Folks back East may beg to differ with you, but we do have seasons in California.
And although fall color may be harder to come by on the West Coast, it's not out of the question at all. In fact, it's something that can easily be added to the garden by including plants with brilliant foliage, bright berries and autumn-blooming flowers.
A wide variety of intriguing plants show their true colors at this time of year, most notably trees, but also some vines and shrubs, according to Peggy Davidson, a staff member of the landscaping design department at McShane's Nursery & Landscape Supply in Salinas.
"I love picking out plants for fall color," said Davidson, a licensed contractor who has a degree in ornamental horticulture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
She recommends looking at certain trees now, when their fall colors are on view, to see which shades might fit best in your yard.
For instance, Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) "is best picked out in the fall so you can see their colors," said Davidson. "Some are just yellow, and others are flame colored."
Even familiar trees like Japanese maple may surprise you, depending on what cultivar is selected. Most gardeners think of this small tree as being a brilliant red in the fall months, but Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) comes in a variety of different colors, such as the new "Hana Matoi," which has pink and green variegated leaves, or "Hogyoku," which may in autumn sport red, yellow and orange leaves all at the same time.
Other varieties have reds that range from a deep wine color to bright scarlet, some have green leaves that are outlined in red throughout spring and summer before turning entirely red, and there is also a great deal of variety in leaf shape.
Another reliable color-changer is ginkgo, also known as maidenhair (Gingko biloba), a deciduous tree that changes to a bright yellow in the fall. "This is about the time of year when they start to turn," said Glenn Church, who grows exotic conifers and other trees at his Royal Oaks farm, including gingko, which has pretty, fan-shaped leaves.
Davidson also likes ginkgo: "The tree grows very slowly, but it's good for small gardens."
Another one of her favorites isn't seen often on the West Coast, but will grow well here if planted.
"The tupelo tree (Nyssa sylvatica) turns the most scarlet red you can imagine," said Davidson, noting that the tupelo is native to the Southeast and does well as long as it has some water available, such as in a lawn area.
Two others that can be effective are liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua) — a brilliant yellow in the autumn, but needing lots of space to spread out — and raywood ash (Fraxinus oxycarpa), also a largish tree, but with leaves that turn an unusual burgundy color.
Also attractive in the fall are persimmon trees and pear trees, with persimmon leaves becoming a distinctive orange hue, and pear leaves changing to red or orange.
Another fruit, this one a vine, is also a colorful addition to fall gardens. Grape leaves will turn beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow, and the California grape (Vitis californica) is not only a native, but also fire-resistant, according to Big Sur landscaper and TV personality Dave Egbert.
Other vines that change color include Boston ivy and Virginia creeper; wisteria leaves will also turn yellow in the fall.
Shrubs can also lend a grace note in autumn. Crepe myrtle and heavenly bamboo both both have color-changing leaves; heavenly bamboo will do well just about anywhere, while crepe myrtle likes warmer temperatures better, Davidson said, and is probably more suited to Carmel Valley than the Monterey Peninsula.
Other shrubs are festooned with bright red berries in the fall, like holly, cotoneaster and native toyon. All these are great for bringing into the house to use in fall and winter arrangements. There are numerous different varieties of holly and cotoneaster, ranging from small to large; low-growing varieties of cotoneaster are useful as groundcover.
Another that Davidson has recently discovered is beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma), which is laden with purple berries in the fall as well as yellow leaves. "They're gorgeous and showy," she said.
Of course, don't overlook flowers. Cool-weather spring bloomers like primrose, pansies, violas and cyclamen all do well in the fall, and others that blossom this time of year include sedum and echineacea, which is covered in small white flowers, and blue aster.
Another that Davidson loves is California fuschia (Zauschneria californica), another native, and one that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to the yard. Depending on the variety, its trumpet-shaped flowers can range in color from deep red to light pink, and are drought-resistant and fire-retardant.
"They'll bloom from late summer through the fall, until they go dormant," said Davidson