The Perfect Time to Plant

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Duane West planting Carpenteria californica 'Elizabeth' at Heronswood
Fall planting

Duane West planting Carpenteria californica ‘Elizabeth’ at Heronswood this week

Fall is Planting Season

The rain has returned! And with it, an excellent reminder that there is still plenty of time to add new plants to your garden. We’re at the end of another gardening year here in the Pacific Northwest, and if you’re anything like us here at Heronswood, you’ve been scheming ways to boost the summer display in that one border, or add color to your woodland garden. Fortunately, Heronswood’s fall sale and garden open coincides with this shift in the seasons, and we’ll have plenty of excellent plant vendors on hand from 10-3 this Saturday, to help you fill those gaps.

Carpenteria californica in flower

Trees, shrubs, even perennials are all grateful to have a long season of rest and rain before they push out new growth and blooms next year. Plants that appear dormant in fall are secretly growing, taking advantage of the consistent soil moisture to build stronger and deeper root systems. Letting your plants have a full season of restful root growth will give them an advantage going into next year, and a likely head start over the same species planted in the spring.

We celebrated the return of the rainy season by planting Carpenteria californica ‘Elizabeth’ in the upper rock wall garden at Heronswood. This is a new genus for us here in the garden, and a wonderful one. It’s a large, evergreen shrub in the Hydrangeaceae family, and bears a passing resemblance to related Philadelphus. It’s the sole species in its genus, and is rare in the wild, endemic to a few chaparral and oak woodland sites in California. This particular cultivar boasts smaller, plentiful flowers and a more compact growth habit. We’ve planted it slightly deeper than normal, and are crossing our fingers that it makes it through the winter, given that we’re on the edge of its hardiness zone.

– Nathan Lamb, Curator/Assistant Director