October has always been a month of “transition to darkness” for us, when the days get shorter, and people and presumably nature retreat inward, to prepare for winter. In college, October was the month when you realized that it was time to start studying and catch up on the reading you had failed to do. In our daily occupations, October has been a month in which work becomes more burdensome as clients focus on year-end goals and decide to get busy. All inward, hunkering down. This explains why we were totally surprised to see a burst of cheerfulness — new growth and flowering throughout the gardens in October. Here are a few examples:
Arctostaphylos viridissima (manzanita): Planted in Summer 2011. Flowering for the first time in our gardens.
Ribes viburnifollium (catalina perfume): Numerous new leaf buds. When you rub this between your fingers, it releases a wonderfully light fragrance.
Acanthus mollis (bear’s breeches): In August, we cut this back all the way to the ground. It burst from the ground in October.
Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree): Flowering in October 2011. The flower shape is very similar to the manzanita above. The urn-like flower is common to the Ericacaea family of plants (also known as the Heath family) — and Arbutus and Arctostaphylos are two of the genera within that family.
Liriope muscari: Flowered in early October. In early September, I visited Kew Gardens in London and their Liriope was in full bloom at that time. Wonderful.
Callistemon viminalis (bottlebrush tree): shows significant new growth and flowers in early October.