Building the Pool Garden Plant Palette

Over the weekend as I was clearing out the pool-shed of its superabundance of dumpster diver treasures (the nursery that hosts CNPS propagation group has a wonderful dumpster! and we are permitted to take anything we want - lots of seed flats, small pots and gallon pots have come my way from that dumpster!), I thought about the plant palette for the pool garden new beds. I'm not naturally good at this. I like to evolve things from choices made in the moment. But I do recognize that this is generally not the best way to attain a harmonious result, whether aesthetically or even from the basic irrigation standpoint. I need support in the planning department of my brain.

So it was a relief when I tallied up all the indigenous native plants, those "native to this site" to quote the CNPS Yerba Buena chapter's philosophy on what is a native plant. These are plants I have propagated or could propagate in the future, that like an open sunny environment. There are quite a lot that would be suitable. It's good to have a limited set of options to play with. For me I mean.

Outside of these I would want to round out the plant palette with non invasive exotics that have high wildlife value and/or strong emotional or aesthetic appeal. Preferably California natives.

Here we go. This list is as yet informal and just a WIP. I'll do up a plant palette with proper names and pictures when I'm farther along in the process.

Indigenous and growing on or very near the property:
• Lupines –
o L. bicolor (I think - small annual),
o L. albifrons, silver bush lupine
o L. formosus?? Green leaves, perennial
• Zauschneria Californica canum
• Black sage, Salvia mellifera.
• Clarkia amoena (I think amoena)
• Mimulus aurantiacus, sticky monkey flower
• Nassella lepida – bunch grass
• Nassela cernua - bunch grass
• Eriophylum confertifolium, golden yarrow
• Carex – one or two kinds, not sure which (look up Helen Holmes doc)
• Ceanothus – warty
• Ceanothus thyrsiflorus
• Sambucus Mexicana
• Coffeeberry
• Manzanita
• Toyon

I would have 1 or at most a few specimen shrubs, generally choosing perennials that can take a little water and are low fire risk. Though with that whomping big fence all around one might wonder if it makes a difference.

Here are a few more shade/moisture loving natives from around here - maybe better for the north garden, but some that can take sun might be good in a more irrigated section and maybe under a fence or taller plant that shades the afternoon sun.
• Wild rose
• Iris fernaldii
• Lonicera hispidula
• Heuchera micrantha
• Mimulus Guttatus (riparian)
• Aster radulinus (can take some sun)
• Melica torreyana – Torrey’s Melic Grass
• Hound's tongue
• Violet
• Wild ginger
• Ribes (maybe)

Some baby Ribes are growing down in the north valley but more likely they are from the
planted ribes: Ribes malveceum and R. indecorum and R. aureum and R. sanguineum

Making progress, if only in my head!


Christine said…
Wow! May I recommend a groundcover or two? For the sunny area, a Monardella villosa perhaps? For the shady area, Satureja douglasii? Both are supposedly great for making minty tea.
Country Mouse said…
Thanks Christine - valuable suggestions. Getting ground cover that will work in the sunny areas is just tough. To some extent the bunch grasses and carex can help there. I'm hoping, with some irrigation they'll stay green. I like Fran Adam's idea (not just hers of course, but she is the one who passed it along to me I guess!) of massing things to make a focal point. I'm wondering which things would mass well.

We do have native satureja douglasii here and I've not yet tried to propagate it. Thanks for the reminder - I'll have to add it to the shady garden area plant list! Monardella villosa is sposed to grow here locally but I'm not sure if I've seen it - so it's on my "iffy" list for introduced natives. And on my list for removal of introduced natives - I have it in two places. Not sure I'm that ruthless though.
Gail said…
"non invasive exotics that have high wildlife value and/or strong emotional or aesthetic appeal." I love that plan and how you've phrased it! gail
Kimberly said…
Fantastic plan! Can't wait to see it!
Don Webb said…
Sounds like work! Worth it though. If you're like me, projects like this tend to "creep" (pardon the pun) in scope to the point I never seem to get finished.
Susan Krzywicki said…
I love ribes - but am always looking for new ways to show off the plants - how do you think they show to best advantage? Up against a wall? I kninda like them in a big bed of something else that is uniformly green so that they show well. Ideas?
Country Mouse said…
Thanks for dropping by, all! Don, yes, I feel like we'll be creeping projects till we are creeping with old age! But it's a good life for me.

Susan, I have seen ribes looking good against a wall. I like to see them where they can attain a nice full shape, but I've only had real success with one ribes that way - Ribes indecorum. I've seen them do well under high shade, or in a coastal environment (San Francisco - Golden Gate Park) - some environment that gives them a bit of relief from the sun. That's just my limited experience.