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Planting Season Is Here

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It is officially fall, the best gardening season of all. We might get some early rains, but the soil is still warm, making it the right time to plant natives. Many California trees, shrubs and perennials begin their growing season at this time of the year, building up strength to endure next summer’s dry heat.

Choosing the right native plants for your garden can be a challenging task. For assistance, come to the Native Plant Sale, Saturday, October 15th at Rocca Park in Jamestown, 9:00am to 1:00pm. There you will find Sierra Foothills Chapter members of the California Native Plant Society who are knowledgeable about the native plants offered for sale. Come early for best selection.

Last week, Master Gardener Vera Strader listed several plants that produce berries that bluebirds love. Many of those will be available at the sale. Here’s a sampling: hollyleaf cherry, Sierra current, wild grape, western dogwood, Oregon grape, snowberry, manzanitas, and coffeeberry.

Many of our readers live above two thousand feet and are always looking for plants that do well in higher elevations. Trees that do well are: giant sequoia, incense cedar and big-leaf maple. (Note: both the giant sequoia and big-leaf maple require adequate water throughout the year.)

Shrubs to consider for higher elevations include: fuchsia-flowering current, Matilija poppy, western spicebush and various hybrids of Sonoma sage. And consider perennials for high country gardens: California fuchsia, coral bells, western columbine, milkweed, and for ground covers, wild ginger and woodland strawberry. Ferns grow very nicely in higher elevations so consider western sword fern and deer fern.

Many plants mentioned for high country gardening do very nicely at lower elevations, as well. One of my favorites is California fuchsia; hummingbirds love the red tubular flowers.

Other lower-elevation plants featured in the sale are: desert willow (a small tree with tubular burgundy flowers, another hummer delight), flannel bush (large shrub with yellow/golden flowers-very drought tolerant and deer resistant), and many Ceanothus (wild lilac) species, from ground covers to large shrubs.

Eriogonum umbellatum, buckwheat ‘Shasta Sulfur’ has beautiful yellow flowers and is a bee magnet. If you pair the yellow buckwheat with Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margaret BOP’ with its blue/violet flowers, what a stunning combination you will have in your garden!
Native wildflower seeds will be available, as well as native bulbs. Find me at the sale and I’ll share my secret of foolproof wildflower seed sowing. This technique prevents the birds from making a picnic of your newly sown seeds. See you at Rocca Park.

This will be the last native plant sale that Carolee James will chair for the Sierra Foothills Chapter of CNPS; she is moving from the area. However, she will be at future sales as she plants her new native garden.