Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Native annuals

As we are about to hit the spring equinox, it seems like a good opportunity to mention a number of California native annuals that are now at your local nursery. For me, they divide themselves into four groups. You have the Blues, you have the CA poppies, you have the yellows and then last but not least you have the vast array of Clarkias. Start with the blue-flowering native annuals, always a popular color. That would include everybody's favorite blue, Nemophila menziesii, better known as Baby Blue Eyes. It's a prolific bloomer and along with the other three Nemophilas (Penny Black, Baby 5 Spot and Snow White) are a great way to add petite charm to a sunny spot. Then there's the blue Phacelias, better known as CA Bluebells, most notably P. viscida and P. campanularia. The former is an upright, multi-branching plant with inky blue flowers, while the latter is a low growing, cascading species with royal blue flowers. Add in Gilia capitata, Blue Thimble flower, and you've got four true blue selections.
Everyone knows the orange CA poppy but there are also ones known as Rose, Apricot and Golden Chiffon, as well as Red Chief, Purple Gleam and Alba White.
For yellows, there's the evocatively named Tidy Tips (Layia), Sunflakes (Camissonia), Meadow Foam (Limnanthes), Cream Cups (Platystemon), Blazing Star (Mentzelia) as well as the fragrant Madia elegans.
And finally, there's more Clarkias than most of us have room for in our gardens. My favorites are C. Aurora and C. Salmon Queen. And did you know that there's a Clarkia for shade? That would be C. concinna (Pink Ribbons). Rather than the typical round, open cup-shaped petals of other Clarkias, it has interesting finger-like petals.
So, there you have it, a cornucopia of wonderful natives just waiting to create a splash in your garden.
And now, today's photos.

Clivia miniata. Tough as nails, no special care, batches of orange flowers in late winter. What is not to like?

Arisaema nepenthoides. Here's a shot of the back side of the spathe, showing off the beautiful patterning and spotting. Notice too the blotch patterns on the stalk. Easy to understand why so many people love Arums.

Echeveria pulvinata. It's the fuzzy leaves on this colorful Echeveria that are the main attraction, though it does readily produce clusters of vivid red flowers.

I planted this purple Triple G sweet pea in front of the golden-leaved Physocarpus 'Nugget' for the delightful contrast. The sweet pea has already attached itself to the steps railing as I had intended. Last year's sweet pea bloomed heavily in this same spot.

Though not in bloom yet, the twisting, textured leaves of this Begonia Wild Pony are reason enough to photograph it. 

Here are two of the aforementioned spring native annuals. This Phacelia campanularia is just getting started but already has its first royal blue flowers. 

Baby Blue Eyes features those robins-egg-blue flowers, a piece of blue sky brought to earth. BTW, the term California native isn't a euphemism; many of these 'wild flowers' are found throughout the Bay Area, including Baby Blue Eyes and Phacelias in the East Bay hills.

Osteospermum Blue-eyed Beauty. One of 3 African daisies (the other two being Gazania and Arctotis), Osteos are hardy and vigorous ground covers. This single plant from a 4" container has spread out to cover a three foot diameter. They are winter and spring bloomers.

I've spoken often of the charms of species tulips and here's one of them, a Tulipa clusiana Chrysantha. Sometimes called Lady tulips for the slender upright form, they like other species tulips naturalize easily in your garden.

For those of you not familiar with Banksia roses, here's a yellow-flowering variety. They are a climbing rose, featuring masses of small white or butter yellow flowers. Very charming! (And I'm not a rose person).

Kalanchoe variety. Not sure if this is Chocolate Soldier but if not it's a close cousin. It features soft, sort of fuzzy leaves that are tipped in brown. 

Not a bottlebrush tree (at least not THE bottlebrush tree - Callistemon) this Cunonia capensis does feature flower spikes that look and feel a lot like a bottlebrush. They belong to different families so the resemblance of the flowers is deceptive. In any case, bees and hummingbirds love the flowers.

Physocarpus Amber Jubilee. This amber-leaved Ninebark is a beauty. It's newer so has leafed out a bit later than my front yard P. 'Nugget.' Tougher than they look, Physocarpus are a great smaller-sized shrub to add to a sun/part sun location.

Gladiolus 'Lemon Moon.' This South African glad is one of the prettiest around. The photo doesn't quite show off the attractive chocolate spotting in the throat of the flower.

These orange snapdragons took awhile to get established from a six pack but they seem to be hitting their stride now. I planted them on top of a newly built bed that houses a lot of bulbs. A little color before and during the bloom season for the bulbs. 

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