Posts Tagged ‘Pozo Blue Sage’

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!



Mid-Spring 2015: the Sages Come to Life

May 6, 2015

That is to say they start blooming …

This started a couple of weeks ago, and most of the sages are now in full bloom.

First, the immense Cleveland Sage that dominates the garden:


A picture from another angle shows the new Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) in front of the sage, along with the new small Buddha statue I added:


The spectacular Winifred Gilman sage (Salvia ‘Winifred Gilman’) is in full bloom on the west side:



There’s another Cleveland Sage that is threatening to overtake the fountain, that is not quite in full bloom yet, but it’s getting there:


Then there are the smaller sages near the succulent pot:


In the center is an Allen Chickering Sage (Salvia ‘Allen Chickering’) that probably has another foot to grow in each direction. Right behind it, but not appearing to be separate, is a smaller Compact Sage (Salvia compacta), which was overgrown by the previous Winifred Gilman sage alongside it, and is now branching out since that sage was removed. On the left is another new Apricot Mallow, which has not grown nearly as large as the other one.

Then there’s the new Winifred Gilman sage in the same place as the old one (which was dying). It’s still quite small, but has nonetheless produced a few blossoms:




Finally, there are the two sages in the corner behind the Adirondack chair:


The plant to the left is my White Sage (Salvia apiana), which has sent up stalks and produced some tiny white flowers. The Pozo Blue Sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’) to its right has come up with a few blossoms, though it’s very hard to see because it is just in front of a huge outcropping of Royal Penstemons (Penstemon spectabilis). I made a mistake in planting that sage; I located it where it is because I thought that the Penstemons behind it would die, as has every other Penstemon I have ever planted in that location! At the time the three plants there each had a single stalk. Well, this spring each Penstemon suddenly produced multiple stalks and grew profusely! Curses! They are very beautiful when in bloom (see previous post), but had I known they were going to thrive I would have planted the Pozo Blue Sage a few feet in front of them! Lesson: never make assumptions about native plants and their viability! Hopefully the Pozo Blue Sage will grow outward, and probably the Penstemons will die at some point.

Other items of note include the wonderful growth of my Select Mattole Fuchsia (Epilobium septentrionalis ‘Select Mattole’). I just can’t say enough about this variety of prostrate fuchsia. Every fall I cut it down to the ground, and every spring it comes back in perfect mounding form:



Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find this variety at the native plant nurseries, for some reason. I will have to become adept at growing from cuttings, I think!

I have moved the Dudleya succulent that was just behind the fuchsia, since you could hardly see it anymore:


We’ll see how it does in this location, where it will get more shade.

My Seaside Daisies have just barely started to bloom (behind them the Asters are starting to bloom as well):



A few more scenes from the garden:



A house finch enjoying the birdbath!

A house finch enjoying the birdbath!

My latest attempt to grow  something in the pot behind the chair: Vandenberg Ceanothus  (Ceanothus impressus 'Vandenberg')

My latest attempt to grow something in the pot behind the chair: Vandenberg Ceanothus (Ceanothus impressus ‘Vandenberg’)

That’s all the plant news for now — some caterpillar news coming shortly! Happy gardening!

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:


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:



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


(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:


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!



I added an informal path to the Adirondack chair:




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):



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



The new Apricot Mallow has also put forth some blossoms:


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):


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


(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.



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:


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



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


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!

New Plants

November 21, 2013

Fall is when the rubber hits the road for California native gardeners, especially November. Fall is the time for pruning and planting. We like to plant in the fall because California plants lay down their roots in the winter — our rainy season.

Early in November the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, the closest source for me for native plants, had their annual fall sale. I attended and bought 32 new plants!

I had several goals for the new plants:

  • I wanted to replace the Royal Penstemons and Yarrows in the northeast corner of the yard, near the White Sage. One of the penstemons had died; the oldest one looked terrible, with a long length of bare stem, and also looked near death. They just don’t seem to do well in that location, which gets a lot of sun and seems to bake. The yarrows, as well, were doing poorly — a ghostly gray instead of lively green, and only about 3-4 inches high (the normal is up to a foot).
  • I didn’t want to give up on penstemons altogether (they are so pretty!), but I did want to get away from the difficult Royal Penstemons, and I wanted to try the penstemons in a different location.
  • I wanted to get some more plants for my mound, as I want to completely cover the mound with vegetation, with no bare spots.
  • I wanted to replace the Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) that I realized was just never going to look very good. This is a gorgeous plant if it gets sufficient sun — but it was in a partially shady spot, and was never going to get a full growth of foliage. If this plant does not get sufficient foliage, the white stems stand out and it looks terrible, like a planting of chopsticks!
  • I wanted some perennials to plant in front of the Cleveland Sage so that when the wildflowers die out, there is something there besides just bare mulch.
  • I wanted to try native California milkweeds to replace the Mexican variety I have been using. (I wasn’t sure the milkweeds I had were going to be able to recover sufficiently from the onslaught of the caterpillars.)
  • I wanted to plant something under the Privet tree in my front yard.
  • I wanted to start addressing some of the issues on my back hill, especially the need for ground cover under the fig tree.

Without further ado, then, let’s look at some of my new plants!

I decided to get some new asters for the mound, as well as some Yerba Buena (Satureja douglassii) for ground cover:

1. Aster chilensis 'Purple Haze' 2. Satureja douglassii

1. Aster chilensis ‘Purple Haze’ 2. Satureja douglassii

I also added a Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and an extra Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus ‘Cape Sebastian’).

1. Sisyrinchium bellum 2. Erigeron glaucus 3. Satureja douglasii

My new Narrow-leafed Milkweeds:

1. Asclepias fascicularis

1. Asclepias fascicularis

I replaced the Mexican Sage with a California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), a hardy plant that keeps its blooms into the summer — which is one of the reasons I got the Mexican Sage in the first place, as it blooms in the summer. I wanted to keep a bit of summer color here. Also, note that I’ve pruned back the Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) and the Pitcher Sage (Lepichinia fragrans) so that they are not overrunning the birdbath any more!

1. Eriogonum fasciculatum 2. Lepichinia fragrans 3. Salvia clevelandii

1. Eriogonum fasciculatum 2. Lepichinia fragrans 3. Salvia clevelandii

The Bee’s Bliss sage (Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’) and Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum) were planted in front of the Cleveland Sage and Douglas Irises in order to provide some foliage when the wildflowers were not present:

1. Eriogonum crocatum 2. Salvia 'Bee's Bliss'

1. Eriogonum crocatum 2. Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’

The Saffron Buckwheat is listed as rare, threatened, or endangered by the State of California, and so is a great “find” for the garden. It’s a lovely plant with bright yellow flowers. The Bee’s Bliss sage is a low-growing, spreading kind of sage that I hope will fill in that area nicely.

In the northeast corner, I removed the Royal Penstemons and Yarrows, and planted a Pozo Blue sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’) and a Silver Carpet Beach Aster (Lessingia filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’). The Pozo Blue is a gorgeous sage with lovely blue flowers. It grows to around 5 – 6 feet in width, and should fill in that area pretty well. The Silver Carpet is a low-growing plant that can spread to as much as 8 feet, with gorgeous lavender daisy-like blossoms in the summer. The two plants near the wall are Royal Penstemons that seem to be doing OK, though I suspect they will deteriorate like the others over time.

1. Salvia 'Pozo Blue' 2. Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet'

1. Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’ 2. Lessingia filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’

I added a Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri) to my succulent area, as well as a Red Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens) to fill in the gaps between my grasses. It has lovely pink-red flowers that bloom throughout the summer. I also coppiced my Canyon Prince Wild Rye (Leymus condensatus) and Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) so they will grow back more lushly — both had a large number of dead leaves that detracted from their appearance. We’ll see if they grow back in a more comely fashion.

1. Dasylirion wheeleri 2. Eriogonum grande rubescens 3. Leymus condensatus 4. Muhlenbergia rigens

1. Dasylirion wheeleri 2. Eriogonum grande rubescens 3. Leymus condensatus 4. Muhlenbergia rigens

I added a third Purple Three-Awn grass (Aristida purpurea) because I think these grasses look gorgeous when bunched:

1. Aristida purpurea

1. Aristida purpurea

I added some Penstemons around the succulent bowl, in hopes that I have better luck with them in that location. It’s just an experiment at this point. They are Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) and Margarita Bop Penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita Bop’):

1. Penstemon centranthifolius 2. Penstemen heterophyllus 'Margarita Bop'

1. Penstemon centranthifolius 2. Penstemen heterophyllus ‘Margarita Bop’

You will also notice that I’ve removed the flagstones from the path. They were turning out to be a maintenance headache — various flagstones were always coming loose and needing to be “reseated” — a major pain in the neck. One thing I’m learning is that you have to try to keep maintenance chores within reasonable bounds.

Finally (for the front yard), I decided to try to get something to grow under the Privet tree: I’m trying Douglas Irises (Iris douglasiana), which I think may do better in the partial shade of the tree than they do in the middle of the yard, where I have them now.

1. Iris douglasiana

1. Iris douglasiana

In the back, I’m planting Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) under the fig tree to replace some of the grasses that were not doing well there. I’m also trying out a ground cover, Emerald Carpet Manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’), to try to cover the bare area under the fig tree, where even mulch won’t stick because it’s so steep. The soil there is very compacted and hard, though, so at this point I am despairing of anything growing there. We’ll see.

1. Polystichum munitum 2. Arctostaphylos 'Emerald Carpet'

1. Polystichum munitum 2. Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’

Note, also, that I have completed putting in some edging that I hope will prevent the mulch from falling onto the wall and then onto the gravel. Also, upon the advice of my original muse, Pat Overby, I am in the process of removing quite a bit of the mulch. She thinks that may be one reason the plants are not growing too well. The mulch is as much as 8 inches deep in some places. (I got too much!)


Finally, I bought two Blue Dart Rushes (Juncus tenuis ‘Blue Dart’) that I intend to plant in the long planter behind. Eventually, I hope to have three of these long planters, to form a kind of “fence” to block from view the part of the yard behind them, which my cat tends to use as a litter box! They will all have these native rushes in them.

1. Juncus tenuis 'Blue Dart'

1. Juncus tenuis ‘Blue Dart’

That’s it for now. I have finished the planting and pruning — now we just have to wait for things to grow. Today we had our first major rain, and already the wildflowers are starting to sprout. I will track the growth of these plants throughout the winter. Stay tuned!