GBBD Country Mouse -- Toyons and Monardella to the fore

Note: Town mouse beat me to the bloom day post - so please check out her bloom day pics too.

In my garden the monkeyflower is fading after a fabulous and long display this year, and after feeding many caterpillars, without losing its beauty. But now Monardella villosa is blooming away - not only in my garden but natively on an west-facing slope near here. I've found this plant to be very reliable and easy in the native garden. Here is more of a closeup:

Also in the pictures above is some low spreading thyme I put in to provide some edging for the stone path (which I laid - have I said that before? I'm inordinately proud of myself!). I need to identify a native for this particular garden niche. I kind of took the lazy way out!

Busting out in little creamy white blossoms this week are the toyon bushes - Heteromeles arbutifolia. These grow natively here and I prune them up a bit. Here they are at a distance. I had hoped the native grape would cover the chainlink fence - maybe next year. It's a lovely color though.

(Note to self: tidy away utility area things to behind the wall!). Also blooming there are some extremely drought-resistent non-native salvias, name unknown, which have been there for five years or more now.

Here are the toyon blossoms a bit closer - this was taken at dawn:

Really close they are not so spectacular. It's the way masses of them light things up that is so great:
Some salvias are blooming, but they are scrawny. I'll prune them before their spring growth spurt.

Tip! Las Pilitas web site has a large section with advice on pruning natives.

Here is a blossom of, I think, Salvia "Winnifred Gilman":

It really looks darker than the photo - very intense darkish blue-purple.

Now a couple cautionary tales, of different sorts.

Tale the first: As an expat Brit I like to have a few old favorites - like snapdragons (antirrhinum majus). But here are some in bloom - not in their pots, but escapees in a nearby garden bed, and thriving without extra irrigation. I think this may mean no more snapdragons for me!

Tale the second: Here is a plant that is native, and is in bloom - but isn't doing its job of hiding the chain-link fence (nor is the native vine behind it. I need to try pruning, to see if it bushes up - or else tie it up and get volunteers to grow right there and tie them up too. It's Keckiella cordifolia, Heartleaf Keckiella. It does reseed - I have several little volunteer plants that are very sweet, and I am curious to see how they grow. I don't think the reseeding would be a big problem in a garden - as I could pull these out if I didn't want them.

There is also a native vine barely in the picture - Clematis lasiantha, Chaparral Clematis. It's supposed to cover the fence but has been decidedly wimpy too, not much in the way of bloom. It's pretty, just not very vigorous. These plants have been in place three years. They are healthy enough, just not giving the coverage I had hoped for.

Also blooming is my survivor rose, the one that got rotitilled several times, eaten by deer, and transplanted into the pool garden. It's also got some kind of rose sickness that I haven't treated. But it keeps popping out flowers.

OK, enuf already. But wait, here's one more. A view over the valley I snapped this morning. Hmmm how to relate it to Bloom Day? - Thar's blooms in tham thar hills.... ??


I liked your bloom pictures, but what has moved me to comment is your statement about laying your own path and how proud you are of it. YOU SHOULD BE!!! Having done quite a bit of that over at the Havens, I totally know what hard work it is and your path looks beautiful. In your very first picture I saw the combination of flagstones and the other stone in the garden behind and said "This is a gardener after my own heart".

So congratulations on your beautiful path, and beware. Stone in the garden is addictive. I'm an addict and I am not even thinking of recovery (!)
Barbara E said…
Hi CM - If you come up with a native that will stay green, is small and can make it through the year between stepping stones, let me know! I so agree that it would be nice if there were a native for this "niche." The only thing that I came up with, but it is invasive, is Aster chilensis 'Point St. George'. Still it will go dormant without water, and with water it runs away to every place in your garden. Also it isn't as low and small as thyme.
chari and matt said…
I agree with your guess on the salvia. I have that species in my front yard, and the flowers look just the same.
NellJean said…
It's all interesting and I can appreciate what laying the path was like.
Great flowers! The monardella looks like it makes a great edging plant. I'm warming to toyons the more I see them. The flowers aren't spectacular, but they do present a nice texture contrast to the green--and they'll be red berries before too long!

The only native steppingstone filler I can think of that I have any experience with would be Dichondra occidentalis. It doesn't have quite the same lust for life that thyme does. It also does that dormancy thing every now and then, though mine seem to hang around most of the year without much water.
Gail said…
I admire your work to create a garden filled with mostly natives! Thyme is a such a lovely edger, the bees seem to enjoy it and you can clip it for adding to the soup pot~~that's not so bad! Love the valley view.
Christine said…
If it was a shady spot, perhaps you could try satureja douglasii (yerba buena) and I really like using eriogonum grande rubescens (santa cruz island buckwheat)for sun although it does send up tall flower stalks in summer. Lovely photos! Thanks for sharing!
Brad B said…
Love the salvia whatever it is, and the toyon. And thanks for the las pilitas link on native pruning. I love their website. Happy bloom day.
Rosemarie said…
what a view that last picture is - I am envious!
The picture of your valley is context, of course. Also beauty. What you said about the toyon is a good observation, true of many plants: they provide a certain luminescence which is actually hindered by looking closely instead of helped. Though I did quite like that early-morning shot of the toyon flowers.

OK, I admit it: I've got snapdragon envy! Those colors are sooooo beautiful, never seen anything like it. I grow my snaps in large containers and they're very happy, maybe you could have them that way.