Saturday, May 16, 2015

What?? Another Spring Rain??

Yes, incredible as it may seem, we had more rain yesterday and today. Not a lot in inches and not enough to make any difference to the drought, but significant in terms of soaking the garden soil and filling my rain barrel.

More stuff is blooming, such as this Electric Blue Sage (Salvia chamaedryoides). It's not native to either California or Baja, but I've had it for awhile so I have a sentimental attachment to it. The flowers are tiny but nicely shaped and provide great color when they bloom en masse. It likes warmer weather so there should be more flowers to come.

I was recently looking around in the yard when the sunlight hit the seed heads of Purple Three-awn (Aristida purpurea) just right to bring out the purple color. I had to get a photo of it before the light changed. Here it is joined by Bahiopsis laciniata and Trichostema lanatum. I am noticing that Aristida behaves like a lot of other grasses in the garden. That is, it spreads itself all over the place. If it were a non-native, I would call it invasive. I am starting to have to pull it out of areas where I don't want it. I think it's still a very nice grass, but I guess this is just a character flaw of grasses in general.

I bought a few plants recently which I managed to get planted before the rain came. First is Madia elegans that I got from Annie's Annuals. It has a very nice yellow sunflower-like flower. I bought it because it is a summer bloomer, so it will provide some color and something for the bees to sip on in July and August when little else is in flower. Below is what it looks like now, followed by a photo of the flower copied from Annie's online catalog.

Madia elegans

Last weekend I went to Tree of Life Nursery and got a few things. One is a Dichondra occidentalis. I already have some in a couple of shady, hidden places, but I always want more. It isn't often available so I always buy it whenever I see it. This one went into a spot in the fern zone.

Next I got a Humboldt Lily (Lilium humboldti possibly ssp. ocellatum but not sure). It's a geophyte that grows from a corm, and people usually buy just the corms and plant them in Fall. However, these were in gallon pots and already about 2 ft. tall. I would have bought more but they were a bit pricey ($25) and limited to one per customer. I planted it in the Channel Islands section under the Ironwood tree. It should be blooming in another month or so. Sorry for the out of focus photo taken in late afternoon on a cloudy day. I'll take a better one when it blooms.

I also got a couple of Baja plants in 2 in. containers. The one I want to talk about is Salvia californica, a sage that is endemic to Baja. This reminds me to mention that I recently bought a copy of Wiggins' Flora of Baja California. It is the ultimate authority for Baja plants, but it presents the species in the standard scientific form of dichotomous keys which can be difficult to comprehend for the amateur (in other words, me). Still, I find it full of useful info about many Baja species. In regards to S. californica, Wiggins says it inhabits "sandy plains, arroyos, and bajadas, vicinity of Bahia de los Angeles to Miller's Landing on Pacific side of the peninsula."  I planted it in a container where I already had a Jatropha vernicosa which is also endemic to B.C. The Jatropha lost all its leaves this past Winter but it is leafing out again, which I am glad to see. The Salvia should grow to 18"-24" high to fill in around the base of the Jatropha and possibly spill over the side a bit.

I want to close with a shot of a Mourning Cloak butterfly posing on a Cobwebby Thistle (Cirsium occidentale). This has nothing to do with anything else. I just like the photo.

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