Sunday, January 17, 2016

Seen Blooming Now...

Common Manzanita
Manzanita in full bloom

Arctostaphylos sp.-


Dotted with their dangling clusters of shell pink to snowy white bells, Manzanitas situated at lower elevations are stopping shows now in mid-January. While their ubiquity allows us to take these tough-as-nails evergreen shrubs for granted at many times of the year, the sight of their early blossoms as a reminder of spring-yet-to-come is a heart warming sight to many. As much a representative of California's flora as the golden California Poppy, Manzanitas, in all their various shapes and sizes, provide a graceful backdrop for the many later blooming wildflowers. But for now, in the quiet before spring, it is their turn in the limelight. Beautiful.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Nothing Wrong With Natives...

Pink flowering Currant
Pink Flowering Currant

Some early blooming native shrubs...


Now, in the quiet following the holiday season, our hunger for pretty blossoms slowly grows until we are practically bursting at the seams by March. It is always a delight to see the landscape begin to swell and bud and break out in bloom. To help you get your fix, here are some native shrubs you may not have yet considered for your garden.

While many California native shrubs require a certain fixation on subtlety to appreciate, Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) in full bloom is not one of those plants. While each dangling blossom is indeed tiny, the whole plant in bloom is quite a showstopper. This lovely is great for a cool winter climate, tolerating clay soil and a goodly amount of dryness. Beloved by hummingbirds in bloom as early as February, its nectar supplies much needed calories in the early part of the season, while the currants are gobbled by those feathery folk with a bit larger gape. 

Blooming a bit later, the little-known, Littleleaf Mock Orange (Philadelphus microphyllus), an under-used California native shrub. With far lower water needs than its cousin, Lewis' Mock Orange, it is a a good slight more amenable to dry gardens. Ours grows in partial shade with little summer irrigation. Not  heavily scented like many in its genus, this one's somewhat diminutive blossoms warrant a close look and a close sniff; it's delicacy in form and perfume is a delight.  

And, of couse, Mahonia (Berberis, to some), in any of it's specific epithets are tough characters providing blossoms for the bees and butterflies and berries for the birds. Drought tolerant and adaptable, they are deservedly a staple for any native landscape planting. We love them in the dappled shade of a woodland garden.
Just a few to hopefully inspire...
Creeping Mahonia
Creeping Mahonia in the wild in a rock crevice    

Little Leaf Mock Orange
Littleleaf Mock Orange