Sunday, January 23, 2011

Feels Like Spring

We had a customer come into our Grand Lake Ace nursery yesterday who said "Where are all the plants?" Translation, why don't you have a vast selection of plants? I had to remind them that, wait for it, "it's still January." Sure doesn't feel like it, does it? We've begun stocking a selection of spring annuals, things like poppies, Love-in-a-Mists, clarkias and Baby Blue Eyes. And there's no denying that the bulbs are getting the message as well. The first of my crocus are up, so are the daffodils, I've had my first iris bloom, the earliest of my bearded irises are budding up and my S. African bulbs are all up. And you know what this means, don't you? Yes, time to clean up your planting beds, which is a kind way of saying weeding, weeding, weeding. And strangely for this time of year, especially given the deluge of winter rains we had the last three years, our gardens need a bit of watering right now.
That said, here are a few wonderful CA natives to plant right now:
Gilia capitata (Blue Thimble flower). This pretty plant, with the blue globe flowers, is a prolific bloomer and generously reseeds in your garden.
Phacelias. My favorite is P. viscida, with its gorgeous inky blue flowers that showcase intricate nectaries. Commonly known as Ca bluebells.
CA poppies. Of course there's the familiar orange ones but Annie's Annuals propagates a variety of other colors, including burgandy, red, rose, yellow and even white.
Baby Blue Eyes. Yes, these sky blue flowers are just the prettiest things you can hope to see but this genus (Nemophilia) also has a black trimmed in white variety, a white one with purple spots and a snow white variety. Heavy bloomers.
Clarkias. Who doesn't love these commonly seen in the wild flowers? The pinks are very popular of course but two varieties, Salmon Princess and C. amoena 'Aurora,' offer lovely salmon flowers. I grew the latter last year and it went wild, producing masses of coral, cup-shaped flowers over a three month period. There's even a clarkia for shade (Pink Ribbons).
Speaking of shade, why not plant the charming Claytonia sibirica? A cousin to the wild growing Miner's lettuce, this low growing plant has pink-ribbed white flowers and will colonize an area.
For a touch of cheerful yellow, consider Tidy Tips or Meadow Foam, two spring annuals that are very floriferous.
The earlier you plant these and other natives, the more vigorous the plants will be, resulting in earlier and more prolonged blooming.
Now, let's hope winter doesn't return in March ...

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