Friday, February 4, 2011

More Winter Blooms & Where's the Rain?

After the deluge in December, it's been pretty much rain free, except for one day of precip here in SoCal during the entire month of January. February is, at least for the next 10 days, looking to be a dry one. Looks like Farmer's Almanac trumps National Weather Service as far as this season's meteorologic prognostications go...

At least the succession of winter blooms in the garden is continuing, unabated. 

1/30/11 Hoary-leaved Ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius). This one is native to our site (at the end of the driveway). C. crassifolius is ubiquitous in this area, especially off Clinton Keith Road where a gazillion of them are blooming right now from the Bear Creek fire station up through the turnoff to Avenida La Cresta.

1/30/11 From left to right: Canyon Gray Trailing Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), a selection (Santa Barbara Botanic Garden) of a prostrate form of A. californica from the Channel Islands, and Tuscan Blue Rosemary in full bloom.

1/30/11 'Snow Flurry' Ceanothus (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus). 

1/30/11 'Ray Hartman' Ceanothus, a hybrid introduced by Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. This one's still a baby at about 3' (will be 20' at maturity).

1/30/11 'Joyce Coulter' Ceanothus.

2/4/11 'Valley Violet' Maritime Ceanothus (Ceanothus maritumus).

2/4/11 'Ebbet's Field' Ceanothus, a selection from Native Sons Nursery.

2/4/11 Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpus). Native to the property. 

2/4/11 California Peony (Paeonia californica). Native to the property. There's a bunch of these (about a dozen) in the chaparral stand near the driveway entry. I love their subtle, austere beauty.

1/30/11 Fiddleneck (probably Amsinckia menziesii). Native and/or naturalized on the property. They pop up everywhere every year in late winter. 

1/30/11 Baja Manzanita (Arctostaphylos australis). A rare native of Baja California. Got this one from the RSABG fall sale last November.

1/30/11 'Lutsko's Pink' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora hybrid).

1/30/11 Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), coming back to life in the mountain meadow planter. 

1/30/11 Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus). What a cutie. They've been flocking together with the Lesser Goldfinches and even getting testy with each other over the niger seeds in the finch socks. 

1/30/11 Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus) on 'Joyce Coulter' Ceanothus.

1/21/11 Padre's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii). Planted this a couple years ago, and it's still making its annual appearance after the winter rains.

2/4/11 Laguna Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. adamsii).

2/4/11 Julian/Cuyamaca Manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula var. platyphylla).

2/4/11 'Louis Edmunds' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos edmundsii ssp. bakeri).

2/4/11 'Mrs. Beard's' Creeping Sage (Salvia sonomensis).

2/4/11 Catalina Perfume Currant (Ribes viburnifolium). Native to Catalina Island, this one prefers shade to part shade. The flowers look tiny and nondescript, until you get up close and personal. 

2/4/11 Golden Currant (Ribes aureum gracillimum).

1/21/11 A non-native, but still one of my favorite winter-flowering shrubs: 'Nuccio's Pearl' Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica). 

2/4/11 Parry's Penstemon (Penstemon parryi), in the cottage garden. A native of Mexico & the Southwest.


  1. I'm starting to believe all the predictions about La Nina being true after all--if you're willing to discount the December deluge. I like warmth and sunshine as much as the next person, but a little rain would be nice.

    It's nice to see what's happening in your garden. The cool blue and purple ceanothuses are especially gorgeous right now. When I did my first round of planting of natives around 1990 I didn't care much for ceanothus. Most examples I'd seen were the Yankee Points that were stuck in mall parking strips and abused. It was hard to love a plant that looked like that. I've come around to the genus, bus so far all I have is a tiny seedling I raised of C. leucodermus--probably one of the worse choices for my more coastal location, but I really loved seeing it in bloom a couple years ago.

  2. James, I hope for some more rain, too...Ceanothus was hit and miss for me. I've killed about as many as I've planted, but have come to appreciate their beauty and virtue in the native landscape. Lesson learned in my turf is that that I should only plant these guys in the fall, keep them well watered (if the winter rains aren't sufficient), and then stop watering entirely by summer. The Yankee Points are nothing to write home about, but then again, I've also found them to be great, low maintenance, fast-growing native slope covers.

  3. I agree on the rain. It was near 80 yesterday, and I've had to turn the irrigation back on.

    Love the natives you have. Do you have all of yours marked? Those markers look quite professional.

  4. Did you buy the Nuccio from Nuccio's? One of my favorite nurseries. They say maybe drizzle tomorrow, but my vegetables are perhaps hopelessly confused.

  5. Turling, for the past few years, I've been buying custom markers from out of Charlottesville, VA. It's kinda neat, because it makes your home-grown garden look like a botanical garden in the making. They're not cheap though (about $5.00 each), so I only purchase an assortment of them every few months. The end result is cool though, and makes you feel proud of your garden specimens.

  6. altadena hiker, yes - from my research, I do believe that Nuccio's Pearl is an introduction from Nuccio's Nursery in Altadena, which apparently specializes in camellias and azaleas. Btw, rain is in the forecast for next week. Keeping fingers & toes crossed!

  7. so glad i found your blog. i also am nutty about native plants, birds, all that good stuff. (i actually got that massive "bird call bible" book for valentine's day! love your manzanita pics! i just posted about the tree of life nursery in oc and they have the most beautiful manzanitas! wish i had room to plant just one!!

  8. Wow, 40+ manzanita varieties is a lot. I thought I had afición, but I only plant about a dozen with any regularity. I need to step my game up apparently.

  9. Hi Laguna Dirt - thanks for visiting my blog! I'm sure we have many common interests and you live in an area that's not too far from our neck of the woods. I must check out your post on Tree of Life. The gal who organizes the annual native plant sales benefitting the Nature Conservancy at the nearby Santa Rosa Plateau Visitor Center gets all or most of the plants from Tree of Life (probably donated).

    Ryan, yes indeed - 40+ manzanitas is a lot. To the point that my husband has sardonically suggested that he might need to use a machete in a couple years to get to our front door!