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.