Archive » November 6, 2008
FALL IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR FOR GARDENERS
By Wendy Thompson, Staff Writer
In between summer’s long bright days and the gray, quiet of winter is the golden glow of autumn.
This season needs no power chord to rev up its fall color show; it needs nothing but cooler nights and shorter days. Gardeners know this is the best season for planting.
For most of them, it is also their favorite time — gardening under the golden glow of the season, cheeks cooled by tinges of autumn air, their handiwork helped along with the loving hand of nature with its gentle rain storms. Cyclamen, gaillardia, snapdragons, primrose, Iceland poppies, English daisies, pansies, violas and stock are all dependable winter favorites. Even vegetables such as cabbage will bring fall color and can be eaten in a pinch. “To be successful, local gardeners just need to remember that this is not Santa Barbara,” said Tom White, nurseryman Rolling Hills Garden Center in Buellton. “Bouganvilla is not a good choice, and there’s a reason you don’t see citrus and avocado trees here, only grapes and apples,” he said.
Buellton’s Windmill Nursery is owned by Bob Blokdyk. He and his sidekick, his yellow lab Bart, love fall flowers. “If you want to have a good show for January, February and March, plant now; Iceland poppies need to get established to do well,” said Blokdyk. He also recommends planting stock, a variety of flower, “because of its sweet smell that the other fall flowers don’t have.”
Gardening does not need to cost a lot.
“No one really needs plants, and in this slow economy, this can hit nurseries hard,” said Perry Baker, nurseryman at Valley Hardware and Garden Center in Solvang. “But plants and flowers are the only things that can make you feel good and make your world a little prettier.”
Fall flower planting is not an unwise investment. Most of the fall plants are perennial, said Baker, meaning that the plants will bloom for more than one season if not over-watered during the summer.
The nursery shelves at Harrison Hardware in Santa Ynez are covered in colorful petals of pink and red cyclamen, purple cabbages and trees, which do best when planted in the fall, said Jim Whitesell, a nurseryman at Harrison Hardware.
In answer to the perennial question, “What plant is deer proof?” the nurserymen all shook their heads sadly and said nothing is completely deer proof, especially in a drought, but that poisonous, pungent and spiny plants such as lavender, rosemary and oleander seem to be good choices.
Rolling Hills’ White offered a poetic tip, similar to writer Robert Frost’s line that “Good fences make good neighbors.”
To deal with the deer, he advises: “A good fence — and better yet, a good dog — might do the trick. Or, you could do like my grandpa, and plant them their own hedgerow of crabapples, and then warn them it would be in their best interest not to cross it.”