Cultivating ephemeral beauty in the California native plant garden. Like larkspur, fairy bells, harebell, columbine, houndstongue and...
|Ephemerals blooming in my garden today. Aquilegia formosa, western columbine above|
and probably Heuchera maxima, island alum root below.
(I've no idea how it got into my garden! but it is pretty - a Channel island's plant.)
Ephemeral plants are not what you want as the backbone of your garden. But they do make delightful adornments. And planting local ephemerals enriches the restoration garden tremendously, thickens the texture of what it offers the fauna that go along with a plant community.
Ephemeral plants are perennials that appear for a little while each year, giving us lovely surprises (and sometimes disappointments). Many disappear completely above ground and it's important to remember where they aren't -- till they come back -- so you don't plant something else there!
In the past three years or so, I've had great success with western columbine, wood mint, and Heuchera (and sedges) on my north-facing slope. You can see some pretty May-time pictures here. And today's picture is at the top.
I've been working on bringing more delicate local wild species into my north-facing garden slope, here on a ridge in Central coastal California. I gathered seed on local walks (within walking distance of my home) and sowed them in pots first. Some are available as seed from specialty seed nurseries - you can find them on-line.
In this post I'll show you these:
- Delphinium nudicaule, canyon larkspur
- Prosartes hookeri, Hooker's fairy bells
- Asyneuma prenanthoides, California harebell
I'm happy to say they are still mostly all thriving - albeit at a slow rate - and not in great numbers as yet (blow on that tiny flame!) But I am still ecstatic at this small success. Here's how they are looking today (and in the wild when flowering).
Delphinium nudicaule, canyon larkspur
|Backup D. nudicaule plant still in a pot!|
|I have several D. nudicaule plants growing well, so far, on a north slope. About half a dozen plants in the ground, all marked with many flags!|
Prosartes hookeri, Hooker's fairy bells (aka drops of gold)
|P. hookeri flower - so pretty but you have to bend down to see it!|
|P hookeri - really dark red fruits - usually they are more orangy, leading to alternative common name, drops of gold. The plant has a pleasing growth habit - low and branching out..|
|This is the most advanced grower in the garden - others have two leaves still. I have about half a dozen plants - all marked by flags!|
Asyneuma prenanthoides, California harebell
|Caught in a sun-spot. A. prenanthoides are messy growers as individual plants but a clump springing out from a slope is pretty. Photo from 2017. |
All three plants in this post were growing on a road-cut above a river bank (in a valley).
|In the garden - rather mingled with other plants here - but looking healthy!|
I'll do some posts about the other ephemerals I'm growing - violets, hound's tongue, and the slow propagation set - trillium and western columbine. And in due course - I hope I can post flower photos too!