Almost Autumn

California Fuscia is a reliable late summer – fall bloomer. Pictured: Route 66, one of my favorites for Valley gardens.


I’m writing this indoors in the office, but I really want to be outdoors. The thermometer’s reading 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit, but it feels cooler, which I guess is an upside for going through days and days of over 100 degree-temps.

Perhaps, it also feels cooler because night-time temperatures have been lower, so early morning, when I generally start work, has  been long-sleeve weather. Two hours later, I’m wanting the shorts. This, in the Southern Sierra, is a sure sign of the end of summer.

Is it time to plant yet?

Not quite. All this talk about day and night-time temperatures can be misleading. Soil temperature can be just as important. This is especially true for the native plant species we love that will eventually be quite drought resistant, easy-maintenance, low-water-use plants in our gardens. This includes Manzanita, Ceanothus, Flannelbush, Toyon, Coffeeberry, many Sages, native Iris and almost all deciduous native trees.

The best start for your transplants will be when the soil is in the upper 60’s to low 70’s, just about what we have in the Central Valley and foothills in late October through November. If your garden is at higher elevation, you can plant a little earlier, just around the first of October.

In the meantime, plan and make lists. Save your pennies. Planting season is almost here!



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