Thanks for stopping by! This is my online journal where I write about the joy of gardening with native plants.
Feb 9, 2010
January Showers Bring February Flowers
Spring comes early for us lucky Californians (to think some people have to wait till May!) so I thought I’d take a moment to document my yard’s first outward signs of it. Blooms, that is! Below are the first of what I consider spring blooms. While I have a potted Arctostaphylos uva-ursi with lovely blooms, and a Ribes malvaceum that’s been decked out for over a month, I consider those winter bloomers, so don’t count them as harbingers of spring. However, I have heard numerous reports of some of the species below blooming in other people’s gardens weeks ago. I’m finding that part of the thrill (and I mean thrill) of redoing a yard in natives is learning what its own particular seasonal schedules will be.
So, my eager greeters of spring:
Salvia spathacea. Only one flower stalk so far, and I’m glad to see it, because this plant is among the first natives I ever bought and planted, some over two years ago, but they haven’t bloomed for me yet. (Experienced gardeners out there, please tell me, is this one of those plants that has to live for a few years before blooming?) I would love to see multitudes of flower stalks rising out of the Salvia patch one day. Right now I guess even saying "patch" is pushing it--more of a smattering--but some people have "warned" me of this sage's "invasiveness." At this point, I wish. This is one of those plants that other people were reporting in bloom weeks ago, so I hope mine are just a little tardy.
Second: Salvia mellifera, or Mel, as I call mine. Weighing in with three blooming stalks, and way more than three times the overall volume it was a year ago, Mel is so far one of the most successful citizens in the New Yard Order. Bought this lovely critter as a gallon at a botanic garden, labeled as just S. mellifera, but it’s looking to be actually a prostrate form. And that’s okay, the low sprawling version fits the spot just fine, with blades of Nassella and Aristida poking out of it. I hope it develops a lot more than three blooms in the weeks to come. Didn't bloom too much in its first spring, last year.
Next up, Ceanothus ‘Concha.' Just one itty bitty blossom, somewhat lost in the branches, but I’m counting it. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I worship unabashedly at the altar of Ceanothus and welcome the arrival of the purple-drenched season. Concha (or Conch Concherello, as I call it—sorry, gotta remember 70s TV for that one) is located next to a ‘Skylark’ Ceanothus, which blooms late, like into June, so in theory there will be a long stretch of Ceanothusyness each year. I worry a little about Conch ‘n’ Jon, er, Skylark, though, because their site is a bit shadier than my wishful-thinking memory had bet on.
That’s it for me bloom-wise so far. Oop, also some Lewisia cotyledon, which I forgot to photograph, but they seem to bloom on a whim whenever they feel like it, so not sure they count as signs of spring. Also some blooms on the wild strawberries, didn’t even think to photograph them—overlooked my lowly little friends, even though I really value them for their low groundcover usefulness.
Budding up next looks to be Ribes viburnifolium. It was blooming nicely by late February last year. I think it is a somewhat underrated plant, being really tough in dry conditions, yet able to grow and bloom in near full shade, and though others may describe the flowers as somewhat nondescript, I find them delightful. Here’s a pic from last year.
Finally, though my potted Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is covered in its sweet little pink bells, my ‘St. Helena’ and ‘Louis Edmunds’ Arctos are barely threatening to bloom. Some Arctostaphylos in the area are already dropping petals, so it causes me to worry a little that mine aren’t happy, but as I said, every site puts its own subtle spin on the seasons, so I’ll keep watching.
I began gardening with California native plants around the beginning of 2008 and kept meaning to start a journal to track what the garden is teaching me. Now that I'm finally getting around to journaling, I thought I may as well do it in a place that might generate dialogue with other gardeners. So here it is, I hope you'll enjoy and comment!