Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fast Forward

Whoa! Can't believe that it's been 3 months since my last blog post. So much to do and so little time.

Despite the paucity of rain this past winter, the natives (which generally thrive on winter precipitation), have done remarkably well. In particular and quite surprisingly, all of the California Lilacs (Ceanothus) and Manzanitas were chock full of magnificent blooms earlier in the year.

Here's a recap of some of the garden happenings from April to June. July was, well, frankly rather uneventful, but I'll go through the rolls and see what's worth posting in the next round.

4/7/13 Otay Mountain Ceanothus (Ceanothus otayensis). Not one of the more ostentatious of the California Lilacs, but very drought tolerant and quite charming with its light, powder-blue blooms.

4/7/13 Cliff Rose (Purshia mexicana stansburiana). CA & SW desert native. Beautiful creamy white-yellow blooms in the spring. 

4/7/13 Great Basin Sage/Fleshy Sage (Salvia dorrii var. incana). Native to the NW High Cascades in Siskiyou County, CA. Distribution outside of CA is to Washington & Idaho. I bought this one online (a distinct form from the Cascade Mountains of Washington State) from High County Gardens in NM, before they closed their retail operation. Seems to be doing well in our DG.

4/7/13 Desert Sage/Dorr's Sage/Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii). In CA can be found in the NW Cascade Range, E. Sierras, Tehachapis, N. Mojave, and Great Basin Floristic Province. 

4/7/13 Western Toad (Bufo boreas), in a rock crevice above the pond. 

4/7/13 A pair of Western Bluebirds in one of the nesting boxes near the Sycamores.

4/12/13 A boy California Quail underneath one of the bird feeders. There's a resident covey of about 15 quail in the nearby chaparral that come regularly to feed on the birdseed that is strewn about on the ground by the unruly Scrub Jays and House Finches. 

4/13/13 Great Egret on a rock outcropping near the neighbor's fence.

4/14/13 Bumble Bee Plant/Black-Flowered Figwort (Scrophularia strata). Native to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

4/14/13 Most Beautiful Jewel Flower (Streptanthus albidus peramoena). Endemic to Central Coast Ranges & Bay Area of CA. 

4/14/13 'Mountain Haze' Ceanothus. A fast-growing Ceanothus hybrid with beautiful blooms in late winter/early spring. Seems to be fairly garden tolerant (i.e., is not averse to a little extra water in the dry months), but I've never ever watered it during the summer months, and it seems to be doing perfectly fine.

4/14/13 Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus). This one likes a tad more water and shade, so it's growing under one of the Sycamores. 'Las Pilitas' Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea) in the backdrop. 

4/14/13 'El Tigre' Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans). Beautiful flowers and velvety soft, fragrant foliage! Growing next to a large stand of Hoffmann's Night Shade (Solanum xanti var. hoffmannii)  and Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea). 

4/14/13 Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), which is native to our site, and 'Point Sal' Purple Sage (Salvia leucophyllum).

4/14/13 'Tassajara Blue' Ceanothus.

4/14/13 Wildflowers: Baby Blue Eyes, Chinese Houses, Woodland Tidytips, and assorted Monkeyflowers.

4/20/13 Hooded Oriole.

4/20/13 California Thrasher.

4/20/13 Male Western Bluebird.

4/24/13 Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla).

4/24/13 Island Tree Poppy (Dendromecon harfordii). Endemic to the California Channel Islands. 

4/24/13 'Margarita BOP' Penstemon, 'Conejo' Monkeyflower (Diplacus longiflorus), and Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina' on the other side of the driveway.

4/24/13 Peninsular Onion (Allium peninsulare). 

4/24/13 Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum), Prickly Phlox (Leptodactylon californicum), and Showy Penstemon to the right (Penstemon spectabilis). 

4/24/13 Red Monkeyflower (Diplacus puniceus).

4/24/13 'Margarita BOP' Penstemon, 'Conejo' Monkeyflower (Diplacus longiflorus) and 'San Gabriel' Fremontodendron.

4/24/13 Scytheleaf Onion (Allium falcifolium).

4/28/13 Ash-Throated Flycatcher.

5/3/13 Western Tanager.

5/4/13 SQUIRREL!!

5/5/13 Bush Anemone (Carpinteria californica).

5/5/13 Canary Island Sage (Salvia canariensis), Autumn Sages (Salvia greggii), and Fremontodenron 'Ken Taylor.' 

5/5/13 Chalk Liveforever (Dudleya pulverulenta). 

The Dudleya bed - have to keep it enclosed with chicken wire, or else the bunnies will go to town. 

5/5/12 Black-Headed Grosbeak. 

5/5/13 Kaweah River Bush Monkeyflower (Diplacus calycinus).

5/5/13 'Ken Taylor' Fremontodendron.

5/5/13 Upper half of the olive grove: Manzanillas, Missions, Arbequinas, and Leccinos.

5/5/13 Prickly Poppies (Argemone munita). These are abundant in some of the lower elevations of the E. Sierras. Bought these online from Annies Annuals up in Richmond, CA. 

5/5/13 Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis). 

5/5/13 Spice Bush (Calycanthus occidentalis).

5/10/13 Great Blue Heron. BAAAD heron! He's there to eat our fish!

5/18/13 Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa).

5/18/13 Red Torch Cactus/Argentine Hedgehog (Echinopsis huascha). Native to N. Argentina.

5/18/13 Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata). Native Mojave desert annual, easily grown from seed. With deep watering once a week in the summer, they last for months on end.

5/18/13 'Desert Museum' Palo Verde. A thornless (YES!!) hybrid between Foothill, Blue and Mexican Palo Verde. Flowering season is in the spring, but will bloom sporadically throughout the summer months. 

5/18/13 Saffron Buckwheat/Conejo Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum). 

5/18/13 'Hanging Valley' Santa Lucia Bushmallow (Malacothamnus palmeri). 

5/18/13 Harvest Brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans).

5/18/13 Western Spiraea (Spiraea douglasii).

6/2/13 Chevron-leaved Scarlet Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis).

6/2/13 Creek Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus).

6/2/13 Ocean Spray/Cream Bush (Holodiscus discolor). 

6/2/13 'Winifred Gilman' Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii). 

6/9/13 'Aurora' Farewell to Spring (Clarkia amoena).

6/9/13 Clarkia rubicunda 'Shamini.'

6/9/13 Beginnings of a butterfly and hummingbird garden, next to the rose garden.

6/23/13 Turkey Vultures doing what TVs do best, i.e., not winning an Avian beauty contest. They're either trying to out-freak each other, basking themselves in the sun, or just too freakin' full to fly anywhere after overindulging on some top notch carrion.

6/23/13 Wow! My first artichoke I've ever grown and I forgot to harvest them before they morphed into this. The flowers are gorgeous, like gigantic thistles because, well, they are!

6/23/13 Sapphire Eriastrum (Eriastrum sapphirinum). Native to the property, near the rose garden.


  1. What a great set of photos! I'd say the 3 month wait was worth it.

    1. Thanks very much, Brent! I'll do my best not to wait another 3 months before my next post. I'm sure you'll agree that there can never be a dull moment in the garden.

  2. Is that a baby squirrel? Or are they little by nature? So many of your plants look familiar. Or almost. Yesterday I realised that your Pentstemon and my Diascia are in the same family.

    1. Diana, I would say that that's an adolescent squirrel. The adults are definitely larger with very bushy tails. I'm not surprised that some of our plants look familiar to you - Southern California and South Africa both have Mediterranean climates so our respective flora would have some very similar characteristics. Not sure if you've read this already, but there's a great book by Peter Dallman called "Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates: California, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean Basin" which addresses those similarities.

  3. I just found your blog thanks to Las Pilitas Nursery on Facebook. I was asking for suggestions on Penstemon for my Murrieta home (Cole Canyon elementary area). I already have some of the plants you do like the Apache Plume - one of my favorites. But the showy pink Penstemons died after the first year. :(

    1. Hi Audrey! You're actually not all that far from us - in fact, just "down the hill" so to speak (we frequently shop at the Ralphs at Plaza de Oro at Washington & Calle del Oso Oro).

      I've bought a lot of natives over the years from Las Pilitas (both at their Escondido nursery and online) and love the quality & diversity of their plants, as well as the wealth of information that can be found on their website regarding native plant culture. The native penstemons that have thrived on our property include Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis), Eaton's Penstemon (P. eatonii), San Gabriel's Beardtongue (P. labrosus) and Scarlet Bugler (P. centranthifolius). They are all very drought tolerant, although I will water them sparingly, perhaps once every 3-4 weeks during our dry summer months. All of them are growing in lean, well-draining soil (decomposed granite) and the Showy Penstemon and Scarlet Bugler have actually reseeded. Las Pilitas should carry all of these varieties. Good luck and happy gardening

  4. Whew! That is quite a botanic garden you have going there. I've seen a number of those species in the wild, including the wonderful Jewelflower that grows up here by me, but definitely not in one place! It's no surprise all the wildlife hangs out there. Be careful of those ground squirrels though - I expect you know that they will happily move in, and can dig up a lot of dirt...

    1. Thanks, randomtruth! This 'botanic garden' has been an incredibly laborious, DIY, but oh-so-satisfying labor of love for me these past 7 years. And, it's nowhere near done, because it never will be :) What can I say? I'm a die-hard Cal native plant aficionado (e.g., still stubbornly trying to grow Western Blue Flag - Iris missouriensis - in our Coastal chaparral climate to recreate my memories of their blooms in the pastures at Bridgeport, E. Sierras). As for SQWERLZ, I have a love hate relationship with them...sigh.

      Btw, I'm a fan of your blog, nature of a man. Great candid cam critter stuff coupled with sardonic (i.e., witty) commentary!

    2. Ah yes, the blue flag sweeps of Mono County. I know them well. The ranch I'm surveying over there gets them too. The result of many years of sheep eating everything but the irises, while their rhizomes fill the gaps. You'll need to create a wetland to pull that off. But hey - if you have the water, why not? Then you could grow all sorts of other wetland loving plants too. Like Darlingtonia!

    3. Ok, so can I trade my job for yours? We're supposed to get a deluge over the next couple days here in SoCal. We'll see...if it happens then maybe my irises will get a kick start back to life. Darlingtonia? Well now that you put that idea into my head, I daresay I must get me some pitcher plants, stat. Just sayin'