Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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October Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

It's time for October Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! I skipped the September Bloom Day and didn't even take any pictures of plants during September. It's all right though, because my garden hasn't really changed much since August. Last spring my garden was continually looking a few months ahead of schedule due to drought; this fall it's looking a few months behind schedule due to drought. It hasn't really rained properly yet this fall, so the garden still looks pretty much like August. Or maybe early September now? But certainly not mid-October.

The California fuchsias are putting on a good show, though. The red flowers here are 'Carman's Gray' California fuchsia (Epilobium canum 'Carman's Gray'), and the white and rust-brown flowers are Eastern Mojave buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum).

This is a seedling of 'Carman's Gray' in front of some pink tea roses that I inherited from the original homeowners.

In the back yard there are still more California fuchsias. This is the 'Calistoga' cultivar in the foreground and the wild form of the species in the background. The other plant off to the left, with a few yellow flowers that you can barely see here, is a Great Valley gumplant (Grindelia camporum).

Here's another member of the aster family (like the gumplant). The yellow flowers spilling out of the blue pot belong to prostrate coastal goldenbush (Isocoma menziesii). The other plants in the same pot are a strawberry and a blueberry; the strawberry is blooming, though you can't see it flowers here, but the blueberry is not. In the red pot to the left are Sacramento rosemallow and turkey-tangle fogfruit; in the blue pot to the right is prostrate oregano. The grasslike plant in the background is clustered field sedge.

Here's a different strawberry plant. The one in the blueberry pot is non-native, but this one in the front yard is a cultivar of the native woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca 'Golden Alexandria'). The non-native will produce larger fruits, but 'Golden Alexandria' is much more controllable (it doesn't spread) and produces tiny, delicious fruits. And I can never have too many different types of strawberry plants: nearly all of them stop producing fruit at some time of year or other, but they stop at different times, so if I acquire enough different kinds I can probably have strawberries all year round. I'm approaching that point now.

Here's another member of the aster family: rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa).

And nearby, an even less showy member of the aster family: mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana). Yes, those are its flowers. No, they don't ever look much better than that.

Across the back yard, a similarly unshowy member of the aster family: 'Pigeon Point' coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis 'Pigeon Point'). I've been looking for this cultuvar for years and only managed to find it this month for the first time. Coyote brush is a common shrub in the wild around here, all around the edge of town, but I didn't want the full-size version; I wanted this cultivar because it's supposed to stay under three feet tall. Also it's a male plant so it won't produce a million seedlings. Though it might produce respiratory allergies, which the female plants probably wouldn't.

Here's another buckwheat: island buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens). Also recently planted. This one is about six inches across right now, but an older plant of this species in the back yard is closer to two feet across.

My Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa) has held on through the summer in a little pot in the front yard.

I recently planted two hummingbird sages (Salvia spathacea), and they both burst into bloom shortly after being planted. I took a quick photo of one of them on the evening I noticed the flowers. I meant to take better photos the following day.

But the following day, the plants were being eaten by caterpillars! There are four of them in this picture: the two large green ones, and also two smaller brown ones that are located just above the green one on the right. I left the caterpillars alone - they'd already done major aesthetic damage, but I doubted they'd eat enough to actually kill the plants, and in fact, the plants still seem to be in perfectly good health. They just don't have flowers anymore. Sometimes we must sacrifice our plants for the sake of wildlife. I wish I could identify the species of these caterpillars, though, and verify whether they're native or not. If they're not native, I'd feel free to kill them.

But my most prized plant of all, at the moment, is a Texas paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa). Native not only to Texas but also to California and various states in between. It's the pale grey thing in the foreground here. Not blooming. I'm not actually entirely sure it's even alive, but . . . I think it'd probably fall over on the ground if it died? Its leaves are not green because it's hemiparasitic, meaning that it gets a lot of its nutrients through parasitism and therefore doesn't need to bother with much photosynthesis. It's parasitizing the monkeyflower planted next to it - the plant whose lower leaves are brown. The plant blooming in the background is also a monkeyflower, not parasitized.

As much as I enjoy a fully green monkeyflower plant, keeping the paintbrush alive is a higher priority. Paintbrush plants are not easy to find for sale! But here are two better views of the fully green, non-parasitized monkeyflower (Mimulus 'Pamela'). Also, you can really see here how I've converted the recently deceased conifer to mulch and spread its remains everywhere.

Until next month, that's all I've got!
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