California Natives in South-West England

I'm on a visit to the Hedgehog family of Paignton England, which consists of my daughter and her husband and their two lively hoglets. Ms Town Mouse asked if I'd post about the impressive gardens of this lovely and mild south-west region of the U.K, but so far, I have not actually been impressed. Finding gardens hasn't exactly been the focus of my trip, however. Jaunts with young children focus on livelier destinations. Though we did do a little flower pressing activity -

Casual wandering around town reveals a lot of wild (untended) gardens. Prettier than most gardens are the usually red rough stone walls that sprout cascades of flowering weeds.

One we all like is Ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis), a Mediterranean plant with a sweet and tiny little snapdragon-type flower.

I read that before fertilization, the flowers face the sun, and after, they face away from the sun - which means that the seeds tend to drop into crevices - like those in walls.

This pink weed is common in California as well as here:

Santa Barbara daisy (or something that looks just like it) is also abundant:

Or weedy, you might say:

Only in the south of England have I seen these lovely plant-filled walls. This one was particularly pretty. Maybe the gardener helped it along:

And this blue flower is also common on walls. My granddaughter calls them bluebells.

Occasionally I saw a lawn edged with flowers and shrubs:

Many people, however, seemed to prefer hardscape to greenery in their front gardens. Maybe they spend more time in their back gardens. Below, a lobster pot, complete with plastic lobsters.

The Lone Weed. Looks like the toadstools have it cornered: 

But where the gardening spirit is in evidence, certain California natives are popular - Besides Santa Barbara daisy which as shown above is a weed here, seaside daisy, Erigeron glaucus, does very well in gardens. It's a mild coastal climate, so this is not surprising.

Poppies, Eschscholzia californica, are another - sprinkled in this nice rock garden:

And here again:

And here, in a prettily chaotic tangle of weeds:

This looks like Festuca idahoensis 'Siskiyou Blue' in a small public planting:

I did enjoy this daisy-filled slope, with its tall deciduous trees, in the grounds of Torquay Hospital (where we took my grandson to get a nasty bump on the head checked out).

And the vistas of green fields edged with hedges, pretty, even when seen from a train on a rainy day. Here, we are passing the mouth of the river Teign:

But I have to say the easily accessible gardens around here, both private and public, are disappointing so far.

Tomorrow, a day out for the whole family at Paignton zoo, which I've blogged about before here - it's a very nice botanical garden as well as a zoo. And next week the kiddies are in school so maybe their mother and I will be able to visit quieter pleasure grounds -- or better yet, their allotment -- I miss getting my hands into the earth!


Timeless said…
I think the British really excelled at plant science during all their Empire Building obsession with territory acquisition. For example the Matilija Poppy was first more popular there than in the States. Only with interests in the late 1970s with some few primitive early Nurseries created out of some folk's backyard or back 40 did such an interest in Matilija Poppy Romneya coulteri become known.

Most likely folks had seen it along roadsides in So-Cal but never gave it a second thought.

The British passion for collecting plants from around the world really had it's peak during the Victorian Era. The Australians nickname for Brits was and still is Palmys because of their passion for collect small specimans of Palm trees for taking back to England to be grown in the house or some Green House or Conseritory.

Amazing how these Brits had to teach others about the virtues of their own native plants around the world. Nice article.


Kaveh Maguire said…
I noticed quite a few California natives on my travels in England last year.

Of course Santa Barbara daisies aren't native to California despite their common name. They are from Mexico, and Latin and South America and naturalized here.
Country Mouse said…
Yes, the British explorers and plant collectors - I've read quite a bit about them - different times, different outlooks back then.

In fact I did not know Santa Barbara daisy was not a native - I haven't had any interest in it, because it is weedy and I wouldn't want it to spread - so I haven't looked into its background, I just assumed it was a native. Thanks for that info!