Fall in the Water Efficient Landscape Gardens
Fall is a wonderful time to visit the water efficient landscape (WEL) demonstration garden at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, which is open to the public seven days a week. The garden features natives, commonly available perennials, trees and shrubs along with plants from other Mediterranean climates that all do well with less water during our long, hot, dry summer days in Sacramento County. Most plants are labeled and many are UC Davis Arboretum All Stars.
The cooler, shorter days are waking the native plants from summer dormancy. Deciduous plants are bowing into winter with flashy orange and crimson leaves, while the back-lit golden ornamental grass inflorescences wave in cool breezes. The diverse foliage on our evergreen shrubs, grasses, perennials and trees sparkles in the rain-freshened air. Late blooming blossoms continue to attract birds, bees and other beneficials.
Our garden continues to delight and engage visitors. While scarlet, crimson, gold and orange leaves on the scarlet oak, persimmon, Chinese pistache, crape myrtles, Trident Maple, and winged Euonymus alatus (aka Burning Bush) remind us that we are now in November, surprising white, purple and pink accents are everywhere.
The lush purple blossoms on the dwarf butterfly bush, Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip', Buddleia hybrid at the entrance continue to attract butterflies. Nearby, shimmering pink/purple inflorescences of the Pink Mulhy grass and lavender tubular blooms on the Pitcher Sage straddle the perimeter fence. Stunning purple stalks of the Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha ‘Santa Barbara’) in the upper parking lot, purple petunia-like ruellia blossoms, Oregon grape berries and lantana in the Mediterranean garden, and the fall blooming salvias continue to attract bees and birds. The dwarf pomegranate in the common variety garden entices with cheery fruits and blossoms. Along the upper pathway the pungent foliage of the Copper Canyon daisies is tipped with masses of yellow, cheerful, bright flowers. Mockingbirds, magpies, crows and hummingbirds swoop, chirp and chatter in delight in the lovely habitat we have given to them.
This attractive native of the United States east of the Mississippi River grows to 80 feet tall by 50 feet wide. The leaves turn a brilliant golden scarlet with cold autumn nights and hang on throughout winter until pushed off by spring buds. Adaptable to a wide variety of soils, and deep rooted, the scarlet oak is commonly used as a street, parkway and lawn shade tree. It is among the trees offered to homeowners by the Sacramento Tree Foundation.
Blue Gramma Grass (Eyelash Grass, Mosquito Grass)
This durable, California native, warm season, grass can be planted densely or used as an individual accent plant. While tolerant of a wide variety of soils, it should not be overwatered or shaded. Blue gramma grass can also be mowed and used as a turf alternative. The eyelash shaped inflorescences appear in late spring or summer on stalks up to 2 feet tall and remain attractive though fall. The low growing feathery base plants range from 4 to 16 inches tall. The grass is mowed back in late fall or winter for renewal. A UC Davis Arboretum All-Star.
Punica granatum ‘Nana’
Pomegranates, which are natives of Northern Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Himalayas, have been in California since the 1770s. Featured at the entrance to our "Commonly Available" garden area, this dwarf variety bears fall ripening fruit that is primarily decorative. It is generally evergreen in Sacramento. Tolerant of many soil types, including alkaline soils, heat and cold, and drought tolerant, it makes a good foundation shrub, hedge, accent or small tree. ‘Nana’ grows to 3 feet high by 6 feet wide.