I know, I know! It’s October already. The days are shorter and mornings can be downright chilly. Stroll down any retail store aisle and you’re assaulted with Halloween clutter. There’s even hints of Thanksgiving and Christmas already. Your favorite Home & Garden magazines are Fall-this-Autumn-that, cover-to-cover. You’ve been here before. You knew it was coming. Those magical mid-summer mornings with coffee and the morning paper on the patio; they couldn’t last forever. Those sultry, summer afternoons where you swear that you saw the tomato trusses forming right before your eyes; they were bound to end. I know, your cucumber vines are hardening and your zucchini plants aren’t flowering anymore. Yes, your tomatoes are weak and giving up yield, and the radishes are all but a memory. Summer’s over. So what?! Don’t feel blue, be sad, or lament. Definitely don’t hang up that hoe and padlock the garden shed… not just yet. It’s October! Grow Something!
Cool Season Annuals – Garden Favorites
Many gardeners think of annuals as “summer-only” plants. Garden centers fill aisle-after-aisle with hundreds of inexpensive varieties of beautiful, flowering annuals for your garden. But you can find fantastic bargains on stunning annuals this time of year. California gardens flourish in autumn with cool season annuals such as larkspur, African daisy, foxglove, Iceland poppy, pansies and petunias. Even sweet alyssum, sweet pea and snapdragons are suitable for planting in autumn.
African daisies are known by various names: cape marigolds, osteospermum and star-of-the-veldt. They grow in mounds, 12 inches tall, and flower profusely during cool seasons. The flowers are starburst-shaped and can be yellow, rose, white or pink. Drought tolerant, African daisies prefer cool, dry weather and can bloom when it’s just 45 degrees F.
Snapdragons have delicate, lightly scented flowers, branching from strong 36 inch stems. The open-face flowers are stunning, en masse. The plant grows tall, sometimes up to 5 feet. The dramatic vertical presentation of the flowers make them perfect for cut flowers, set tall in a vase.
Whether you choose to bolster your winter garden borders with sweet alyssum, or hide an ugly fence with sweet pea and snapdragons, don’t let the shortened days and chilly mornings of autumn stop you from bringing color and life to your outdoor spaces.