Thursday, July 4, 2013

Loma Prieta Red White and Blue flowers - they're in my garden too!


Summit of Loma Prieta showing whatever you call all that electronics stuff up there.
This post is about the rest of the walk led by Randall Morgan that I wrote about last - those fabulous stream orchids!

Loma prieta means dark mountain, and it was the epicentre of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that shook us all up quite a bit. You can go to the epicenter of that earthquake in the Forest of Nisene Marks SP

We hiked the high flanks of Loma Prieta at a leisurely botanists' pace, along gravel access roads for the most part. I enjoyed seeing some plants in the wild that don't grow wild around my neck of the chaparral and forest - but that I have planted in my garden.

Loma Prieta is higher -- we were hiking at about 3000 feet above sea level -  and farther inland than my home, which is at 930 feet elevation. So the plant community up there is actually quite a bit different. I was surprised to see some plants growing there that don't grow here wild -- and that I have planted in my garden.

(My three rules for buying California native plants are: 1. not locally native, 2. won't hybridize with local natives, 3. won't escape the garden. These are good rules if you live in a wild area like I do. Also I'm propagating local natives and don't want to alter the gene pool if I can help it).

For example, heartleaf penstemon was thriving on the rocky slopes along the trail:

Keckiella cordifolia, heart-leaf penstemon growing on a rocky slope on Loma Prieta

Keckiella cordifolia growing in my garden on a sunny mound.
In my garden heartleaf penstemon thrives on neglect and no water on a sunny hummock. It's growing tangled in with a sprawling thicket of Encelia californica, coast sunflower, which is a southern California native. This is good because heartleaf penstemon has an arching form and can be a bit scraggly all by itself. Back of border is good.

Hummingbirds love heartleaf penstemon. In fact this year an Allen's hummingbird "owns" the patch and guards it jealously from a low branch of a nearby small bay tree.

Another one I haven't seen growing wild here is pitcher sage, Lepichinia calycina - it was growing in many places on Loma Prieta, and nearing the end of its bloom.

Lepechinia calycina, pitcher sage -- another one that is grown in native plant gardens.

Fragrant pitcher sage, Lepechinia fragrans, is the southern version. L calycina is whitish whereas L. fragrans is pinker and also a bit fuzzier. Maybe a bit more fragrant? I'm not sure. Both are shade lovers, but actually mine gets quite a bit of sunlight. You can buy these also in native plant nurseries.

Lepechinia calcyna in my garden
As you can see it from the bottom of the photo, it does get woody - you have to whack it right back each year and it will regrow effusively.

And for my (sort of) blue plant  --

Monardella villosa, coyote mint, on Loma Prieta
Actually it does grow wild near me but I didn't know that when I bought and planted mine. Also I have not been able to propagate our local ones, which are sparse and hard to find. If I can propagate our local ones then I'll switch to those.

Coyote mint is deer resistent and a great one for butterflies and other pollinators. It grows in full sun to partial shade starting in early summer and continuing - well, it's blooming now in July.


Monardella villosa - coyote mint - in my July garden

I find that in "regular garden conditions" - richer soil and some water - mine get very leggy. I did whack them back and the second year they have lots of flowers. However the stems are woody, long and floppy. Where they are dryer and have more poor soil they are not so floriferous maybe - but are also more compact. Have to strike a happy medium I guess. At least they are willing to grow under different conditions.

Well that's my red white and blue for Fourth of July -- And I still have some more fun native plants to share from this hike to Loma Prieta, next time I post.


2 comments:

Jason said...

Wait is Penstemon now Keckiela? Or is this a different genus with Penstemon as the common name?

Country Mouse said...

I check to be sure but -- no, Keckiella is still a different genus Jason, not one of the ones people grumble about being moved around in Jepson 2! Common names are misleading often, aren't they. It's also known as heartleaf keckiella -- I think I'll adopt that name going forward, to avoid confusion!