California Native Irises

This hybrid from native irises, probably including Iris inominata, is called “Pink Parfait”.

It’s compact and like other native irises it’s drought tolerant.

And what does that mean, anyway? Cause it’s certainly an iris which likes regular watering. Well… it doesn’t mean it likes to be dry. It means it can survive being dry. It can survive our very dry summers by going dormant and practically disappearing if you don’t water it. And that’s OK.

Reblogged! (White Evening Primrose)

I blogged this plant last week, but it was a cell phone photo. So here’s a portrait for you.

Oenothera caespitosa

They bloom through the night and are fading by morning. You can see this one was fading when I took the picture, but still pretty spectacular for a primrose. A California Native primrose, no less, ratty thing.

California Native Plants in Early Spring – I

It looks like there’s been a break in the early spring weather as the temps are dipping down below 40F.

Maybe we’ll get some much needed rain too.

In the meantime, we’ve had such nice weather that the nursery is all ready for spring early. More plants are out than you can imagine. Like these California natives.

White Evening Primrose


Nice! And it’s native. What’s its name and care info? I’m too lazy to type it all out so here’s a picture of our label.


That was easier.

It must be spring. It did get to 75 today.

California Mountain Lilac


Ceanothus “Joyce Coulter”

These grow low and wide. How wide? Maybe 8 feet wide. They will mound to about 3 feet high when mature.

You really want to make sure you have sun if you’re planting them on the coast. But the good news is they can handle some coastal clay soil.

In the mountains they can be hardy down to 10°F.

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”.


Shagbark Manzanita

I was very disappointed with the photograph last week of a different manzanita I posted. But being lazy, I left it up there anyway. Scroll down if you want  to see, but here’s a much better picture for you.

Arctostaphylos rudis “Vandenberg”

Found at or near the Vandenberg AFB in Southern Cal., these will get up to 6 feet tall, and can spread wide if you don’t prune them. Dense branches, shaggy bark, and thickly foliaged with deep green leaves and these will work even as a hedge if you prune judiciously.

I think they make a centerpiece plant in a large front yard. In a smaller yard you should probably put them up against the house. When you prune them you can keep the red shaggy branches for mounting your Tillandsia collection in your back yard.

Keep the cats away from this plant, just because. No real reason. Just do it.


Arctostaphylos “Sunset” has normal Manzanita flower clusters and pretty red berries in spring, if we ever get a real winter around these parts. I wonder what will happen berry-wise without rain. The birds will be hungry.

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?


Arctostaphylos “Austin Griffiths” is a really nice hybrid with gorgeous large leaves that gets 10 to 12 ft. tall – the perfect size for a Berkeley yard. Full bloom on these is a lot of flowers for a long time – 6 weeks or more. If you don’t like manzanitas in general, then this is not the plant for you. Hah! Everyone loves manzanitas!

Blooming Reruns

This native Abutilon palmeri was blooming in August of 2010. That was a very long time ago. I love these Indian Mallows. They’re one of my favorites.

More Solstice Blooms

Some say I was wrong to post solstice blooms yesterday when today is the real solstice.

Enjoy this one then, today.


Arctostaphylos “Austin Griffiths”

Winter Solstice Blooms 3

Some of the native flowering currants are completely dormant this time of year.

This one isn’t.


Ribes sanguineum

Chaparral Currant

Ribes malvaceum ‘Dancing Tassels’

I’ve posted other Ribes in bloom on the blog. This is the first of the Chaparral currants to make it on here.

The pendant blooms can reach 4 to 6 inches. This cultivar was found on San Clemente Island in the Channel Islands off the Califorina coast near Santa Barbara. These are the earliest of the winter blooming Ribes, although the color is more subtle. Generally this is the most sun-tolerant of the currants, but that means it needs a bit more water in the summer too.

Silver Bush Lupine

Lupinus albifrons is a California native, including throughout Northern California and into Oregon, that mounds about 3 ft with another 2ft. worth of bloom spikes on top of that. It’s cold hardy to 20F and can handle some heat too, although the plant will be a lot smaller in the interior of the state.

Butterflies are attracted to this plant, as one would expect.

Lupines are early adopters of fire-ravaged landscapes and naturally deer-resistant. Only one of those 2 pieces of information is useful to gardeners.

It is a critical host plant for the Mission Blue Butterfly, whose larvae will only eat this or 2 other lupines. So let your garden plants be eaten to help preserve the Mission Blue? Or maybe do some random plantings of L. albifrons out on the hillsides when no one is looking. Now is a good time to get them to root and establish.

Winter Leafing Ocotillos

The Ocotillos are leafing out so pretty!

Fouquieria diguetii

Fouquieria formosa

Fouquieria splendens has very fresh new little leaflets!

Seaside Daisy

Erigeron glaucus

This reliable year-round bloomer is in full bloom. We have a different color group of plants than we had this spring. It’s the same species, so maybe we should check for cultivar names, but I don’t like flower-color-cultivars so I will probably accept that this lovely California coastal daisy has variable flower colors naturally.

Planting California Native Plants

The rainy season has started so now is the time for all good California gardeners to start planting native plants. Yarrows are good. This one is Achillea “Fireland”, a nice color.

If you plant them now they won’t go dormant as soon as you plant them like if you had planted them in July.

If you plant them now you won’t have to water since the rains will take care of that for you.

If you plant them now they’ll grow lots of roots over the winter so in the spring when you want big pretty plants you’ll have big pretty plants popping up all over.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about getting with the program. I’m talking about planting California native plants in the fall.

Here, have another plant. It’s the picture of the Solanum “Indian’s Grey” I promised you last month when all I had was a crappy cell phone picture. This one was taken with a proper camera.

The common name is Blue Witch.

First Look

Solanum “Indian’s Grey” is a California native we’ll be featuring for November. So that means there will be better photos to come. So this really is just a “first look”.


California Penstemons

Here are 2 new additions to our California Penstemon collection.

Firecracker Penstemon eatonii is red and firecrackery. The flowers are kinda aimed down rather than aiming out and up.

Azure, or Sky Blue, Penstemon azureus var. angustissimus is a local Northern Cal. native from the areas around and about North and East of us in the Bay Area. Blue, or purple, depending on how you see this range of colors, is always a nice addition to the flora of the neighborhood.

The Azure Penstemon has a more typical weedy stem and light foliage for a Penstemon, whereas the very exciting Firecracker Penstemon has denser thick green underfoliage and thick bloom stalks.

P. azureus is endemic to Northern California while the more common P. eatonii can be found throughout the West including into Idaho, for crying out loud.

Nightshade in Bloom

Nice low water plants, the nightshades we carry.

This one is called White Witch and is a California Native

Solanum umbelliferum “Spring Frost”

Here we have the classic Spiny Tomato.

Solanum pyracanthum

People love them some nightshades in their garden.

California Monkey Flowers

It’s Mimulus season again here in Berkeley as the Monkeyflowers all rebloom. Not quite as many flowers as in the spring, but a lot of flowers for a second flush.

These Mimuluses are all in the Jelly Bean Group. I won’t tell you which is Pink, Orange or Terra Cotta, but those are the listed colors.

California Morning Glory

Calystegia macrostegia “Candy Cane” is one of the few vines we carry. Maybe tomorrow I’ll blog the other.

It’s a native vine that, like most Morning Glories, blooms a lot. It’s not invasive, like so many of the other Morning Glories. But it is pretty, like all the other Morning Glories.

The blooms are often a lot more striped than this photo would indicate.

It can take full sun in its native coastal scrub habitat, but would need afternoon shade inland. It can die back if you don’t ever water it around this time of year, but then we wouldn’t ever do that so it stays evergreen for us.

February 2023

US Constitution


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