Heritage Landscapes Newsletter: Introduction, Fall Activities, Pruning in our Mediterranean Climate

Almora Hudson September 29, 2020

Welcome to the Heritage Landscapes Newsletter

Creating Paradise One Garden at a Time
At Heritage Landscapes, our staff collaborates with our clients to create and care for their beautiful outdoor living spaces.  We are deeply interested in our clients’ hardscapes, plant cultivation, and the responsible crafting and care of their landscapes.  Together, we know that our collective connection to the local environment and the environment matters.  To this end, our seasonal and periodic articles are meant to enhance our communication, provide education about our landscape activities & strategies, and inspire.
Be on the lookout for these upcoming topics:
Current projects & events.
Seasonal activities & strategies.
Healthy soil for healthy plants.
Proper plant selection:  plants we love, plants to avoid & why.
Plant care:  fertilizing and pruning.
Organic gardening practices.
Bay-Friendly principles.
Low water-use strategies & irrigation maintenance.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods.
Fire Safe gardening.

Fall Activities

Garden Clean-Up
Cut back warm-season grasses.
Clean up leaf debris.
General debris removal and clearing.
Harvest the last of summer vegetables.
Select and plant bulbs now for Spring color.
Refresh pots with Fall color.
Plant cool-season vegetables.
Evaluate Landscapes for Fall & Winter projects:
Compost and mulch with organic amendments to nourish the soil and take advantage of the winter rains to water in the nutrients.
Planting bed re-designs.
Hardscape repairs and enhancements:  fences, decks, paving stones, etc.

Pruning in our Mediterranean Climate

We all appreciate the wonderful climate we enjoy here in Marin County.  It is generally neither too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter, the characteristics of a Mediterranean Climate. Along with our placement between longitude 40º N and 40º S, we share these characteristics with: Southwestern Australia, Central Chile, Coastal California, Western Cape of South Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin.
Our climate allows plants to flower almost all year round.  We never experience a “true winter” where everything goes dormant.  The Western Garden Book puts us in Zones 15, 16, and 17 with an average growing season of Mid- February through November.  No wonder everything is going strong through Fall:  some plants just keep going such as Lavenders, Princess Bushes, and Hydrangeas.  Even some Cyclamen continue to bloom for nearly a year.  The upside is the continuous abundance we enjoy.  But plants do need a rest from growing and blooming in order to remain vital for their natural lifespan.

As horticulturalists, we know that these plants must have an opportunity to stop producing and we also need an opportunity to properly prune and shape the plants for health and aesthetics.  How do we determine when to prune something that is in constant bloom?  We want our clients to understand the need for the periodic removal of branches and sprouts that are actively budding and blooming.  We take our cues from the subtle changes of season that we do experience as well as based on the condition of the overall garden and the needs of the individual plant.
For example, Lavenders can be pruned hard (down to as low as 8 inches) after the first rain.  The rain makes the flowers soggy so they don’t look great anyway.  Buds are likely still on the plant but they can and should be sheared off as well.  This gives the plant a rest and a chance to reset the budding.  Usually, by March or April, they are in full bloom again.  After a couple of months, they can be lightly sheared to get a second full bloom out of them.
Similarly, Hydrangeas and Princess Bushes Tibuchina bloom continuously and can become leggy, overgrown, and misshapen.  If they are overgrown, we cut these plants back hard to the height of a stool.  This can be done after the first rain or on an as-needed basis.  Pruning for shape at any time of year will help them rest and reset.
Perennials such as Salvia, Catnip Nepeta, and certain ornamental Grasses can also become leggy and overgrown with faded blooms.  We periodically cut these plants down to within an inch of their crown and very soon are rewarded with new growth & blooms and overall renewed health and vigor.

Work With Us

We believe that seeing your landscape come to life should be as exciting and enjoyable as when it is complete. Our promise ensures an outstanding experience with clear communication throughout the design and construction process.