Tuesday, September 30, 2014

RIP Blue Sky Farms

Blue Sky Farms, a cafe that sold native plants in Half Moon Bay, has suddenly closed. I drove out from San Mateo this morning only to be rudely greeted by a "business closed" sign. In the last couple years, this place had become my vender of choice for native plants thanks to their very reasonable prices and their impressive selection of  hard-to-find plants.  I liked the concept of cafe/nursery but evidently it was not profitable enough. My own dream - likely never to be realized - involves a combination of beer garden and native plants. Anyway, I must now regroup and find a new native plant nursery close to home. Too bad Yerba Buena Nursery in Half Moon Bay is so expensive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In Bloom: September '14

   It is mid-September and the garden hasn't received rainfall in several months. Luckily, it has been a mild summer, with temperatures hovering in the high 75-85F range. Morning fog here on the peninsula has also helped provide a bit of moisture. In the front yard I have hand-watered the herbaceous perennials (e.g. golden aster and seaside daisy) once every 10-14 days and the evergreen shrubs (e.g.  ceanothus and manzanitas) once every 4-6 weeks. Established plantings such as white sage, Santa Cruz Island buckwheat, and chaparral currant have not received any supplemental water. In the backyard, most of the plants are on drip irrigation, receiving 5 minutes, twice a week. The backyard looks decidedly lusher than the front, though plants like monkeyflowers and coyote mint have still gone dormant in the backyard even with the extra water.
     Here on September 16, there isn't much in bloom, but many of the evergreen shrubs such as manzanitas, ceanothus and coffeeberries are looking healthy and well...green. In particular, I have been pleased with the progress of the manzanitas, and I hope to add a few more plants this Fall to my growing manzanita collection. A few highlights:

-Dendromecon harfordii (Island Bush Poppy): I killed one of these in the front yard a couple years but decided to give it a whirl again last year in the backyard. It was planted last Fall and so far so good. I think it likes a bit more water, shade, and drainage then I was giving it previously. This is one of my favorite natives, providing beautiful yellow flowers nearly year round.
Dendromecon harfordii

-Epilobium: Fuschias are always the late Summer stars as they provide much needed color and they will bring in hummingbirds.  Currently, 'Hurricane Point' looks the best among my fuchsias.  'Everett's Choice' and 'Cloverdale' are past their prime and have already been cut back to their base. I will likely make changes to the placement of my fuchsias this Fall.
Epilobium 'Hurricane Point'

-Eriogonum (Buckwheats): 'Santa Cruz Island' looks amazing as always, and the 'Red-Flowered' variety is past its prime but still putting out pink blooms.
Eriogonum 'Santa Cruz Island'

-Eriophyllum nevinii (Island snowflake):  'Canyon Silver' cultivar is looking quite impressive currently with new blooms coming up and striking foliage. This is quickly becoming a favorite.
Eriophyllum nevinii 'Canyon Silver'

-Eschscholzia (CA poppy): My volunteer poppies are blooming for the third time this year. When flowers wilt, I cut the plant to the ground and it grows backs within a month, all without supplemental water. Gotta love it.

-Arctostaphylos (manzanitas): All the manzanitas are looking healthy and robust right now. 'Louis Edmonds' has displayed tremendous growth here in its second year and is quickly becoming a nice specimen in the front yard.
Arctostaphylos 'Louis Edmonds'