Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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New Plants

On Friday I drove to a native plant nursery and bought some new plants. Unfortunately, one of the plants I came home with does not really seem to be a native plant at all. It was labeled as being the native Munro's globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana), but after I returned home, I started to wonder why all the pictures of this plant on the Internet show it as an upright plant with orange flowers, while my plant and all the others at the nursery are prostrate plants with red flowers and much more deeply lobed leaves than Munro's Globemallow is supposed to have. After reading on that some nurseries have incorrectly labeled the South American trailing globemallow (Sphaeralcea philippiana) as Munro's globemallow, I looked at pictures of the trailing globemallow and concluded that my plant is definitely the South American one. I'm planning to contact the nursery about the mistake, although I think I'll have to do this via snail mail, because the nursery's website doesn't give any email address or web-based means of contacting them, and although there is a phone number, the owner is never there and I don't feel confident that his staff (who are probably very overworked) would accurately relay a phone message to him. In the meantime, I think I will give away my South American plant to my father. It's a very pretty plant - still blooming profusely in late July, when most plants here have withered in the heat - but judging from what I saw of it in the nursery's demonstration garden, its prostrate habit makes it look much better in a container than on the ground. Container gardening is a higher-maintenance style of gardening than I feel inclined toward, and even if I were to put it in the ground, I think I would resent it for not being what I had intended to buy. I don't have space in our small yard to grow every pretty plant in the world, and I'd like to reserve what little space I do have for planting actual California native plants.

Anyway, I took pictures of the new plants that I am keeping. Here's a new blue elderberry (Sambucus mexicana), to replace the one that Boston dug up this spring. The new one is bigger than the old one was, which may or may not help it survive longer. (And the bunchgrass in the background is my first deergrass, which has now been there for almost a year. I bought two more of those at the nursery on Friday, so I now have a total of five. At this point, I probably ought to be propagating them from my existing ones instead of buying them. But I haven't successfully managed that yet. I do really like them, though.

This is a new coffeberry (Rhamnus tomentella), to replace the old one that pretty much drowned after spending a month and a half underwater last winter. Technically the old one isn't dead, but it's been 100% leafless since February and shows no sign of recovering anytime soon, even though I drastically improved the yard's drainage in January and February. Now if it eventually recovers, I might have more coffeeberries than I know what to do with. (In the background are a native woodland strawberry and a volunteer bunchgrass that I haven't identified but am fond of.)

This yawning beardtongue (Keckiella breviflora) is in bloom, yet it's still not much to look at. (The clump of white flowers, shown a little to the right of the rock at its base, is almost indistinguishable from the oleander detritus on the ground.) It doesn't look any better in person than it does in the picture. But pictures of this species elsewhere on the Internet look quite a bit better, so hopefully it'll improve with age. (And that bunchgrass in the background is another instance of that same volunteer that I like but can't identify. It spreads at an agreeable pace and hasn't tried to take over the entire yard like so many of the other volunteer grasses have done.)

The upright plant in the foreground below is my new mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii) - it's also producing some short branches around its base. But the horizontal plant stems lying on the ground near its base are my old narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), which is perfectly healthy but does have quite a tendency for its stems to flop over on the ground. No matter; they continue flowering horizontally, and the plant sends up new upright stems to replace them. The shrub near the fence is my golden currant (Ribes aureum), and twining around the fencepost is my monster annual willowherb (Epilobium brachycarpum), which is now fast approaching seven feet tall - it's certainly taller than me and taller than the fence, but I don't think it's ever going to flower. It probably needs summer drought to trigger the flower-making process, and the neighbors water so much that it doesn't get any drought. (Oh, and all the low-growing green grass everywhere else? That's my horrendous bermuda grass infestation. Our yard is trying very hard to revert back to being a weedy lawn.)

And here are my new snowbell (Styrax redivivus) in the foreground and my new serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis) directly behind it. (Behind the serviceberry are two deergrasses, and behind them, from left to right along the fence, ar the golden currant, the new mock orange in front of a volunteer willowherb, and the new blue elderberry.) The snowbell and serviceberry are probably too closely crowded together - as are a lot of other things - but my hope is that before they become full-sized, I'll have a job again, and we'll be able to buy a house, and then I can dig up the plants I want to keep and move them to our future house.

The patch of dark dirt around the new serviceberry is from where I dumped numerous bags of cheaply purchased steer manure in an effort to raise the land and improve the flood situation for next winter. I should probably go back and buy even more. I should also buy new mulch, but mulch is a lot more expensive than steer manure, and the bermuda grass destroys the mulch in no time at all. And since I'm still unemployed (despite several temporary assignments over the past few months, most of them from the same employer that laid me off in January) - and since my unemployment insurance is due to run out in less than two months, leaving me with no remaining income at all - I think I'm going to be doing without proper mulch for the forseeable future. Maybe I'll manage to get some free mulch, the next time our local dump eventually gives some away again.

I also bought an unlabeled plant that the staff told me it was a California aster. When I asked them the scientific name of it, they didn't know. I think (hope!) it's Symphyotrichum chilense, which the nursery's website claims they sell, and which does have the common name of California aster. I generally dislike pretty much all plants in the aster family, but California asters produce decent-looking flowers and are so superbly well-adapted to the conditions in my yard (they supposedly tolerate severe flooding and standing water, such as when the neighbors leave their hose running for 72 hours nonstop, but also tolerate drought) that I had to make an exception for it.

In other news, it's now my birthday! As of 25 minutes ago, I am now 33 years old.
Tags: native plants, photographs
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