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Fall color in northern California

Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 8, 12 at 16:57

It may be a bit unfair to talk about zone 9/10 gardens this time of year, when most gardeners across the country are all too aware the first frosts are imminent or already happening. Little fear of frosts in favored gardens here in my town of Berkeley, and I exploit that to the maximum! This front garden has been tweaked over the past year to give the owners more lush color than previously, when it was mostly just the succulents. Just two species/3 additional plants were added back in November of 2011 to achieve this dramatic effect; tender perennials here, Thunbergera alata and Lotus berthelotii. The succulents quit blooming back in June/July, but the new plants still look like this in early October.

Another reason why I love gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area, even if we hardly ever get warm summer evenings...

Here is a link that might be useful: Fall color in the Berkeley hills

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Fall color in northern California

  • Posted by jkom51 Z9 CA/Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 8, 12 at 19:58

Stunning as always, David! That corner definitely gets more sun than I do on most of my Oakland property, sigh. I just love how you work with succulents - such an amazing combination of textures, shapes and colors.

RE: Fall color in northern California

Wow, that really is spectacular. It's nice to see that so much can be done with so little space and I just love the colors.

Unfortunately October here is more a matter of pulling out the dead bodies of all the plants that didn't make it through our brutal Las Vegas summer and substituting in more of the plants that did. We have different varieties of succulents that thrive here but thank goodness for the agaves and yuccas or our yard would really be sorry looking.


RE: Fall color in northern California

I love love love this garden !!
It looks great all year round whether it is in full bloom or relying on its great bones.
As always, your work is so inspiring.

RE: Fall color in northern California

I have a question about the Thunbergera alata. It's making quite a show here also, but grows into everything around it. Is this watched/clipped back to stay within the footprint you want for it? Hopefully your maintenance tips can be applied elsewhere.

Advice appreciated.

RE: Fall color in northern California

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 9, 12 at 12:52

Quite right about this vine acting thuggish around neighboring plants. It does require periodic clipping to keep it under control, but it doesn't grow very fast in the cooler months. I typically plant this at walls or fences only, with a panel of remesh(open gridded steel reinforcing intended for concrete flatwork), to give it something to climb upon. I don't use this vine around anything which is delicate or would quickly get overgrown. The Lotus has the same potential to engulf its neighbors, but I actually enjoy allowing a bit of uncontrolled growth in my garden designs. Quarterly during the year, certain plants get the big chop or are thinned out considerably, including the Foxtail Agaves and the flowering Metrosideros collina tree with the red bottlebrush flowers. I may have to haul off 2 to 4 cubic yards of plant trimmings once a year, and one garden's trimmings often becomes the new succulent cuttings for a new client's garden. Waste not, want not! I also tend to collect seed and cuttings from these client gardens for distribution to the Calif. Hort Society seed list or my nursery owner friends such as Annie's Annuals.

RE: Fall color in northern California

Have a question about using panels of remesh. What is their appearance until the vines grow to cover it?

Another query: is it just a matter of variety - your succulents are bearing flowers so nicely ABOVE the foliage. Mine tend to flop, stretch way out, lose cohesiveness. Any reading suggestions?

Lucky you for your friendship with Annie of Annie's Annuals.

RE: Fall color in northern California

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 10, 12 at 18:00

Rosie, what are the succulents that you are growing back there? I wouldn't think that the Aloe striata's are one of them, nor any of the others in my photo. So as far as stretching out and being floppy, are you talking about things like Sedum spectabile? Floppiness is usually associated with not enough full sun, or growing the plants with too much water/too rich of soils, but obviously will depend on what succulents you're talking about. As to the appearance of the remesh, you definitely see it until the vines cover it up, but the 4 inch grid of narrow steel rusts out nicely and doesn't much distract if attached to a typical wood fence. Fast growing vines like the Thunbergera or Ipomaea or similar will cover it up within a matter of months. It is a cheap, easily installed material that works out well, rather than attaching multiple eye-hooks and stringing galvanized wire across fences or walls for support.

And yes, I do consider myself very lucky to have Annie as a good friend, we especially enjoy going off on occasional plant shopping trips to wholesale nurseries or visiting local botanic gardens together, and from time to time have given joint talks together for local plant societies. Right now I am working on a garden design for her own home garden, as she decided she no longer needed the ramshackle plant shed/greenhouse where her business all started out of her backyard so many years ago. It's going to be a fun project, the first phase was updating the drip irrigation system to better withstand her nursery crew doing maintenance. They aren't used to being careful around raised drip emitters and sprayers, so I switched it out to stand up to some abuse. The fun part is yet to come with laying out the new garden area off kitchen...

RE: Fall color in northern California

First off, hope you'll be posting pics of the remake of Annie's backyard. Before pics too.

Envious of your great relationship with her. Haven't had that kind of fun since my daughter graduated UGA in hort. I spent so much time there in the classrooms, trial gardens and greenhouses with Drs. Michael Dirr and Alan Armitage. They gifted me with many wonderful plants, some not even introduced yet. Alas, all of those stayed at my former home.

I can't find tags to ID the low succulents. Great looking for a year, then they die out in the middle. Full sun but on a slope so the excess water, especially near the bottom, could be the culprit - and not something I can control. Sedum spectabile Autumn Joy doing well, but leaves me underwhelmed. Hillside maybe could be terraced, but I have neither the $$ or the strength to do it.

Will be getting some remesh, especially to support crossvine Bignonia capreolata. Doing the happy dance because my neighbors just removed 35' of leylands planted almost on their fence line. Nothing on my side of the fence could survive tne root competition, except for lymsmachia.

Thanks much. I've tried reading more on the succulents forum but feel as lost in the terminology as I do on the conifer's forum. There's a whole new world out there for me to study.

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