The Mountain Gardener
by Jan Nelson | For the Press-Banner
Aug 30, 2010 | 1616 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Envoy Peach Butterfly impatiens, a colorful new variety, glow in shady gardens. Plenty of flowering plants and foliage plants offer warm hues that set the mood for autumn, including   cherry-red Cherry Brandy rudbeckia, bright Orange Clock vines, red fountain grass and kangaroo paw.
Envoy Peach Butterfly impatiens, a colorful new variety, glow in shady gardens. Plenty of flowering plants and foliage plants offer warm hues that set the mood for autumn, including cherry-red Cherry Brandy rudbeckia, bright Orange Clock vines, red fountain grass and kangaroo paw.
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You can feel it. When school starts, Indian summer usually starts, too, and already we’re basking in lots of sunshine.

With fall just around the corner, most flowering perennials and annuals will continue to bloom until Halloween and maybe into November, if the weather cooperates. My garden is mostly blue, pink and lavender, but I like to add warm-colored flowers and foliage plants to the garden now to enjoy for the next several months.

Living in mostly shade, I’m excited to see a new impatien in a peach color. Envoy Peach Butterfly sports a profusion of flowers with dark, coral centers. This series also comes in bicolor rose-and-lavender shades, which are equally showy. They really light up the shade garden.

There are many flowering plants that ease us into fall. Whether they bloom with red, orange, yellow, bronze or rust flowers, the colors seem appropriate at this time of year. Some of my favorites are kangaroo paw, erysimum Fragrant Sunshine, mimulus, strawflowers, asteriscus, lantana, coreopsis, mums and zinnia.

Orange Clock vines are among the showiest around. They need protection here to survive the winter, but the huge, 3-inch-long, bright orange flowers are worth the risk.

Gloriosa daisy, or rudbeckia, now comes in so many new colors. Cherry Brandy produces beautiful masses of cherry-red flowers to add to the traditional rusty colors. All are hardy and easy to grow, and they make good cut flowers for bouquets.

Don’t forget warm foliage colors, such as coprosma, Golden Delicious pineapple sage and red fountain grass, to play off the bold colors of your fall flowers. By mixing in liberal doses of grasses and shrubs, you’ll have a garden that won’t quit until it gets cold.

Remember the color wheel to add additional colors to your warm autumn garden. Blue is the complementary color of orange, and purple and lavender go with yellow and gold.

You can cool down hot colors with blue flowering perennials, like blue plumbago, Aster frikartii ‘Monch,’ Russian sage, blue ground morning glory and scabiosa. Lilac and purple-hued flowers include lavatera bicolor, Midnight penstemon, verbena, princess flowers, salvia and annuals like torenia and lobelia.

A tip when harvesting pears

Unlike most other fruits, pears (except Asian varieties) are best when ripened off the tree. They should not be allowed to soften or turn entirely yellow before the harvest. Pears ripen from the inside, and they will be overripe at this stage.

Pick fruit when it has reached mature size but is still green or just starting to lose its green color. Allow fruit to ripen in a cool place, or put it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least two weeks. To ripen, bring the fruit to room temperature, and after five to 10 days, it should be fully ripe and juicy.

• Jan Nelson, a California certified nursery professional at Plant Works in Ben Lomond, will answer questions about gardening in the Santa Cruz Mountains. E-mail her at janis001@aol.com.
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