Even MY garden can look pretty occasionally, (2nd try)

queerbychoice(USDA 9a/Sunset 8 (CA))May 11, 2010

Last night's message didn't seem to post correctly, so here it is again.

I know that most of what I've posted in the past has been about the impossibility of persuading any plants to grow in my yard (see my profile page for details if you've forgotten or somehow missed it), but I actually do have some plants growing - and sometimes, mainly in springtime, they even manage to look nice. So I thought I would share some of this spring's highlights, perhaps to help explain why I continue bothering to try.

Let's start in March. This is basically my second spring as a gardener, and both springs have been kicked off by the golden currant (Ribes aureum). Since it's much bigger this spring than last, it was also much more spectacular this spring than last. I really can't recommend this species highly enough; it's in pretty much the absolute worst spot in my whole yard, and it's never complained a bit. It's native, gorgeous, totally unkillable, and even produces currants for me to eat!

In April, the purple spikes of this arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus) created an unexpectedly grand entrance to the back yard. I only had about 10 seeds of this plant last fall, and I just scattered them directly on the ground, but it seems like all 10 seeds germinated. Four of the resulting plants survived long enough to bloom, but this one was my favorite. (It's still alive now, but past its peak. And it's an annual, so it won't be around much longer.)

The California buttercups (Ranunculus californicus) have been putting on a good show too. They're shown here in April. The plants blooming behind them are baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and Chinese pagodas (Collinsia heterophylla) - both native annuals grown from scattered seed.

These tidy tips (Layia platyglossa) also sprouted from scattered seed.

Meanwhile, in the front yard, the two island alum roots (Heuchera maxima) and the tiny red bush monkeyflower (Mimulus puniceus) have been blooming away since April in front of our front door. (Yes, I know the lawn needs mowing. Lawn care is not my strong point.)

Wrapping up the April photos, here is sand-dune wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), surrounded by baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii). I love the way the baby blue eyes arranged themselves around the wallflower, but since both plants sprouted from scattered seed, I can't take credit for having planned it. (And yes, I know my yard is the furthest thing imaginable from a sand dune. The wallflower doesn't seem to mind, though.)

Let's move on to May. Here's the same wallflower now. It's started making seeds!

The hairy gumplant (Grindelia hirsutula) is just beginning to bloom. I find its spiky buds at least as interesting as its big yellow flowers! Here it is with mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata) and the smaller yellow flowers of California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus).

Last spring's foothill beardtongue (Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs') survived the winter flooding, but somewhat the worse for wear; the surviving plants aren't blooming, while this newly purchased one is. Oh well. It intertwines beautifully with globe gilia (Gilia capitata) and tidy tips (Layia platyglossa) - again, two native annuals that sprouted from scattered seed.

Here's another view of the same plants, plus California poppies.

Here is the mountain garland Clarkia unguiculata), with some tidy tips blooming below it and the golden currant in the upper right corner, no longer blooming.

The mountain garland has absolutely exploded this month.

Standing in the same spot as above, but looking left: the Fremont's bush mallow (Malacothamnus fremontii) is covered with buds and has just begun to open its first few flowers.

From the wrong camera angles, of course, there are still plenty of bare spots. But from the right camera angles, it looks almost worthy of a gardening magazine. With results like this in parts of the yard at times, is it any wonder that I can't bring myself to write off the yard as hopeless like a sensible (non-gardener) person might?

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gardenerme(z9/21 inland socal)

Wow! I was prepared to be disappointed, but your garden is beautiful! Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed it! Great job!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:07PM
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Very pretty and colorful! I love the fur-kid, what a beautiful coat he/she has.

Just too bad your landlord can't appreciate what you've accomplished and help with the drainage.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 1:00PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I know all about camera angles, they are my best friends. You got a lot of nice flowers.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 1:28PM
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Very nice, QBC. A good Spring bloom can sure carry you through the long dry months and make you want to keep gardening, no matter how many plants you lose. I'm going to have to try than clarkia.

Here's a pic from yesterday of my sidewalk strip, an area with an astronomically high plant body count that I am finally whipping into shape after 7 years of failure. I even used to spend all spring rooting native sages, nursing them through the summer in 1 gallons, then planting them out to drown or dry out here, so it's annuals for now.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 6:26PM
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The plants are very nice.
But,the happy dog is best!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 8:47PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I love the annuals, especially the poppies. But for sure the Clarkia steals the show. What a gorgeous flower, and I love the colors. Bravo!

I learned early that good cropping is the secret to a beautiful Gardenweb garden.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 11:12PM
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queerbychoice(USDA 9a/Sunset 8 (CA))

Dicot, what are the names of the annuals in your picture? They look fantastic!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 12:11AM
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wanda(Z9 CA)

Very nice natives! Beautiful and colorful! Of course you realize that those Tidy Tips will be EVERYWHERE eventually. they are VERY prolific self sowers. LOL

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 12:26PM
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Zowie! Lovely pics! And I agree with the other posters - the happy pup is FABULOUS! I made a note of several of your plants - I especially perked up at the "scattered seed" plants. I'm all for those! Good job! meo

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 5:14PM
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queerbychoice(USDA 9a/Sunset 8 (CA))

Wanda, not quite everywhere, I think - the tidy tips drowned in the wettest spots, just like everything else did. I think I should probably try to obtain some meadowfoam for the wettest spots.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 9:07PM
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Dicot, what are the names of the annuals in your picture?

Gaura, oriental poppy, cosmos, unknown yellow coreopsis and a cilantro that went to flower. I really didn't expect so much seed to germinate and I never have the heart to thin the way I should. I'll have to make sure not too much goes to seed there, but I'm just glad to see something growing there.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 11:28PM
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QBC, what glorious wildflowers! I must get some clarkia seeds for next spring!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 12:10AM
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I love those wildflowers; can you let us know where you bought the seeds for the native flowers? Did you buy them individually or did they come in a packet or can that you just sprinkle? So far the only CA native I have is the CA poppy. I plan to convert my garden to natives and succulents later this year.
Thanks QBC!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 1:23AM
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queerbychoice(USDA 9a/Sunset 8 (CA))

I bought the seeds from several different places. I bought two native wildflower seed mixes that didn't specify which species were included - I bought one of those from some box store like Lowe's or Home Depot and one from a local native plant nursery. I also bought seed packets of particular species (Clarkia unguiculata, Collinsia heterophylla, and Erysimum capitatum) from Everwilde Farms.

When I buy actual plants instead of seeds, I usually buy them from local native plant nurseries. You can use the California Native Plant Link Exchange to find nurseries near you that sell native plants and to find plants that are native to your local area.

Here is a link that might be useful: California Native Plant Link Exchange

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 8:49PM
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QBC, thanks for the awesome link! I will keep in my Favorites to browse at my leisure. This will let me take my time in selecting my plantings.
Spread the word--native plantings and succulents will save our state from the inevitable water shortage. By posting lovely pics like you did, people will see that nice gardens are possible with little water.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 6:26PM
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Peebee, you can also get seeds online from the Theodore Payne Foundation. That's where I am going to get mine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Theodore Payne Foundation

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 8:28PM
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