Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pruning or Wildlife - a No Brainer!

I was doing a round of fall pruning, thinking about taking hedge clippers to my Salvia 'Winnifred Gilman,' when I heard some peeps and cheeps. I stood still.

Bushtits! Some of my favorite little brown birds!

They descended on Winnifred and infiltrated her twigs branches so delicately, and with terrific acrobatic style they ate her seeds.

I only had my little waterproof Canon on me so the photos are not the best, but still - bushtits! Can't lose!

Nearby, an Anna's  hummingbird was feeding on a few late blooms of Galvezia speciosa.

And as ever in the garden, the curious fence lizards kept me company too.

So - needless to say I'm not going to be trimming that salvia back any time soon!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This is California — Fall is for Planting!

We live in California, a Mediterranean climate zone where the return of rains after a long dry summer means GROWTH and GREEN! and PLANTING!

That's why all gardeners in California should seek out your California Native Plant Society plant sales.

Opening time at the CNPS Santa Cruz County plant sale last weekend! Shoppers stream towards our beautifully set out and labeled plants...

Santa Clara Valley chapter's sale is this Saturday, October 18! at Hidden Villa Ranch (26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills, 2 miles west of I-280) from 10 am to 3 pm, with two talks:
Steve Rosenthal will talk about pollinator/plant connection at 1:00 p.m., and Kevin Bryant will talk about "Success with Native Plants for Beginners" at 2:00 p.m.
Excellent news for anyone within driving distance.  Click the link above for more details, including a plant list.

CNPS Santa Clara Valley also shares their venue with another plant sale - that of the wonderful Acterra Native Plant Nursery.

Shoppers get busy picking and choosing

My chapter's sale (Santa Cruz County) was last week - sorry - I was too busy doing publicity for it to post I'm afraid, including this article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on creating a butterfly (and caterpillar!) garden. My article also publicizes the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum plant sale, held separately but at the same time and place. I think that sort of pairing of organizations happens quite a lot - more plants attract more happy customers.

We had a special on Iris this time!

There's nothing quite like the smile of a gardener with new plants!

Get a load of these beauties!
So - sorry I'm putting out this word a bit late but hope some of you will be able to go to a native plant sale near you. CNPS Plant sales are our chapters' major fundraisers, making all the work we do possible - and you'll often find plants there that are not available at commercial nurseries too, including local natives and more.

Happy planting!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Minnesota Fall Visit

We came to Central Minnesota to visit my husband's family — and to enjoy some fall color.

Our fall color in central California is mainly provided by the radiant yellow of the big leaf maples, which are not yet putting on their display down our nearby creekside road. Maybe this is not the year for them.

But in Minnestoa, sugar maples and red oaks and other trees light up the woodlands in late September and early October.

I also enjoyed seeing some late blooming wild native plants. These Symphyotrichum laeve (Smooth Blue Aster) reminded me of our own California asters:

(I IDed the plants at Minnesota Wildflowers).

and these were everywhere too - Symphyotrichum laeve (Smooth Blue Aster) (Black-eyed Susan).

I'm not sure what this next one was - it was at my brother-in-law's lake house:

Most interestingly, my brother-in-law's wife told me about the lakeside native plant project she is undertaking, with rebates and oversight from the local government (via a landscape company I believe). The idea is to absorb runoff into the lake and prevent pollution. Fertilizing lawns, of course, is also discouraged. And these days you can't build a house closer than 100 yards from the lake shore.

I only caught a few names - one section of the area has labels:

In addition to the Carex deweyana, Dewey's sedge, I saw labels for Helianthus hirsutus, hispid sunflower and Viola cucullata, Marsh Blue Violet.

The mulch was interesting - sort of a chopped-straw mixture. As agriculture predominates in the region I suppose it's a plentiful ingredient. I think it was called environmental mulch perhaps.

Some lakes are specified as "environmental" which means, among other things, no power boats etc. The lake where we stayed was not one of those, but it was pretty quiet most of the time. People fished for sunnys, crappies, walleye and more.

Opposite their property, the view is wonderful:

In Minnesota - land o' lakes - there are about 15000 lakes. They formed during and after the ice age that dragged huge glaciers across the continent. Chunks of glacier ice were left behind, buried in the ground. They melted and — voila!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Piece of Paradise

I had very much hoped to stay home for the rest of the year, but when I was sent to Bellevue, Washington, I decided to take the opportunity. And, imaging my delight when I found out that my hotel, on the wrong side of the freeway, was at the same time about a half mile from the Bellevue Botanical Garden.

So, every morning I got up early, put on walking clothes, and dashed past the poor people gathered around what the hotel called breakfast, already in suits and shirts. The weather was different on the two days - you'll see it in the photos - but it was a beautiful place both days.

I especially enjoyed the herbaceous border, enchanting with different shades of green, and some fall bloomers.

Simple stone sculptures added a bit of whimsy (hey, I could do that! just rocks on top of each other!)

A small Japanese garden included a waterfall - and so much green!

Coming from a dry summer in California, it was wonderful to see the ferns, moss, and flowers.

Regrettably, the native garden was not impressive - it looked much like a work in progress. But a large wild area had just recently been added to the garden and included many native plants such as this redwood sorrel.

And ferns, even growing on the tree trunks!

Much as I love my California native garden, it was very enjoyable to have a bath of green - and it made me hope even more that the rains will arrive soon and will be plentiful.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dry Garden in Early Fall

All things considered, the garden this fall is quite attractive. Shown above, Erigoneum arborescens in the foreground, Arctostaphylos pajaroensis in the mid-distance on the right and the strong green toyon in the distance on the left offer both enough green and enough variety. Several of my neighbors have taken a different solution to the drought:

This is, of course, quite acceptable. But I'm worried that they'll just put in more turf when the rains start in the fall. Regardless, let's go on a little tour and see what's doing OK after a rather dry winter and a rather warm summer.

The front garden from the other side shows some signs of wear. the Salvia leucophylla (purple sage) did not bloom much but the greyish foliage with the many fine hairs allows it to survive. Regrettably the coyote brush (baccharis, much praised in Ms. Country Mouse's last post) looks terrible this year. No blossoms here (male or female), let's hope that cutting it to the ground will revive it. More in the background, some succulents are doing quite well, while the monkey flower is looking brown and unhappy, but that's how it looks in early fall.

As for the containers along the walkway to the back garden, the less said, the better. I watered these babies twice a week, but it's been too sunny and warm. Come fall, I'll take everything out, save what can be saved, and start fresh. Something to look forward to!

A happier sight as we turn the corner. California fuchsia is not blooming quite as spectacularly as some years, but is putting on a pretty good show! And ribes and some Heuchera in the background have done fine with some water and a lot of shade.

Turning toward the hammock, we see more green in the background: Acrtostaphylos hookeri 'Wayside' has done very well with almost no water in part shade, and in the background a coffee berry and two California snowdrop bush (Styrax Californica) are looking lush an green. Asclepias speciosa, behind the brownish grass on the left, is still looking pretty good with very minimual water. It's the cure against the fussy small leaf syndrom that California gardens can have, and I love the flowers and the large, odd seedheads.

Location, location! has been this summer's mantra. Festuca californica in the background in part sun looks half dead, while the same plant in more shade in the foreground is doing quite nicely.

Then again, the redwood habitat is a bit of a depressing sight. The ginger is barely hanging in there, while the redwood sorrel has almost given up - and we'll see about that fern.

In contrast, California fuchsia and rosy buckwheat, and a sedom in the background, are doing very well indeed, to the delight of the hummingbirds and pollinators.

And, altogether, the garden has how a feeling of hope. The worst of the heat is over. The buckwheats will help the pollinators, and later feed the migrating birds with seed. Many plants - such as the Salvia clevlandii above -- are putting out just a few flowers to say: we're still here, and we're ready for some rain and a new beginning.