Answer: Northern California enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with wet winters and dry summers, so look for perennials that perform well in these conditions.
Among the good choices available at local nurseries: agapanthus (dwarf or full size); daylilies, which come in endless colors; and gaura, a popular plant with long, arching stems and pink or rose-colored flowers. Lavender is happy in Napa Valley, as is penstemon, a drought-tolerant plant available in many flower colors. Choose shrubs to provide height and contrast to the flowers. Camellias do well in this climate, are beautiful in the spring and make an attractive year-round shrub with their dark-green glossy leaves.
Dig planting holes as deep as the plant container and a few inches wider. Mix some compost with the existing soil and backfill the hole. Water the amended soil and let the water drain through. Invert the plant to remove it from its container. Loosen and spread the roots gently, then plant so that the top of the root ball is even with the soil surface. Carefully refill the hole with amended soil. Tamp down the surface to keep the plant stable and water thoroughly. Water regularly and feed each plant with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion.
Good luck with your new garden!
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