With Major League Baseball runner’s last slide across home base drawing interest finished for the season, the gentle slide of the sun skimming lower across the landscape brings into full focus a coveted feature of living in California- our mild weather. November is a wondrous month to be out and about in gardens all across Southern California.
The appeal of California native plants likely grew in gardeners' minds while paying last summer’s water bills. While the soil is warm but the ambient temperatures are softer than summer, this is often recommended as the best month to set some in your personal Eden.
Besides checking your local nursery stock, our public gardens offer wonderful opportunities to familiarize yourself with a palette of plants happy to colonize in your own garden for the least amount of effort and resources. Pack a picnic and plan a day enjoying The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in Santa Barbara, The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden in Thousand Oaks or The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. All three are prime locations to enjoy the study of water-wise native plants in enhanced natural settings.
Even if rains don’t fall, leaves will. To a gardener, this litter is known to be manna from heaven. Leaves left to dry on bare ground create a weed-suppressing deposit with growth potential. As time goes by, the decomposing leaves will weave a wondrous complexity into the soil, leaving it richer than when they first landed.
After a wind, before the street sweeper sends litter to the landfill, set up your own relocation program for leaves lying in the gutter. Choose to either relocate the loot to a garden area where winds did not deposit this free future compost or toss it into a bin. Gardener’s Supply sells wire composting cubes offering good value.
Thinning trees in advance of wild winds wisely prevents a dense canopy from turning a heritage tree into a rudderless sailing ship. One of the best ways to find a good arborist is to take a drive around the neighborhood. Knock at the door of homes with well- groomed trees. Ask for the names and numbers of those who wield chainsaws as though they were commissioned sculptors. Not only will such flatter reward the homeowner with flattery for the investment in keeping his trees well-trimmed, but the most reliable recommendations come from people without financial incentive from their answer.