Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fall Colors

Fall. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the wayward gardener who spent too much time last night binge watching old episodes of Star Trek, but I digress...it's been forever and a day since my last post here, but not a day too late since the fall colors in my garden are fading fast, so here we go.

11/19/17 The brilliant red berries of Toyon, aka "Christmas Berry" (Heteromeles arbutifolia). This tree, next to the herb garden, was one of the first California natives I planted on our property in 2007. It started out as a small plant in a one gallon container and is now 8 feet tall, flowering and fruiting reliably every year. 

11/19/17 Rose hips on this native rose, Rosa californica 'First Dawn' 
Great for tea and loaded with Vitamin C!

11/19/17 Roger's Red California grape (Vitis californica x Vitis vinifera)
A selection by Roger Raiche, who came across it while driving 
through Sonoma County in 1983. What distinguishes this grape from the 
straight native species is its brilliant red fall foliage. 
This one is growing along the fence line in our upper orchard.


11/19/17 Beautiful orange foliage on the semi-dwarf Fuyu persimmon in the herb garden.

11/19/17 The Fuyu persimmon has a bunch of ripe fruit that I'll be harvesting this weekend. 
Delicious with prosciutto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or diced and tossed in a salad.

11/19/17 Borage, both blue and white-flowered varieties, reseed readily 
and year-round in my herb garden. This blue-flowered variety is growing 
and blooming prolifically in one of the flower beds.

11/19/17 My new plant love affair is with Cupheas, many of which are native to Mexico, Central and South America. Their tubular (some even 'bat-faced') flowers are super attractive to hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. They are frost tender and don't like to be in full sun, so I've planted mine in the more shaded herb garden just outside of my kitchen, including this one (Cuphea 'Minnie Mouse').

11/19/17 Fuchsia triphylla 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' in the herb garden.

11/19/17 Candy Corn Plant (Cuphea micropetela)
I planted this Mexican Cuphea as a 4" pot in my herb garden last year. 
It's finally taking off and blooming. 

11/19/17 The leaves on a Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis
on our property, starting to turn color.

11/19/17 Dried seed pods on Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis).

11/19/17 Three weeks ago, the blooms on this Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) were a brilliant yellow. I didn't manage to get a photograph of them in their prime, but here's a shot of the faded blooms. Still pretty cool.

11/19/17 Sugar Bush (Rhus ovata). 
Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina) are native here, but not Sugar Bush, so I planted 2 of them on the property about 5 years ago. They are super drought tolerant, not hooked up on drip and irrigated solely from the rain we receive during our 'wet' season in fall-winter.

11/19/17 California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) in the upper orchard.

Our 7 year old Monterey Cypress died earlier this year (cause unknown). There was a gradual die-back of the leaves and branches from the bottom up and ultimately we had to cut it down in case it was affected by a disease that could potentially be transmitted to the other cypress species on the property. The remaining stump was adorned with a cool and highly photogenic assortment of mosses and lichen.

11/19/17 Wedgeleaf Goldenbush (Ericameria cuneata)
Just like the Rabbitbrush, this native shrub was adorned with golden yellow blooms a few 
weeks ago. The flowers have since faded, but still look striking in their senescence. 

11/19/17 Our manzanitas have done well, despite the paucity of rain this year. 
Clockwise, left to right: 'Ken Taylor' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos hookeri 'Ken Taylor'), 'Pacific Mist' Manzanita (RSABG Intro), 'Sunset' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos hookeri x A. pajaroensis), 'Harmony' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora), and 'Dr. Hurd' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita).

11/19/17 Catalina Island Fuchsia (Zauschneria canum).
A 1987 selection by Mike Evans from Tree of Life Nursery, from Catalina Island. I planted one several years ago, and it's since reseeded in the flowerbed next to my herb garden. These blooms have been going to town for almost two months now and the hummingbirds can't get enough of them. 

11/19/17 'Sierra Star' Fairy Duster is a hybrid between Calliandra eriophylla and Caliandra californica. Its super bright red flowers are more brilliant than those of either of its parent species. 

11/19/17 Common Myrtle (Myrtle communis).
This shrub is non-native but widely used as a hedge/landscape plant here in SoCal. 
I have it growing against a rather ugly wall off the portico to hide the unsightly visage. These cute little blue berries are adorning the bush right now - I've read that they're actually edible, but rather bitter and tannic in taste. Probably best to just grow them for ornamental purposes. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Godzilla El Nino was More Like a Diminutive Leaf Chameleon Weather Event (at least here in SoCal)

Can't believe it's been over a year since my last post on this blog, but time flies, well, when time flies. Much has transpired since then, including a freak, rare winter snow storm here in La Cresta on New Year's Eve (12/31/14) which blanketed our property with over a foot of snow, snapped tree limbs to and fro, and knocked out our electricity for 3 days. And then, of course, there was the much anticipated, lauded, and publicized prospect of a Super Godzilla El Nino this winter which never really materialized here in Southern California. I was seriously perturbed and disappointed. BUT, despite the relative lack of precip, a lot of the natives and even fruit trees (plums, pluots, citrus, apricots, peaches, nectarines, olives) on the property bloomed prodigiously and prolifically, albeit rather early. Here we go:

 2/29/16 Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) along the pathway to the front entry

 5/15/16 Seed pods on the Western Redbud after flowering

5/15/16 Western Redbuds along the pathway to the front entry, between 'Harmony' and
'Sunset' manzanitas

 3/14/16 Desert Canterbury Bells (Phacelia campanularia), an annual growing in decomposed 
granite outside of the herb garden

 3/14/16 Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons) in a raised bed

 2/29/16 Hairy-leaf Ceanothus (Ceanothus oliganthus oliganthus) growing behind a clump 
of Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens)

2/29/16 'Ebbett's Field' Ceanothus (a Native Sons Nursery intro) growing
next to a 'San Gabriel' Fremontodendron off the driveway

 5/15/16 Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)

 5/15/16 'Dana Point' Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum). 1985 selection (Tree of Life Nursery) from Dana Point, Orange County 

5/15/16 'Trish' Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus cultivar)

 5/15/16 Foreground, clockwise: White Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), Southern California/Desert Wild Grape (Vitis girdiana), California Goldenrod (Solidago californica), Chaparral Mallow (Malacothamnos fasciculatus), 'Burgundy' Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis), Wild Heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum)

 5/15/16 'Burgundy' Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

 5/15/16 San Diego Pitcher Sage/Gander's Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia ganderi)

5/14/16 San Diego Pitcher's Sage

5/15/16 Wild Heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum). This bunch is native to the property. 
They reseeded themselves in one of my native flower beds and I let them go to town. 
Total butterfly magnets!

 5/14/16 Seep Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) and Stream Orchid (Epipactus gigantea) growing together in a wine barrel. To the right, 'Golden' form Scarlet monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis), 
from Santa Cruz Island

5/14/16 Stream Orchid (Epipactus gigantea), a tried and true perennial growing in a 
half wine barrel in my herb garden
 5/14/16 Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii)

5/14/16 'Devon Skies' Blue-eyed Grass to the left, and species form of Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchum bellum) to the right, growing in a mini rock garden in my herb garden
 with violas, pansies, and anemones

 5/14/16 Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa). I planted this one bare root 
about 3 years ago, and this is the first time it's flowered

5/14/16 'Canyon Prince' Wild Rye (Leymus condensatus) 

 5/14/16 Cream Cups (Calystemon californicus)

5/14/16 Wind Poppy (Stylomecon heterophylla)

5/14/16 Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria californica). This little lovely (from Fuller Mill Creek
in the San Jacintos) has done well in the shadier parts of the herb garden

 5/14/16 Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) in full bloom in the desert garden

 5/14/16 'Desert Museum' Palo Verde

 5/14/16 Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa)

 5/14/16 Rush Milkweed/Desert Milkweed (Asclepias subulata)

 5/14/16 Rush Milkweed/Desert Milkweed

5/14/16 White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)

 5/14/16 Azalea-flowered Diplacus (Diplacus fasciculatus)

 5/14/16 Figueroa Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla)

 5/14/16 Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum). These beauties are native to the property

 5/14/16 Creambush/Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor)

 5/14/16 Indian Valley Bushmallow (Malacothamnus aboriginum)

5/14/16 Carmel Valley Bushmallow (Malacothamnus palmeri var. involucratus

 5/14/16 Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens)

 5/14/16 Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis)  

 5/14/16 'Warriner Lytle' Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

 5/14/16 'White Cloud' Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri)

 5/14/16 'White Cloud' Matilija Poppy

 5/14/16 'Winifred Gilman' Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

 5/14/16 Woolly Bluecurls (Trichostema lanatum)

 5/14/16 Yerba Buena (Satureja douglasii), growing under the shade of Rosa californica on the 
north side of the house