In a Mediterranean climate like California's, fall is as much a time of resurrection as it is a swan song for the growing season.

by John Bagnasco

As liquidambars and ginkgo begin to color, soon to reveal fascinating winter scaffolds, fall bulbs are hovering on the brink of bursting forth with new growth and flowers. The state is not restricted to an offering of Dutch bulbs only. Indeed the warmer areas are better suited to some of the South African natives that don’t require winter chilling for Oscar-winning performances.
Daffodils, along with jonquil and narcissus siblings do well in all parts of the state and these are bulbs that gophers won’t bother. Tulips and hyacinths should be refrigerated 6-8 weeks in southern California and moderate coastal areas. But why stick to bulbs that northern states grow? Now is a great time to try some of the California native bulbs like Calochortus, Brodiaea, and Triteleia. It is also fun to experiment with the lesser-grown African bulbs, like Ixia, Sparaxis, Babiana, and Watsonia. For something truly exotic, search out the elusive Ixia viridiflora, whose striking turquoise flowers sport a color unlike any other in the plant world.
Fertilizing at planting time guarantees superior spring blooms, but bone meal is too alkaline for California soils. Use a complete organic food that may have, a blend of fish bone meal, alfalfa meal, humic acid, seaweed extract and mycorrhizae. .Also, a handful of Milorganite mixed into the soil would suffice.