As you find them, now is the time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring and that can be left in the ground to multiply over the coming years. These include narcissus, daffodils and paperwhites. Plant so that the top tips of the bulbs are about four inches below the top of the soil. Iris can be divided now. Notice how deep the plant is in the ground. Iris do not have a true bulb and the tubular base does not need to be planted very deep.
Don't forget, now is the time to make a real effort not to waste water. Usage between now and the end of next March is used to determine your sewer charge for the next year. If you look on your monthly SAWS bill you will notice that usually the largest amount charged is the sewer charge.
Putting in a xeric garden can substantially reduce water use since normally about 40 percent is used in the garden. SAWS again has a water saver coupon program that will pay you $100 for the cost of doing away with at least 200 square feet of grass and replacing it with suggested drought tolerant plants. The current program runs through November 30, 2013. Go to saws.org/coupon for details. To see the results of this program, go by 510 E. Guenther and look at the front garden. Another new neighborhood xeric garden can be seen at 623 Mission St.
This column usually mentions trees, shrubs and flowering plants and perennials. I apologize to you neighborhood vegetable gardeners who enjoy growing some of your own food. Growing vegetables is an important gardening activity and a good way to get children interested in gardening, since many can be harvested after only a couple of months from the time seeds are planted.
Now is not too soon to start thinking about what to plant in the spring. Most independent nurseries and feed stores have a good selection of seeds and are happy to share their knowledge on what and how to grow plants that give the best return for your effort. One such plant is okra. It can be started from seed in the spring and once it starts producing will provide a rich harvest for months that can be shared with family and friends. It's amazing what a green thumb can accomplish.
Garden Note: Architects cannot teach nature anything. Mark Twain