Special to the Village News
Through a lifetime of working in the horticultural environment, I would like to share some of my gardening experiences, challenges, and triumphs.
In this new column, I will share creative gardening ideas, plant suggestions, soil information, places to visit and things to do in Southern California.
Put on your gloves, get out your garden tools and let's jump into the autumn garden and enjoy the season.
· Our plants have endured a rollercoaster year with drought, water restrictions and heat resulting in parched soils. Our landscapes have had challenges and suffered due to these climatic changes, but it's all fixable.
· In the past, we have enjoyed our garden's seasonal changes, now we need to educate ourselves and adapt a new form of horticulture and water-wise gardening and prepare for the warmer climate ahead.
· Consider both the vast range of available drought tolerant California native plants and a Mediterranean plant palette.
· This time of the year, our gardens begin to prepare themselves for autumn and winterizing and it's time to plan for its next phase.
· The local weather has three distinct seasons, but that will change as warmer weather is the forecast. It is time to adopt new gardening skills.
· Flowering color beds might be a thing of the past. Instead, drought-tolerant plants, ornamental grasses and succulents might be the new garden theme.
· Adding unique, interesting boulders and assorted gravels will give your garden a new personality and appearance.
· Is now time to retrofit your watering systems and check remote battery-operated time clocks?
· Mulching is my middle name. It reduces soil evaporation, suppresses weeds, and activates soil microbes.
· Look at your plant selection, identify plants that require a lot of water and consider exchanging those plants for more water-wise options.
· Consider removing the lawn, the most water-consuming part of your landscape. A meadow of native grasses can be beautiful, takes less watering and is eco-friendly. Give it some thought, it will lower your water usage and bill.
· "Sunset's Western Garden Guide" is a great resource to have in your library. I have subscribed and collected Sunset magazine for decades and have one issue dated back to 1922 in my collection.
· Consider a greywater system as another watering source for your garden.
· Wait for cooler weather before you start your seasonal veggie plantings. In the meantime, prepare your soil with organic amendments.
· Avoid pruning trees during the hot Indian summer. Look for wilting leaves, a sign the tree requires additional water.
· Test your soil with a tensiometer, an excellent tool that reads the soil's moisture level.
· Now is an excellent time to weed the garden, deadhead flowers, trim back overzealous shrubs and perennials. These trimmings and leaves can be added to your compost pile. Adding some manure will help digest the organic matter. Coffee grounds, egg shells, melon rinds, etc. can be added and will eventually become that black gold to be used back in the garden.
· Consider involving your neighbors in a local gardening project, growing crops of healthy foods to share in your neighborhood. Involve your children in your gardening adventures early. "Vitamin N" – which stands for nature, is an excellent book by Richard Louv.
· Visit the Welburn gourd farm in De Luz and see their array of thousands of dried ornamental gourds. They also offer classes on how to transform the gourds into decorative art pieces.
· "Stagecoach Sunday" is a local, upcoming event I recommend you visit. Oct. 2, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is held at the Palomares House on Stage Coach Lane. A fun gathering of friendly folks enjoying BBQ, music, games and a silent auction. A ride in the beautiful horse-drawn stagecoach is an experience the whole family will enjoy.
This, my first column of "Through my garden gate," gives you an idea of what you can expect to find. I look forward to sharing more garden tidbits and things to do and see in and around Southern California.
Roger Boddaert, ornamental horticulturist, certified arborist and landscape designer, can address, guide and make suggestions related to your garden's specific needs. He can be contacted by email: [email protected].