Archive for March, 2014

Official Spring Update

March 19, 2014

Yay! Spring is officially here, and the garden is abloom — though not yet completely.

First of all, we had our first poppy a couple of weeks ago:


Since that time, quite a few more have shown up (and we’re not nearly through):



Here’s an overall view of the east side of the yard with its riot of wildflowers. The purple ones in the foreground are lupines, while most the of the ones in the background are Elegant Clarkias:


Last fall I created a small mound near the driveway on the west side using some leftover soil, and sowed some wildflower seeds. None of the seeds seemed to be germinating, even while the seeds from last year’s wildflowers were growing like crazy. I assumed I had done something wrong in sowing the seeds, and basically wrote them off.

But a few weeks ago we had our first serious rain of the winter — a deluge (finally!). And a couple of weeks later, some of the seeds started poking out from the soil!

Here’s the mound — it looks barren:


But a closer look reveals the new growth:


Most of these are small at present, at most about 1/2 high.  But today I noticed the first one had bloomed! It’s a Tidy Tip (Layia platyglossa):


Tidy Tips are new for my garden; I haven’t planted them before. It looks like quite a few are forthcoming. There are some other varieties that are also new, but I’ve forgotten what they are and won’t really know until they bloom!

There’s also this plant with yellow flowers among the Clarkias that I haven’t seen before. I don’t know if it’s one of my new wildflowers or a weed:


We shall see what it turns into!

And recently, the first Farewell to Spring (Clarkia amoena) wildflower appeared (though we are nowhere near the end of spring!). There’s also a Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) plant on the left:


Here’s a closer view of some of my Lupines (Lupinus succulentus). These are such awesome annuals!


I love this shot of the northeast corner, with its colorful Clarkias and Lupines. There’s a Pozo Blue Sage in there somewhere as well. It’s new as of last fall, so I’m not sure if it will bloom this year or wait until next year.


There have been a few perennials starting to bloom as well. My Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum) has a number of blossoms:


Alongside it, my Bee’s Bliss sage (Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’) has produced its first blossom:


My Coral Bells (Heuchera elegans) have started to bloom:


Yet to come: the Cleveland Sages! They are typically somewhat “late blooming”. But when they and the Winifred Gilman sages bloom — look out!

In addition, the Foothill Penstemons (Penstemon heterophyllus) that I planted near the succulent bowl, in an attempt to get a healthier plant than what I had in a different location, have made it all worthwhile. Here they are amongst the lupines:


Close up:


In contrast, here are the Penstemons that are currently growing in the other location, in that northeast corner where I’ve been having so much difficulty:


Not a bloom to be found! There’s something about that location that is problematic to a number of plants.

My Scarlet Buglers (Penstemon centranthifolius), next to the Foothills, are just starting to bloom, but haven’t quite gotten there yet.

We also had our first Douglas Iris blossom about a week ago (Iris douglasiana):


And since that time there’ve been several more:


And my Yankee Point Ceanothus (Ceanothus griseus var. horizaontalis ‘Yankee Point’), behind the Coral Bells, is awash with blossoms:


We also have started the butterfly season! About a week ago I found this caterpillar on one of my milkweeds:


I was really surprised, as I hadn’t known I had any caterpillars, and this one was large. It has since absconded for purposes of pupating, and I have no idea where it’s gone! (I think maybe it’s a Malaysian caterpillar …)

But seeing that caterpillar made me realize that I’d better get some more milkweeds, just in case we get the same influx of egg-laying butterflies we had last year. So I bought four new plants (all the Mexican variety, Asclepias curassavica). These pictures show (1) the new Asceplias curassavica milkweeds, and (2) the native milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis, which, upon the advice of my fellow native gardener Debbie, I cut low to encourage denser growth:




I hope that’s enough for the butterflies!

Speaking of butterflies … I got a couple of shots of this visitor (who also laid a few eggs while she was here):



Finally, here are a few more views of the yard in its current state.





Happy gardening until next time!