Morning fog and drought

Pseudognaphalium ramosissimum - Pink everlasting
I've been gone from the blog for a while. My thanks to Town Mouse, who has kept the summer time posts flowing.

When I got back from a trip to the U.K. I was shocked at the change in the garden. I left it full of blooming clarkia and sage. I watered before I left. Half an hour of sprinkling takes a long time when you have only two sprinkler heads going at a time, on the end of hoses, but it doesn't take the sun long to suck up that moisture.

Yes, it's been a hot dry summer, and of course we are in the midst of an intense period of drought. Even the coyote brush looks stressed.

But for the past month we have been blessed with a thick blanket of night fog that lingers into the morning. (Where blessing, like Mother Nature, is just a kindly metaphor for me.) It relieves us, temporarily, of our fear of wildfire.

Fog-moistened berries are balls of juice and seed, relished by many of our birds: elderberries, coffee berries, and hairy honeysuckle berries.

I've seen more wrentits lately than ever, cheeping their bouncing-ball accelerating monotone, because they can easily access berries from a low-growing elderberry in the chaparral where they hide out.

Coffeeberry, Frangula californica

Lonicera californica, hairy honeysuckle

And there are lots of seeds that bring California quail into our garden. The amazing display of Salvia 'Winifred Gilman' has turned from vibrant blue to rich brown. Sparrows forage under these plants for seeds too.

I've been harvesting seeds of our local Clarkia - Clarkia rubicunda. I'm at stage one: clipping armfuls, wheelbarrowfuls, of the thin, dry twigs, each bearing several of the long, narrow seed heads whose curling back ends remind me of Mark Twain riverboat funnels. Birds love clarkia seeds too.

Yet here and there pockets of shade hold moisture long long enough to sustain green growth and flowers on the Clarkia rubicunda.

Below is California aster, now named Symphyotrichum chilense. I'm so happy with this plant - it's the first time I've managed to grow one from local wild seed.

Symphyotrichum chilense

And other plants are happy - especially ferns - this is Polystichum munitum, sword fern, with a "cup and saucer" spiderweb.

Other flowers are just happy as can be with the current dry conditions. You might consider some of these for your Coastal California garden.

California goldenrod, Solidago californica
Madia elegans, common madia.. Quail love madia seeds!

close up of Madia elegans blossom

Eriogonum grande rubescens
Not locally native - red (or rosy) buckwheat, Eriogonum grande rubescens blooms where all else is dead and gone! Not deer proof - in fact in my area, this year - no buckwheat is.

Encelia californica 

Encelia californica - coast sunflower, a Southern California native, stays green despite almost no irrigation

Encelia california blossom


biobabbler said…
Lovely stuff. I'm DEFINITELY taking notes of those plants. Been working on a "for next year" list of drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant plants. 'Cause this drought is NO JOKE. I'm so excited for all the wildlife by your place, and I need to serve ours better. =)
Ed Morrow said…

Across from the Carmel Valley Middle School in the CV Road median strip is a stand of two foot high matilija poppies - short because of no water. Further down the road in an unused field is a big stand of Hooker's Evening Primrose blazing away in golden glory. These are tough plants with lots of color.

What are you going to propagate this Fall? Any suggestions? Going to use the peat-free starting mixes you mentioned being used in the GGNRA propagation nursery?

Ed Morrow
Carmel Valley
Anonymous said…
I like the mention of the temporary, daily relief of your morning fog. The hand-full of times we had that happen, it does change the entire look and vibrance of the garden.

Now to find some is native to the hills just about the desert, to my NW, and I only know of one garden that had them in Albuquerque. Always looked so lush in spite of the dryness or temperature extremes.
Country Mouse said…
Thanks Biobabbler - I'm also working on my list - maybe another post.

My propagation efforts are minimal this year, Ed. I have some nice woodrushes that seem to need very little water if any - gathered them on another dry ridge - though they have a bit of high shade. Not sure what species - look a lot like juncos patens. I'm gathering tons of Clarkia rubicunda seed and will sell at the CNPS plant sale. Want some? Got some coffee berry to plant. Reason is: I need to empty my greenhouse and put a concrete floor or better wire mesh floor in it - mice are inside!! And I need to do other maintenance.
Dryheatblog - what a great name for the times we are going through - if coffeeberry is not available, maybe you can introduce your local ones to the horticulture trade in your area! I agree - they are a beautiful shrub indeed.