Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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June Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

It's time once again for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and although my yard is no longer flooded by rainstorms (and was in fact so dry for most of the month that I actually felt a need to water it), it was recently flooded by the neighbors, who first overwatered their lawn and then, a few days later, stuck a huge pool on top of their lawn and overfilled the pool. Boston, at least, was very happy to play in the resulting flood.

The garden is definitely not as exciting as it was two months ago, but there are still a fair number of things blooming, including some new ones. June has primarily seemed like an aster family month to me, although my collection of photographs is not going to make it seem that way. The majority of the plants blooming right now are not in the aster family, but the majority of the ones that are new to me are. This one is yarrow (Achillea millefolium). I actually bought some red-flowering yarrow plants over the winter, before realizing that I had seedlings of the native white-flowering yarrow already sprouting. Well, it won't hurt to have two colors of it! So far, though, only this plant is blooming. Some of the other white ones are budding, and I'm not sure the red ones are even budding yet.

Some of the yarrow that hasn't bloomed yet is clustered around the left side of this rock, at the base of the bush mallow (Malacothamnus fremontii), along with a California poppy. On the right side of the rock is miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), which had actually already finished blooming for the year and gone to seed, but then new plants sprouted immediately from the seeds. So this is the second generation of the spring.

I had really anticipated that the bush mallow would just keep getting prettier and prettier as it bloomed more and more. But although it's plenty covered with flowers at the moment, it's definitely going through a gangly teenage phase. Its branches are all now too long to stand upright, but not numerous enough to flop over gracefully and make it look intentional. I hope it grows out of this eventually. (The bush mallow is at left in the picture below.)

The blue elderberry (back center in the picture below) is going through a similar gangly teenage phase, but without the floppiness. It looks like a narrow pole with leaves growing out of it in random, illogical places. I'm hoping it eventually starts looking shrub- or tree-shaped instead of pole-shaped.

Behind the bush mallow, we return to the aster family: black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta). The seeds for these were a Christmas present from Susan's sister Wendy. A lot of the plants that sprouted from the seeds haven't survived long enough to bloom, but this one big plant here is making up for the loss of the others by blooming enough for all of them. And the others were nice to have around while they lasted - I enjoyed the big fuzzy foliage.

This prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) is yet another member of the aster family, native to much of the United States but not to California. I only scattered seed mixes labeled "California natives," but I suspect the seeds of this species got thrown into one of those mixes anyway, because I've never seen it volunteering around here before.

Other than the aster family, a major star of the show this month has been pumpkins. Last Halloween, I dumped the seeds from our math-o-lantern into the compost bin and vaguely wondered whether any might sprout. At some point during the winter, I partially emptied the compost bin and spread the compost around the yard. Two of the seeds sprouted, both in the same corner of the yard. Both resulting plants have now produced dozens of flowers, so I feel as if I've started an entire pumpkin farm. I guess we'll see in the fall how many of the flowers turn into actual pumpkins, though. For now, the flowers have rather livened up the yard. Each pumpkin flower is bigger than my entire hand, but they seem to bloom in the morning and shrivel up around noon, apparently never to bloom again. By the next morning, though, there's almost always a new pumpkin flower blooming to replace the previous day's.

The little pink flowers around this one are the last of the mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata), which put on such a spectacular show last month. This month it's really pretty much dead, despite the illusion in this picture that it's doing fine. I've already pulled out the majority of the plants because they were so thoroughly dead.

Hairy gumplant (Grindelia hirsutula) is another member of the aster family that's been going strong this month, right next to the pumpkin plants. Some of its flowers are dry and shriveled, but new buds continue to show up all the time.

You can also see that the pumpkin plants have humongous leaves as well as humongous flowers. Some of the pumpkin leaves are fully two feet long and more than a foot wide.

Although the pumpkin flowers shrivel up so soon, the shriveled remains hang around for a long time afterward. This is the main way I can tell how many flowers the plants have produced. Here you can see two recently shriveled ones, along with an older, dark orange one to the right of them, and a new bud below them.

Perhaps the real theme of this month's garden is not so much the aster family as the color yellow-orange. The California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are still going strong.

Two kinds, even. They're not strictly following last year's pattern in which the yellow-edged ones came up in the shade, though. This year they seem to be a bit more randomly distributed.

Here they are with blue flax (Linum lewisii), and a pink flower that fell off the neighbors' oleanders. Last year's blue flax did not survive the winter, but the ones that sprouted from seed over the winter are now blooming in various places in both the front yard and the back yard. I guess I can treat it as an annual.

Here's the blue flax by itself.

This next one is a new plant I'm rather excited about. It has a silly-sounding common name: turkey-tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). The photograph isn't actually from our yard, but the plant in the photograph is now in our yard - or, well, part of it is. I found the plant growing out onto an asphalt bicycle path on top of an artificial levee near our house and recognized it as something I'd been interested in planting but hadn't been able to find available for sale anywhere, because it's kind of weedy and most nurseries don't think people will want to buy it. Transplanting plants from the wild is generally a terrible idea; most will die from the transplant stress and their native populations will suffer from your attempt. But since this is known for being such a weedy species, and since the asphalt on top of the levee didn't strike me as much qualifying as "the wild," and since this is one of those species where you can just cut off a random section and transplant that while leaving the majority of the plant to continue growing where it already is, I went ahead and transplanted a piece of it into our yard.

My piece of it doesn't look this good anymore, because as soon as I transplanted it, the flowers shriveled up and fell off. I thought it might die, but I kept watering it, and now it's sprouted a few new flowers to replace the old ones, so I think it's taken root and will eventually recover. The flowers are very similar in size, shape, and height to clover flowers, so at first glance, the plant could easily be mistaken for clover. It also grows in similar conditions to clover, and may eventually end up intermingling with the native clover in our yard.

Here's another newly acquired plant, but this one I purchased at a local California Native Plant Society spring sale: checker mallow (Sidalcea malviflora). It's not actually blooming anymore. It would be, but just as it was preparing to open the whole string of remaining buds on this stalk, one of the dogs stepped on it and broke off the entire stalk. So no more flowers for now. Maybe it will produce a new stalk for next month.

This tiny flower recently sprouted from seed, presumably from one of my native seed mixes. I think it's Monterey centaury (Zeltnera muehlenbergii).

This one, which I think is winecup fairyan (Clarkia purpurea), also sprouted from seed. (It's actually on an upright stalk, but I bent it over horizontally for the picture because my camera absolutely refused to focus on it at all otherwise. My camera was determined to focus on the ground behind it, so I had to put the flower at the same distance from the lens as the ground was. It still didn't come out very well, but this was the best I could do.)

Also blooming but not shown: woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), island alum root (Heuchera maxima),
bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), scarlet mallow (Sphaeralcea philippiana), and springbank clover (Trifolium wormskioldii).

That's it for flowers, but not for photos. I have a few more things to show off, such as the rapidly ripening fruits of my golden currant (Ribes aureum). They're kind of sour, unfortunately. They'd probably be better used in a recipe than eaten raw. Anyone have any currant recipes to share?

In the pumpkin farming area, under the heavy leaf litter of the dead and dying mountain garland, a valley oak seedling has sprouted. I take this as a compliment to my gardening efforts, since oak tree seedlings only sprout if weeds are adequately controlled and a healthy layer of native leaf litter develops on the ground.

Unfortunately, it sprouted two feet from the house, and the yard is too small for there to be any appropriate place to put it. I feel a responsibility to try to save it, because valley oaks in the wild aren't reproducing fast enough to replace their existing populations (because their wild habitats are now covered with invasive weeds rather than native leaf litter), so I guess I'm going to have to dig it up and attempt to plant it in the wild.

But I'm glad I created an adequately native habitat for the valley oak seedling to sprout. I also seem to have created a habitat for some wildlife of a sort. In some not-so-native leaf litter from the neighbors' oleanders, I found a grasshopper.

And in the swamp created by the other neighbors' garden hose, I found a Boston! She hopes you enjoyed the tour almost as much as she enjoyed playing in the mud puddles.

Tags: native plants, photographs
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