Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Pull and Plant
We are blessed with year-round gardening here in the Bay Area. Pull out faded summer annuals such as petunias, zinnias, celosia, and cosmos, and replace with winter color such as stocks, calendulas, and ornamental kale while the soil still has a bit of warmth to it. Amend planting beds with organic compost and toss the old plants into the compost pile to be ready for spring planting.
Plant Nasturtium and Cineraria
If you like winter color, I recommend planting two of my favorites, nasturtiums and cineraria. Both plants will naturalize and cover bare ground, flower, then set seed for next year. Don't plant either of these hardy favorites unless you want to invite them into your garden permanently.
Plant Bougainvillea Carefully
If you admire the blaze of color that bougainvillea provides, fall is the ideal time to plant. Dig a large planting hole and cut the nursery can away from the roots. Bougainvillea has an extremely sensitive root system and any disturbance can cause the plant to die. Provide sturdy support; rich, well-drained soil; and a sunny, southern exposure. Avoid fertilizer until next spring so you don't encourage new growth that may be susceptible to frost damage. Prepare to protect bougainvillea in temperatures below 32 degrees F.
Permanent perennial plants, such as echinacea, yarrow, aruncus, penstemon, rudbeckia, heuchera, and coreopsis, will benefit from an application of organic compost around the base. Apply 2 to 3 inches of compost and work it into the soil surrounding the rootball. Your perennials will be protected from cold and nourished at the same time.
Remove Ivy from Trees
If you have nothing else to do this time of year, grab your clippers and start removing any ivy that has escaped into the trees. Ivy will eventually strangle and kill a tree. It's a daunting job, but do the best you can. Ivy grows roots along the stems that will adhere to the bark of trees. You may need to strip, cut, and pull as you work your way up the trunk.