Cool, Crisp, Montecito Mornings

Unless you have lived in Montecito for some time, you may not notice the changes that occur at the end of September heralding the beginning of autumn. In my opinion, there is no better time of year to live in 93108. Cool, crisp mornings requiring a jacket or sweater signal the absence of the marine layer that frequents summers on the coast. Finally, by George! There are islands out in the channel (most days anyway). It is a time for taking stock; preparing for the year’s end and yes, even (oh, yes!) the holiday season ahead.

In the garden, it is also time to take stock; surveying your domain, making plans for the future and consolidating your garden assets.

The first thing is to look around your garden and determine what is working for you; if there is something that isn’t working, take note of that too. What do I mean by working? Simple: is the garden or area doing what it is supposed to be doing? For example, if you planted a tree that was supposed to provide shade for a patio, is it providing the shade you had envisioned? If there is an area where you planted colorful perennials, is it giving you the year-round color you wanted? The list of examples is endless, but I think you know what I mean.

The areas of the garden that you like, that are doing what you want them to do, are assets, protect them and care for them.

How do you do that?

Cut back perennials and give them the last feeding of the year (organically, please). Roses should be cut back by about one-third and fed to ensure a blast of bloom in December.

Trees should be pruned before the winter rains and should be deep watered (this has been a very dry year and they are probably thirsty) Call an Arborist for the tree work; they know how to keep the trees healthy and happy.

Shop now for spring-blooming bulbs like Narcissus, Daffodils, and Tulips etc. Though you won’t plant them right away, shop now to get the best selection.

Create new watering basins around your trees and shrubs and cut out the dead wood.

I am predicting a wet winter (we had a big fire this summer which historically means a rainy winter follows) so stabilize your hillsides. Plant deep-rooting natives like Ceanothus, Matilija Poppy and Toyon.

Plant herbs, and cool-season vegetables like artichokes, broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, onions, leeks, and garlic. There are some cool-season tomatoes available that might be worth trying.

Maintenance of your irrigation system should be done at least once per year, so get this done and remember to reset your controller now that cooler weather is here.

Mulch everything. There should not be any dirt showing, no drip hoses, nothing but lovely, dark mulch. Mulch will help feed the soil and retain moisture.

Now, what about the areas that aren’t so wonderful, not looking the way you want them to look? There is no better time of year to landscape than now. The weather is still warm and there is time to get things planted and looking good before the holiday season. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, make a plan, get out to the nurseries, ask loads of questions and start planting. If not, call in a professional. But whatever you do, have some fun, create the garden you always wanted, and spend more time in it.

“Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of gardening. It’s the one area where we can all use our nascent creative talents to make a truly satisfying work of art. Every individual, with thought, patience and a large portion of help from nature, has it in them to create their own private paradise; truly a thing of beauty and joy forever.” – Geoff Hamilton