Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Naturalized Meadow Foam, Limnanthes Douglasii

Pt. Reyes meadow foam at the Tilden bot garden

Pt. Reyes meadow foam at the Tilden bot garden

Tomorrow is the Bringing Back the Natives Tour and I will be certain to visit two particular gardens on the tour, the Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden and the Fleming garden, two of the states oldest and best gardens for California natives. The are great gardens on any day, and right about now is the time when they look their best.

The Fleming garden is the absolute must-see garden of the tour. It goes way beyond what is typical of a residential or native garden, and I think it’s especially interesting to also see the botanic garden on the same day. I don’t know exact history of either garden, but I do know that Jenny Fleming was involved with the botanic garden to some extent throughout the years, and her garden feels like a condensed, concentrated form of the botanic garden at a private home, with a lot of similar plants and combinations. Luke Hass, who does the maintenance for the Fleming garden, has a couple of articles about the garden on his website. RootedinCalifornia has some recent photos and the tour’s website has others. It’s an amazing garden that has to be seen in person to be appreciated.

meadowfoam and stream orchid

meadowfoam and stream orchid

Both gardens are over fifty years old, which makes them unique places to see native plants used in Bay Area gardens. Often times on native tours it can be boring to see the same plants at every garden, but in this case it’s interesting to compare how the plants are used in the two settings. The naturalized plantings of meadow foamLimnanthes douglasii, are a good example. In the Fleming garden it’s intermingled with stream orchid, Epipactis gigantea, while the Tilden garden has the yellow form, Pt. Reyes meadow foam, Limnanthes douglasii var. sulphurea, with Maianthemum. Meadow foam is an annual, but it’s growing in a way that only happens in a mature garden.

meadow foam and maianthemum

meadow foam and maianthemum

Partly as a result of seeing it at Tilden and the Fleming garden, I have it at my house as well, in the veggie garden in between some of the edibles and in our outer garden where it is growing up through the Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus. It’s not the prettiest plant after it finishes blooming, while you wait for the seeds to form, but the flowers are charming and it combines really nicely with other plants.

meadow foam flower with snowberry foliage

meadow foam flower with snowberry foliage

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6 Responses to “Naturalized Meadow Foam, Limnanthes Douglasii”

  1. May 2nd, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Town Mouse says:

    I just loved the Fleming garden when I had a chance to see it last year. Totally amazing. And I really wish I’d live closer to Tilden Park. Once I’m retired, I plan on going once a month and see that garden through the seasons. As it is, I make it there maybe once a year, but it’s always a great visit, and I learn new things each time.

  2. May 3rd, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    wiseacre says:

    The meadow foam flowers are quite striking. I like the white edges with the bright yellow. Weedy looking or not it would be welcome in my garden (if I lived on the left coast)

  3. May 4th, 2009 at 4:14 am

    Frances says:

    Hi Ryan, what a treasure to have fifty year old gardens that are well designed and planted with natives. The best of the best in the world of gardening. I hope lots of people are inspired by these plantings. I would love to something similar here in TN. Love your photos of the foaming flowers too. 🙂

  4. May 4th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    lostlandscape(James) says:

    How I wish we had nearby a terrific established native garden like the ones you mention. This is probably the end of the high season for Claremont’s Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, and it’s on my list of places to visit, but unfortunately it’s 100+ miles north. Visiting the local canyons is a terrific experience. Seeing plants in a garden setting is totally different.

  5. May 17th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com says:

    We just got introduced to meadowfoam for the first time when we trekked Mendocino Botanical Gardens. Christina, the gardener, was weeding a large beautiful patch when we first met her. It’s nice to encounter again so soon.

  6. April 28th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    DryStoneGarden » Blog Archive » The Ruth Bancroft Garden — Winterized says:

    […] a pretty well known garden in the area and I had heard a lot about it. The way the Fleming garden is the Bay Area’s place to see a mature garden of natives, the Ruth Bancroft Garden is the […]

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