Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Posts Tagged ‘fragaria chiloensis’

The Native Strawberries

Here’s another view of the woodland strawberry planting I showed on bloom day. The strawberries have been rather mealy this year. Two years ago they were good, last year they were okay, but this year they aren’t much good at all. I’m guessing that might be because of all these April and May rains. Also, the leaves are looking somewhat chlorotic up close, so they might need to be thinned out to refresh them. We originally put these in as a cheap, low-water groundcover, but after a big harvest of berries the second year we started to think of them as an edible deserving of more attention and respect. If anyone has a suggestion for getting fruit production back up, please let me know.

This planting started with three 2″ stubbies and had full coverage within two years. Normally, I’d be afraid of a groundcover that can spread this fast, but it’s pretty easy to control because it does all its running above ground. California Native Plants for the Garden uses a photo of it to illustrate the potential ‘weediness’ of some natives, but personally I like the look of the strawberry with the irises and alliums rising out of it. Any drought-tolerant, evergreen, native groundcover that produces berries is okay with me.

Allium, Fragaria, and Iris

Allium, Fragaria, and Iris

Sidalcea bloom, Sisyrinchium and Fragaria foliage

Sidalcea bloom, Sisyrinchium and Fragaria foliage, in February

The sidalceas disappeared into the strawberry patch a couple of years ago, with only their flowers showing unless you hunt for the leaves. I like its ‘What plant are those flowers coming from?’ effect.

Blue Eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum

Blue Eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum, last month

Mostly Fragaria vesca

Mostly Fragaria vesca

We put in a single Beach Strawberry, too, which is now the dominant plant in its own corner of the planting. It has sent out runners through the rest of the planting that send leaves up for a bit of textual contrast. Before growing the two strawberries, I used to get them confused, but side by side it’s not hard to tell the difference. The beach strawberry has a harder, darker, thicker, glossier leaf. Flowers are bigger and often set deeper within the foliage. I’ve never seen a berry on it. Woodland strawberry unsurprisingly prefers part shade, while beach strawberry is happiest, again unsurprisingly, in coastal full sun, but both plants have worked in pretty much every situation we’ve tried them.

Fragaria chiloensis and Fragaria vesca

Fragaria chiloensis and Fragaria vesca

Fragaria chiloensis on the left, Fragaria vesca on the right

Fragaria chiloensis, on the left, Fragaria vesca, on the right