December Bloom Day (Country Mouse)

I'll just tag on to Town Mouse's great bloom day set for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. I forgot it was Bloom Day this morning.

Tonight I've been hunting through my files for the last couple of weeks looking for bloom pictures. I am sure I have pictures of our manzanita blooming, but darned if I can find them and it's dark out there, so I missed out on that. They have certainly been blooming here since around end of November, very pretty too. You'll have to use your imagination!

But I am very happy to see the sugar bush, Rhus Ovata, is budding out beautifully. This little shrub is about 5 years old and has been slow to grow, but is very pretty with glossy and fairly large leaves, and the critters have not touched it. It is in shade in the morning, gets a few hours in the afternoon. Not a local native; I planted it before I got that focus, but it is a nice garden plant. It grows in Southern California on dry sunny slopes. The fruit can be used to make a drink similar to lemonade, I hear tell.

In that same area, I also planted a Chaparral Currant, Ribes malvaceum (or someone said it might be a Ribes indecorum because its blossoms are white, but Town Mouse says you can get white Ribes malvaceum too). It has been spectacularly successful and happy in its morning shade-afternoon sun location. Large and bushy, and covered in blossoms.

Some ceanothus are starting to peek out. This is a planted one and I forget its cultivar name. It sprawls very vigorously and is quite large. The local native ones have not yet bloomed.

I'm always particularly happy when indigenous natives appear, and especially when they bloom. I had thought this solanum was a weedy one, but I was told that if they are not white, they are native. It's the white ones that are weeds. However I just checked that and I see on Las Pilitas that Solanum douglasii is white. ARGH. I have been pulling a bunch of white ones. Now I don't know what I have. Well, time to try and ID these ones properly!

Another of my favorite natives is coyote brush, Baccharis pillularis, which grows everywhere around here. It is dioeceous and has fluffy white female flowers on some plants:

And creamier and not fluffy male flowers on others.

The cultivars are all cloned from male plants because people don't like the fluff, but I do!


Anonymous said…
Regarding the Solanum, have you checked for a list of which native and non-native ones grow in your area? I would check there (and follow the links to CalPhotos for each species in your area to get an idea of its flower color range) and also cross-check the native species on CaprICE to be more certain of their geographic ranges.
Anonymous said…
Hi Country Mouse, thanks for joining in late for bloom day. There are so many participants nowadays that we need at least two days for it. I love your phrase about the natives, not my focus when planted. It so aptly describes a common predicament, but I believe that is changing in favor of natives being thought of not as weeds now. The ID is part of the fun, right? The blue of the ceonanthus takes my breath away. :-)
Brad B said…
The white fluff is the best part about coyote brush. I can't believe people don't like it. I went for a hike on Thanksgiving weekend here in the hills and there was white fluff everywhere. I love watching as it takes to the wind.

I also have a Ribes malvaceum, but with pink flowers. Last winter it was in a pot and very small, so I can't wait till it blooms this year.
Country Mouse said…
I use Calflora and Thomas - a Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains (book). I also use Weeds of the West (book). I just bought Jepson - so maybe this is a good time to give the Big Book a whirl. I just have to focus on it. I also need to learn to tell native spurge apart from the weedy spurge which is everywhere. Ditto clovers. That's my homework cut out for me!

Not my focus when planted - could be a good blog post theme or people - pretty much everyone has such plants in their garden!

Yeah, Ribes malvaceum is usually pink I have some pink ones under an oak but they are not yet blooming, and they are healthy but not burgeoning as the white one is - different spot, different variety... who knows. I hope yours thrives well for you!

Thanks for stopping in!
Anonymous said…
I love the pretty with the dark stems, green leaves & white flowers....nice contrast. Great pic of the Ceanothus....that would probably be where I started with natives....although I'm not a purist like you two.
ryan said…
I don't know the difference between the solanums. Bindweed is the one I watch out for and eradicate as quickly as possible.
Does your rhus ovata get broused by deer and how much do you or did you water it? It's looking good. I like the buds as much as the flowers.
Nell Jean said…
I think I need to try growing currants.

Baccharis - the eastern kind -- is still blooming here, white and fluffy and appropriate to a cool season.

Do you need me to look for pics I've saved of various greenhouses built from windows, or do you have the plan all perfected?
Country Mouse said…
Ryan, the deer have not browsed the Rhus ovata, not even a little bit - though they have browsed things close by (golden currant, redbud). I don't water it a lot, and haphazardly. Summertime irrigation wasn't working in that area and I hand watered, maybe every other week or once a month if I remembered. The leaves are almost waxy so I think it's drought tolerant. I have another Rhus ovata growing nearby and it is not doing nearly so well - I think the soil is more shallow where it is. Or maybe it's in a shadow of something.

Nell Jean - we are fairly well along in the greenhouse design. I'm interested to see what you've collected though - I did some google searches and found just a few images. The roof is still in question a little, so it might be good to see what others have done on their roofs - thanks so much for the offer. (Email is in case that address doesn't show up here.)
Benjamin Vogt said…
Nothing profound to say, other then I love all those blooms. I don't say that often. Trust me.
Town Mouse said…
Happy bloom day! Well, I bought a Ribes malvaceum at Rana Creek nursery, and they told me it was white. The I looked it up and stumbled upon Ribes indecorum as Las Pilitas ( So, I don't know. I'm just a Mouse
Gail said…
Good morning, I love the ceanothus~~and have always wanted to see one in bloom in person! I google solanum and California and up popped a pretty little purple flower that is referred to as chaparral nightshade. What a fantastic name. Is that the one you have? Have a great day! gail
Carol said…
Beautiful blooms All! So many when from where I sit all is cold, white and gray. A joy to visit your world! Carol