Monday, July 5, 2010

Reports of the Death of the Garden Have Been Exaggerated


In my last post, I wrote about some plants in my garden that are going summer dormant. When I saw the comments, I realized that some of my gentle readers misunderstood.


Summer dormant is different from winter dormant. Some plants lose some leaves and change color, but many plants stay green, and many plants bloom. It's an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. Right now, in the back garden (above), the Dietis is blooming about once a week, and the miniature conifers, Arctostaphylos (manzanita), and Monardella (coyote mint) are green. Monardella is blooming purple, inviting bees for a visit. Festuca californica's (california fescue) golden stems sway in the breeze.


Right in front of Monardella, Zauschneria californica (California fuchsia) has grey leaves and will soon start blooming, inviting hummingbirds from all over the neighborhood.


Around the corner, the Clarkias have just about finished blooming (I'll pull them out today), but Eriogonum grande rubescens (Channel islands buckwheat) is now putting on a show, attracting butterflies of different size and color. And the mystery succulent is blooming more beautifully then ever.


In the front, the special aesthetics of a California garden is even more obvious.


Yes, the monkey flower in the front is a little the worse for wear. But just look at the bright green coyote brush, the tall golden grasses, and the grey leaves of the Arctostaphylos (manzanita) and California fuchsia!


Closer to the street, Eriogonum arborescens, still in bud, is a nice foil for my California Native Garden sign, hidden behind the blue pot. 


Looking at the chair from behind, we see Trichostema lanatum (wolly blue curl) intermingled with the grasses, with Salvia apiana (white sage) in its grayish summer attire in the background.


Tucked away between the grasses and perennials, a few succulents like the Dudleya pulverulenta (chalk dudleya), blooming beautifully and attracting the hummingbirds.


And also Delphinium cardinale, a red larkspur from Southern California that surprised me by blooming after 9 months of full dormancy.

So, sorry for the confusion. Yes, some plants lose leaves. Some plants -- like the Delphinium -- might even disappear completely. But many plants stay green, while others have gray summer foliage, an interesting complement for the green and gold. As for the monkey flower, it can be pruned back by at least one third, and will come back healthy next spring.

9 comments:

Les said...

Wow, what a beautiful garden! The grasses especially look great, with the other plants mingling amongst them. I'm a fan of planting things slightly too close together and seeing what happens.

Kate said...

Pretty stuff. I wonder if we have the same red larkspur growing wild here.

Are you familiar with a wild blue larkspur? Wondered if there was such a thing? I saw a field of it on a recent horseback ride high in the mountains. Just stunning...

Randy Emmitt said...

Mouses,
That garden looks very much alive to me! Several of those plants are new to me...

This afternoon I got home and my 5ft tall purple phlox which looked great yesterday looks like it was sprayed with herbicide, but actually it is the mid 90s heat without any recent rains. Hoping some watering will save it from this mid 90s heat wave are are having. Soil looks more like concrete here.

Elephant's Eye said...

Is your mystery succulent one of yours, or one of ours? Flower looks like Cotyledon orbiculata, but the leaf is wrong. I expect large round pig's ears. But perhaps it comes in other varieties?

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

It all looks so CA and different to me, love it. :)

lostlandscape (James) said...

After this particularly gonzo winter and spring, I'll have to admit that I'm having some difficulty adjusting to the start of summer. As you show in your garden, stuff still looks good, but the pacing and sheer brashness of the flowering isn't what it was. Maybe all of us, the plants and the humans, really need a rest, though...

Country Mouse said...

It all looks quite lovely. Love the plumes of California fescue. Up on the ridge here, mock orange, Philadelphus lewisii, which is in a wine barrel, and which I've ignored and let languish for years as it was just being munched by deer - is blooming with pretty white clusters of flowers right now. The deer are leaving it alone this year for some reason, and it's quite pretty and green. And among the wild things, golden yarrow is still going strong.

healingmagichands said...

Your garden is very beautiful. And it is important to understand the difference between dormant and dead. Otherwise you risk removing something that you thought was dead only to find it heroically trying to resuscitate itself on the compost pile. . .

chuck b. said...

The Cotyledon orbiculata is a big favorite of mine. Very nice!