Autumn color in the California garden

I love this season!

We get to fill empty spaces with new plants or move them around, re-imagine & renovate garden rooms or the entire landscape, and work in pleasant weather.

Plus – the colors are wonderful!

Sometimes I hear people wish for “more fall colors” in their California garden. What I think they mean is they would like colors more like those in New England. But if we have a diverse garden, with attention paid to plants that change with the seasons along with plants that bloom in fall and early winter, we have our own brilliant display, California-style. Perhaps we can use the money we save on maintaining our climate-right garden to visit New England in the autumn? Or we can view from afar through photographs, and stay home, enjoying our own wealth of color.

Another thing I love about our California gardens in fall is the diversity of visitors. Migrating butterflies and birds, moths, bees and beneficial native flies and other insects make for a spirited garden full of activity as creatures prepare for the winter ahead. In one section of my garden, I daily walk through a cloud of painted ladies and other butterflies and moths. I feel like I am visiting one of those butterfly houses sometimes set up at botanical gardens and museums of natural history. Except the butterflies are not exotic; they are California natives like myself.

If you feel you are lacking some pizzazz in the garden in autumn, try adding these plants: buckwheat (Eriogonum), sage of any kind, or several kinds, including some good non-native sage like Indigo Spires, autumn sage (S. greggii), summer sage (S. microphylla) and germander (S. chamadryoides), California fuscia (Epilobium californica), goldenrod (Solidago californica or S. canadensis), and any of the plants pictured here.

Pictures,clockwise from top left: California fuscia, Sundrops, Great Basin sage with Conejo buckwheat, Red summer sage, Quailbush in bloom, Hummingbird sage, Paprika yarrow with California fuscia, Hummingbird sage, Rock penstemon.

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