Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Planting Time


collecting sunflower seeds from our plethora harvested sunflowers, as described in my last blog entry.

Here in Sacramento the weather gods usually bless us with a temporary period of mild warmth in the early months of Fall and this is definitely the ideal time for new plantings. Better by far than Spring’s heady rush to ‘get stuff in the ground’, I’ve found that planting in fall brings the most benefit from winter’s rain and dormancy. The plants are nice and established by the time the drying valley heat arrives.

Yes, now is my favorite time to add new plants, especially natives. I get a little giddy this time of year, the time of the first rains.

Gotta get planting! Gotta hit the plant sales!

Just a few weekends ago saw the first fall plant sale of The Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. It was being held at the Shepherd Garden & Arts Center in McKinley Park. I grabbed the chance and the kids, and headed over to check it out.

There was alot going on in a small space, with natives enthusiasts and novices alike peppering the experienced staff with questions and request. There was too much to look at and with my three boys underfoot I knew my time was limited. I handed the camera to the kids so they could help me make a ‘record’ of the plants I liked while I tried to make impossible choices.

Salvia, bush lupin, penstemon, oh my!

In the end I couldn’t pick just one and spent next week’s babysitting money before I even earned it. Hmming and Hahing between a white sage and a salvia, finally I was advised by a Cornflower Farms employee to “just go with the scent”.

Ahhh, the delicious heady fragrance of Salvia!

So many choices! Maybe this White Sage (Salvia apiana) ?

Ultimately the aroma of Salvia “Pozo Blue’ (leucophylla x clevelandii )won out over ‘Allen Chickering’. But, just barely.

By the way, when reviewing these pics later at home I got a real kick out of the photos my kids took at the sale. Very Pecker-esque. They somehow capture the vibe of native plant nerd-scene very well!

photo: Lincoln Sabini

It’s not just the shopping for plants that’s fun but also the actual planting of them that can bring some excitement ,and a kind of race-against-time thrill when the first rain of the season is predicted in the forecast.
Trying to beat  last week’s early ‘winter’ storm, the boys and I frantically began to do the footwork for planting. Many days of collective digging (the perfect job for busy boys) brought us several new and improved garden beds, ready for seeds and starts!
And even more exciting for us…we  finally got to use these weird futuristic seed packs that were unloaded upon us at this year’s State Fair.
Real quick, here’s the backstory: As the kids were sampling free yoghurt at the fair this summer, one of the Dannon employees came up to me and asked me would I like some seeds for chives? Sure I said. 
She pulls out a box of silver packets, which looked like mini-robot condom packets or something. “Wow, that’s alot of seeds… lucky us!” I said bewilderingly, as Dannon-girl dumped a generous handful into my bag.
“Well,” she said, “you looked like the type”.
 The type to do what?? Plant chives? Well,…alright!

each packet contained a cardboard square with chive seeds pressed in between. made in china, natch.

And so with the rain clouds threatening,we finally got them in the ground. I also got in carrots, chamomile and pea seeds too but the rain ended up being heavier than I imagined and in some places too much soil washed away. More bed-tending to do….

just in time for the rain...

But the on the plus side, the rainfall made for great digging conditions , and the warm sunshine led to lots of weeding and soil-amending this weekend. And this of course  brought with it another dose of planting-fever.

Luckily this fever corresponded nicely the Green Acres Fall Festival on Saturday. With free food, live music and face-painting for the kids it was a sweet little festival for families, and a genius way to entice plant-a-holics like me to shop!

As I perused the aisles of gorgeous eye-candy annuals, I passed my camera to my son and asked him to take some pictures, “for the blog”.

Once again, I was really impressed with the mood and images my boy managed to capture. The color, the abundance, the bright autumn sky. He certainly has a great point-of-view and it’s fun to see it bloom (as it were!).

So please enjoy the  the following pictures, all courtesy of  Maceo Della Ripa.

Great job Maceo! And thank you Green Acres, what a refreshing way to ‘stimulate the economy ‘ and get us all digging in the earth again. Speaking of which, I gotta fly.  Fall planting time is here! There’s work to do!


8 Responses to “Planting Time”

  1. Norman Ross Powers

    It’s curious that a yoghurt company was giving away chive seeds,
    though they may be onto something with the cardboard-sandwich
    “delivery system.” I’ll bet the unseasonable rains didn’t wash out the protected chive seeds as they may have with some of your other seed plantings. Also, they must help meter the number of seeds going into the ground in a way that’s sometimes hard to do by hand with teeny-tiny seeds. These new-fangled seed packets appear to be to conventional seed envelopes as peel-off postage stamps are to old style lick ’em stamps!

  2. oami powers

    Awesome pics. I have to say, up until I listened to an audio book about the dust bowl, it had never occurred to me to plant in fall rather than spring. We’ll have to talk more about it, as I think it may have similar benefits here, where the summer is so hot.

  3. Jo Ann Wall

    What a beautiful picture and story of spring! I agree with oami – landscaping could certainly become a family tradition. Maceo, you never fail to impress me with your talent.

  4. Sandra Hallsted

    Meera and I planted carrots in the rain yesterday thanks to your gardening inspiration!

  5. Diana Nicholson

    So glad you chose the Salvia, Rucha….one of my favourites. All makes me feel more reconciled about getting home to my garden in just over a week, and hopefully getting some planting done before the summer. Your autumn planting makes me feel hopeful that the gardenia hedge put in before I left may have survived….
    And what else could we expect :wonderful boys = wonderful pictures!
    love to all the gardeners and photographers from Aunt Diana

  6. Plant Nerd | East Twin West Twin

    […] Something else I have come to accept is that a garden is only as good as the quality of its plants, and that depends on the source of the plants. In wandering through my garden I’ve noticed that the healthiest, most robust of my perennials have come to me as starts from friend’s gardens, or from small reliable sellers. I have a gorgeous chartreuse grass and a thriving Bulbinella floribunda that I bought from Good Humus Farm‘s Annie Main a few years ago at a farm day. Another of my favorite areas is a bed of healthy and well-established California natives, a Penstemon palmeri and a heavily-scented Salvia clevelandii, both of which are massive and both of which I got as little babies in 4″ inch pots from our local Cornflower Farms in Elk Grove (see them in their infancy in this post). […]


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