Flannel Bush

Fremontodendron “San Gabriel”

We grow some strange things in California.

Seasonal California Native Succulent Flowers

Lewisia cotyledon are blooming this time of year. Also known as Bitterroot, these succulents are from mountainous rocky soils all around the Pacific Northwest and Northern California and into Canada too if you care to look for them. They have a nutritious and edible root that is, as you can imagine, bitter. Not delicious.

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.

Yellow Lupine

Finally our supposed yellow lupines are yellow not purple.

Lupinus arboreus


Purple Sage

Another California Native Sage that’s pretty and delicious with whorls of flowers of a very subtle purple color. Maybe more a lavender.

Salvia leucophylla “Pt. Sal Spreader” is only 2ft. tall or so, but it will spread 10 feet wide if you let it. That would make for a lot of bloom whorls.

Deer resistant, attracts butterflies, fragrant flowers and hardy to 25°F.

Monkey Flower

The first Monkey Flower of Spring 2011 is….

Mimulus “Georgie White”

Wow! That’s my new favorite Monkey Flower.

Butterfly Milkweed

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


What to do in Long Beach

Go on a Native Garden Tour of the Palos Verde Peninsula and beyond.

(T)he eighth annual Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour, April 9 and 10… is a self-guided tour of gardens from Sylmar to Long Beach and from Monrovia to Venice to Santa Monica, including a number of gardens in the South Bay.

While this may be the mother of all garden tours by the vastness of properties on display, it’s not your grandmother’s garden tour with tea and crumpets.

My grandmother never served tea and crumpets during a garden tour. Had she had a garden that was on a tour of Brookline gardens, she would probably have served her famous chopped liver.

The garden of Anne O’Brien of Torrance will showcase shade natives, including plants for habitat, fragrance and cut bouquets, during the Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour.

Here’s the gardens my grandmother took me to.

Pt. Reyes Ceanothus

Another California Lilac in bloom.

Ceanothus gloriosus is a very short, wide spreading deer-resistant bee-attracting plant. To 12″ high, but 6 to 8 feet wide. The smaller native bees really go to town around these. I wonder why they call it the Pt. Reyes Ceanothus?

Pt. Reyes National Seashore is beautiful. Almost as Beautiful as the Cape Cod National Seashore.

California Lilac

Ceanothus “Anchor Bay”

This holly-leafed Ceanothus will get about 2ft. tall and spread fairly wide. I like to say around 6ft., but if you leave it be it can go 8ft. But you shouldn’t let it go totally wild, you know. A little pruning helps.

All of the holly-leafed Ceanothuses are deer resistent. Most of the Ceanothuses are in bloom around about now. Floral scented flowers!

Bitter Root

Lewisia cotyledon “Sunset Strain”

Lewisia longipetala “Plum”

Fuchsia-Flowering Gooseberry

This California native spiny Ribes is also blooming. The flowers are rather low down on the plant, so I had to raise it up to photograph. Either that, or I would have to lay down on the ground. I would have too, for you, but I didn’t.

Ribes speciosum

Flowering Currant

More Ribes sanguineum “Claremont” blooming. This seems to be dominating the nursery right now.

Far Out Flora has some luscious pictures from Golden Gate Park.

But there are more Ribes blooming than just this one. More! Stay tuned…

California Wax Myrtle

These have never bloomed at the nursery before. Now they have! The catkins are beautiful! (If a bit understated). Eventually we’ll get dark purple berries too.

Myrica californica is native to the West Coast and the leaves are extremely fragrant when crushed, also known as bayberry – used for various medicinal preparations.

Here’s a picture of the fruit from the Mendocino Coast.

Ceanothus in Bloom

I see the “Ray Hartmans” are in bloom. I just thought you would want to know.


California's Sunflowery Inflorescence

Look, I know you’re sick of the Coreopsis gigantea bloom photos I’ve been featuring for the past month, as more and more of the blooms open up, but here’s a closeup.

What’s so special about this closeup? Nothing, except it’s a really good demonstration that this is in the Sunflower, or Aster (Asteraceae) family.

See, these big-headed flowers are actually inflorescences made up of many tiny little flowers all put together into one big giant head, just like a giant sunflower head. Click the photo and dive right in and you’ll see what I mean.

You can’t really tell on this photo, but the petals along the outside are also actually single petals from little blooms along the outside edge. It’s pretty amazing in person, but then you can check it out on your own sunflowers this summer and it looks the same!

It’s a little bit of summer right here in the middle of the California winter, such as it is.

More Flowers

These Coreopsis giganteas are crazy with flowers. Compare to last weeks post!


Island Gooseberry, Catalina Perfume

Ribes viburnifolium in bloom.

These are a smaller ribes than the blooming ribes I posted a couple days ago. It only gets 2 to 3 feet tall, but will grow wide. You can let it go wild to about 8 ft. if you choose.

Prefers some shade, can survive well in our local clay soils with no watering through the summer drought.

The edible fruits are a tangy currant. I don’t really know that, I just thought I should write something about the fruits, since they are edible, although the plant is really grown for the flowers. The book says they don’t fruit further inland, but we’re coastal so we’ve seen the fruit. And the birds will eat them right up.

Island Mountain Lilac

This very blue California Lilac cultivar was first discovered on the Owlswood Ranch in Marin, across the Bay from us, less than 15 miles as the owl flies.

An early bloomer for us, and a bluer bloomer than most of the Ceanothuses. Fast growing to around 10 ft. tall.

Ceanothus “Owlswood Blue” in bud, looking purplish.

Here they are fully open:

Man, that’s some blue flowers. Wow, indeed. I think I need to copy that color and paint some sneakers that blue. That would be awesome.

Pink Flowering Currant

Ribes sanguineum “Claremont”

It’s out favorite time of year in the Native California plant world – the time when the Ribes grow fresh new green leaves and stunning displays of pink flowers. Also, the Arctostaphyloses and the Ceanothuses, too, but more on that later.

I wonder if the currants from this plant are delicious? Most of the Arctostaphylos berries are terrible tasting, to us, though delicious to bears, and thus healthy and nutritious for us, but still terrible tasting.

This is one of the larger Ribes, getting 8 ft. tall! Now that’s impressive. We like these for being shade tolerant and drought tolerant and clay tolerant too. Very versatile. And attractive to native butterflies and bees and birds. Check out the honey bees in Davis collecting nectar on this plant. Very nice photos! Happy bees!


Arctostaphylos “Warren Roberts” blooms are one of the prettier of the A. pajaroensises. So rich, so full. Hold onto them.


Sonoma Manzanita

We went for a walk in Sonoma Valley Regional Park and all I got were these Arctostaphylos pictures.

And here come the blooms…

And they’re white!

There were other Manzanitas along the path too, but they weren’t as pretty as this one. We saw lots of ferns in the dark and dank corners along the dribbling water streams in the park. It wasn’t raining, but it was wet.

Native Nightshade

Solanum umbelliferum “Spring Frost” is a very pretty white-flowered cultivar of the Blue Witch Nightshade. But don’t ask for any at the nursery, we’re out. And we don’t get it in very often anyway. But you never know if you come by often then one day, maybe, there it will be. Yay!

If you do have it, go ahead and prune it back in the late fall so it comes out pretty in the spring, and then prune it before summer again to get it to rebloom all summer long.

Indian Mallow

The Abutilon palmeri in the backyard pond area is blooming.


Hungry Mice

Pt. Reyes Lupines threatened by invasive beach grass, with the help of a cute little native mouse.

It’s a battle between an invasive plant and a native plant, but with a new twist. The two plants, European beachgrass and Tidestrom’s lupine, are not in direct competition, and yet the beachgrass is helping to drive the lupine over the cliff.

European beachgrass provides cover that allows a timid deer mouse to get close enough to the lupine to snip off stalks of lupine fruits without being nabbed by overflying birds.

How cute is that little mouse? This cute:


California Native Plants in Berkeley

Derby Street

Epilobium canum – California fuchsia. Now those are some tubular blooms. Also known as the Hummingbird Trumpet, since those tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, and the wide open end resembles a trumpet. At least, that’s what I would guess. But the truth is that a trumpet is brass-like in color and the Epilobium is bright orange, so the comparison only goes so far.

Anyway, it’s a nice full specimen plant, even if they are low growing and this plant is less than a foot high.

Native Lupines

Did I mention that we have our California native lupines back in stock in the liter pot size?  No blooms yet on these smaller plants. The first one is of course more popular with the Berkeley crowd.

Lupinus albifrons

Lupinus arboreus

Still wondering why L. albifrons is the more popular? Because it’s less common. That’s the crux of the bargain at a small specialty nursery.

Here’s a larger plant from last year.

Man, that’s an attractive lupine. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s more popular because of those silvery leaves. One never knows what goes on in the mind of a customer. Except when they tell you, and then you do know.

California Fuchsia

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


September 2023

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