Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dreaming of Dodecatheons

Padre's or Cleveland's Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon clevelandii) are wildflowers that are native to the grassy slopes of Southern California, emerging in abundance after plentiful rains. If we've had some decent winter precipitation here on the Santa Rosa Plateau, they can be found in the springtime carpeting the areas just beyond the trailhead to the vernal pools off Via Volcano.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about having planted one of these in my garden last year (purchased online from Annie's Annuals in Richmond, CA). Seemed like a really tricky plant to get established, so I had no great hope for its survival. But then, lo and behold, I was beyond ecstatic to discover a rosette of leaves sprouting from the bare spot on the ground from whence I thought the poor bloke had met its maker...

Now, this lone Shooting Star has actually bloomed! Very tiny, the whole plant stands less than 6" tall, but still magnificent in my book.

2/20/10 Padre's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii)

I think the key elements that allowed this diminutive beauty to survive in my garden were:

1. Planting in late winter/early spring when the weather was till cold, at least by Southern California standards.

2. Planting in unamended, decomposed granite, which happens to be the native soil on our property.

3. Allowing the plant to go dormant in the summer, which means absolutely no water/irrigation during that period (culture seems very similar to that of some of our native Mariposa lilies).

Winter is clearly not a deterrent to our blooming natives. We had some light rain last night, and in addition to the Dodecatheon, I found a few more natives strutting their stuff this morning.

2/20/10 California Mist Maiden (Romanzoffia californica). A native of ocean bluffs, moist, rocky areas along the Central Coast & Northwestern California. I have it growing on a partially shaded slope on the north side of the house, with bark mulch. This one needs regular irrigation. 

2/20/10 Fremontodendron 'San Gabriel'. I wasn't expecting this Flannel Bush to flower until early spring,  but here it is, one of two blooms I found this morning on this now 7' tall shrub-tree along our driveway. 'San Gabriel' has stunning 2-3" butter-yellow flowers from spring through summer. It's fast-growing to 25-20' tall & wide and extremely drought tolerant. Some people may be sensitive to the fine stellate hairs covering this plant, but I haven't yet developed any skin rashes. Keeping my fingers crossed, as I seem to be allergic to a lot of other things. 

2/13/10 Tufted Evening Primrose/Desert Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa ssp. marginata). My desert plants are still holding up despite the recent heavy downpours and general overall dampness of the grounds. Chanel No. 5 doesn't hold a candle to the scent of a desert primrose.

2/13/10 Cream Cups (Platystemon californicus). A member of the Poppy family, these annual native California wildflowers are a treasure to find in fields, grasslands, and even burn areas in spring. These were purchased as 3" pots from Annie's Annuals, but you can also buy the seeds from

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