This place needs more annuals. MORE ANNUALS. With bright colors.
Let's take a closer look at what we do have.
I'm liking this area a lot right now.
I'm particularly happy with the combination of Camissonia cheiranthifolia and Eriogonum arborescens--both natives. The color's a little off in these pictures, but trust me, it's nice. The Camissonia is silvery gray and the Eriogonum is silvery green. Nice. (The blue thing horning in from the right is Cerinthe major--the garden's most bee-loved plant of spring; the bees seriously disturb the peace on those flowers.)
The Eriogonum will get big and make interesting flowers that last a long time, and then hang on after they've dried and continue to be interesting for a long time. I have three of them I grew from seed. I also have three of the Camissonia cheiranthifolia (common name beach suncups), purchased from Annie's Annuals. About it, Glenn Keator's fabulous new book says this:
"Sprawling, short-lived perennial creating mats to two feet across with elliptical, grayish leaves on a long succession of bright yellow, saucer-shaped flowers in late spring and summer. Adaptable to a variety of soils. Propagate from seed. Needs to be restarted frequently."
No problem! I love to collect seeds. The plant does a great job spreading and filling in. I'm very pleased with it.
You know what I think? I think C. cheiranthifolia would be a good native candidate for basket culture. I like hanging baskets, and with the deck being a huge structure in my tiny backyard, hanging baskets serve an important function. But they need so much water. A trailing beach native could be just the trick. Next year...
This is what the flower looks like...I'll have a lot more of them coming along soon enough.
Here's another area I'm (getting) happy with.
That pot's a temporary. Maybe a different color could be more long-term.
Anyhow, this is another CA native nook. That's Sambucus mexicana (Blue Elderberry) in the middle between Juncus patens on the left and Salvia spathacea on the right. Fragaria chiloensis grows unseen underneath it all.
We used to have bamboo along the whole fence, but I didn't like it and managed to convince Guy to let me take some of it out. (That was before I acquired executive power over the whole backyard.) The Sambucus will grow tall and fill that space with bee-attracting flowers and bird-attracting berries. And, I think it'll look good with bamboo. The juncus and salvia already do. (The trellis is a holdover from an earlier design concept; move it out, or leave it there?)
I'm using square-knotted ropes of twine as a trellis alternative for the scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccinea).
The vines seem to grow several inches every day.
I may need to tie some connections between the hanging ropes if the vines need more support later on.
Pleased with myself over here too, as you know.
This is the Acer circinatum that will grow and become the anchor plant.
The bright green maple foliage looks nice next to the dark cineraria leaves. And of course, the cineraria flowers will gone by fall when the the maple leaves turn red/orange, so no color clash.
I have a Japanese maple too, but I'm not sure what to do with it.
I bought it dormant last fall for $12 and I have no idea what its fall color looks like. So it's in a pot for now.
This is another native I'm excited about, Streptanthus farnsworthianus. A new plant, I grew from seed.
The leaves are very variable. You can see the cotyledon leaves dying on the ground, and compare them to the first true leaf and the second and the third.
I think eventually the plant fills out considerably and whole thing turns purple and makes an erect spray of white flowers or something. Or something! I really have no idea.
Speaking of purple, loving the Mimulus pictus...
How about some elements that I'm not entirely thrilled with? The containerized Fremontodendron 'San Gabriel' and Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman'. I had no reason to hope these deep-rooted natives would be happy in containers for very long, but I had to try something and these are two (big) plants I really want to have somewhere in the garden...
They're hardly about to wither and die, but it's clear they would look better growing in the ground. What to do, what to do... Well, we're not at a decision point yet.
And this patch of ground I thought would be full of wildflowers by now.
Not so much.
And this is where I thought I had rosy buckwheat, but really had clarkia that I mistook for a weed and removed and now have nothing.
I germinated some Nemophila maculata (five-spot) that I might use in these areas.
I'm not happy with this pot of dirt that should be resplendent with Asclepias speciosa by now. I thought it would be okay to sow those seeds outdoors; it's called milkweed after all... Sigh. Try again next year I guess--indoors.
Enough for now?