to plant for next year? What seeds do I order and do I want to change the landscape or some aspects thereof next year? Winter is a good time to think about what next year’s garden could feature in terms of texture, color, cutting flowers, vegetables, and fruit or other landscape aspects. It is also a good time to plant perennials, fruit trees and roses that can get their roots established before next summer.

For example, I am considering doing away with a large, lush grass feature and replacing it with a dwarf citrus tree. The childhood farm boy in me enjoys things edible over an ornamental grass even though the ornamental grass likely doesn’t demand a lot of water nor is it unattractive.  When I moved here I removed oleanders and fruitless olives and replaced them with 5 Citrus trees, a Santa Rosa plum, and three peach trees. I also grafted two flowering plums to Laroda plums. Do I really need another citrus or something else? I need to think more about this.

I also love flowers and new Dahlia catalogues are winter arrivals that provide an opportunity to order some that I don’t have or to replace favorites lost along the way. I already have more than enough tubers to fill all of my available dahlia sites, but I could not resist ordering several that I don’t currently have. I noticed that some of the new dahlia offerings cost 30-35 dollars; which I find to be a bit pricey and who knows how well they might perform? Based on past experience, they are likely to be much more reasonably priced in next year’s catalogue, so being patient can be prudent. 

As a garden club member I once completed a National Garden Club sponsored four week-end course in Landscape Design, but I have to confess that I never became a practicing Landscape Design Consultant which was the aim of the course. It was a great course taught by a Landscape Architect from UC Davis. I learned a lot, but I always felt that the certificate of achievement and a couple of bucks would get me a cup of coffee.

We all love certain plants and it is a matter of our personal preferences how we organize them in our landscapes. However, it is a good idea to follow principles of design which will make the landscape organization functional as well as esthetically pleasing, see: https://www.gardendesign.com/landscape-design/rules.html. This garden design site also contains several suggestions for planting perennials and other plants in your garden.

Some landscape design ideas might include a pollinator garden, a butterfly garden, a beneficial insect garden, a native plant garden, a theme garden such as a Japanese garden or some combination thereof. For a butterfly and native plant garden ideas see: https://www.cnps.org/gardening/gardening-for-butterflies-3106

A mostly native landscape front yard was created at my new home before I bought it and we love it. No lawn to mow and an easy maintenance attractive front yard with lots of blooming shrubs, perennials and ground covers to enjoy. Each fall we especially like the vibrant red-orange, trumpet-shaped blossoms of California fuchsia (Epilobium canum) which is a drought tolerant, deer-proof native plant. The California Native Plant Society has lots of information on native plants at: https://www.cnps.org/gardening.

For ideas on new plants and design ideas there are lots of books, magazines and on-line resources to help. It is amazing how many garden books there are and many are redundant in what they cover, but they just keep coming because there is always such great interest in gardening. Unfortunately, a lot of gardening books, articles, ideas and advice pertain to gardens not in California and we have a special mild Mediterranean climate that often demands different plants and plans than those recommended in other places. Sunset Western Garden Book is great resource for California gardeners and it expands with each edition to cover new plant introductions. A website that features lots of information on California unique gardening requirements is this UC website: http://cagardenweb.ucanr.edu/General/.

Bareroot season is coming so it is a good time to consider adding shade trees, fruit trees and roses to your landscape. California is a great place for fruit trees as so many do well here including Citrus as per Kathy Ikeda’s recent column on fruit trees. Happy garden planning.

If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website:  http://sjmastergardeners.ucanr.edu/CONTACT_US/ .

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