Green Thumb Meets Fall Colors

Posted on Fri., Oct. 21, 2011 by Lisa Blackburn
Huntington volunteers getting ready for the sale. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.
Huntington volunteers getting ready for the sale. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Whether planning ahead for spring or looking for autumn color to enjoy right now, gardeners will find plenty of inspiration at the Fall Plant Sale this weekend (starting today, Friday). Experts know that the secret to a beautiful garden is to get started in the fall, laying the groundwork for great blooms throughout the year. "It's the ideal time for planting, when the weather's cooler and the days are shorter," says Louise Guerin, manager of plant production and sales at The Huntington. The event will feature a bountiful selection of autumn-blooming flowers to lend instant "fall color" to the garden, as well as perennials and shrubs to plant now for blooms in the spring and summer. Many unusual and hard-to-find varieties will be available.

Among the stand-outs this year are colorful fall-blooming perennials such as Tagetes lemmonii compacta, with sunny yellow flowers and fragrant foliage (pictured below right); Caryopteris incana 'Bluebeard,' with intense, dark blue flower stalks; and Plectranthus ciliatus, a knock-out for fall with masses of gorgeous purple blooms.

"We'll also have a nice selection of California natives this year," promised Guerin. Highlights include Pacific iris, Matilija poppies, California manzanita, several varieties of ceanothus, and a selection of lupines, including Lupinus albifrons var. douglasii and L. excubitus var. austromontanus.

Tagetes lemmonii compacta. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.
Tagetes lemmonii compacta. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

An increasing number of home gardeners are choosing succulents for the landscape, both for their minimal watering requirements and their striking appearance. Many work beautifully in patio pots, too. For serious succulent collectors, this is the place to find unusual varieties that aren't readily available in nurseries, including Huntington introductions such as Agave chazaroi, with glossy green leaves edged with reddish-brown margins, and Bursera fagaroides, a shrub with attractive, papery bark. (It's also a popular choice for bonsai.) Aloe 'DZ' is a new Huntington introduction that made its debut last year. Also look for dramatic flowering plants like the Night Blooming Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe nocturna) and Puya alpestris, with its towering teal-blue inflorescence.

Guerin adds that the sale will also offer a wide variety of trees—from the beautiful rainbow eucalyptus to pomegranate and Asian pear—plus ornamental grasses, vines, herbs, vegetables, roses, ground covers, and much more.

Knowledgeable Huntington staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about plant selection and care, as well as to offer advice on other practical fall gardening topics such as soil improvement, pruning and dividing, and tackling pest problems.

The Fall Plant Sale takes place on Friday, Oct. 21, from noon to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22–23, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission to the sale area in the parking lot is free.

Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator at The Huntington.