The annual lupines were the only native annuals that were just as spectacular this year as ever. Below, you can see the purple flower spikes of arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus) and the white flower spikes of chick lupine (Lupinus microcarpus). The arroyo lupine peaks a few weeks earlier than the chick lupine, so there are only a few days when the two mingle in full bloom. This picture is from the end of April.
Also in this picture, you can see the orange Munro's globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) in the foreground, the orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) in the background, the last few petals on the orange sand-dune wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) to the right, the pale spikes of island alum root (Heuchera maxima) a little left of the wallflower, the first yellow Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum) flower farther to the left, and of course blue flax (Linum lewisii) everywhere in between. Hardly any of these flowers are still blooming today. The Oregon sunshine is blooming a lot more today than it was in this picture, and the poppies are still blooming, and there are still some flowers on the blue flax, though nowhere near as many. Everything else you see here is now gone.
This year, for the first time, I tried planting purple-flowering chick lupine as well as white-flowering chick lupine. The purple-flowering chick lupine did not survive long enough to bloom, but instead I got, completely accidentally and also for the first time, one chick lupine plant that is a much brighter yellow than the other (off-white or cream-colored) chick lupine.
Here is a closer look at the Oregon sunshine, along with the more common white or off-white chick lupine, some blue flax, and a slight glimpse of the scarlet mallow (Sphaeralcea philippiana) that has dramatically increased in bloom strength over the course of the past month.
This is what the garden looks like today, with the flax and lupines and other April flowers mostly gone. The yellow flowers in the background are the Oregon sunshine, which is a local native. The yellow flowers in the foreground (similar but with a subtly different shape, the petals overlapping one another more closely) are non-native cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus). I received unsolicited free cosmos seeds in the mail as an advertisement for something or other, so I researched to check whether they were a horribly invasive weed, and since they seemed reasonably harmless, I tossed the seeds into the front garden. This is the result.
Here is a closer look at the cosmos.
The Oregon sunshine would be really rather ugly, I think, if planted all by itself. It has incredibly long stems that flop all over the place and that appear practically leafless because the leaves are so small. But mixed in with a lot of other flowers that hide most of its long stems, it makes a valuable contribution. Here it is in late April with blue flax, chick lupine, and an early scattering of scarlet mallow.
Here it is around the beginning of May, with the blue flax winding down and the scarlet mallow ramping up, and a few purple Chinese pagoda (Collinsia heterophylla) flowers joining in.
Here's May again.
And one more from May, with the pink of the very first mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata) flower half-visible at the far left edge. Like the other native annuals, the mountain garland hasn't put on as much of a show as usual this year. Its slightly later-blooming cousin, farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena), hasn't done much yet either, but it still has time to get around to that.
Here is a closeup of the mountain garland.
The mountain garland plant that has done best this year is the one in a pot. The ones in the ground didn't produce this many flowers this year.
The yellow flowers sharing the pot with the mountain garland are sand-dune wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum).
Unlike the lackluster native annuals, the native perennials are mostly doing at least as well as ever. The foothill beardtongue (Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs') is at its peak now and looking significantly bigger than last year. It's mingling with scarlet mallow and the remains of the chick lupine.
Here it is again, with a small pink mountain garland at the right edge.
Here is a native annual, tidy-tips (Layia platyglossa), with blue flax and scarlet mallow. Like most of the other native annuals, tidy-tips have been less numerous this year than in years past. Unlike the other native annuals, tidy-tips have also been shrinking. Or rather, some of them have. The ones in this picure are normal-sized, about an inch and a half to two inches in diameter.
The one in this picture is tiny, not even a full inch in diameter. I've noticed quite a few of these tiny tidy-tips this year. I don't remember seeing them in past years. What's with the tiny tidy-tips? Are they a different species? Or a variation of the same species?
And I can't figure out what the larger, purplish pink flower in this picture is. Anybody know? I think it's a weed of some sort. Its foliage is the needle-thin green stuff shown here to the right of the flower.
Here are some more normal-sized tidy-tips, along with blue flax, scarlet mallow, pale purple-edged bird's eyes (Gilia tricolor), blue globe gilia (Gilia capitata), and an orange California poppy.
Here's a similar mix: blue globe gilia, bird's eyes, scarlet mallow, California poppies, and a small, half-hidden spike of arroyo lupine.
And another variation, with just three species: blue globe gilia, blue flax, and scarlet mallow.
Let's take a few last looks at the front sidewalk garden before we head toward the house and the back yard.
We'll start by moving on to the shady garden bed that separates the lawn from the oleanders. You can see it in this picture, toward the top left, with poppies and blue flax in it. Do you see the big red rock in it? Someone stole that rock recently. We think the thief was a little kid. Still, I'd really like my rock back.
A golden prettyface (Triteleia ixioides) is blooming next to the indentation where the rock used to be.
There's also a sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus 'Cherry') in that bed.
There's another sticky monkeyflower in the front porch bed, but this one is a different cultivar that is more scarlet in color. Here it is with island alum root (Heuchera maxima) and non-native yellow snapdragons.
Sitting on the porch are several pots with plants I bought at the recent semi-annual sale of the California Native Plant Society (Redbud Chapter) and haven't planted yet. Two of the potted plants are in bloom. This one is blue witch (Solanum umbelliferum), which I've had before. My previous one died over the winter.
And this one is royal larkspur (Delphinium variegatum), which I've never been able to find before.
Here it is again, a little earlier in its blooming period.
Now we pass through the gate from the front yard to the side yard. Here are some bird's eyes next to the gate.
But the big story in the side yard is the California poppies. This year, for the first time, I bought a seed mix with all different colors of California poppies. Here is a fairly typical orange California poppy in the side yard.
And here is pretty nearly the entire spectrum of colors from the seed mix: red-orange, classic orange, lemon yellow, and white.
We also got one pink one.
But the pale yellow to white ones have been by far the most successful of the new colors. Those have been about as common in our yard this year as the classic orange ones.
Some of them are rather odd shades of peach.
But most of them are very nearly white.
That last poppy picture brought us all the way out from the side yard into the back yard. In the background behind the poppies is my new Pacific stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium), the first succulent I've ever attempted to grow. I bought two of these plants from Annie's Annuals about a month ago. The dogs promptly trampled one of them to death, but this is the other one, which has survived and is blooming now. I also bought another of the same species at the semi-annual plant sale; that one has purple edges on its foliage but is still sitting in a pot on the front porch. I also bought another succulent at that sale, canyon liveforever (Dudleya cymosa), which will have to be planted in the front yard since it needs decent drainage. The Pacific stonecrop is common in vernal pools (it was one of the predominant plants I saw at the Table Mountain vernal pools), so it should have some tolerance for poor drainage. I put it in a relatively dry spot in the back yard. (Poppies don't survive in the wetter spots.)
The first thing you arrive at when entering the back yard is this ditch. The ditch has been reasonably attractive lately, with goldfields (Lasthenia californica), meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii), and bird's eyes blooming around its edges.
There are more goldfields around the stepping stones of the path that leads between the two ditches.
On the other side of the two ditches, springbank clover (Trifolium wormskioldii) grows around the stepping stones.
Tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenovii) also grows in this area, intermingled with yarrow (Achillea millefolium). The yarrow is right on the verge of blooming, but not quite there yet.
Baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and blue flax grow in this area, near the poppies and succulent.
Blue globe gilia also grows here.
Closer to the back fence, where it's shadier, the Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) bloomed this month. This picture was taken a little under two weeks ago, but the flowers didn't last long; the plant is now way past its peak. It's also looking quite singed and sunburnt now, even though it's planted in the deepest shade we have (along with the California polypody fern, visible in the lower right corner here). I'm starting to worry about whether the ninebark will survive the summer.
The Hartweg's doll's lily (Odontostomum hartwegii) is also planted in the shady area. It didn't bloom as heavily this spring as it did last spring (when it was first planted), but it did bloom a little. The flowers are tiny, which is why it's called a doll's lily.
At one end of a ditch, meadowfoam mingles with blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum 'North Coast').
Here is a closeup of the blue-eyed grass.
Further on, clustered field sedge (Carex praegracilis) bends over the edges of the ditch. I've been pleased to see this sedge resprouting and blooming this spring. It had died back a lot more severely over the winter than I had been expecting.
Under my office window, the meadowfoam has been blooming. It's looking a bit past its peak now, but this picture is from late April, when it was just getting started. Rosillas (Helenium puberulum) are blooming around the edges of the meadowfoam.
This one is from early May.
Both the solid yellow meadowfoam (a variant native to Point Reyes) and the more common yellow-and-white meadowfoam have spread nicely around the yard. Well, actually, they didn't exactly spread by themselves. They reproduced prolifically but all in one spot, so I transplanted the seedlings around the yard to spread them out more.
The golden currant (Ribes aureum), growing next to the largest patch of meadowfoam, is still blooming even today. It doesn't ordinarily bloom even into early April, and this year it peaked in February, almost a full month earlier than usual. But I think one of the big March rainstorms knocked all the developing currants off it, so it was essentially deadheaded by the storm and is blooming longer for that reason. There are no ripe currants at all so far, only tiny green ones.
I'll leave you with one last picture of the meadowfoam.