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Bulbs that you plant now for bloom in the fall.

For subtle and delicate flowers for fall, look for autumn-blooming bulbs in nurseries or mail-order catalogs this month. Their flowers range from compact clumps to wispy wands, spring-like pastels to tiny sparks of fiery color.

Fall bloomers last best in cooler areas; there they can bear full sun or bright shade. Dry, inland heat can abort or shorten bloom; to compensate, plant in a wind-sheltered site that gets morning light and afternoon shade and be sure to water amply.

Some are widely sold; some require a search

Coichicum and zephyranthes are widely available. You may also find others described here in bloom now or in the next few months, especially at nurseries that specialize in uncommon plants. Since these bulbs sell fast, ask your nursery when they're expected.

Or order by mail from Anthony J. Skittone, 1415 Eucalyptus Dr., San Francisco 94132 (catalog $1), or Wayside Gardens, Inc., I Garden Lane, Hodges, S.C. 29695 (catalog $1).

All are distinctly different

Coichicum looks like a giant crocus. Large, firm bulbs should bloom by October in white, lavender, or pink. In pots, barely cover; in the ground, bury 3 to 4 inches deep in gritty, well-drained soil. Keep moist but not soggy. The leaves are big and floppy, up to a foot long, so don't plant close to other tiny treasures that might be suffocated.

Croscosmia sends up small spa rk-like flowers this month in gold, orange, or red; a few, like the one shown above right, are broad-petaled and quite showy. All make good cut flowers. Plants need moisture and ample light to bloom; after bloom, let foliage dry before pulling off. If you can't find plants, buy corms for bloom next year. Plant them 3 inches apart and equally deep; they multiply like mad. Thin when crowded. In freezing climates, plant in pots, or dig and store as you would gladiolus.

White zephyranthes (Z. candida, often sold as Milla biflora) makes a neat little mound of ankle-high, grassy leaves sprinkled with flowers. They're usually sold in bloom this month in gallon cans. To encourage flowers off and on all spring and summer, alternately keep plants dry, then drench them. If dry periods aren't too long, leaves stay green. Bait regularly for snails and slugs.

Schizostylis sends up 1-1/2- to 2-foot spikes of rich pink or scarlet flowers that open for at least a month in the garden or about a week in bouquets. You can order plants or bulbs by mail for bloom later this fall. After bloom, cut back on water until spring, but keep plants moist enough to keep foliage healthy; it's evergreen.

Plant roots 4 inches deep and 4 inches apart (2 inches deep and apart for containers). If necessary, protect them from freezing by planting in pots and moving them indoors in winter.

The ranch house was born and raised in the West. In 1825, Rafael Gonzales built one in Santa Barbara for his bride. From 1836 to 1846, General Mariano Vallejo built one as headquarters for his 75,000-acre Petaluma, California, spread. As singlefamily homes, ranch houses grew more popular in the 1930s. But they really came into their own in the postwar boom of the 1950s and '60s, with the merchant-built ranch tract. What is the ranch house ideal? Here's how Sunset described it in the 1940s: "It has never known a set style. It was shaped by needs for a special way of living-informal, yet gracious. Its outstanding characteristic is its ability to furnish variety in outdoor living without limiting the interior." Contemporary versions combine traditional elements-such as a low-pitched roof and extended eaves-with modern ones such as open plans. But they remain responsive to topography and climate to create suitable settings for an informal way of life. Historic adobes in Monterey, California, show some of the style's classic features: a broad, protecting roof, generous, shade-making verandas; walls that open to informal courtyards to take advantage of the benign coastal climate. The Larkin house (top picture) illustrates the careful proportions and studied simplicity that have interested architects since it was built. With more than 1,000 completed designs, perhaps the most influential popularizer of the Western ranch house is designer Cliff May (large photograph), who celebrates his 80th birthday this month. His first book on the subject, coauthored with Sunset editors in 1946, sold more than 50,000 copies.

May created a flowing sense of space that seemed to emanate from a solid, embracing central hearth. His houses ramble across their sites in an architectural gesture as carefully controlled but casual-seeming as the toss of a well-thrown lariat. In 1951, he designed Sunset's Menlo Park, California, headquarters as an elaboration on the ranch house appropriate for a publisher addressing the concerns of Western homeowners. Modern architects, like Pietro Belluschi of Portland and William Wurster of the Bay Area, also expanded the idea. Today, such architects as San Francisco's William Turnbull continue to reinterpret the style by adding dormers or even moving the veranda indoors proving that after almost 200 years the ranch house remains a vigorous Western tradition.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1988
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