Blue Eyed Grass

I have jury duty today. Hopefully that will be it. But blogging may slow down a bit. Of course, I could always do jury-pool-blogging for you.

Sisyrinchium bellum in the iris family. In person it always seems more blue than in the photos.

Blue Eyed Grass

Not actually a grass, but in the iris family.


Sisyrinchium bellum – Northern California native, easy to grow and get all those pretty little blooms. Look, the thing is, you should be replacing your water-intensive lawn with a native meadow look, and these beauties are a key component between the bunch grasses and the yarrows. I’m telling you the truth here, so you should listen to me.

Blue Witch

Solanum umbelliferum “Indian’s Grey” is unquestionably (don’t you question me….) the prettiest of the native Solanums, although this closeup of the flower is a bit more graphic than a whole plant covered in these little blooms. It’s poisonous, and it’s low and shrubby too. The flowers will last for a very long time if you give the plant a little bit of water throughout the summer, otherwise it will stop blooming and go dormant instead. I recommend you cut it back in fall after it has finished its last little blooms. New growth through the winter will culminate in the pretty little flowers in the spring.

Solanum umbelliferum “Indian’s Grey”
Native to California
Evergreen shrub

Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water: Moderate to low
Size: 2 ft. clumps

Small, slightly grey leaves give this airy shrub a glow in sunlight. Striking blue flowers start in early spring and can bloom through summer and fall. Dormant without water in summer. Hardy to 25F.

Blue Witch


Solanum umbelliferum

Kinda shrubby, but a small and airy shrub at that. Showy violet flowers are in full bloom and can keep going through summer and fall.



Eriogonum parvifolium, aka Seacliff Buckwheat – Can handle Sun or Shade, gets to around 2ft. Great native coastal shrub, important plant for endangered butterfly populations. Handles clay soils and winter freezes.


Baileya multiradiata – Desert Marigold

The ladybug attacks before the flower can even open fully.

Bush Lupine


Lupinus arboreus

I blogged this Northern California native wildflower recently (way back in May) but they’re still in bloom, so I am being forced to blog this again, now aren’t I? Someone must be at fault here.

Bush Lupine


Lupinus arboreus

A northern Cal. native, so you know it’s good. This lovely plant will help renew depleted soils, and will survive in coastal sandy areas too. That’s a winning combo. Oh, and also the flowers, oh the flowers.

Bush Mallow

Malacothamnus palmeri – Palmer’s Bush Mallow, from Carmel and Big Sur Central California Coast. Shrubby, branchy, almost tree-like, but only 6 ft. tall. They bloom a lot.

Check out those bristles.

Bush Mallow


Malacothamnus fremontii

California Native
Evergreen Shrub

Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Water: Low once established
Size: Bushy, erect stems 4 ft. to 6 ft.

The butterflies flock to the small silvery pink flowers that cover the plant throughout the summer. Good for hedges and along fences. Hardy to 10°F.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get back to posting some cactus and some succulents on this here so-called Cactus Blog. Who knows!

Butterfly Milkweed

The first Asclepias bloom of the year is A. tuberosa, a California native milkweed.


Butterfly Milkweed


It’s the beautiful Asclepias tuberosa.

Butterfly Milkweed
Native throughout the US, including California
Herbaceous Perennial

Sun: Prefers Full Sun, Handles Light Shade
Water: Moderate, drought-tolerant
Size: 2 feet tall

Dies back in winter and re-sprouts from its underground tuber each spring. The brilliant orange or red flower clusters appear in midsummer followed by attractive green pods.

Butterfly Milkweed


Asclepias tuberosa
Butterfly Milkweed
Native throughout the US
Herbaceous Perennial

Sun: Prefers Full Sun, Handles Light Shade
Water: Moderate, drought-tolerant
Size: 2 feet tall

Dies back in winter and re-sprouts from its underground tuber each spring. The brilliant orange or red flower clusters appear in midsummer followed by attractive green pods.

Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa

This is really a great plant. It’s shrubby. It has beautiful little flowers. The butterflies are constantly circling these plants. And they die back down to the ground in the winter, with the underground tuber (hence the name…) hanging out til next spring, when the plant comes back bigger and stronger and more flowers.

Plus it’s a milkweed.

Plus I like the dark green leaves with hints of red.

If after all that you still don’t like this, then I feel sorry for you.

Well, that was a little harsh. I apologize if anyone was offended by my previous remarks.

California Barrel Cactus

Interesting! Someone has found a Ferocactus cylindriceus, aka a California Barrel cactus, in Joshua Tree ie in California where they are normally found, and documented it.

Project Noah


California Beavertail Cactus 

Opuntia basilaris 

Classic blue cactus from the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Very low water, can handle high heat and winter cold if dry. Pink flowers. Loads of small glochids, very few spines. Will get 2 to 3 feet tall and spread 6 to 8 feet wide over time. Pads were used medicinally.

Temperature: Hardy to 0F if very dry

California Blue Eyed Grass

We have a couple new (for us) cultivars of the classic California favorite Blue Eyed Grass.

blue eyed grass3

Sisyrinchium bellum “Nanum” is low growing, to 6″ high, with wide leaves and particularly pale blue flowers. Very productive.

blue eyed grass2

Sisyrinchium bellum “Wayne’s Dwarf” is also low growing, but not as low as Nanum. This might even get 10″ tall. We see there are the very classic deep blue flowers.

In general if you keep these members of the Iris Family (Iridaceae) a little bit irrigated through the summer you can get more flowers all summer long. However they are expecting a dormant period by fall.

Here’s a closeup of “Wayne’s Dwarf” for good measure.

blue eyed grass1

California Bush Island Poppy


Dendromecon harfordii – Island Bush Poppy
California Native
Perennial Shrub

Sun: Full to Part Sun
Water: Low
Size: 6 feet

Moderately-fast growing, evergreen poppy native to the Channel Islands.  Bright yellow, 3″ flowers in spring and summer.  Low water once established.  Hardy to 20F.

California Buttercup

Ranunculus californicus is only the cutest little rangy dicot perennial around. Here’s a link to a picture in habitat from a local State Park, near Monterey.

Around here we get spring and fall flowers.

California Buttercup

My god these are some darling little flowers. Buttercups! Buttercups for everyone!

ranunculus californicus

Ranunculus californicus
California Buttercup

California Native
Herbaceous Perennial

Sun: Full to Partial Sun
Water: Low to Moderate
Size: 2 feet

Sprawling perennial. Common to chapparal and woodlands. Grows well in clay soils. Semi-deciduous in summer. Hardy to 10F.

My eyes are hurting from the cuteness of the Buttercup flowers.

California Flannel Bush


Fremontodendron “California Glory” bloom at an odd time of year. Lots of natives are blooming now but this is a heavy late-spring bloomer and this is a stray january bloom. Who woulda figured?

California Fuchsia

Epilobium canum usually has orange trumpet flowers. This selection has white. Now that’s not something you see every day.


California Fuchsia


Epilobium canum “Catalina”

I wonder if this was first discovered on the island of Catalina? Or maybe the color reminded someone of the island. Hmmm…. How can I find out? If I google it, I find out that it was

…selected by Mike Evans of Tree of Life Nursery from the Middle Ranch area of Catalina Island.

Good to know. If I were to name it, I would call it a “Creeping Trumpet”.

California Lilac

The Ceanothuses are in bloom.

See here:

And here:

Those were C. “Anchor Bay” and C. Owlswood Blue” but then you already knew that.

If you look past the flowers you’ll notice that the first one is a “holly-leafed” ceanothus which means it’s deer-resistant. (Rabbit resistant too, but then you already knew that.) While the 2nd one has delicious juicy leaves.

One of these is hardy down to 15F. Can you guess which one? OK, that was a trick question. They’re both hardy to 15F!

OK, then, let’s try this one. One of them is from Marin County, just north of us. And the other one is from Pt. Reyes, the coastal national park in Marin County. Hah! C. “Anchor Bay” is known as the Pt. Reyes Ceanothus and thus is from the Pacific side of Marin while the C. “Owlswood Blue” was discovered on the Owlswood Ranch near Larkspur, which is on the Bay side of Marin!

I’ll bet many of you didn’t even know that Marin was essentially a Peninsula between the ocean and the bay, just like San Francisco. SF and the area south to San Jose is also known as the “Peninsula” whereas the Marin area is known as the “North Bay”.


California Lilac

The Ceanothus are blooming – nice regular winter rains, not too cold. California Lilacs for Everyone!

Ceanothus “Cynthia Postan”
California Lilac

Evergreen Shrub
Small glossy dark green leaves and medium blue flowers sweetly scented in spring. Slow growing. Handles clay soils.

Hardy to 10F
Full Sun
6-8 ft.

California Lilac

Ceanothus “Emily Brown” is a broadly mounding shrub that will get 3 ft. tall, and as wide as you would like. One of the Holly-Leafed Ceanothuses, it is deer-resistant.

Did I mention that lots of the Ceanothuses are in bloom at the nursery? I can prove it to you.

Classic lilac color and floral scented, the bees go crazy around these.

California Lilac


Ceanothus “Blue Jeans”

I caught this one just before the buds opened. This is an unusual ceanothus, what with the very small glossy dark green leaves. Deer resistant, it grows to 6 ft. tall! Interesting. Quite the lavender color, or I suppose it may be called lilac, but I think it’s more lavender.

Wikipedia thinks it might be a light mauve, even. But definitely more lavender than lilac.

California Lilac


Ceanothus “Julia Phelps”

The ceanothuses are coming into bloom, just like the arctostaphyloses. That’s what happens when the winter rains start up around here. And we’ll see various species and varieties continue blooming through spring. So we always like the ones that are early bloomers.

This variety forms a really nice medium height, wide-spreading-but-not-too-wide shrub. Makes a good cover plant for native hillsides, although more compact than some of the lower-growing groundcover ceanothuses. Also will work well in a small yard or as a street shrub. Can be pruned to create the perfect shape, but just not so severe to be a hedge. I like them in their more wild form.

California Lilac

Ceanothus Joyce Coulter

Ceanothus “Joyce Coulter”
Creeping Mountain Lilac

Native to California
Evergreen shrub

Sun: Moderate to Full Sun
Water: Low
Size: 2′ to 3′ tall x 6′ wide

Fast growing, mounding shrub with dark green leaves. Medium blue flower clusters in late spring. Full sun in coastal gardens. Hardy to 15 F

September 2021

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