Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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November Garden Blogger's Bloom-and-Foliage Day

Shall I call it that, or shall I go for the equally appropriate alternative: Garden Blogger Rises from the Dead Day? There are more flowers blooming in the yard right now than the ones I'm going to show you. I just didn't get around to photographing the others because I've been busy working 12-hour days, 13-hour days, 14-hour days, 15-hour days . . . and 16-hour days. But now there is a pause in the endless volume of work. It will definitely be all too brief a pause, but at least it happened at the right time to allow me to celebrate Bloom Day. Sort of. With an incomplete set of pictures of the current blooms.

Here is the California fuchsia (Epilobium canum 'Calistoga'), which has been lighting up the front sidewalk garden since early September.

And because it's probably the prettiest flower I have going at the moment, here's a second shot of it.

If I had gotten around to photographing everything blooming in my garden right now, or even just photographing everything blooming really noticeably or everything near the peak of its bloom right now, I would have photographed the new giant gumplant (Grindelia camporum) that I bought recently, which has yellow, daisy-like flowers that vaguely resemble the one below. And I would have photographed the new Oregon goldenaster (Heterotheca oregona, or at least that's what I think it is - more on that in a moment) that I bought recently, which has yellow, daisy-like flowers that very strongly resemble the one below. But what I did photograph is a volunteer that I think I have identified as a native telegraph weed (Heterotheca grandiflora), which is what I was actually hoping to purchase when I bought what I now think is an Oregon goldenaster.

I had noticed this volunteer a few weeks before my plant shopping trip. It was blooming, and I took this picture of it at that time. I meant to get around to trying to identify it. But in the meantime, I drove to a native plant nursery in Chico and saw some plants for sale that were labeled Heterotheca. I asked whether they were Heterotheca grandiflora, because although I knew that species had weedy tendencies, I also knew it would grow well here, including in the spots where very little else will. I was told that the nursery owner had not been able to determine which species it was yet, but that it had been collected in Chico. And I figured that plants growing in Chico can usually grow here as well, so I decided to go ahead and buy it.

Then I came home and realized that it looks an awful lot like this volunteer that I already had. There are differences in the leaf shape, however, that lead me to suspect that they are different species within the same genus. So because telegraph weed is the only Heterotheca species likely to volunteer here, and Oregon goldenaster is the only other one likely to volunteer in Chico, I'm guessing that the volunteer is probably telegraph weed and the purchased plant is probably Oregon goldenaster.

I did get around to photographing a third plant that I bought on the same shopping trip that also has yellow, daisy-like flowers. This is serpentine sunflower (Helianthus bolanderi). It looks very different from what I had imagined it looking like. I imagined that it would be an herbaceous plant like the gumplant, but instead it has a pair of thick, woody trunks that rise about three and a half feet straight up in the air and then end in a big, poofy cloud of yellow flowers. The lower two thirds of the plant are nothing but bare trunk, so it doesn't look like anything I would normally think of as a shrub; it looks more like a very small tree. A funny little daisy tree. I've become very fond of it already.

Because fall is the season for asters, I have one more yellow, daisy-like flower to show you. This is a black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). In spring they grow three feet tall, but the fall crop is always more like three inches tall. This one may be even shorter than that. I find them more charming at three inches than at three feet.

And here's one last, not-so-yellow aster: the California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense). It's well past its peak bloom now - it still has flowers, but they're so mixed with rotting brown stuff that you could hardly call it pretty anymore. But this picture is from late October, when I could still call it pretty. Two fiery skipper butterflies (Hylephila phyleus) called it delicious.

And this West Coast lady (Vanessa annabella) agreed with them.

But fall is not primarily a season for flowers. It's also a season for . . . fungus. Did you think I was going to say foliage? I'll get to that in a minute. First the fungus.

These showed up in late October, under a rock. A similar one showed up soon after, on the other side of the yard. I'm not sure where they came from all of a sudden, because in past years I've never seen any mushrooms resembling these. They appear to be flowerpot parasols (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii), a species of mushroom that is best known for growing in houseplant pots, because it doesn't tend to survive outdoors except in the tropics and subtropics. Well, this is neither the tropics nor the subtropics, but I think it must have been introduced in a potted plant I bought somewhere that had previously been stored in a greenhouse. Now that the weather has turned distinctly Novemberish, I don't see any yellow mushrooms anymore.

These are the same two mushrooms from the picture above, shown one day later.

Now we can move on to foliage. This is another of my newly purchased plants, an Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium). It looks like Christmas! And although this is its fall color, the plant is not preparing to drop its leaves - it keeps them year-round. I had been avoiding buying one of these plants because I generally avoid any plant with pointy bits that might hurt me. However, I think I should have given in long ago for this species. Its pointy bits really aren't that painful; unless you climb right through the middle of a particularly large specimen, you'll probably be fine.

This is another new plant that I had been hearing about for years but hadn't understood the appeal of. This one doesn't have pointy bits; it just doesn't have spectacular flowers, so I didn't understand why so many people wanted one. What I didn't realize was how very chartreuse its leaves are. It lights up its little corner of the yard stunningly. This is ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus).

I'll end with a plant that isn't new: red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), getting ready to drop its leaves and show off its bright red twigs.

On a leaf of the dogwood, I spotted a ladybug emerging from its pupa.

Tags: native plants, photographs
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