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Around the Yard

November 23, 2000|ROBERT SMAUS

Things to do this week:

* Plant fall foliage. If leaves are going to change color at all in Southern California, they will wait until now to turn. Ginkgoes are the most reliable, turning a rich gold even near the coast. Chinese pistache is the most colorful, at least in the colder inland valleys. Liquidambar are the most common, though there are less common kinds that turn specific colors, such as 'Palo Alto,' which turns a reliable orange-red.

Others to investigate include Japanese maple, locust, Chinese flame tree (Koelreuteria), crape myrtle, sour gum (Nyssa), persimmon, Chinese tallow tree (Sapium), sassafras and zelkova. Most of these color best in inland gardens, where nights get nippy.

Now is the time to shop for and plant these trees, when you can judge how good they color up.

* Bedding over bulbs. Don't waste the soil above bulbs that are waiting to sprout; plant annuals on top. The late George deGennaro, a bulb fanatic and photographer, used to sow the seed of native baby blue eyes on top of daffodil bulbs so they would bloom together to make striking fields of soft blue and bright yellow. Another notable gardener planted magenta obconica primroses with white freesias. The stiff primroses helped hold the floppy freesias upright.

Other traditional bulb covers are sweet alyssum, the fragrant Virginia stock, linaria and forget-me-nots--all sown as seed. But any short, small-flowered annual will work. Come up with your own schemes, like creamy yellow violas planted over orange homeria or blue babianas; or violet 'Easter Basket' sweet alyssum over deep purple sparaxis.

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