Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
October, 2010
Regional Report

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Japanese Anemones can be vigorous spreaders, so transplant into drier areas to limit their spread.

Cooling Down and Slowing Down

After our three torrid weeks of 100+ weather spread out over our spring-like summer, we notice the earlier evenings and slowing growth in the garden. Tomatoes still hang ripening, to be doled out as the weather cools, and new blossoms appear with the hope that sufficient warmth will ripen them through at least Thanksgiving. New squash has set, but cucumbers and beans are too bedraggled to revive; replanting one more batch means that maybe they'll bear for Thanksgiving.

But I'd rather shift to seeding and transplanting cool-season lovers, giving them a good start with remaining soil warmth and newly incorporated manure and compost. With cooler temperatures, even heavy work and cleaning up garden debris becomes enjoyable.

Most perennials and some annuals can be transplanted or divided and replanted. These include acanthus, agapanthus, Japanese anemone, bergenia, calendulas, evergreen candytuft, columbine, coralbells (Heuchera), coreopsis, Michaelmas and Shasta daisies, daylilies, delphiniums, Dianthus (carnation, pinks, sweet William), dusty miller, foxgloves, Heliopsis, Helleborus (Christmas rose, Lenten rose), hollyhocks, bearded irises, peonies, phlox, Oriental poppies, primroses, Rudbeckias (gloriosa daisy, coneflower, Echinacea, monarch daisy, black-eyed-Susan), statice, stock, stokesia, veronica, and yarrow.

Use a spade or sharp knife to separate the large clumps or gently pull apart individual plants after loosening the clump from its surrounding soil. Discard the old, unproductive sections. Trim the foliage of young growth to four or six inches. Dig in compost, replant, and water in well.

Separate and replant crowded clumps of bulbs. Many will grow well beneath deciduous trees, as most of the bulb growth is in the early spring before the trees leaf out.

For a cover crop of flowers before, during and after spring bulb bloom, sow seeds or plant seedlings of low-growing annual bloomers after you've planted the bulbs. Think of color contrasts such as purple pansies with yellow daffodils or white alyssum with red tulips. Good choices include calendulas, pansies, Iceland poppies, primroses, dwarf snapdragons, dwarf stock, and violas. Sow seeds thickly, water the area, mulch it lightly, and keep it moist until seedlings have two sets of true leaves.

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