Saturday, March 19, 2016

On the Eve of Spring...

Lewisia cotyledon 'Sunset' at home in a rock wall

With the official start of Spring around the corner, I thought I'd share some scenes from around the garden. Thanks to the recent rains, foliage is looking lush and flowers are popping up everywhere. 

Heuchera, or Coral Bells, are among my favorite natives because the long-lasting flowers are among the first to appear in late Winter and come in colors ranging from cream to dark pink. They look incredible when planted in mass in a shady spot and are amenable to transplant and dry conditions.

Variety of Coral Bells lining a path

Inspired by walks along the Gray Whale Cove trail in Montara, I planted a collection of yarrow, beach strawberry and checkerbloom underneath our ancient lemon tree. Dale the snail approves.

Dale happy hiding amongst the yarrow, checkerbloom and beach strawberry

One of the most reliable year-round bloomers is the Island Bush Poppy, a crowd favorite that thrills with its large yellow flowers and attractive large grey-green leaves. Rains will knock the flowers down but they always bounce back with a couple days of sunshine.

Island bush poppy, Dendromecon harfordii, center of attention

Another plant that people often ask about is the Cliff-maid or broad-leaf Lewisia. These diminutive guys come in a variety of colors and bloom for a couple months starting in late February. They need good drainage and native plant books recommend using as a container plant. I have a couple planted into the rock wall and they seem happy, except in the summer heat.

Lewisia cotyledon 'Magenta'

Another one of my favorite natives is the California phacelia, a bee magnet that blooms early and often. Looks great in a rock garden with full sun and will appreciate some room to grow. I picked up this plant at Mission Blue nursery in Brisbane a couple months back and it is already filling in nicely.

California phacelia, Phacelia californica, in mid-March

Foothill penstemons make a great addition to a drought tolerant landscape. Their blue-purple flowers are eye catching and look great with other Spring bloomers such as monkeyflowers, poppies, sulfur buckwheat and golden aster. This particular variety, Margarita BOP, is a robust bloomer and probably the easiest to find in nurseries.

Foothill penstemon, Penstemon heteropyllus, doing it's thang

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