Pacific Coast Gardening forum: Prepping spring garden for sale

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Name: Liz
Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b)
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Lizzipa
Sep 19, 2014 5:18 PM CST
As I've mentioned (too many times?) before, we will be selling our house next spring. I'm wondering what steps I can take this fall or next spring to prep the garden to put on a good show. We're targeting mid-March to put the house on the market.

Based on last spring the Japanese Maples will be leafing out by then; of course, next year may be different than this year. I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to encourage things to leaf out and/or bloom a bit early, since the timing is a bit early for showing the garden off to good advantage. For instance, I usually start fertilizing in mid March - is it okay to start a few weeks earlier & to to use "bloom" fertilizer so early in the season?

Feel free to let me know if this isn't the appropriate thread for this conversation; I figured I'd start here since we're all California gardeners.

Thanks!

Liz
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Sep 19, 2014 5:31 PM CST

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I'll look at my photos in chronological order and let you know what's blooming in March. Pots of bulbs scattered around the garden should pep things up considerably.

I can't answer your question about fertilizer because I never fertilize.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Sep 19, 2014 6:11 PM CST

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Liz, I looked through all of my March photos back to 2006, and here are the things that looked good enough to capture on film:

Lots of bulbs: daffodils, tulips, ixias, sparaxis, freesias, ranunculus, anemones, hyacinths, scilla, etc.

Some flowering shrubs and trees: tulip magnolia, star magnolia, wedding veil spiraea, quince, camellias, and azaleas.

Vines: Akebia and a few early Clematis varieties.

Lots of early-blooming roses.

Wild flowers: poppies, violas, sweet alyssum, and forget-me-nots.

Miscellaneous stuff: hellebores, primulas, lewisias, gentianas, pansies, clivias, and some irises, particularly the Pacific Coast hybrids and natives

I'm in 9a, but I'm sure 9b isn't that different when it comes to blooms in March. If I were you, I'd buy as many of these plants as my budget allows. I'd keep most of them in pots, so that I could take them with me, and set the pots in empty-looking spaces in the landscape (or even bury the pots in those spaces). If you scatter the seeds of the wildflowers all over the place now, they should be blooming by March.
Name: Liz
Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b)
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Lizzipa
Sep 19, 2014 6:29 PM CST
Thanks so much Zuzu! I suspect we're a little bit ahead of you zone wise. Last year, my daffodils were basically done by mid-March - that's why I'm hesitant about bulbs, because their lifespan is relatively short. We may not have enough rain for wildflowers... but I've been spreading my old brown forget-me-not plants all over the place & some of them are starting to come up. The roses are what I was thinking I might be able to nudge to bloom a bit earlier - I already have quite a few own root roses in pots, so I can take them with me & I have calibrachoa (which were blooming last March) in with most of them & in my planter boxes. I bought a few six packs of marguerites & have started them growing in my baby/nursery bed, so I can transplant them in the spring... Hopefully, my tibouchina & some of my fruit trees & abutilon will be in bloom... and maybe my camellia & cymbidiums... My yard doesn't really lend itself to dainty flowers like pansies & primula, except maybe pots in front - but I'd have to put those out the day of the open house, because of the deer. I'll definitely plant some blooming perennials to fill in the drought tolerant areas which won't be doing much - ie. spanish lavender (most of mine is Grosso) - and the tagetes & mexican sage will (hopefully) be blooming, along with the euryops.
Name: Liz
Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b)
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Lizzipa
Sep 19, 2014 6:30 PM CST
I'll carefully deadhead the tagetes, mexican sage & salvia, this fall, in the hopes they'll bloom - another plant that may respond to some nudging with fertilizer?
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Sep 19, 2014 8:15 PM CST

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Most primulas are deer resistant, so don't bother hiding those pots away.

Try the bulbs anyway. If you keep them in pots, you can hide them away after they've finished blooming. My plain daffodils (paper-whites and single trumpet daffodils) do bloom earlier, but the fancy doubles are definitely March flowers.

If you're going to prune your roses, do it in December so that they'll be ready to bloom in March.

You're right about the fruit trees. They weren't on my list because I never take pictures of them, but the plum, pear, and peach trees are in bloom in March.
Name: Liz
Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b)
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Lizzipa
Sep 20, 2014 9:52 AM CST
Then, I'll add bulbs to some of my pots that won't be doing much. Thanks for the tip about pruning the roses early - that's exactly the type of info. I'm looking for!
Name: Liz
Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Region: California Dog Lover Roses Hummingbirder
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Lizzipa
Sep 20, 2014 9:53 AM CST
Our poor deer are so hungry they're eating everything these days - ie. our ivy is gone; my kangaroo paws are eaten to the ground... I don't mind feeding the deer when they're so desparate!
Name: Liz
Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Region: California Dog Lover Roses Hummingbirder
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Lizzipa
Sep 21, 2014 10:34 AM CST
Zuzu, I was thinking about your comment about pruning roses. I recall you writing an article, a while back, about studies showing that roses do not perform better if pruned. I'm curious - do you still prune your roses? Since reading your article & another along the same lines, I tend to shape, more than prune, my bush roses now. I generally prune the hybrid teas, so they don't get too leggy, but I only have 4 of those...
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Sep 21, 2014 12:09 PM CST

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You're right, Liz. It isn't necessary at all. That's why I prefaced my advice with the phrase: "If you're going to..." I prune only the hybrid teas and a few shrubs that would get gigantic if I didn't, and I do it in December so that they can start blooming in March..

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