Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Day


Country Mouse and I were just thrilled to find this morning that we were second place for Best California Blog and Best Native Blog on Blotanical. We are so grateful for everyone who voted to us. Working on this blog, getting feedback, learning from others, has been wonderful. A special thanks goes to Stuart, who single-handedly keeps Blotanical running.

Winner for Best Native Blog is Gail from Clay and Limestone, one of my favorites as well. And Best California Blog is Bay Area Tendrils, which I love for its variety and good information. We're happy to be second if such amazing blogs are first ;->

When I came home to tell Mr. Mouse the good news, he said "Did you see there's a package for you?" (and I think he worried that something expensive had been purchased). But it was my bulb order from Van Engelen, placed several weeks ago. After very good success this spring with some Triteleia (as in the photo above), I had gone through the Van Engelen offering and chosen a few California Native bulbs. And a few more. And then I saw there was a minimum order amount, so I had to add a few more. Here's what I got (I'm including photos from the Van Engelen website).

10 Brodiaea Californica. I bought the same plant as Triteleia last year, but no matter, I was very happy with how long it bloomed.

100 Brodiaea Queen Fabiola. I think this will be a smaller version of Californica, and I'm ready to just be suprised.




20 Brodiaea Coccinea. I bought that plant as Dichelostemma Ida-maia (Firecracker plant) last year. I loved the combination of the bright red with lime green of the flowers, and found this plant looked good even when dried out.




25 Calochortus Golden Orb. I have not tried Calohortus in my garden yet, and I'm a bit worried about the clay being a problem, but I'm going to plant these bulbs along the dry stream bed, so I hope they'll make it.






25 Calohortus Mixture. Who could resist?


I think I'll put the bulbs in the garage until the rain has softened the ground. Right now, you'd need a jackhammer to get anything into the ground, but soon, we hope, things will change. I'll cover the bulb holes with a bit of chicken wire to discourage the squirrels (worked last year) and then I'll wait and dream of spring.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Propagating from Cuttings - Take Two

Before I launch into this weekend's propagation saga, let me show you one of the main reasons for the propagation effort - the new path - and one of the main reasons it has gotten off the ground - Mr Woodrat and his woodworking skills:

I guess when Woodrat came home from our Big Sur mini-vacation, he was energized. This wonderful path he dug continues around behind him curls up to the flat top where our house sits. Now we can walk around the hillside comfortably. I mapped out some small footpaths too. So now we can stay on the paths and off the rest of the soil, as much as possible.

But in the process of making the path the ground was, of course disturbed. It was actually disturbed soil to start with -- it was what was on the flat top before it was flattened to build our house, we think. Also we removed the big broken bay tree from lower in this area in spring.

For erosion control in the short term, we'll put down jute netting, and I'll also try sowing seeds of Nasella lepida. It's the easiest thing to grow from seed, so maybe it would survive direct sowing. I'll probably try flinging a few other seeds down there that are lying around supernumerary to this year's requirements. In the longer term, I want to plant local natives all around this area to stabilize and beautify and restore the slopes.

That's why yesterday I got more perlite and mixed it with sphagnum moss, about 75% perlite to 25% moss, by volume.

Nevin Smith says 10% - 25% peat (Native Treasures page 49). I went for 25% peat because these are mostly woodland plants, and also I don't know how often I can mist them and peat is for moisture retention, while perlite is for aeration.


Disclaimer. Other than information like the above which I took from books, this blog narrates the experiences of a greenhorn. I'm attempting to get informed as I go along. This is my second effort to start cuttings and I hope I have learned something from the first effort - Garrya elliptica - dang a bust again - A tragic story of cuttings that all slowly died, one after another.

This is not an ideal time to do cuttings. I'm not really clear about when the best time is and I'll perhaps come back and fill in those details later. But I was encouraged by my propagation group to have a go, because plants will always surprise you, they said.

(By the way, I will go back and update informational blog entries to correct factual errors. I have already done so. For example, I should not have used native soil in my seed mix. What was I thinking? Now I don't know what the heck is coming up in the seed trays! Oh well, some of them could be serendipities - that would be nice. Next time though: no soil in the seed mix.)

So, thinking about helping cuttings to survive, I had an idea how to make a bench out of some corrugated roofing we have lying around. There is a semi-shady spot under an oak tree, along one side of the horse corral. The corral is lower on our property and runs alongside the road. It tends to be a bit cooler there, but it's sheltered. Mr Woodrat said it wouldn't be much trouble to knock together what I wanted, and he built this great setup out of scrap wood and the corrugated roofing - metal underneath and fiberglass up the back. (I made him pose for this shot btw.)


I read that the best time to gather cuttings is the early morning, so accordingly Duncan and I set out early Sunday morning for the nearby dirt road, where I've seen thimbleberry. I like to keep Nevin Smith's attitude about collecting in mind as I go:

I have a personal compact with Mother Nature. I relieve her of a few twigs here, a few seeds there. In return I promise to work diligently to make more of what I have taken and to distribute it generously (Native Treasures page 41).
We collected thimbleberry, and a few other things, not too much from any one spot, and making reasonable pruning cuts so the plant wasn't too damaged. Duncan was very patient and sat still - most of the time - when I was gathering. Here he is examining where best to take material from this thimbleberry bush (Rubus parviflorus):


On my trip I took a day pack, a bottle of water, paper towel to wet, many plastic bags, clippers, note pad and pen. And camera. If you're going off for a longer collecting trip, ice and ziplock bags are apparently helpful. One tip I read is if you are collecting and have no water, exhale into a plastic bag with your cutting in it, and then tie it off or zip it up.

I had envelopes with me and also collected some seeds of hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula) - I wish I had remembered to take a photo - they are very deep red and almost gooey looking. And seeds of Common Madia, Madia elegans. Actually I'm only sort of sure it is Madia elegans. It seems so much taller than in the spring, and the flowers don't seem so large - maybe that's what happens if it reblooms in the fall. Or maybe it's another species of Madia.

Still, color for fall. That's a good thing. They are cheerful, though yellow daisy type flowers are not my favorites. On the madia was - and I'm glad I saw before I disturbed her (or she me) - a large spider enjoying a meal.


I think it's a green lynx spider, Peucetia viridans, eating a grub of some sort. They are not web weavers, but instead ambush their prey. I could be wrong - I got two answers to my "mystery spider" question on the GWN forum and that's the one I think is more accurate. I saw no web, and I did see her munching down on that grub right there on the twig.

Duncan and I returned triumphant with cuttings of the following.


A Rubus parviflorus Thimbleberry
B Holodiscus discolor Cream Bush
C Arbutus Menziesii Madrone
D Corylus cornuta Western Hazelnut
E (Oops)
F Artemisia californica
G Lupinus albifrons (I think)

I put the letter on each plant stick and also in a MS Word table I've made to track progress or lack thereof. (I'll get plants that grow closer to home such as toyon and coffee berry in the next few days.)

Here is what some cuttings of Holodiscus discolor looked like after I had a go at them (For some reason Blogger is rotating some of my images today):


You make the lower cut just below a leaf node. The node is where roots can grow. You don't want a lot of greenery either. That is something I'm trying for the first time: clipping the larger leaves. Less transpiration, water loss, wind blowing about etc. You strip off the lower leaves so the twig can slip into the planting medium (some of the examples in the photo above haven't had that part done yet). At the propagation group an experienced person showed me how to make cuttings from a small discarded branch. I was amazed how little green was left, and how short the cuttings were. I did all different lengths depending on the space between nodes and how promising things looked. I figure if I do enough different things, one of them might work.

I did use some rooting compound. It is a liquid called Dip n' Grow - I used it entirely on impulse and with no research, because someone at the nursery said it worked. I read in Nevin Smith's writings that often you don't really need any rooting powder or liquid. But he didn't say that using it got in the way, so I figure if it can't hurt, it might help... It does have some dire warnings about poison control and flushing skin for 15 minutes so I'm guessing Indole-3-butyric acid and 1-Napthaleneacetic acid must be pretty nasty. I wonder how it works?

I made a hole with a pencil and put the cuttings just deep enough that they don't fall over. An inch or so is good. Mine usually went deeper I think.

You are supposed to take cuttings of soft, medium, and hard wood at different times of the plant's growing season - but I haven't sorted all that out yet. I've read about it five times or more, and it doesn't sink in. I decided to just plonk whatever looked viable and not totally woody into the trays and see what happens. Experience will create hooks for learning to hang on. I know this from experience.

I also read about different treatment for the tip, the mid section cuttings, and a side branch used as a cutting - When you are taking a side branch, you can rip a bit of the heel of the main branch away with it and that gives you more of the root forming cells, maybe.

With the Holodiscus discolor cuttings, I attempted to label which part of the plant the cutting came from, so I can maybe learn which of the cuttings do better and why. If any of them take at all, that is.

Books also say to snip the tip off if it is too soft. I'm glad I didn't have to snip any soft tips off today - seems so sad, those hopeful little tips. But it's late September and the tips are not soft.

Today it was cool nowhere. When I started working with the plant material (as I've learned to call the twigs) I realized that my cuttings would need that "hothouse environment" I read about. They were already wilting. Cuttings, of course, have no way of keeping themselves moist - no roots. So it's up to the gardener to maintain a just-humid-enough, just-warm-enough environment until they can get some roots out - that's the idea anyway. Books can't really tell you what is "enough" so I figure that as I can't go apprentice myself to a gardener I'll just have to learn from experience.

I applied to Mr Woodrat with my most winning squeaks and in almost no time flat he had built a frame to drape plastic over. (We have a roll of plastic left over from another project.)

The final object does involve a bit of duct tape, but not as much as the first greenhouse effort (scroll down if you click, to see a picture). That one was so securely taped down I couldn't get in to water the plants! Also the plastic top bellied down with rain. We hope this time we've improved the design - And here is the finished object, about 20 feet long:


I covered over the lower part in case I want to use that space at some point - I would just have to seal the back up, the part next to the fence to stop the draft.

This time we were just working with what was around the place. Once we know what we're doing, we may try a structure that is a bit more substantial.

I can get in to water without too much trouble, and I can let air in to a varying extent, to stop over-heating - we've had very hot weather lately but this area is in the shade most of the day. It's where our old horse used to hang out in the heat of the day. So I hope it'll be a good place for these cuttings. I may have to move them, if the weather gets too cool - we'll see.

I notice Town Mouse has updated her last post with a short update, and some information about lawnreform.org- please do have a read before you leave our blog today.

And I'll just close as I opened, with a picture of Woodrat making something, and thank him for the help, and for making dinner besides, so I could jabber on and on in this blog entry.


PS - what a difference a day makes.

That marine influence - foggy and 57 degres f at 8:30 am. Cuttings looked OK, some a bit shrivelled. But the machinery is now in place, and with great input like Barbara's in the comments - I'm marching forward. With my machinery. Um. There is a reason we don't mix metaphors!
Thanks for reading -
Country Mouse

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lawn Reform

Here's some encouraging news: Several well-known garden designers and bloggers from across America have banded together to form the Lawn Reform Coalition.

Their website already has a lot of great information about:

• Regionally Appropriate Lawn Species
• Eco-Friendly Care for all Lawns
• Design Ideas to Reduce or Replace Lawns

And they are collection more. Susan of Blue Planet Gardening, a member of the coalition, has invited bloggers to share their story of what happened to their lawn. Stories are being collected here on Susan's blog; I've really enjoyed reading them.

And now, please enjoy my story:

I Used to Have a Lawn (and a Pool). Now I Have a Native Plant Wildlife Paradise

When Mr. Mouse and I moved into our current abode, we had a front garden with moderately thirsty plants, which I replaced. You can read about the project (in gory detail) in the Great Front Garden Remodel posts.
In the back, we had a kidney shaped black-bottom pool. Like this:

The pool was in a corner shaded by a few (seven or eight) redwood trees. The previous owners admitted they had used the pool 3 times in 15 years. Leading to the pool was a lawn, surrounded by concrete paths, like this:


Mr Mouse and I had had a small garden with a focus on California Natives at our previous abode, but this project felt too big for us. So we got help from a garden designer, and she suggested Mediterranean mounds and a decomposed granite plaza. From above, it looks like this:


And looking toward the neighbor's garage (slightly different angle), it looks like this:


Now, truth be told, I'm not even sure it looks so much better now. The lawn was green (until we stopped to water it). The pool looked nice in a 70s sort of way, and as a kid, I'd always known only rich people have pools, so it made me feel rich. But after the remodel, we noticed several differences in our lives.

The water bill decreased. Lawns need water, and lots of it. California natives can get by with very little water.

Lizards appeared. The first summer after the remodel, I thought I saw a lizard but wasn't sure. The next year I was sure. Third year, Mr. Mouse and I saw several lizards in different parts of the garden. And this year, I'm seeing baby-lizards everywhere, and they're starting to move into the newly remodeled front garden.


Birds became abundant. I used to think of birds as the winged critters in the sky that other people were able to identify. But in my native plant garden, birds become more abundant every year, and I can often watch them from my dining table.


Birds need three things:
  • Food for themselves, either nuts and seeds or bugs, depending on the bird.
  • Food for their young, usually bugs.
  • Water.
I've chosen many natives (and a few non-natives), that provide abundant seeds. In fact, the birds pretty well stripped my native Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana), though there's other food sources nearby (the contoneaster that was there before didn't seem very popular).


It's been proven that natives attract native insects, and that birds prefer native insects. I discuss a great book about this topic, Bringing Nature Home, in this post. Yes, some of my plants might look a little nibbled at, but I've never seen a plant die because of an insect problem. This native lily is ready to go dormant, so I don't mind sharing.


For water, I've added a few bird baths, discussed in this post. (There's more about Mr. and Ms. Towhee at the bath in this post).


There's something new in the garden every day. What I like best about our native plant garden is stepping outside in the morning, or late in the day after work, and seeing what's going on. I might discover a spider web, or a plant might surprise me with new blossoms. Hummingbirds dash by. The smells are always enticing. And watching bees and butterflies come to the plants is a joy again and again.

And finally, with our decomposed granite plaza, we can enjoy a hammock in a spot that would be half underwater, half on the green if we hadn't changed things a bit.




Friday, September 25, 2009

We're Finalists!

Extra! Extra! Town Mouse and Country Mouse are very happy to report that they're finalists in the prestigious Blotanical Awards for the following categories:
  • Best Drought Tolerant Blog
  • Best Native Blog
  • Best California Blog
Blotanical, kind of the Facebook of the gardening world -- except everyone is everyone else's friend -- will have voting for the next 4 days. I wrote about Blotanical in my The Wonderful World of Garden Blogs post, so I won't repeat myself. But I do want to encourage Blotanical members who read this blog to vote (for us!), and non-members to consider joining.

Competition is stiff; I'm always amazed how many really great blogs are out there, and I learn so much from other bloggers. We figure even if we don't win an award, being in fifth place is kind of like winning the Compost Medal. So we're thrilled we've made it this far. (But we won't mind winning either).

And now, read the next post, in which Country Mouse contemplates riparian habitats, and the local natives conundrum...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Releaf and Reflection- Carmel Street Native Plantings

Mr Wood Rat and I took a three day trip down Highway 1 to Cambria and back home (to the Santa Cruz area) in early September, and spent the first night in the charming and wealthy village of Carmel by the sea. After we settled into our room, we enjoyed an early evening stroll along the beach and up around the older neighborhoods, famous for their unique cottage style homes in a beautiful coastal woodland setting.

A certain type of oak is ubiquitous in Carmel. I don't know if it's native or introduced. Its bark is pale and plump looking, as you can see above left. That one was almost on the beach. These oaks create airy high shade for the gardens and homes.

Many gardens feature amazing succulents too, as on the right.

But we didn't see much in the way of California natives in the gardens.

Then we turned a corner found ourselves walking up a long public path that ran along a culvert (dry at the moment). It turned out to be a major native plant project, in a narrow band along the culvert and path. I think it was a hundred percent natives and it ran for - well it felt like a quarter of a mile but maybe it wasn't quite that long.

The plantings were mostly riparian, with juncus, carex of some sort I think - I'm not sure how to identify the different ones, Western Chain Fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) and Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum), and grasses, probably Purple Needle Grass (Nasella pulchra), and Festuca californica, and Douglas iris, and woodland strawberry (Fragraria californica).


And trees! Many young trees that will be wonderful to revisit in years to come. Sycamores and others I didn't take time to note. I'm not that great at identifying a lot of trees as yet, but we have sycamores along the river near us that look lovely in early fall, with luminous pale yellow leaves.


I believe this is Festuca californica, waving its wonderful airy seedheads:


I do hope those responsible for this park maintain the plantings and don't suffer from the myth that native plants need no care! (That's Myth #3 in Town Mouses' most excellent Myth Buster blog entry.) Here is a sign that lets you know who to thank for this lovely roadside park:


I deeply admire this riparian habitat planting, and hope it inspires the residents of Carmel to use more natives in their gardens.

Yet I'm starting to recognize the same set of "usual suspects" that appear over and over in native gardens, dotted across the same mulched berms, and I hope we don't begin to suffer the same kind of gardener's "plant fatigue" that other plants - junipers come to mine - have suffered in California garden landscapes.

I'm talking of the ceanothus, manzanita, bunch grasses, sages and sedges that are coming to predominate in the corporate plantings in Palo Alto where I work, and also in many suburban gardens that are "losing their lawns." It's great - really great - but after a while you feel a certain cookie-cutter sameness in the approach.

I think it's partly because they are mostly new plantings, and we haven't had a chance to see how they develop over time.

Town Mouse's back garden has a wide range of wonderful plants that fill in small nooks here and habitat corners there . It's profuse and wonderful.


Yes, it started out as it should with a lot of space between plantings, as right now her new front yard looks, but Ms Town follows up with enriching accents and lovely touches that make her garden a rich and fragrant place to linger.

I hope that all of us gardeners new to working with the native plant materials learn how to go beyond the basic "starter garden" - and that takes education and time and experience.

It also requires more native plants to come into the mainstream nursery trade. Thank goodness for people such as Nevin Smith, who constantly seeks out and develops new natives that enrich the gardener's palette.

But I'm also coming to realize that country mice like me can't use the same approach to native gardening as the town mice.

Unlike a suburban plot, my property grows lots and lots of natives all by itself, as it has done for countless years before I showed up. I have a responsibility to care for this ecology, this gene pool.


I can't have anything here that will either hybridize or escape into the wild and take over habitat.

But as I've been learning about gardening with natives I have planted many nursery stock plants that might hybridize with locally indigenous ones. Ceanothus "Dark Star," lovely spreading Ceanothus "Joyce Coulter," Arctostaphylos "Doctor Hurd," Monkey flowers like Mimulus "Eleanor," and so on.

It's too late in a sense because some plantings have been here for five years. But it's not too late to take out those that will keep on hybridizing. That's hard. Transplanting native plants is not easy because their root systems go wide and/or deep to take advantage of all the water they can get their little rootlets on. And they are so pretty, it will be hard to wrest them from the soil where they are thriving. I'll certainly try transplanting them, if I can find them a nice suburban home, but my hopes are not high.

So I'm seeking advice right now about which of my planted natives can stay, and which have to be removed, and will no doubt blog about this again in the near future.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rana Creek Nursery: Too Much Fun!


On my way back from Tassajara, I had the wonderful opportunity to stop at Rana Creek Nursery. Nestled on the side of Carmel Valley Road, Rana Creek is a wholesale nursery that's open to the public, and they just happened to be open when my friend and I drove by.

The Welcome sign leads into one of several shaded greenhouses, filled with healthy plants.

Even better, small gardens in front of the greenhouses show what the plants can do.


A beautiful Epilobium, much redder (rather than orange) color than most I've seen. (Should have bought one).


The biggest, tallest, widest, meanest deer grass I've ever seen. Probably 8 feet high and wide. I do hope mine will stay a little smaller.

And a beautiful mystery bush, I forgot to ask what it is.

After strolling around for a bit, I went into the trailer/office, where I met the very friendly owner and her even friendlier dog. We chatted a bit, then went off together in search of a few plants I needed. As we walked, she told me that off late, one of the main business areas for Rana Creek has been green roofs, and that they supplied the plants for the green roof at the Academy of Sciences. I had been at the Academy in June and had been spellbound by the beauty of the roof and its many winged visitors, so I wanted to learn more.

I walked over to where the coconut fiber trays were waiting to be filled.

The material for the trays comes for the Philippines, where it's considered trash. The trays are filled with a soil mixture and, of course, plants.


Here some sedums, waiting to grow a little bigger.


Grasses and yarrow, a nice combination of different shades of green, with the promise of blossoms.


And finally a sea of grass, just watered (click the image to see the droplets of water).

The owner told me that green roofs are getting quite popular because, as the Academy of Sciences explains: "The endless swath of black rooftops and pavement trap heat, causing cities to be 6 to 10 degrees warmer than outlying greenbelt areas." Green roofs are also aesthetically pleasing, and great for many kinds of critters.

Rana Creek is currently working on several custom projects. Because each climate and sun exposure requires different plants, the trays are always planted for that location, and possibly even for that exposure.

After taking photos and looking at a few more plants (while my friend played with the dog), I finally settled on two Salvia Bee's Bliss, two Chaparral Currents, and three small native sedums. The plants were very reasonably prices, but I did not have my list prepared yet, so I hesitated to buy too much on impulse. And really, it was already so much fun to see it all, I didn't have to drive home laden with gifts for myself and my garden. Though I do expect I'll stop at Rana Creek Nursery next time I'm in that area -- and invite you all to do the same.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Photo Contest: Grasses


Once again, Gardening Gone Wild has invited garden bloggers to a photo contest, and this time the topic is grasses. There's even a prize, but the best thing is looking at everyone else's photos. It's so inspiring.

Above is my entry, a photo of Stipa gigantea, taken against redwoods with ceanothus thysiflorus in the foreground. This beautiful Mediterranean grass gets by without any summer water in my garden. I only have one plant; they grow to 8x8 feet. In the spring, Stipa delights with silvery green fronds that sparkle in the sunlight. They fade to golden over the summer, but are a great focal point well into the fall. Finches and hummingbirds alight on the stems, enjoying the safe spot way above the ground, then flying off again to feast on the nearby lavender seeds.

My favorite grass for the California garden is, however, California fescue (Festuca californica). The photos I had just weren't as dramatic. Here's a row of Festuca planted along the dry stream bed in the front garden. They've stayed green all summer on hand-watering every 10 days, in full sun. I'm impressed and delighted because they actually prefer part shade.


With no water in the back garden, Festuca shows its golden California color, providing a beautiful contrasting background to the dry seedheads of Salvia spatacea (Hummingbird sage).


And now I'll head over to Gardening Gone Wild to have another look at the other contestants' photos. And then I'll prune Stipa.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Native Gardening Article; Interesting Naturalist Service; Musings

I tend to browse the San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com) gardening page and was happy to see a good article on use of native plants, by a pair of writers who are naturalists in Berkeley. Their by-line had a link to their company, which advertises a service I admire.

The company is Selborne Surveys. They provide a report on the natives that grow, or could grow, natively at your site, with an ecological perspective, over time. It's an educational service for people like me living on a bit of wild land.

Actually I am the recipient of such a service, provided by Jeffrey Caldwell with less fanfare but with great solid value to me - a very detailed list of natives and non-natives growing here, and sound ecological advice.

All Jeffrey lacks is the glossy presentation of their attractive reports - for which Selborne Surveys charge, for the basic service, $5,000.

Now I'm thinking - I can provide this kind of glossy presentation for people like Jeffrey... And maybe it's the presentation that makes all the difference in terms of helping people to absorb the information in an enjoyable and useful way.

Then I'm thinking - with a sigh - yeah, that's me, ever the handmaiden to others. And maybe that's just my role as a human and it's a good role. Only this morning I offered useful advice to a friend launching a site for her PR company, for which she was grateful and I was thereby gladdened.

But I do have envy for the people doing the doing and want to be one! I'd like to one day offer services in restoration of native habitats like mine. But expertise is a long ways off, and I can't give the effort my full focus.

In other news, the mice are out of the garage. The catch and release cage has been available and untriggered for two weeks now. Mr Woodrat sealed up the garage, and emptied the storage areas and found three nests in cardboard boxes. They had eaten through some of my cherished memories, but oddly, I didn't mind too much. Unfortunately they had also eaten through some archived comic books left with us for storage by one of my sons-in-law. As you can see below:


I'm still thinking about that short story about the California mice!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blooms in September - Country Mouse

This time instead of a comprehensive look around - there are a few non-native sages blooming away and a few things, but not much really worth presenting - I thought I'd show you the few natives blooming here that I also saw in the wild this weekend on a trip down the Big Sur Coast - the coastal pictures are from the stunning Point Lobos state preserve.

First and most stunningly different - my poorly performing California beach aster, Lessingia filaginifolia, followed by the true coastal splendour of the same - they were all over the place in the preserve, at the edge of the coastal sage scrub habitat.

Here at 900 ft and 6 miles inland - the climate just doesn't seem to be right for them. Though they do seem to like to be planted as an understory for sheltering shrubs, in partial shade.

Home:


Beach (You can also see some brown Eriogonum latifolium, coast buckwheat - there was lots and lots of that around, some still blooming pink in sheltered spots):


There are still a few seaside daisies, Erigeron glaucus, both at home and at Point Lobos. These seem more tolerant of the difference in environment.

Home:

Beach:


And finally, California fuschia, Zauschneria californica canum, this time from home and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Of course these do grow natively here, though the ones I have grown so far were purchased at a nursery or CNPS sale. For the most part the wild fuschia were as sparse as I see at home, but here and there was a large lush patch. I wish I knew how to get large lush patches to grow here!

Home:
From a greater distance, Home:


Wild (with gratuitous mouse - well, it was my birthday weekend :-D) :


Happy bloom day! Thanks, May Dreams Gardens! Don't forget to check out Town Mouse's bloom day posting immediately following this post, and the other bloom day posts too.