Gail's Gardens - October 2011
Writing to you from beautiful Britain where we are visiting: yesterday we visited my favorite National Trust garden: Barrington Court in Somerset. The lovely walled gardens were designed by Gertrude Jekyll and include a delightful white garden.
The beautifully tended kitchen garden is full to over-flowing with vegetables and berries, and the heritage apples are delicious.
Today we visited the amazing Eden Project in Cornwall: this “global garden” was built just 10 years ago with a view to raising the public’s awareness of our dependence on plants. Huge ‘biodomes’ were constructed to make the largest greenhouses in the world: the largest is a rainforest climate, and the smaller is a Mediterranean climate : both are filled with plants from around the world, with descriptions of how we use them for food, clothing, energy, etc. Check it out at www.edenproject.com for all the details, and be sure to plan a visit when you are next in the United Kingdom!
Fall favorites are in bloom here, as at home, with borders jam-packed with purple asters, yellow sunflowers and black-eyed susans, alongside all the wonderful grasses. In the fall garden I particularly love Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’: fleshy green leaves that emerge in summer, topped by clear pink flower heads which age to a beautiful rusty color. I let them stand in the garden through the winter months, or cut them to use in flower arrangements (fresh or dried). These succulents are wonderfully easy to propagate from stem or leaf cuttings, don’t need much water, and they come back bigger and stronger every year.
Fall is planting time! The Santa Rosa Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society www.cnpsmb.org , will hold it’s Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, October 9, 2010 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Santa Rosa Veterans’ Memorial Building. Lots of great plants at very reasonable prices and knowledgeable people to answer all your questions about growing them.
Don’t let your veggie garden fade away just because summer is over: get your cool weather greens in now. Bok Choy, leaf lettuces, and spinach all love the cool weather. Broccoli, kale, peas and Swiss chard are great too. If you have a greenhouse or cold frame, you can keep your harvest going until Christmas time, for fresh eating every day.
Speaking of greenhouses, I had great success this year growing our tomatoes in the greenhouse: an early and abundant harvest! Because I live in the fog belt south of Sebastopol, we have never had any luck with growing tomatoes outside; it just doesn’t get hot enough for them, but the greenhouse works perfectly!
Interested in Japanese maples? Have a shady garden? Yes, I mean you folks in Occidental and the redwoods! Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are what is known as “understory” plants: those that prefer to grow in the partial shade of larger trees. If you want to see the incredible variety of these small trees which is available, plan a visit to our locally owned grower: Momiji Nursery on Stony Point Road. Sachi Umehara has been grafting her own maples for 30 years and is intimately familiar with the needs of each variety. She will give you a personal tour of the nursery, and help you choose just the right maple for your needs. Check out their excellent website at www.momijinursery.com, then make a visit!
Interested in preserving our local open spaces? How about volunteering with Sonoma Land Trust? This excellent group has frequent work days: you can help clear non-native vegetation, plant native species, or build trails. The next workday is at Live Oaks Ranch on Saturday, October 22nd, 9am–2pm: check out the details at www.sonomalandtrust.org .