I have no excuses for neglecting this blog since March of last year, except that I've been spending an inordinate amount of time posting to my cooking blog www.thegrubfiles.blogspot.com and also on FB, notwithstanding the fact that the summer of 2014 was especially hot and dry and the gardens were in the doldrums. Three magnificent trees on the grounds - my prized Modoc Cypress, Tecate Cypress, and Arizona Cypress - all fell victim to the drought and/or perhaps some disease exacerbated by the weather conditions. I was wary of the weather predictions of a moderate El Nino for the coming winter but also heartened by the decent rains we got in December. Then, lo and behold, we got hit by an epic (at least by Southern California standards) snow storm here in La Cresta, Murrieta, Wildomar, and Temecula on December 30th. OMG!!! I will post pics of the resulting winter wonderland shortly. In the meantime, here are highlights of some of the relatively meager happenings on the grounds last year.
4/27/14 "Burst Berry" Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus hybrid). Part of the Ball Ornamental Plants Burst Monkeyflower series, first released in 2013. A compact, mounding shrub with large, luscious flowers.
8/17/14 Black Widow Spider. This grande dame was behind the fountain in the herb garden.
4/27/14 Chamise/Greasewood (Adenostoma fasciculatum). Native to our property, this lovely, though highly flammable shrub, is in full bloom.
4/27/14 Chaparral Whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) & Tassajara Blue (Ceanothus arboreus x C. griseus) Mountain Lilac off of the driveway.
4/27/14 Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) in the desert garden.
6/1/14 Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum).
4/27/14 Heart-Leaved Penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia).
4/27/14 Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa v. Torreyana). Native to San Joaquin Valley, Peninsular ranges and Mojave Desert, extending into Texas and Mexico.
6/1/14 Mojave Sage (Salvia mohavensis). A lovely sage that's endemic to the Mojave Desert. I planted this one in 2009 in the desert garden and so far so good - it's survived our chaparral habitat, occasionally wet winters, and the recent snow storm without any discernible damage.
6/1/14 'Desert Museum' Palo Verde.
6/1/14 Panther Lily (Lilium pardilinum) and Lemon Lily (Lilium parry) in the planter on the north side of the house.
5/10/14 Female Phainopepla/Silky Flycatcher (Phainopepla nitens) on a Eureka Lemon tree in the citrus grove.
4/27/14 Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) in the desert garden.
4/27/14 "Purple" Monkeyflower and "Georgie White" Monkeyflower (Mimulus cultivars)
4/27/14 "Sierra Blue" Ceanothus (Ceanothus cyaneus cultivar).
6/1/14 Sierra Columbine (Aquilegia pubescens).
6/1/14 Spice Bush (Calycanthus occidentalis).
4/27/14 Sticky Phacelia (Phacelia viscida).
5/17/14 Giant Stream Orchid (Epipactis gigantea). Native to the Western U.S. in wet or moist areas. This bunch is growing in a wine barrel in the herb garden. The foliage dies down and they go dormant in the summer, but the plants emerge like clockwork in late winter/early spring.
5/17/14 Seep Monkeyflowers (Mimulus guttatus) growing in the wine barrel with the giant stream orchids. I grew these from seed and they reseed reliably every season.
5/10/14 Oak Titmouse on a drip irrigation tube in the front garden.
4/27/14 Western Vervain (Verbena lasiostachys). A California native that can be aggressively weedy in the garden, but attracts a ton of butterflies. This patch is growing in the Mission garden.
6/1/14 "Winnifred Gilman" Sage (Salvia clevelandii selection) along the driveway.
5/17/14 Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica) in the main pond.