Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baby Bunnies and an Ode to Rock Roses

A couple weekends ago, I had noticed a rabbit on our patio running to and fro from the lavender bushes to under the deck, each time carrying a tuft of grass in her mouth. I thought it rather odd behavior for a bunny, as they will usually consume herbage, not transport and horde the stuff for later consumption. I had a sneaking suspicion that she was building a nest. Well, my suspicions were confirmed this morning when we saw three wee little baby bunnies scurrying around the patio area, each one just as cute as a button. I realize they will probably mindlessly forage for anything green in the garden, and mow down all my violas that are growing in containers back there, but that's what bunnies are programmed to do.

It's embarrassing, but when I watch these guys perform their antics, I actually wax Disney, with visions of sugarplums, Snow White, Cinderella and Bambi in my head. On the other end of the spectrum, Gil & Hana are probably collectively dreaming of "Rabbit Fricassee" which, unfortunately for them, ain't gonna happen anytime soon on my watch!

4/10/10 This little bambino could easily fit into the palm of your hand. 

Our spring this year has been fairly mild but breezy. There's a chance of rain tomorrow evening, which I hope will materialize, because our rainy season is fast drawing to a close. After that (usually by July), it'll be hot and dry all the way through probably late October. In the meantime, the blooming continues in the garden, with many of the Rock Roses now in spectacular form. 

4/10/10 Hybrid Pink Rock Rose (Cistus skanbergii). A naturally occurring hybrid native to Greece & Sicily. The Mediterranean origins of this plant make it eminently suitable to our Southern California climate. 

4/10/10 Orchid Rock Rose (Cistus purpureus). 

4/10/10 White Rock Rose (Cistus corbariensus).

Cistus x pulverulentis. 'Sunset' / 'Brilliancy,' Magenta Rockrose.

4/10/10 'Natacha' Rock Rose (Cistus x pauranthus).

'Ruby Cluster' Rock Rose (C. dansereaui decumbens x C. inflatus?).

There are probably around 200 species of Cistus in the world, mainly from the S. European/Mediterranean region. There are also a few that are native to North and South America. Our native Southern California species has bright yellow blooms. Its common name is "Sun-Rose" or "Rush-Rose" (Helianthemum scoparium) and is a fire follower that grows on dry, rocky chaparral slopes.

Our native Sun-Rose (Helianthemum scoparium).

Rock Roses in a water-thrifty landscape cannot be overly extolled. Got a dry, nutrient-poor and incredibly hot spot in your garden? Then Rock Roses are for you! Some varieties are even quite cold-hardy.

The natives in the garden are also continuing their floral displays:

3/29/10 Red-Skinned Onion (Allium haematochiton), growing under Konocti Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita ssp. elegans). The "Red-Skinned" refers to the covering on the bulbs. This lovely allium will multiply slowly over the years. Needs good drainage and a dormancy (i.e., no water) period in the summer. It's also native to the Santa Rosa Plateau.

3/29/10 "Cupido"/Monterey Mariposa Lily (Calochortus uniflorus). Per Jepson, native to moist meadows in NW California, Bay Area and Central Coast. 

4/10/10 "Pretty Face"/Golden Brodiaea (Tritelia ixioides). Has similar cultural requirements as Calochortus.

3/29/10 Island Alumroot (Heuchera maxima). A clumping perennial native to bluffs & canyons on the Channel Islands. Great under dry shade of oaks (if you have them). This one is doing well in a regularly irrigated wildflower bed.


  1. They look so cute - I admire your easy going attitude to having baby bunnies roaming freely in the garden. I once had a rabbit problem and got really upset by all the damage as if they didn't graze it down to soil level they then dug it up and ate the roots. Sometimes the local cats will corner a baby bunny from the field beside us and it will end up in the garden. I know they do look so cute and cuddly but I make sure it gets out real quick as I never want a resident like that lol.

    I love the way you have natives in your garden. As for rock roses I grow mostly the smaller ones and I love all their different colours. It will be late May before mine are in flower.

  2. We have baby bunnies in our yard too, but I haven't been able to get a photo of them. They are just soooo cute!

  3. Hi Sheila - thanks for following my blog! The baby bunnies are especially hard to photograph because they zip around at warp speed. I got lucky on this one, because I took the shot from inside the house so the little guy wasn't exactly aware of my presence.

  4. Rosie, when we first moved out to our property four years ago, I was not used to gardening in a rural landscape where critters can be found in abundance, so I thought I could grow my veggies, flowers, and pretty much any other herbaceous plant like I had always done before (i.e., without "extra protection"). I was really mortified when a lot of my new plantings became casualties of what I call "Bunny Predation." Over time, I learned to fence off or cage every single plant, including young trees and shrubs, to fend off these cute little offenders. Instead of being perpetually frustrated, I thought I would just accept the bunnies as a fixture in my garden and enjoy their ridiculous cuteness. My potted plants remain vulnerable, but c'est la vie!

    Btw, my dog is useless as a bunny deterrent. She loves chasing them, but because of her size, she ends up doing more damage to my plants than to the rabbits themselves. Sigh.

  5. Your little bunnies are just so darling! We used to raise bunnies when I was a child and they were so tiny when they were born. I can see why they love your garden - it is beautiful. I hope you are having a wonderful rainy day today.

  6. Noelle, the bunnies are cuties indeed! There's a chance of rain here next week. Not seasonal, but a by-product of El Nino. Are the rains also making their way through AZ?

  7. Hello. Would you be happy for me to do some paintings based on your photos of rock roses and if so what should I put as acknowledgement regarding copyright? Thankyou!

    1. Hi Jomir - absolutely! That would be great! You can just note that the original photos were taken by 'Arleen Webster.' Would love to see photos of your paintings when you're done.


    2. Hi Arleen, thankyou! I'm wanting to do one for my sister's wedding (her name means rose and his means rock) so here's hoping it turns out well....if it does, I'll send you a photo...if it doesn't it'll go in the bin and they'll get a vase instead!!!