I added the small perennials and grasses for color and structure. In the plan, you see the repetition, which makes the garden look more like a garden and less like a wild landscape. I thought of the garden in two seasons:
- In spring and summer, the penstemon (blue) and monkeyflower (golden) will bloom.
- In fall and into November, the California fuchsia (orange) will bloom.
Penstemon heterophyllus (Foothill penstemon) is a California native that has found its way into the regular nurseries. It blooms a beautiful blue, sometimes edged with pink. Beloved by native bees, it likes a sunny spot and, unfortunately, does not like clay. I've had one in a pot survive winter and look good, so I hope the spots I picked right next to the dry stream bed will yield a few more survivors.
The stunning picture on the left is from Annie's Annuals website. Annie's is an amazing nursery in Richmond, CA, that grows beautiful annuals and perennials, both native and exotic. They're a little far for me to drive, so I often take advantage of their excellent mail order service.
Mimulus auranticatus, orange bush monkey flower, is another popular native. Very drought tolerant, this mimulus blooms for months in spring and summer attracting birds, bees, and other critters. A mimulus I have growing near a retaining wall puts on a spectacular show each year. I cut mine back by about 2/3 each fall to keep it fresh. Last year, I rooted some cuttings and they seem to survive.
For the fall and early winter, I've tucked in some Epilobium (California fuchsia). I have some of those in the back garden and they reseed a bit, so I just dug out a few that were in the "wrong" place last fall and put them in the front.
The low growing Epilobium septentrionalis 'Select Matole' forms 2x4 foot mounds and starts blooming in late August in my garden. I have two different versions of the lankier Epilobum canum, both gifts from a friend. One, with bright orange flowers and greyish leaves grows to 5 feet and is, as they say, for the informal garden. The other, with greener leaves and salmon colored flowers stays at about 4 feet. I just sit back and enjoy the show, with the hummingbirds flocking to their favorite food. In December, only very few blossoms are left and I cut back everything to 1 inch, already looking forward to the next installment.
The green dots in the plan are Festuca California (California fescue), an attractive green grass that tolerates drought and looks attractive and sculptural year round. This festuca prefers either some shade or some water but can be ignored completely and does not reseed.
I'm hoping to add some Lupinus nanus and Gilia tricolor, which I'm trying to grow from seed. But regardless of how that adventure turns out, I'm already very excited about the plants, the birds that come visiting, and the spiders and other insects I spot. Very soon, I hope that the lizards will be back to share my garden with me and my neighbors.