Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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November Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

For November Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I have three plants blooming, but I'm only going to show you two of them. The one I'm not going to show you is the California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense). I'm not going to show that because I showed it last month when it was at its peak and was the only plant blooming. This month it's begun going to seed and just looks like an inferior version of last month's picture.

The first blooming plant that I will show you you is my new bush mallow (Malacothamnus fremontii). I bought two these over the summer, one of which was in bloom when I received it, but they both died shortly after I planted them. I bought a third one at the end of September, at the fall sale of the California Native Plant Society Redbud Chapter, in Grass Valley. It had buds then, but no flowers. Now it finally has flowers!

I had expected the flowers to be pink, but they're mostly white. A few start out pink, but soon fade to white.

The other plant that's currently in bloom is also new: sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum). I bought this at a farmer's market in Chico a few weeks ago. When I got home and looked up more information about it, I immediately started to regret having bought it, because it really prefers drier conditions and better drainage than I can possibly give it. But it's surprised me by doing just fine so far. Planting it in the middle of a lawn, as I appear to have done here (though I'm actually sort of in the process of transforming this section of lawn into a flowerbed - the grasses I've left for now are clumping grasses that are relatively drought-tolerant), probably seems insane. However, strange though it may seem, our lawn actually is the driest and best-drained portion of the property. This is because (1) we don't water it or take care of it as a lawn ought to be taken care of, and (2) the lawn is on a slope and has been amended to death by past residents with relatively fast-draining soil, whereas the rest of the property is flat and has solid adobe clay soil.

November isn't all about blooms, though - it's also supposed to be about fall color. We don't have a whole lot of that in California, and what little fall color we do get is mostly from non-native plants. So my native plant garden has especially little to offer in terms of fall color. I should eventually have some fall color from my native grapevine (Vitis californica), but for now the grape leaves are still green. The redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is also still green. But I do have a little bit of fall color from a few leaves on my golden currant (Ribes aureum). This plant is only semi-deciduous, so most of its leaves are still green and will probably remain green all winter, but a few of them are rather reddish this month.

November is also about newly sprouted seedlings. I scattered a whole bunch of seeds this year of elegant clarkia Clarkia unguiculata), Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), sand-dune wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), and a mix of California native wildflowers that, unfortunately, didn't name specific species (so I assume they're the weediest native species imaginable and I may bitterly regret planting them - but oh well, I really need to cover up the bare dirt with something green, and native disasters are likely to be more controllable than non-native disasters). Now the seeds have begun coming up.

The California golden poppy (Eschscholzia californica) seedlings that self-seeded from last year's crop and then sprouted in early September when I watered the area with the hose are now huge. There are also some smaller California golden poppy seedlings that I scattered by hand in October and that sprouted with the first actual rain of the season. And there are a few sky lupines (Lupinus nanus) from seeds I collected last spring in a wild colony more or less directly across the street from our duplex.

There are seedlings from the seeds I purchased, too. This is a seedling of elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata).

This (in the center) is a seedling of sky lupine (Lupinus nanus).

I don't really know what this one is. Someone told me that seedlings in the mustard family often look like this, and the sand-dune wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) seeds I scattered are in the mustard family, so it might be that. But it doesn't at all resemble the foliage of fully grown sand-dune wallflower plants.

I also bought my first fern recently. This is giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata).

The garden is always full of Pacific tree frogs, but this is the first time I've gotten a decent photograph of one of them. It was sitting on the coiled-up garden hose that was hanging on the side of the house.

In addition to growing plants in the garden, I've also been taking it upon myself to fix the gate between the front and back gardens, which had been boarded up and unusable since before I moved in. Our landlady is a slumlord who responds to all maintenance requests by leaving angry tirades on our telephone answering service, saying she cannot believe that we're too stupid to figure out how to fix everything ourselves. So I tried. Unfortunately, everything in and around this duplex is incredibly sloppily built, and this turned out to include the gate. The first gate latch I bought was too short to stretch across the unusually large gap between the screw holes in our gate. The second gate latch I bought didn't align correctly with the screw holes in the silver metal post. So I took pieces of both the gate latches I'd bought and attached them in a creatively lopsided manner, as shown below. It looks a bit odd, but it functions! But the gate is still boarded up for now anyway, because I also need to replace a rotted, broken fence slat with a new board. For now, if the gate weren't boarded up, the dogs would probably escape through the hole.

Tags: native plants, photographs
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