first second day of fall. Depending on who you talk to, summer was either glorious or it passed like a kidney stone. No in between. I’d describe summer 2014 and its occasional heatwaves as a cocktail that included plenty of tangy glory mixed with a bitter chaser of slight-to-moderate discomfort. I had epic plans for a leisurely audio narration on fall planting, but due to file size had to whittle it down to under a breathless two minutes. I really think including the human voice will be the next big innovation. Somehow, in the future, all our Facebook comments and tweets will be spoken. What if, instead of rousing speeches, Churchill had tweeted? Would England still have fought on? Not that my voice has any Churchillian qualities. It always sounds kind of high-pitched to me. When I was in the Bay Area over the weekend, I was treated to a mesmerizing, geosynchronous tour via iPhone of Fisherman’s Wharf, an app still in the beta stage. Developed by the Groupon founder and known as Detour, narrators such as a 40-year veteran fishing boat captain lead you via earbuds and your phone through the back alleys and byways of the wharves:
Past that fishing boat, off to your left, duck through this doorway, don’t mind the baleful stares of the fish sellers, right on this spot you’re standing is where they used to shanghai sailors.
In any case, here’s my low-tech, abbreviated rundown on fall planting. The takeaway is Annie’s Annuals may have plants on site not listed as available online.
Hymenolepis parviflora, the Golden Coulter Bush, aka Athanasia parviflora. Yellow umbels in summer. Annie’s Annuals doesn’t list this as currently available, so possibly on-site sales only.
The hymenolepis replaced a big clump of Erigeron ‘Wayne Roderick’ that struggled in full sun. I’m seriously thinking of rigging a shade tarp over the garden next summer, because even reputed sun lovers like erigeron can’t hack it.
Ferula communis ssp. glauca, a giant umbellifer that probably won’t bloom its first year in the garden. Brought home from Annie’s Annuals. Dies after flowering, but what nice lacy leaves. The bloom stalk gets as big as a broomstick. I don’t see this listed as currently available online either.
Leucadendron ‘Pisa,’ found local, planted in mid-summer
Tough times call for old stalwarts like santolina. Speaking of tough, what I really wanted from Annie’s was the ‘Ella Nelson’ yellow eriogonum, but they’ve run out. I was told more will be available soon.
But If you can’t find what you came for at Annie’s, there always a dozen or so other plants as consolation. I’ve never trialed the rusty foxglove, Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea,’ so I may as well grow it and kill it once to get it out of my system. This is the last-gasp manifestation of my pie-eyed inclination to try out every flowering spike under the sun. Dainty flowers just don’t last long in my garden. Summer 2015 will definitely be shrubbier. As far as flowers, I’m thinking the malvaceae family may have some answers. Hibiscus, lavatera, sphaeralcea. For spikes, there’s hollyhocks, and I’m trying some purple of the reputedly rust-free Halo series. Annie’s carries a good selection.
Sphaeralcea ‘Newleaze Coral’ was found local. Cutting back hard in spring seems to be the general recommendation to avoid the flops. A glimpse here of its color.
Eucalyptus ‘Moon Lagoon’ replaced a prostanthera in early summer
Euphorbia mellifera is always easy and beautiful here, tender elsewhere. I really prefer it to E. lambii. For 2015 I’m trying it in full sun, near the ‘Moon Lagoon,’ for the pairing of the bright green and blue. Planted a little too close, I’ll move the euphorbia as soon as necessary, so this is probably just a one-summer chess move.
Lavandula lanata. I can tell already this one is going to be tricky about drainage.
These ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ euphorbias were found local. If there’d been a choice, I’m pretty sure ‘Silver Swan’ is the more reliable variegated euphorbia. The ‘Fireworks’ gomphrenas were cut back and some Verbena bonariensis removed to make room for the euphorbia.
I bet you didn’t know laundry chores are handled here amongst the agaves. The covered pergola off the kitchen also houses the outdoor laundry shed built against the house.
On top of the laundry shed is the second-story lookout, where I spend lots of quality reading/skylarking time. The corrugated roof does a great job of making every rain sound epic. Here’s to doing laundry while vast quantities of measurable rain thunder down on the pergola roof this winter. I’m counting on you,
La Nina El Nino, to come through.