Trees for Fall Color

Trees provide shade and fall color to our landscape and fall is a great time to plant.

We encourage fall planting and gardeners who do plant in fall, will find their trees establish well over the milder months of winter and emerge in Spring larger and well rooted.

Here are a few trees known to provide great fall color in our climate:

Chinese Pistache
Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis
). Pistache trees are known for their show-stopping autumn foliage. The colors range from a deep purple, maroon, brilliant red, orange to yellow. Once established they do best with deep infrequent watering.
Japanese Maples
Japanese Maples
Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum). This large family has some spectacular entries in the fall color category. We have many varieties to select from including Fireglow, Shaina and Red Dragon. Japanese Maples grow well in morning sun to bright shade, depending on variety. They are an excellent choice for a large container on the patio or entryway.
Acer Rubrum
Acer Rubrum
Acer Rubrum ‘Red Sunset’ and others. These Maples can reach about 40 feet with a 25 to 30-foot spread. This tree is very well liked with an upright branching habit and brilliant red foliage in the fall. We have a number of similar Maples beginning to show color now, making it a perfect time to make a selection.
Crape Myrtle
Crape Myrtle
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica). These colorful shrubs and trees enter spring with light green foliage tinged bronze-red in fall the foliage turns a bright yellow sometimes orange or rarely red. During the summer they are crowned with colorful crepe-like flowers available in a wide variety of colors. The “Muskogee” selection has incredible, reliable sunset fall leaf colors.



Wildlife Garden – Plant to Attract Birds & Animals

Would you like to add movement and life to your garden and at the same time benefit the environment? Why not build a wildlife habitat in your front or back yard? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; do I really want all those pesky animals in my yard? Birds eating my fruit, squirrels digging up my container gardens and oh! The insect invasion! But the truth be known, once a wildlife habitat establishes itself, all these problems will disappear in the wink of an eye.

Eschscholzia californica (California poppy)
Escholtzia californica (California poppy)
Coreopsis sp. (Tickseed)
Coreopsis sp. (Tickseed)
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape)
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape)
Rhamnus californica (California coffeeberry)
Rhamnus californica (California coffeeberry)
Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)
Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)

Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)
Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)

It’s all about balance and using nature to create a setting that will attract beneficial wildlife to your yard. And that’s the keyword: beneficial. Beneficial to you by creating a relaxing place to enjoy your new found friends; beneficial to the environment by reducing pesticide and herbicide chemical usage; and beneficial to the wildlife you’ll be attracting by giving them a place to call home.

Attracting birds

Yeah, if you plant a fruit tree you will have plenty of birds around come harvest time. But what you really need is for them to be around all year with a consistent food source so when harvest time does roll around they’ll be happy and content with the other edible plant material you’ve planted. Some great sources for seeds and berries are Eschscholzia californica (California poppy), Coreopsis sp. (Tickseed), Helianthus (Sunflower), Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape), Rhamnus californica (California coffeeberry), Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon), and Malus sp. (Crabapple). For hummingbirds plant Salvia sp. (Sage), Kniphofia sp. ( Red hot poker), Fuschia sp. (Fuschia), Abelia x grandiflora (Abelia), and Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree). Birds will also work as a natural pesticide as they eat an enormous amount of insects especially when they are feeding their young.

Abelia x grandiflora (Abelia)
Abelia x grandiflora (Abelia)
Malus sp. (Crabapple)
Malus sp. (Crabapple)

Kniphofia sp. (Red hot poker)
Kniphofia sp. (Red Hot Poker)

Water & Shelter

Don’t forget to provide them with a little bit of water; a birdbath, a shallow dish; something for them to bathe in, drink from and keep cool in on those hot summer days. Just remember to place your water source at least six feet away from any good hiding place a predator might use and keep that water fresh and clean every few days.
Put out the welcome mat. Birds also require shelter. Shelter from the elements and shelter from predators; so, hang some birdhouses, build nesting boxes, even brush piles will create a safe place they can call home.

This is just the beginning of creating your wildlife oasis. There are countless more aspects to creating an environmentally friendly garden; come into Alden Lane and about attracting and nurturing beneficial insects, and mulching.

-Josh Pulcinella

September Garden Checklist

Fall is a great time to refresh the soil in your vegetable garden especially if you are planting a winter garden. Bumper Crop or Gold Rush will replenish the fertility of your soil as well as enhance the texture. Bumper Crop and Gold Rush include 15% Chicken manure. See our Recipe for Good Garden Soil in this issue.

September is a wonderful time to set out winter vegetables and flowers. You can plant carrots or radishes from seed. Mid-month we’ll have the full range of transplants available.

Chrysanthemums just say “Fall”! By mid month we’ll have many wonderful colors to choose from. Use in the garden, for pots and for seasonal indoor decorating. New this year, our fantastic local grower has added new varieties of mums sure to brighten up your fall garden. Come in and check out what’s new.

Revitalize your lawn now with these easy steps: thatch, aerate, add Iron Sulfate, Gypsum, Master Start Fertilizer and topdress with Gold Rush, water in with GroMore’s E-Z Wet. It’s also a great month to plant a brand new lawn.

Sow flower seeds. Many wildflowers and spring annuals grow from seeds planted now. Try Sweet Peas, California Poppy, Bachelor Button, and Alyssum.

Feed your fruit trees that are leafless in the winter, one last time until March for increased vigor in the spring. Use Master’s Fruit and Vine Food. Remember to feed citrus monthly year around.

Attend to acid loving plants such as camellias, gardenias and azaleas now. Feed them this month with Master’s Camellia, Azalea, Gardenia Food. In October start feeding with Master Bloom 0-10-10 Fertilizer monthly through March.

Bring in houseplants that have summered outdoors before the nights get too cool. Wash them off thoroughly with warm water and check for hitchhiking pests.

Fall is a great time to plant old fashioned favorites such as hollyhock, Canterbury bells, and foxgloves. Planting them now will ensure a beautiful spring.

Herbs for Cooking

With vegetable garden well established, now is a good time to consider adding some herbs to flavor those dishes!

Herbs can make a familiar dish new or lift an ordinary entrée to gourmet status. Their subtle magic transforms soups, stews, salads, bread, and even desserts. With a bouquet of herbs or a scattering of herb flowers as a garnish, your food will look as wonderful as it tastes.

basil Basil – It’s warm, heady flavor lends itself to Italian or Mediterranean cooking, especially tomato dishes or with eggs, cheese or salads. Special tips: Pesto Sauce: blend 2 c. of fresh basil, ¼ c. of parmesan, ½ c. of olive oil, 3 tbs. of pine nuts or walnuts and 3 cloves of garlic minced. Use on pasta and vegetables.
chives Chives – The subtle onion flavor of chives is perfect in omelets, salads, soups, or on potatoes and other vegetables. Special tips: Get rid of onion odor by chewing on a fresh parsley sprig.
dill Dill – Used for pickling, dill is also wonderful in salads, sauces, soups or bread on vegetables and fish. Special tips: Try pickling green beans, carrots, new potatoes or peppers with a bit of dill.
lavender150 Lavender – The addition of culinary grade lavender in tiny amounts can jazz up dishes as diverse as grilled pork chops, to scones, cakes, and even candy.
margoram150 Marjoram – Like oregano but sweeter, this flavor is perfect in Mediterranean dishes, meats, and vegetables.
mint150 Mint – The flavor of mint is refreshing, cool and sweet, especially good in iced drinks and teas, with lamb or in salad dressings. Special tips: Minty sun tea: Put 8 tea bags, ½ c. of fresh mint leaves and 1 gal. of water in clear glass jar. Set in a sunny spot for several hours. Serve over ice. Plant mint only in a container. it can take over a garden bed if planted in the ground.
parsley150 Parsley – For a clean sharp and peppery taste, add to vegetables and salads as a garnish. Include in sauces, soups, stews, and stuffing. Special tips: Parsley is high in Vitamins A, C, and B.
rosemary150 Rosemary – The flavor of rosemary is bold and piney. Use it in pickles, jams, preserves, and sauces, as well as meats and soups. Special tips: Use a branch of rosemary as a basting brush at your next barbeque, or put some on the coals for a great aroma.
sage150 Sage – Warm, slightly bitter, this flavor is a must for turkey stuffing, as well as pork, duck and sausage seasoning. Special tips: Dried sage leaves are used as a substitute for coffee or tea.
tarragon150 Tarragon – A spicy, sharp flavor with licorice and mint overtones, tarragon lends itself to French cooking, egg dishes, fish, and salad dressing. Special tips: Tarragon vinegar: Pour a qt. of cold vinegar over ½ c. fresh tarragon leaves, cap and store for 4 weeks.



Bonus Dollars

Bonus Dollar Season Opens August 1!

Bring out the Bonus Dollars you have been saving.

August is the month to redeem them. Bonus Dollars are distributed April 1 through May 31.

You earn 10% of your total purchases and are paid in Alden Lane Nursery Bonus Dollars. These Bonus Dollars are redeemable August 1 through Labor Day, (Now extended through September 17th).

They are to be used for up to 50% of your purchases in August.
For example: if you have 10 Bonus Dollars you may use all 10 on a purchase of $20 or more.

(Bonus Dollars are not valid with other discounts or coupons. Bonus Dollars are not valid on sod, sale items or other special orders. Sales limited to stock on hand. Not redeemable for cash.)

Blooming this Week

This week in the nursery we settle into a peaceful and quiet time after an eventful week with Art Under the Oaks. The nursery is full of bright summer party colors and heat loving bloomers.  Crape myrtles are lined up in neat rows and spilling into the aisles with lovely color.   The following are pictures snapped this week. Come in and enjoy these beauties first hand.

Hybrid Hibiscus
Mounding Mandevilla
Canna Lily
Dynamite Crape Myrtle
Dynamite Crape Myrtle
Pink Bower Vine
Pink Bower Vine
Picotee Begonia
Picotee Begonia

Plant a Second Crop of Sunflowers

Many sunflowers planted this past spring have already sprung, their flowers are fading, and seed heads are forming.

Thanks to our mild California climate we can enjoy a bumper crop and second harvest by planting sunflowers a second time. Planting sunflowers from seed now will give an abundant crop of bouquet-ready blossoms for the fall table.

The best varieties for fall harvest are generally the shorter ones and the multi-branching ones. “Autumn Beauty” is a moderate grower with multi-branched habit and a color perfectly suitable for the season.

Sunflowers are easy to grow in any soil. Water to establish and expect blooms in six to eight weeks.

Funshops are like Workshops

NEW! – FUNSHOP for Kids – Like a workshop, but more fun.

Introducing a new way to have fun at Alden Lane! You can book an awesome activity like building a Fairy Garden, making a Fairy Door, decorating a pot and planting it, and our newest activity- making Fossils.

Choose an activity, get a herd of youngsters together and we will provide the materials and instruction for all.

We don’t call it a WORKshop- because it is so much FUN. Here’s the best part! If you want to make the Funshop into a Birthday Party or other celebration, we can add a party setup with tables and chairs, and have your party right here!

Add on a Fairy Door Hunt and you have got yourself one amazing celebration.

Put away your cell phones and game devices and let your kids experience the joy of creativity in such a lovely environment as Alden Lane.

More detailed information can be found in our Garden Store or contact Sue ( (925) 447-0280 to get info or book a Funshop.

Move Houseplants Outdoors for Summer

house-plantsSummertime R & R is beneficial not just for the humans, houseplants and orchids revel in a little outdoor vacation of their own.

In summer and even into fall conditions are perfect for moving some of your houseplants onto the porch or into an area where they get shade and shelter from the sun and strong drying winds.

Even in the shade, outdoor light gives your houseplants and especially your indoor orchids, an extra shot of light to refresh them and give them extra energy for the winter ahead.

Remember, outdoors the plants will need a bit more regular watering as they will dry out quickly. When it comes time to bring them indoors, check them over carefully so you don’t transfer unwanted pests inside.


Penstemons are easy to care for and beautiful and water-wise. A North American native; these living jewels thrive in the arid west tolerating poor soil… as long as it drains well. Amending our heavy clay soil with Gold Rush is an easy fix. Consider adding this showy perennial to your garden this summer.

Penstemons are perfectly sized for a bed or a border at about 30″ x 30″. The flowers look a bit like foxglove, tubular in shape, running the length of the stem. The colors are rich and vibrant, some with white throats. Color options range from pale pink to red, purple and lavender and from soft pastels to near true-blues. We even have California native varieties.

Care is easy. If you tend to neglect to fertilize and keep your watering on the dry side penstemons will be a welcome garden addition. Removal of spent flower stems ensures continuous bloom early summer through fall. Most Penstemons are evergreen and prefer full sun.

A fun fact from the American Horticulture Society: “Beautiful and clever, penstemon can regulate nectar flow on demand, nectar flow increases when regularly visited by hummingbirds.”