Country Mouse GBBD - (late) and chaparral thinning

I let Ms Town Mouse's lovely fall garden be the focus this month, for Carol of May Dream Garden's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day meme. My Central Coast ridge top California native garden is - well -  it's been tidied up, which is good. It's not exactly as aesthetically pleasing as Ms Town Mouse's though!

I and a hired garden helper did a lot of clearing along the road.

Before clearing, the roadside chaparral area was full of browning monkeyflower and deerweed and black sage.  I left them as long as I could but dry dead stuff near the road is not only a fire hazard (backfire anyone?) but damages the road edge. It was with sadness I authorized clipping the wart leaf ceanothus growing right at the road edge.

After, it looks bare indeed for about 10-15 feet in. We left oaks and manzanita and coffeeberry.

I know in spring the seeds will grow and it will be colorful and green. This year I'm going to try spreading ash from the burning of the dead stuff we removed, to see if we get any interesting things sprouting - and to provide a bit of nutrition. Right after a fire, different plants sprout than in the subsequent years. The presence of ash might stimulate the fire followers - I'll be curious!

I worked mostly on the upslope side of the road - trimming back the blackberry vines and the dead growth on the manzanita.

Hard to get a good photo of the "after" but it really looks nice - the manzanita are gloriously interesting.

Up-slope side, before

Upslope (different view, different time of day) after

So - on to what's blooming. I'm just showing the natives. This can give you an idea of what natives are in bloom at this time of year. However, many of the ones I show are in their last bloom - as you will see from the fact that there are more seed heads than blooms in the pictures.

First the local natives, which I grew from local wild seed.

California fuchsia, Epilobium canum

Common media, Madia elegans

Madia elegans blossom

Coyote brush, Baccharis pilularis -- female flowers (male flowers are small and a bit yellow - already past!)

I explained to my garden helper that coyote brush bushes are great plants for wildlife, and that they have male and female plants. So even though they may not look as pretty (left untended they get very straggly) they are worth keeping. He's been working for people along our road for years and years, and didn't know that. He seemed to be really pleased with this tidbit of knowledge.

Coyote brush female flowers, closer. Like little paint brushes - they'll explode into fluff after a while. (This is why cultivars in the trade are vegetatively propagated from the less "messy" males.)

Hard to photograph the naked buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum

Amazingly - in a shady area that gets a bit of water - a few ruby chalice clarkia, Clarkia rubicunda

Gratuitous bird photo - the garden's resident thrasher, singing away (bit blurry - zoom shot).
Strangely, the thrasher sang full throated and open beaked for a while, then closed his beak and sang on a quiet introverted song as if he were humming a few bars, practicing! I have no idea why he did that.

If you ever get the chance, look at a buckwheat flower head under a dissecting microscope. Wow! Eriogonum nudum again

More fruits than flowers but still, I have been liking this wetland plant, iris leaved rush,  Juncus xiphiodes.

Below are some ornamental "exotic natives" - that is, those I purchased for the garden, that do not grow here in the wild.

Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina' 

Salvia Clevelandii 'Winifred Gilman' Barely in bloom now but still aromatic - MMMMMMmmmhhhh!

Deer grass, Muhlenbergia rigens

Coyote mint, Monardella villosa. I've seen it wild here very rarely but have not managed to get seeds to grow. I kinda wish I hadn't planted it here but on the other hand, it's not one that seems to hybridize or vary from place to place - so I don't think getting very local seed is so important.

Coast sunflower, Encelia californica
Coast sunflower is a southern native. It gets little to no water in my garden and keeps on blooming all summer, and putting out green foliage.

A nice coast sunflower bloom to finish up on. 

And hot and sunny it has been here the past few days. This is when the locals go to the beach! but SHHH! Don't tell anyone!


James said…
Definitely better late than never. A bloom day under the microscope would be a fun one to do. I can see how your plant could be pretty remarkable under the scope. Our southern coast sunflower seems to like life up there better than here. Most of the unwatered ones here look pretty long in the tooth. Good show for October. Enjoy!
scottweberpdx said…
The Eriogonum nudum is way too cool! Of course, my fave is the Deer Grass...such a gorgeous grass!
I would battle with a local garden helper. All our neighbours expect clean and tidy - it's green it's nasty take it away. Leaving bare scalped earth, nicely loosened so the clay bakes to concrete in the summer.
We still have a few things blooming, like you, mostly Fuchsia, coyote brush, and a little sage. My Encelia didn't push a fall flush of bloom this year. Not sure why, the plants still look good, but no flowers. Maybe they'll make up for it in the spring.

As for garden helpers, after our debacle last spring, I don't think I could bring myself to hire anyone again. He was convinced that every single native was a weed, and needed to be eliminated :(
Jason said…
I love the coast sunflower and the common media. I can never get tired of yellow wildflowers, don't care how common they are.
ryan said…
I meant to do a bloom day post, but it didn't happen. I like the look of that coast sunflower. I've never grown one, I don't know why not. Do you know if the deer will eat it?
Country Mouse said…
I don't often use garden helpers, but Fernando is easy to hire - because he's often working along our road - and works hard, and doesn't do things I don't ask him to. I just didn't have what it needed this year to get along that loooong stretch.

Is Encelia deer resistant? I can't say, sorry. These are growing in the one small area that the deer don't get into.