Posts Tagged ‘arroyo lupine’

After the Deluge

April 6, 2017

This winter we Southern Californians were told to expect a La Niña season, something that usually brings drought conditions. Given that we were in the midst of a historic drought already, we were dreading it. But no …. It rained and rained and rained. And then it rained some more. Truly, the plants thought they had died and gone to heaven!

A few scenes from the garden, to illustrate the lush growth:

My White Sage (Salvia apiana) has grown HUGE and is encroaching on the chair. I have never pruned it, but will probably do so in the fall.

This Aeonium (not sure of the species), which was one of my first plants, and which has labored long in the shadow of the Cleveland Sage and the California Fuchsia that overhung it, has responded to the rain and the absence of the sage by growing gigantic, and, from what I have been reading, this configuration means it is close to flowering, for the first time:

New Plants

When last we spoke, Argentine ants had decimated several of my plants, including my two Cleveland Sages, two Ceanothuses, and my Pitcher Sage. Here’s what the damage looked like:

I reluctantly decided that the two Cleveland Sages would probably never recover to their full glory, and I had them removed. The Pitcher Sage and one of the Ceanothuses had already been removed – when I was not yet aware that it was the ants that had done them in. Because of the gaps left with these huge plants missing, I withdrew from the California Native Plant Society garden tour, in which I had planned on participating this April. I’m hoping to join the tour next year, if the replacement plants have grown back sufficiently.

So I decided to replace the Pitcher Sage with a Lilac Verbena (Verbana lilacina), with which I have had some success. I had a hard time finding another Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans), and anyway I felt it was too big for that spot. Now, the Verbena does also get to a large size, but it grows more slowly. And I love this plant — it flowers so beautifully.

I replaced one of the Cleveland Sages with another one:

And I replaced the other one with a Pozo Blue Sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’), which is a hybrid of Cleveland Sage and Purple Sage, but does not get quite as big as the Cleveland Sage (so they say!):

This is on the west side.

Some “hardware” changes: I moved the solar fountain from the west side to the east, as it was being overtaken by the Cleveland Sage (before I knew I was going to remove it!), and also because it was in the shade of the Pacific Wax Myrtles in the afternoon.

Likewise, I moved the potted succulents to the west side, because they were beginning to be overtaken by the Allen Chickering and Winifred Gilman Sages:

If there is one cautionary tale to be taken away from my garden it’s this: be more careful to space your plants carefully! I have continually underestimated the size to which many of these plants will grow, and my garden is actually more crowded than I would like. When you plant them, they are so small, and you want to fill in that space. Have patience! If the literature says they will grow to 4-5 feet, they probably will. Leave enough space!

The potted plants above are now in danger of being overtaken by the Lilac Verbena …. so I will probably have to trim it back next fall!

I also added several plants to the area near the Adirondack chair near where the fountain is now located. The first is a Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), with small yellow flowers which appear near the end of winter, and small fruits (edible, so I hear, though I haven’t experimented yet). I am told it adds nitrogen to the soil, instead of taking it out, and that this is a good thing.

Also new is Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis), behind and to the right of the fountain in the rear:

Coyote Brush will grow huge, and I will cut it back to fit the area. I wanted a green background for the new Saffron Buckwheats (Eriogonum crocatum) that I planted in front of the fountain, aiming to create a mass of them with their beautiful yellow flowers:

Finally, I replaced my Miniature Rose – which was one of the first plants a visitor would see, near the curb, but was not very attractive – with a slightly non-native sage (it’s one of those Mexican immigrants), “Hot Lips” Sage (Salvia gregii ‘Hot Lips’):

When this comes into full bloom, it will be gorgeous!

What’s in Bloom

Coral Bells (Heuchera):

The Bladderpod and some of my Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata):

The Clarkias have been late in blooming this spring – perhaps because of the rain? I don’t have many this year for some reason – possibly because I refreshed my mulch, and perhaps buried some seeds too deep.

The Hot Lips sage has a few blossoms:

The Lupines (Lupinus succulentus) are at their peak:

My Monkeyflowers (Diplacus), planted last fall to partially replace my diseased Asters, are big show-offs:

The Apricot Mallows (Sphaeralcea ambigua) are blooming (they never seem to stop!):

My wildly proliferating Evening Primroses (Oenothera californica) are showing a few blossoms (only in the late afternoon, of course – by morning they are withering away):

My Royal Penstemons (Penstemon spectabilis) and Farewell to Spring Clarkias (Clarkia amoena) are starting to blossom:

A few blossoms have appeared on my Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana):

And, of course, the ubiquitous and delightful California poppy (Evening primroses in front):

Shortly: Changes and growth in the back yard, and some focus on succulents — which have really loved the rain!

Happy gardening!

 

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Middle Spring 2016

March 24, 2016

Home Improvements

I have upgraded my house in several ways since I last posted. The most noticeable improvement is a new garage door:

Mar2016_Garage

(One of the side panels next to the door has already been repainted in a lighter color — the entire wood siding in the front will eventually be this color!)

Note how much the huge Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) has grown — it’s almost too big and sprawly, and next fall I will prune it nearly to the ground so it will come back more neatly. But I love the color this plant adds in the front before the sages start blooming. In fact, it continues blooming throughout the summer.

I’ve also added a new vinyl gate, low vinyl fence and block wall on the west side:

Mar2016_GateFence

Note the fuchsias growing in front of the Cleveland sage on the right — the sage having been pruned back quite a bit and looking much tidier! I love the color contrast.

Early March Wildflowers

The first wildflowers started blooming in late February/early March. First to appear were the Lupines (Lupinus succulentus):

Mar2016_FirstLupines1

Mar2016_FirstLupines

Then in short order came the Poppies:

Mar2016_FirstPoppies

Mar2016_FirstWildflowers

And on the west side as well:

Mar2016_WestSide

Note how the Lilac Verbana (Verbena lilacina) has grown. It looked a bit spent last year, with brown stems showing, and I thought I might have to take it out. But for some reason it rebounded and now looks better than it ever has!

Mar2016_LaterWildflowers

Late March:

More wildflowers, such as these Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa):

Mar2016_TidyTips

And Bird’s-Eye Galia (Gilia tricolor):

Mar2016_BirdsEyeGilia

And more Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata) along with the Lupines and Poppies:

Mar2016_Wildflowers

I’ve made a real effort to limit the number of wildflowers this year. The “forest” effect that I had last year did not sit well with me. Limiting them meant pulling many of them — especially Lupines — before they went to seed. The wildflowers are more “scattered” this year, and yet the garden is still full of color.

Here’s a shot that shows just how much my front yard is filling in:

Mar2016_Buddha

The small Buddha is surrounded by Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana) right behind it, with Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) behind that and Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans) to its left. On the right of the Buddha is Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum), and further right is the Apricot Mallow. On its left in front of the birdbath is Canyon Gray Artemisia (Artemisia californica ‘Canyon Gray’).

A few days ago the Douglas Iris bloomed briefly:

Mar2016_BuddhaIrises

Mar2016_DouglasIris

Usually we have sequential blooms for several weeks, but I don’t know if we will have any more this year — I don’t see any more buds.

A new plant in front of the Buddha, Beach Evening Primrose (Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia) is already blooming, even though I only planted it a few weeks ago:

Mar2016_Primrose

My Fragrant Pitcher Sage has grown enormous as I cut back the Cleveland Sage to its right — some of the sage’s branches had lost their leaves. It’s a gorgeous specimen, already in bloom:

Mar2016_PitcherSage

My Royal Penstemons (Penstemon spectabilis) — on the right — are starting to bloom; much more to come though. Behind them is a mature White Sage (Salvia apiana), and in front some Elegant Clarkias:

Mar2016_Penstemons1

My Coral Bells (Heuchera) are starting to bloom:

Mar2016_ByHouse

Note how the Evergreen Currant (Ribes viburnifolium) on the right has nicely filled in that area!

Mar2016_CoralBells

On the side of the house, my Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea) has become a dense patch the way I was hoping:

Mar2016_SideYard

(Behind it is my orange tree, the source of many juicy snacks during the summer!)

A final spring view:

Mar2016_LateMarchSouth

There are also some big changes in the back yard. Next time!

Happy gardening!

 

Real Spring 2015

May 5, 2015

OK … by March we’ve gotten fully into the wildflower season. Forthwith, here are a plethora of images from March and early April, highlighting the annual “invasion of the wildflowers”:

I had a forest of Arroyo Luplines (Lupinus succulentus)

I had a forest of Arroyo Lupines (Lupinus succulentus)

Lupines and the first of the Elegant Clarkias

Lupines and the first of the Elegant Clarkias

I love the Lupines, but my goodness they do take over the garden! I will confine them more for next year.

I love the Lupines, but my goodness they do take over the garden! I will confine them more for next year.

A collection of  Bird's-Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor)

A collection of Bird’s-Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor)

Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa)

Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa)

Toward the west through a forest of Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata)

Toward the west through a forest of Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata)

A sea of wildflowers (mostly Clarkias) along the path.

A sea of wildflowers (mostly Clarkias — the Lupines had mostly gone to seed by this time) along the path.

Clarkias galore!

Clarkias galore!

Clarkias in front of the Cleveland Sage, which has not bloomed yet.

Clarkias in front of the Cleveland Sage, which has not bloomed yet.

The start of the "Farewell to Spring" wildflower season  (Clarkia amoena)

The start of the “Farewell to Spring” wildflower season (Clarkia amoena)

All in all, I had fewer wildflowers than last season — which was by design. I felt they literally took over the yard last year, so I made a special effort to pull up many of the Clarkias before they went to seed. (I tried to do the same with the Lupines this year, lest they overwhelm the garden next spring.)

In other developments, I added a number of milkweed plants to my collection, which had been somewhat decimated by caterpillar activity last year:

Mar2015_NewMilkweeds

 

In the back yard, the plants I added had grown somewhat, which was encouraging, since I’ve had so much trouble with the back hill. Here’s the overall look of the hill in March:

Mar2015_BackYard

It still doesn’t look like much, but it’s made some progress since last year. Here are the additions from the fall, individually:

I added another Joyce Coulter Ceanothus (bottom) to match the larger one at the top. The larger one is about 3 feet across -- not as big as it's supposed to get, but at least it has survived!

I added another Joyce Coulter Ceanothus (bottom) to match the larger one at the top. The larger one is about 3 feet across — not as big as it’s supposed to get, but at least it has survived!

I also added a second Bee's Bliss sage below the existing one, since the top one has done much better than I expected.

I also added a second Bee’s Bliss sage below the existing one, since the top one has done much better than I expected.

Coast Sunflower  (Encelia californica). This is native to our Orange County area, so I thought it might do well. It has grown and even produced a couple of blossoms.

Coast Sunflower (Encelia californica). This is native to our Orange County area, so I thought it might do well. It has grown and even produced a couple of blossoms.

Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia) -- another Orange County native. It's growing quite nicely.

Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia) — another Orange County native. It’s growing quite nicely.

Saint Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum giganteum) -- a native of the Channel Islands. It should get huge, but it's not quite there yet!

Saint Catherine’s Lace (Eriogonum giganteum) — a native of the Channel Islands. It should get huge, but it’s not quite there yet!

My potted rushes (Juncus textilis), intended to hide the part of the back yard used as a litter box by my cat, are doing quite well:

Mar2015_Rushes

 

Finally, my cactus (Opuntia mocrodasys) has been delivering some pretty blossoms:

Mar2015_CactusBlooms

 

Later spring update coming soon!

Pre-Spring 2015

February 18, 2015

And here we go full bore into spring! Everything starts to come to life in California gardens around February. The wildflowers germinate and pop up after the first rains, the perennials start their spring growth, and the early bloomers start blooming.

On the wildflower scene, it looks as if I am going to have many more Lupines (Lupinus succulentus) this year than Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata), which is exactly how I wanted it. Last year I pulled up many of the clarkias before they went to seed, as I felt their growth was too dense. Here we have the wildflower landscape:

Feb2015_NorthEast

Mostly Lupines here.

More clarkias in this direction.

More clarkias in this direction.

There are some new plants here. First, an Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) in front of the Cleveland sage:

Feb2015_Mallow

 

Then, a new cactus in the succulent bowl, San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus pachanoi):

Feb2015_Bowl

(The Narrow-leaf Chalksticks (Senecio vitalis) to the left of the cacti has put forth a major growth spurt, and even sports some blossoms now!)

I had to remove the large Winifred Gilman sage (Salvia ‘Winifred Gilman’) near the bowl, as it was starting to die (Rob Moore tells me this is not uncommon). I replaced it with another one in the fall, and it has increased its size significantly just since then:

Feb2015_WinGilNew

Some more notable updates:

The plant in front, a Pozo Blue sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’), has more than doubled in size since I planted it in the fall of 2013. The most amazing thing is the mass of Royal Penstemon stalks in the back (Penstemon spectabilis). There are actually just two plants (one on the left and one on the right), but this year each one sprouted more than a dozen new stalks! The reason I planted the sage so close to them is that I thought the Penstemons would die — I’ve had Royal Penstemons in that location for several years, and they usually die out after a year or two. I assumed these would do the same, but they have taken on new life! They will be gorgeous when they bloom, as will the sage!

Feb2015_SagePenst

 

I added an informal path to the Adirondack chair:

 

Feb2015_ChairPath

 

The Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans) has come back admirably from the loss of a large branch in the wind last spring. It’s gorgeous (that’s it to the left of the birdbath):

Feb2015_TowardWest

 

It’s even produced some blossoms, which it had a hard time with last year:

Feb2015_PitcherSage

 

The new Apricot Mallow has also put forth some blossoms:

Feb2015_ApricotMallowCloseup

The Cleveland sage has grown enormously, even though I keep thinking it’s reached its limit (that’s it in the center, to the right of the birdbath):

Feb2015_CleveSage

For comparison, here it is just about a year ago:

Feb2014_CleveSage1

(The birdbath in the top photo has been moved about a foot to the left because it was being overrun by the Cleveland sage and Pitcher sage.)

Let’s take a closer look at some of the wildflowers that have started to bloom. First to show up were the Lupines about a week ago. That’s unusual; usually it’s the Clarkias that start everything off.

Feb2015_LupineCloseup

 

This year I’m seeing some Desert Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia) for the first time. This is interesting because I have not sown any wildflower seeds by hand since fall of 2013, and the Desert Bluebells were among them — however, they never appeared last year, that I could see. Here is one:

Feb2015_DesertBluebell

A few Bird’s-Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor) are appearing:

Feb2015_Gilia

 

On the west side, we have the reliable Lilac verbena (Verbena lilacina) coming into full bloom:

Feb2015_Fountain

That’s all that’s going on for now. By the time of my next update, I suspect the garden will be in full spring bloom, and we’ll also take a look at the back yard, which has had some additions as well. Happy gardening!

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:

Mar2014_FirstPoppy

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

Mar2014_Poppies1

Mar2014_Poppies2

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:

Mar2014_SouthEast1

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:

Mar2014_SmallMound

But a closer look reveals the new growth:

Mar2014_Seedlings

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):

Mar2014_TidyTips

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:

Mar2014_Unknown

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:

Mar2014_FarewellToSpring

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

Mar2014_Wildflowers2

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.

Mar2014_ColorfulCorner

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

Mar2014_SaffronBuckwheat

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

Mar2014_BeesBliss1

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

Mar2014_CoralBells1

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:

Mar2014_Penstemons

Close up:

Mar2014_Penstemons1

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:

Mar2014_Penstemons2

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):

Mar2014_FirstIris

And since that time there’ve been several more:

Mar2014_Irises1

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

Mar2014_YankeePt

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

Mar2014_Caterpillar1

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:

Mar2014_Milkweeds3

Mar2014_Milkweeds2

Mar2014_Milkweeds1

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):

Mar2014_Butterfly1

Mar2014_Butterfly2

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

Mar2014_Grasses

Mar2014_PurpleThreeAwn

Mar2014_NorthEast1

Mar2014_Wildflowers1

Happy gardening until next time!

Wildflower Update

March 3, 2013

The wildflowers continue to stutter to life, blooming here and there.

There are some new ones this year that I planted from seeds I bought in the fall at Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden:

Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus

Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus

Zoomed out

Zoomed out

Baby Blue Eyes, Nemophila menziesii

Baby Blue Eyes, Nemophila menziesii

Zoomed out

Zoomed out

There may even be some Gilia tricolor — Bird’s Eye Gilia — in this area, which hasn’t bloomed yet. There are some few plants with feathery leaves that could be this wildflower or could be weeds — time will tell!

These wildflowers are beautiful, but the yield is sparse this year. I am going to let them go to seed and maybe we will have some more next year!

Then, there is a virtual forest of Elegant Clarkias, Clarkia unguiculata, which are just starting to bloom:

Mar2013_Clarkias

Close-up .. you gorgeous thing you!

Close-up .. you gorgeous thing you!

My old reliable Lilac Verbena, Verbena lilacina, is almost in full bloom:

Mar2013_LilacVerbena1

Close-up

Close-up

The bees are very happy!

My Baja Littleleaf Rose, Rosa minutifolia, has a few blossoms:

Mar2013_MiniRose

I have also been working on edging my path with small stones, and have made considerable progress:

Mar2013_Path1

The edging will extend into the bench area, and the path itself will continue (eventually) behind the bench and into the yard on the east side of the house.

Mar2013_Path2

Mar2013_Path3

I like how the edging adds a slightly more formal, structured look to the path, while still preserving its natural, hand-hewn feel.

Finally, a look at the “mound” and how it has been taken over by the Elegant Clarkias!

It's a forest! None blooming yet.

It’s a forest! None blooming yet.