Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Archive for April, 2012

Carlson Wildflowers

For the past few weeks, Anita and I have been enjoying a wildflower planting in the new medians on Carlson Ave near our house. For years Carlson was an oddly humped road that had such a steep cross-slope near the sidewalk that the car door would hit the curb before it opened all the way and bicycling felt treacherous. To fix that, the city had to lower the street more than two feet to bring it down below the sidewalk, and in the process they also had to lower all of the utilities. The entire project took more than two years, involved all kinds of blocking of cross-streets and traffic, and was hugely inconvenient. But all is now forgiven, as far as I’m concerned, because the city added a median to the street and filled it with twelve blocks worth of wildflowers, many of them native. I’m happy to have my roads blocked if it means I get to drive and bicycle past wildflowers.

So far, I’ve seen California Poppies, Bachelor Buttons, Tidy Tips, Baby Blue Eyes, Alyssum, Lupine, and a few Snapdragons blooming, and there is a lot of Clarkia waiting for next month.

Hmmm…. Be careful what you praise on the internet. The same day that I put this post up, the city weedwacked all of the wildflowers. I’m guessing the planting grew too tall and was blocking visibility, but the city might also be ready to plant trees now. Farewell (to Spring), Clarkia, we never saw you bloom.

— Coda — Apparently an elderly driver got into an accident because of the reduced visibility caused by the wildflowers. Unfortunate for him, and for the wildflowers.


Fawn Lily, Erythronium

Along with Sunday’s landscape architecture tour this weekend, my favorite native plant event of the year — the native plant sale at Tilden — is happening on Saturday. At this point I rarely buy more than a plant or two, but I like seeing everyone lining up before the start of the sale and the mad rush to the rarest plants, and of course the garden itself is amazing this time of year.

Fawn Lilies, Erythronium sp

Fawn Lily, Erythronium

The one thing on my wish list is seed of an Erythronium species. I’ve been admiring them for a while, but have never grown one and haven’t seen them in gardens much. The Pacific Bulb Society webpage makes them sound like they grow similarly to the native Leopard Lilies — slow, easy, likes good soil, and worth the wait. I would love to have a big patch of these.

Fawn Lily, Erythronium

At past years we’ve worked as volunteers and had longer wish lists of plants, but this year Anita and I will just be spectators.

Alders Have Eyes

After years of watching the frenzied native plant shopping at the sale, last year I noticed that the alders in the middle of the sale area were watching it, too.

Landscape Architecture by Bicycle

Levis Plaza

Next Sunday the 22nd, Anita will be leading a bicycle tour of a few landscape architecture projects in San Francisco. The tour goes to two hugely influential and historic projects, Levi’s Plaza pictured above, and Crissy Field, along with several other compelling spaces. You may already know these places, but this is your opportunity to see them with a beautiful and knowledgeable guide.


What: Casual bike tour from the Embarcadero winding through downtown to Crissy Field

When: 9AM to noon, April 22, 2012

Where: Meet under the clock outside the Embarcadero Ferry Building

Cost: FREE! but must RSVP to contact below

Contact: Anita Bueno, abueno@asla-ncc.org, 510-282-4918

Rain cancels, call to confirm

Bloom Day — More Fun than Taxes

View from the New Office

Happy Bloom Day. This is the view from our new office. I still need to stucco the exterior, so I haven’t really gone through and photographed it for a post, but we’ve been moved into it for about a month now. It’s not a large office, and right now it’s full of stacks of paperwork for our taxes. There are worse things than doing taxes and bloom day posts in a garden office.

Coastal Cal Poppy and Blue-Eyed Grass

Lots of poppies are blooming throughout the garden, mostly yellow-tinged coastal ones in the outer garden and red-tinged ‘Mahogany Red’ offspring in the inner garden, with a few regular orange ones showing up in both areas.

Mahogany Red Cal Poppy and Variegated Iris

Meadowfoam and Cal Poppies

We have meadowfoam blooming in several areas. During construction of the office, I relocated our bathtub bog planting to the outer garden. It get the roof runoff from office now. When I moved the tub, I replanted everything. Mimulus cardinalis came roaring back right away. The Colocasia has been slower to recover, but it’ll start muscle up out of the mimulus soon. A surprise appearance was meadowfoam. I had grown some of them in the tub its first year, but they got out-competed and disappeared until I turned the soil and replanted everything. I’m sure they’ll get out-competed again, but it was nice to see them this year. Kind of funky to see them growing through the agave sitting in a container in front of the tub.

Calocasia Black Magic, Mimulus Cardinalis, Meadowfoam, Agave

Ninebark with some older Heuchera maxima flowers

The Iochroma has been in full bloom for several weeks now. I’m really happy with how it grows up through the spicebush as if it were all one plant, giving it a longer bloom season and making for a more evergreen shrub. The flowers are a different tone of red, but peak at different times of the year.

Iochroma with Spicebush Leaves

Pay No Attention to the Man behind the Spicebush

And the best thing in our garden right now is the plein air shower. Our Wisteria is a Japanese variety, W. floribunda, so the bloom stalks are long, fragrant, and they open slowly. We’re about a week away from when the flowers hang so low they brush against you and get in your hair and it feels like you’re bathing in flowers. It’s already pretty fantastic, though.

Wisteria Shower

Later today, I’ll probably take another break from taxes to post a list of everything in bloom in the garden. My thanks to Carol at MayDreasGardens for creating and hosting Bloom Day. April is always one of the best months to surf around on bloom day, so click through to her blog for tons of links.

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