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Meadowfoam Path

MeadowfoamPath

Springtime is Meadowfoam time in our garden. It has been blooming since we got back from Baja. I love this plant. It is such a cheerful yellow to greet me when I get home. This path, leading from the top of our steps to the potting area, is the most convenient place to stash leftover materials from our jobs so it tends to get covered up, but when the Meadowfoam is blooming I make a point of keeping it clear.

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I made the path with leftover stone from several projects. There are four different types of stone; a few pieces are flagstone, but much of it is wall stone and extends quite deep into the ground. The path was dirt, then mulch, then halfway paved for about a year, and finally completed last winter.

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There is beach and woodland strawberry growing with the Meadowfoam, but this is the thickest the Meadowfoam has grown in, and I am curious to see how the other plants have held up beneath it.

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The Meadowfoam is blooming well around our birdbath also, but not as full or as dramatic as in the front. It gets less sun here and has less space to spread and the plants look a little more leggy, a little more messy, as a result. Judith Larner Lowry at Larner Seeds, where I originally bought the seed, recommends giving it a space at least three feet wide for best effect. The plants are getting pushed out of the raised gray water bed by the Scarlet Monkeyflower and the Juncus, and I think it will only come back at ground level next year unless I actively make space and resow it in the raised bed.

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The rest of that planting has filled in pretty well and I don’t think it will need the Meadowfoam next year. These plants are one of my goto combinations, I think of it as ‘green native mix’ or ‘native woodland mix’ and use it fairly often. Iris, Mahonia, Sidalcea, Tellima, Asarum, a few other plants such as Heuchera come and go with essentially the same effect.

I have more photos of the Meadowfoam below. (more…)

A Bit of Super Bloom

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Anita and I have been in Baja for the last month. On our way back we swung through Death Valley to see the ‘super bloom.’ It had waned by the time we got there — apparently a combination of hot weather followed by high winds had finished the thickest patches, and quite a few of the plants had spent flower heads mixed in with the fresh blooms — but there were still some impressive areas.

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Desert Gold was the most prolific. It made bands of color in the distance but up close it was politely spaced so we could wander around without stepping on any flowers. An impressive number of other species were mixed in with it. My personal count came to over 20 different species inside the park, including a number of flowers I’d never seen before.

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The yellow Camissonia was my favorite of the wildflowers. Such a clear, crisp yellow. Gravel Ghost was another favorite, with the white flowers high over a ground-hugging rosette.

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I’ll have some posts about Baja, the main focus of our trip. There is more wildflower photo bling at this Death Valley Wildflower Report.

Scarlet Monkeys Like Greywater

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Our garden is looking pretty sad these days. I’m not watering much, and a lot of the plants look drought stricken, struggling to hang on until the rumored El NiƱo arrives. Plus our dog has been marauding through the veggie garden chasing squirrels. One spot — where she repeatedly slams to a halt after missing the squirrel — looks like a shallow bomb crater. The only happy plants are the larger ones that she has to avoid and the ones that are safely raised up in containers, out of the trample zone. Far and away the best thing in our garden right now is the Scarlet Monkey Flower, Mimulus cardinalis, in our greywater bed.

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Above is what the greywater bed looked like in November when I rebuilt it and replanted it with two Juncus and several divisions of Scarlet Monkey Flower. Below is a similar view only eight months later. Needless to say, the Scarlet Monkey have thrived. We’ve had profuse blooms for nearly two months.

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They make such a profusely blooming mass that I don’t always notice the form of the flowers, but up close I like the flowers quite a bit. They aren’t the most refined looking plant, they reseed a bit, and they do best with good amounts of water, but they’re a good plant, perhaps one of the most underutilized natives. I don’t know a lot of flowering natives that thrive with greywater, so as that kind of planting becomes more common, maybe we’ll start to see them used more.

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Happy Accident, Lomandra with Lobelia Flowers

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One of my plantings has a Lobelia flowering in the center of one of the Lomandras. It happened by chance; it must have seeded in the middle of the grass back when it was at the nursery. I didn’t notice it when we planted, but out of the dozen or so Lomandras in the planting, it ended up in the most prominently located one. It doesn’t really go with the red flowers around it, but that’s okay. Two different people have asked me what it is and where they could buy one.

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California Native Green Wall Revisited

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It’s four years since Patrick Blanc installed the vertical garden at the Drew School. I’ve been curious how it was doing. I was hugely impressed when I saw it, even though it was late fall and the plants were getting cut back for the winter. I always intended to check back on it, see how it would endure over time. As you can see, it’s doing great. It’s lush and green; it’s not organized into as much of a tapestry as some of his other walls and it’s not particularly full of springtime flowers, but it’s still a dramatic, exuberant, awesome thing to see on the side of a building.

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The planting has simplified over time, with fewer species. Lower sections are mostly covered by ferns, with patches of oxalis and heuchera. I couldn’t tell exactly what’s growing up top, except for an Island Bush Poppy in bloom, but some of the shrubs have grown quite large.

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A couple of sections are patchy, with felt showing, but it doesn’t ruin the overall effect.

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And so much of it is exuberantly lush and green. It’s great to see natives filling the side of a building.

March Blooms

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Happy spring, happy equinox. These are a few of the plants that were in bloom on bloom day. The seed grown Sidalcea has been in full bloom for a couple of weeks, the groundcover selection is not blooming yet. The first California poppy opened in late February. Established ones are blooming, new ones are still too small to bloom.

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The Sacred flower of the Incas has several nice bloom clusters.

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The Babianas are in full bloom. I have these in my garden because a past client didn’t like the way the old leaves stay around after they go dormant. His loss, my garden’s gain. I like them.

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Salvia sonomensis looks great right now. It’s my favorite of the native salvias, along with ‘Bee’s Bliss’, ahead of the more upright S. clevelandii types.

Check out bloom day at MayDreamsGardens to see what was blooming for other gardeners a few days ago. The full bloom list for our garden is below. (more…)

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