Saturday, August 31, 2013

Who's been naughty? Who's been nice?



Fall is in the air. Yes, we're enjoying the usual Labor Day mini heat wave, but the days are getting shorter. Time to take stock of what's been going on in the garden this year.

Who's been naughty? Well, that must be me. Or maybe I just had a lesson to learn:

If it does not rain in the spring, it's important to turn on the irrigation early!!

Somehow, each time I was ready to turn the dial, there was one more shower, with maybe 1/4 inch of rain. Maybe less. So I thought my plants, being California Natives, could surely cope. And some of them did. Above California fuchsia (Epilobium 'Calistoga') is looking great - but I've also seen some die-off in spots, especially of my treasured salmon-colored Epilopioum.


Asclepias speciosa has also had a good year. Now well established in the garden, this native butterfly weed delights with large flowers and interesting seed pods. No Monarchs yet...


Sambuccus mexicana (blue elderberry) as also had a decent year. I cut her back to the ground each year, and she faithfully resprouts to about 15 feed. I think she's reached the water table and is happy.

In contrast...


Carpenteria  californica, now over 10 years old, is clearly past its prime. Not sure whether it's been the water situation, but it's time to replace this plant with a younger specimen.


Rudbekia Californica lives in a container and has had a tough time of it because of my many absences. But I've very much enjoyed the tall flower stalks, with blooms for more than a month.

What's not working?
  • Most monkeyflowers, with the exception of some that get a fair amount of shade, look fairly dead. 
  • Some of the penstemons, most regrettably a recently transplanted Penstemon centrafolium 'Scarlet Bugler' are no more. 
  • In the front garden, the hummingbird sage and half of the Heterotheca villosa 'San Bruno Mountain' are no more. The goldenrod, as well, has not been impressive. 
  • Arctostaphylos 'Emerald Carpet' has had so much die-back that I'm contemplating a replacement this year. 
  • Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet' looked pretty good in the spring, so I left it in even though it looked dismal in the fall. Well, it's looking dismal again. This is the plant that is supposed to be pretty in the fall, so I think I'll need an alternative. 

What's working?
  • Anything that's in part shade is hanging in there. monkey flowers, grasses, you name it - if they are getting shade for some of the day (no afternoon sun) they are much happier. Not surprising, you might say - well, yes, but these plants are supposed to enjoy full sun...
  • Anything from Southern California seems to have a better chance of survival. Unless it has the word "beach" in it...
  • Manzanitas have, in general, enjoyed the summer, have grown quite a bit, and look good. 
  • Toyon also looks healthy. 
  • Douglas iris are looking suprisingly well. Of course, they're in part shade (see above). 
  • Buckwheats are doing great. With the exception of one that I planted last year, which seems to be surviving. 
  • Succulents have, for the most part, prospered and multiplied. 
  • Fruit trees have benefited from the heat - we've had a great harvest.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like an El Nino year is in store, which means that rainfall will most likely be average or below average again.  But I'm planning on coming up with some clever replacements, and I also hope to propagate and grow from seed. And this year, I'll watch the rain gauge in the spring and I'll give some extra water to the new arrivals in the garden.


2 comments:

Country Mouse said...

I can relate to your experience. It's been a lousy year for monkeyflower up here on the ridge. The California fuchsia are doing fairly well, not terribly floriferous, and the succulents are happy as clams. Winifred Gilman sage put on quite a show too, but one plant is not looking good - may have to take it out.

Anonymous said...

You forgot about the blueberry. It has been really great, though the leaves are gradually drying up and falling off.

Mr. Mouse