In July, many California native plants are well into their summer dormancy. Unless you go to the higher elevations in the Sierras, or come upon a riperian habitat, you won't see much worth photographing on your hikes.
In the garden, it can be a different story. "You have a choice: either one glorious flush of blooms in the spring, or some flowers year round," said my design teacher Fran Adams, and I wanted flowers year round.
Trichostema lanatum (Wolly blue curl) grows in the front garden and delights with its stunning blooms. I'm only handwatering the front, and Tricho gets water every 20 days. In most gardens, this beautiful plant dies because the roots get too wet, but I hope it will survive here.
Also in blue, the Agapanthus are putting on a show in the back.
I know they are common, and maybe some day I'll replace them with something rare, but what's not to like about a plant that blooms reliably, has green strappy leaves, and attracts hummingbirds and bees? Oh, right, they're common.
In the pots near the bird bath where I had the native annuals, I've planted some Susans. Don't remember which ones, I just look at the photos on the stickers in the sixpack, get one or two sickpacks, and stick them in the ground. They thrive with fairly little water.
But the showstoppers in the July garden are the native buckwheat's, and I've planted several in my garden. In the front, I have Eriogonum umbellatum polyanthum Shasta Sulphur (Shasta sulphur buckwheat). This buckwheat blooms in April here, see picture of it in my April GBBD. By now, the flowers have faded to a dark yellow, and they'll end up an orangy brown in September. I leave on the flower stalks, they still look pretty and contrast nicely with the greyish-green leaves.
Also in the front, Eriogonum fasciculatum (Narrow-leaved buckwheat).
And some more Eriogonum fasciculatum in the back, where they're in a corner with more shade. It's hard to believe this is the same plant, and I'm still not sure it is. But both are attractive with lacy flowers and dark green leaves.
The prize goes to Eriogonum grande rubescens (Red buckwheat). While the plant is smaller than its name promises (maybe a foot high), the green leaves and the red blossoms that fade to pink are beautiful for months on very little water.
All buckwheats are beloved by butterflies (especially small butterflies), and I sometimes just sit for a while and watch them come and go.
Many thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who's be hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day since February 2007 (!). She now has quite a crowd at her bloom day events, but I so appreciate the chance to stop, take some photos, and look back a month or a year later to see what happened. I appreciate even more that I can visit other wonderful gardens and learn what's blooming elsewhere. I'll do that this evening, now it's to work.
I leave you with one final picture. Yes, it's a Gardenia. No, I have no idea why she grows, she was there when I arrived and I don't fuss with her much. I'm probably lucky; see the Infamous Suicidal Gardenia Thread on Gardenweb (quite funny, have a look). Just wish I could share the fragrance with you...