Fall field trip

Petaluma nursery has unusual finds for autumn planting

If you're looking for unusual plants, you'll want to visit Cottage Gardens of Petaluma this month. Everything in the nursery is on sale, just in time for fall planting.

Set on a terraced hillside, the nursery specializes in out-of-the-ordinary finds ― including Mediterranean, Australian, and South African varieties that thrive in climates similar to Northern California's.

"Rather than try to be all things to all people, we pick specialized groups of plants and do those well," co-owner Daria Morrill says. Some of Morrill's less common favorites, available in limited quantities during the sale, include Erica verticillata, an evergreen shrub from South Africa with feathery green leaves and mauve flowers in summer; and Lepechinia hastata, a dramatic 6- by 6-foot perennial from Mexico, with long, arrow-shaped leaves and mauve summer flowers.

But if you're looking for some tried-and-true fall bloomers, you'll find those too. Morrill's favorites include Anemone japonica, asters, Helianthus angustifolius, and sedum 'Autumn Joy'.

INFO: Cottage Gardens of Petaluma (9-5 daily; sale runs through Sep; 3995 Emerald Dr., Petaluma; 707/778-8025)

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http://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/fall-field-trip-00400000019252/