Plants and Stone for California Gardens


Archive for the ‘california natives’ Category

Erigeron glaucus


After the Meadowfoam has finished, the other wildflower display in our front garden comes from Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus. I wasn’t originally a fan of it, and in fact I only have it in my garden because I bought a dozen for a project but got cold feet and brought them home instead. I didn’t know what to do with them so I planted them, and since then, I’ve come to appreciate them, a good habitat plant with a long bloom season. I’ve gone on to use it in a few different plantings, with pretty good results.


I’ve used a few of the different cultivars as well as the regular species, but I’m still figuring them out. I thought I knew which ones I was growing here, but I remember them having pink flowers and these don’t look pink. Occasionally on overcast days they take on a pinkish cast, but most of the time they are whitish with a blue tinge. Maybe I got rid of the pink ones and that’s why I like them now?


There’s two different ones, one that hugs the ground with smaller flowers, another that sprawls a bit, with larger flowers held on longer stems.


The sprawling, larger flowers are maybe a little pink or lavender, but not as pink as I remember.


In any case, the color works with the Campanula, as well as the white Philadelphus microphyllus, blue Brodiaea, and the faded pink Allium unifolium. More harmonious than I was expecting. It’s one of my least deliberate plantings, but I’m enjoying it.


Meadowfoam Path


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.


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.


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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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.





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


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.


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.


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.


California Native Green Wall Revisited


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.


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.


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


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

Erigeron glaucus in December


One native plant I haven’t always appreciated is Erigeron glaucus. It’s a nice enough plant — tough, low-water, good habitat value, long bloom period, showy during peak bloom — but the odd yellow in its center clashes with the purer yellows I like — Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’, Achillea ‘Moonshine’, daffodils — and I’ve also never been totally happy with how it combines with a lot of the purplish bloomers that I tend to use. I have a dozen of them in my garden, but I only have them because I bought them on impulse for a project and then decided they clashed with the other plants. I brought them home and eventually planted them because I didn’t have anywhere else to put them; they look okay but I’ve never been particularly excited about them.


I really like how they work in this planting, however. The cultivar is ‘Wayne Roderick’, which has more of a lavender tinge to the petals than the pinkish ‘Cape Sebastian’ in my garden. More than that, though, I like them because the planting around them is primarily grasses — Sesleria ‘Greenlee’s Hybrid’, Festuca idahoensis ‘Tomales Bay’, and Lomandra ‘Breeze’ — and a patch of Delosperma, so there aren’t a lot of other colors for the yellow to clash with. And even though there aren’t many other things to bloom in that part of the planting, they bloom heavily enough and continuously enough to carry the flower burden; it’s December and they haven’t been cut back once this year, but they still have flowers. The focus of the photo above is the Sesleria in front of them, but the flowers in the background do a lot to add interest and give it a meadowy look, and all those old stems waiting to be deadheaded speak to what they looked like earlier this year. Obviously I’ll be able to get a better photo in the spring, but this is pretty good for mid-December without any maintenance, and it’s nice to find myself coming around to a native plant I hadn’t previously embraced.

You are currently browsing the archives for the california natives category.