by Charlene Burgi
Autumn is the time when the garden prepares for dormancy. The summer annuals are winding down, if not spent. Most perennial blooms are gone. The fall blooming bulbs have withered. Yet, October is still prime time to plant some types of seeds for next year’s color. Catch the soil while it is still warm from summer sun and double the benefit of anticipated gentle rains due soon.
Casting wildflower seeds now can provide a riot of color in the spring. Our beloved state flower, the California poppy, is a sure bet to sow right now. Plant it as an understory to the coneflower seeds, which come in a multitude of colors. And if you are looking for brilliance, you can’t beat the Oriental poppies that will provide sparkle to a drab area of your garden. Add plenty of compost to the soil before sowing seeds.
Benefits of planting seeds from these suggested plants are:
- Deer are not inclined to eat them.
- It’s cost effective as you get many plants from one packet of seeds.
- Beneficial insects are attracted to them.
- They are water-wise.
- You can enjoy the gratification of watching them evolve from seed to a thing of beauty.
And speaking of beneficial insects, a fellow worker came in this week with a photo of a beautiful caterpillar found in his garden. He was shopping for plants to attract beneficials. Two tiny dill plants and some parsley found their home in his garden. Within the week of purchase, the soon-to-be swallowtail butterfly began to dine on the sacrificial plants. He is delighted to have such immediate response to his purchase, but the mystery is where did the caterpillar come from and how did it find the host plants so fast?
Note a few events coming up for the landscape professionals: The Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) training in Spanish begins October 12. This is a FREE, 20-hour course. Please call (877) 811-3242 to register and for more information.
MMWD is also hosting a self-study 2010 QWEL exam on Saturday, October 16, at College of Marin, Indian Valley Campus, at 1800 Ignacio Blvd. in Novato. Please register at www.qwel.net to acquire the study materials needed. An Assisted Irrigation Audit will be offered prior to the exam.