GFGR Revisited

The days are getting noticeably shorter, and the California gardeners' mind turns toward fall planting. We like to plant in October so that the winter rains make the roots grow deeply. Then, come spring, the plants themselves grow. Barring not enough rain, frost, gophers, or other mishaps.

To prepare, I had a look around the garden the other day, to see what works and what needs replacing. And today, I'll show you around the front garden, which I completely remodeled in October last year (see the Great Front Garden Remodel -- GFGR -- posts)

Above the small blue pot I made after our inspiring outing to the SF Flower and Garden Show. This combination of some succulents and a small Eriogonum (and a rock) held up very well with just a bit of water evey 7-10 days. Furthermore, to my delight nobody thought to take it home. So, let's call that an unconditional success.

The problem child in the front garden is Salvia brandegii "Pacific Blue", which I planted just along the walkway up to the house. I pinched this salvia to keep it at the lower end of the 4-6 feet height, and it responded by not blooming at all, and growing to 5ft anyway. I hope to replace it this fall with Salvia "Bee's Bliss". This low growing salvia is greener than the Salvia Leucophylla that I already have in the garden. I hope it will cover the area quickly and be a butterfly and bee magnet. Here's a photo of the Salvia Leucophylla "Pt. Sal Spreader", which has done wellIt's currently in its grey, almost white summer foilage.

The two Heuchera maxima, which I planted to mirror each other on two sides of the way to the front entrance have not behaved as expected. Only about 6 feet apart, one of them gets a lot more sun than the other. Even with extra water, they almost look like two different plants (though one is a cutting from the other).

But we'll see how they'll both look after a good wet winter (or so we hope). Maybe in spring, with blossoms abounding (we hope) they'll look like the sisters they are, again.

My pride and joy, well, make that joy, I didn't do anything, is Eriogonum arborescens.

The grower must have found an especially attractive variant, with big blossom clusters in a very light shade of rose.

I've moved the Native Garden sign there, and away from the monkey flower, which looks like this:

You have to move very close to see a few blossoms. Still, this is how monkeyflowers look this time of year, so they get to stay to delight with another show next spring.

Next to the monkeyflowers, Salvia apiana has shown respectable growth, though no blossoms this year. But the attractive shape and fairly large leaves make this plant a true winner. CA native gardens usually suffer from little-green-leaves syndrom, so larger leaves are most welcome (just wish the Heuchera would get with the program).

Grasses are, also a welcome place for resting the eyes. Festuca Californica has done better than I dared to hope, in quite a bit of sun.

Behind the grasses, Eriogonum fasciculatum, a locally native buckwheat. It blooms this time of year if given water.

Clearly a plant for the "informal garden", but easy to care for and pretty.

The greenest plant of them all is coyote brush. I only have two plants (Twin Peaks II) and they are spreading nicely. Come October, I'm hoping to see small white blossoms.

(Note to bird lovers: Right now, there's nothing for cats to high around this bird bath. As the plants get bigger, I'll get an elevated bath for the birds. Promise).

The Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) has been growing steadily and seems to do well. I'm a little worried that it won't make it through a wet winter, but I had it planted high and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Also in the front, we have a Toyon and three Arctostaphylos "Howard McMinn". Two of the Arctosaphylos are getting very leggy. I planted them fairly close to the fence and they want more sun. I'm considering replacing them with some Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata), a fast-growing shrub that can be espaliered against the fence.

The Toyon looks fine, though I'm still waiting for the golden berries.

And with that, we've completed our tour of the front garden. Altogether, the plants have done fabulously well on only handwatering every 10 days (or so). For some plants like the coyote brush, I skipped the watering sometimes. Others, like the monkey flower and penstemon, got a little more water. Next year, I hope to water even less if the winter rains are good.

On the shopping list, two twinberry, two Salvia "Bee's Bliss" and maybe a trellis...

PLEASE read on, Country Mouse posted did a very fun post on the mouses in her house, just below.


Christine said…
Thanks for the tour! Your Salvia apiana gives me hope about mine. Not the easiest to get established. Perhaps I'll return the favor with a tour of my less-than-six-months old native garden.
Anonymous said…
Nice tour. I had to wait 2 years for my Salvia canariensis to bloom, but this year it went crazy on once a month watering! I haver been looking for a yellow berried Toyon, I only see red ones!
susan morrison said…
What happens if you cut the monkey flower back this early in the year? I was just in one of my gardens Monday and the monkey flowers were still green, but it's their first year and plants often act out of character the first year in the ground.

On another note, I've awarded you with a favorite commentators award on my blog. Stop by when you get a chance (and note I've set it up so you don't have to participate if you don't want to!) But once I decided to do it , I must admit I actually enjoyed the experience.
Brad B said…
I'm glad for the tour of your garden. All the natives were very inspiring. I highly recommend the Salvia bee's bliss. I planted it about two years ago, and he first spring it got fairly shaded by wildflowers and didn't bloom, but this year it doubled in size and had really beautiful, early blooms that the bee's loved.

I also have Salvia apiana, three in fact. They were all gifts, so I'm not sure, but I think one is the normal and the other two are Salvia apiana compacta. The regular had a tiny bunch of blooms i could have hidden in my fist. The other two have these 2 foot tall stalks covered in blooms. really beautiful. I'll probably post something about it soon.

And I'm jealous of your madron. I hope it makes it.
Gail said…
Some of the names are familiar but the beautiful California natives are not my area of native expertise! it's good to learn! gail
ryan said…
Everything looks really good. It seems like you've done really well with hand watering.