He does not know yet, as I do, how much the mass of his garden will shrink back down, by June or July, to a tamer and more traditional-looking garden. But there are enough perennials under the mass of annuals that there will still be a decent garden here in summer and winter and fall. It just won't be like this anymore. Until next spring, that is. Each spring we can do this all again.
Like last month, I'm going to cover both his yard and my own yard in this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post, because I'm the primary gardener at both. (Almost the only gardener, for most of this year - but lately, Barry has been starting to help me out pretty regularly with the weeding and learning to recognize more and more plants, so I may have to give him a lot more credit next year!)
I'll start with Barry's yard. It turns out that I actually took more photos of his yard than I did of my own yard this month. I can't get enough of it lately.
That was the view from Barry's front porch toward his driveway. This next one is a different angle from his front porch toward the street.
This one is from his driveway toward his front porch and the neighbor's house.
This one is from his front path near the driveway toward the street.
Now let's see if I can recreate the sequence of bloom that has taken place over the past month. First, in March, the baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) spread day by day all across the front yard. You may also notice that the branches of the Chinese pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis) are almost bare in this picture.
Here's what the baby blue eyes look like up close. A few of them came up as an all-white form from the seeds I scattered last fall at Barry's house.
Here they are again (with the same patch of all-white ones) alongside a bright red California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) for size comparison, and with a few lavender-tinged bird's eye gilyflowers (Gilia tricolor) mixed in as well.
Then the lupines started filling in, both yellow and purple. All the yellow ones I've seen so far are yellow bush lupines (Lupinus arboreus), but there are two kinds of purple lupines blooming: silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons), which is a shrub, and arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus), which is an annual. And you may notice that the Chinese pistache tree is starting to get more of its leaves here.
This is a different angle from around the same time as the picture above. Slightly below and slightly to the right of center, there's a scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) with small, hot pink flower spikes that aren't yet especially noticeable. Look for that again in the next picture. Also, note the thin scattering of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), because there will be more of those soon.
The scarlet bugler is larger now, and there are more California poppies than ever. The baby blue eyes are still going strong, and the Chinese pistache tree has fully leafed out. (Also, Barry is across the street reading his mail. But that's not so much a sign of the season.)
The California poppies are amazingly varied in color this year. I bought specially bred seed mixes ('Mission Bells' and 'Ballerina') that were supposed to produce a wide variety of flower colors, but when I've done that in previous years I've generally gotten a lot of just one unusual poppy color - some years it's been pale yellow-white, other years bright red - mixed with the standard orange and orange-and-yellow kinds. This year, at both our houses, I've gotten every color under the sun, including a whole lot of different shades of pink that I've never seen before.
This is the deepest purplish-pink I've seen.
This one is my favorite mix of colors so far.
I like how the pink-and-yellow poppy seems to tie together the yellows of other poppies and the pink of the scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius).
There's quite a good mix of the red and white kinds as well, and of course the common orange and orange-and-yellow ones.
Here are a couple of them with baby blue eyes and lilac vervain (Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina') in the background for contrast.
Even some of the orange-and-yellow ones manage to look very different from the standard, default California poppy.
The scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) is one of the perennial plants that will last beyond this spring. Here it is with California poppies, baby blue eyes, and a few bird's eye gilyflowers.
The lilac vervain (Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina') is another perennial. I've planted several of these, in Barry's front yard and also his back yard, but so far only this one has grown anywhere near this big or produced anywhere near this many flowers. The others are all about a fifth of this size or even less.
Here are the lilac vervain and the scarlet bugler together.
Now here are more shots of mostly the shorter-lived flowers. California poppies, baby blue eyes, and bird's eye gilyflowers.
Plus a bit of silver bush lupine (a shrub) in the upper right corner.
Plus some Fremont's tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), an annual flower in the aster family, yellow with white edges.
Here's a progression from one weekend to the next. Thesecond picture features a few more California poppies, some more bird's eye gilyflowers, and some new Fremont's tidy tips.
Somewhere under all that plant material, there are stepping-stones that it used to be possible to walk on without squishing flowers at every step.
Here's a closeup of the bird's eye gilyflowers (Gilia tricolor) with baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii). These are both annuals that I grew from seed.
A few of the bird's eye gilyflowers have a genetic mutation that gives them darker purple coloring.
Returning to wider shots now . . . Here's one with the lilac vervain at lower left, scarlet bugler at lower right, Fremont's tidy tips at top right, and baby blue eyes, bird's eye gilyflowers, and California poppies strewn throughout the middle. And a nice pink California poppy in front of the scarlet bugler.
Here are two more, just because I can't seem to get enough.
Now I'm going to start moving around Barry's yard a bit more. He has a very narrow strip of plantable area between his house and the walkway leading to his front door. You can see it here.
In that narrow strip, two narrowleaf onions (Allium amplectens) are blooming. They are both locally native. One is blooming out of bare mulch . . .
. . . And the other is blooming in a small patch of other annuals.
So far I've been mostly showing you the upper portion of Barry's front yard, nearest to his front porch. Down closer to the street, the plant composition changes a bit. There are three lupine shrubs down near the street - two yellow bush lupines (Lupinus arboreus) and in between them, one silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons). The silver bush lupine has purple flowers, visible near the top of the first picture below. In the foreground are Fremont's tidy tips (Layia playglossa) and baby blue eyes.
Here are a couple more shots of the Fremont's tidy tips and baby blue eyes at the foot of the yellow bush lupine.
Now I'm moving over to the opposite side of Barry's driveway. There are three different species of California natives in the poppy family here. The giant mass of tiny, pale flowers is cream cups (Platystemon californicus). This is a single plant that has grown to several feet across, but it's an annual, so it will probably die within the next few months. The much smaller patch of tiny, bright yellow flowers is another native annual called frying pans (Eschscholzia lobbii). And the larger flowers (orange-and-yellow, white, and bright orange) are all the standard species of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica).
Here's another view of all three, but just one California poppy flower at the far left.
This is a closer view of the frying pans, with the cream cups in the background.
I'm going to take you on a quick detour back to the front porch for a second to show you yet another California native species in the poppy family. This is a wind poppy (Papaver heterophyllum).
Returning now to the other side of the driveway where the cream cups and frying pans are . . . Here's a patch of California poppies in two colors, along with bird's eye gilyflowers.
I'm heading toward the gate to the back yard now. There's a large California native redwood tree on the side of the house. At the foot of it is a Bolander's woodland star (Lithophragma bolanderi) that I was very excited to acquire a few weeks ago at the native plant sale in Rancho Cordova.
This is a closeup of its flowers.
And now it's time to move on to Barry's back yard! His back yard has been significantly more of a challenge for me than his front yard; it had a far worse weed problem over the winter. But it's making progress. Here is the view you'll get of Barry's back yard when coming around the side of the house from the front.
Looking back toward the gate, you can see the planter boxes Barry built, that we filled with soil together last fall. Those are full of food plants now. Most of the flowers in the back yard are Douglas' meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii) and California poppies. In the picture below, you can also see an orange-flowered shrub in the right half of the picture that's called Munro's globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana), and under the garden hose you can see a seep monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus). To the left of the seep monkeyflower are Jazz (Barry's elderly cat who is allowed in the back yard because she's no longer capable of climbing over the fences) and my dog Boston's doghouse-away-from-home.
You can see the seep monkeyflower better from this angle.
And you can see a closeup of it here (along with the water dish I brought over for my dog Boston to use when she visits; it's upside-down when not in use so as not to breed mosquitoes).
Here's a closeup of some of the Douglas' meadowfoam, along with some baby blue eyes.
Here is a close cousin of the Douglas' meadowfoam. This is white meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba).
And here is a close cousin of baby blue eyes, called five spot (Nemophila maculata). There's an actual baby blue eyes flower out of focus in the background, and also the Munro's globemallow.
Here is the Munro's globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) in better focus.
And here's a closer view of its flowers.
And here is a close cousin of the Munro's globemallow called desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua). The two species look virtually indistinguishable, but at both our houses, I seem to be getting better results from the Munro's globemallow. This desert globemallow fell over flat on the ground, and I was unable to prop it upright again. It continued blooming for a while, and I took this picture of it mingling with a California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus) after it had already fallen over. But I'm pretty sure it's not going to survive much longer. Globemallows need good drainage, and I think the desert globemallow may be even pickier about its drainage than the Munro's globemallow.
Around the back patio I planted some bulbs and corms. This is the first of those to bloom. This is white prettyface (Triteleia hyacinthina).
This just about concludes this month's tour of Barry's yard, but let's duck back out to the front yard for a moment . . .
. . . Because now it's time for a butterfly show!
This is a Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) on lilac vervain.
This is a painted lady (Vanessa cardui) on the same lilac vervain.
The same painted lady, now with its wings closed.
And this is a mournful duskywing (Erynnis tristis), also on the lilac vervain. What a name for this butterfly! And yes, this lilac vervain sure does seem to be popular with butterflies.
Here is the same mournful duskywing, now viewed from below. This is the underside of its wings.
That concludes this month's tour of Barry's yard.
Now we move on to my own house. I had some trouble getting pictures of my garden at my own house this month, because the weather was uncooperative. For the entire week leading up to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I kept planning to photograph my garden each day, but it kept raining, or the sky kept being so dark and stormy that the flowers didn't open. I kept waiting for sunshine. And then one day, instead of sunshine, I got a hailstorm! A pretty major hailstorm. It left enough hail on the ground to resemble snow.
But the day after the hailstorm, the sun finally came out. Of course the hail had knocked some flower petals off the plants, but still it was the garden's most photogenic day a week, since the remaining flowers were actually open and lit up by sunshine. So that was the day I took most of my garden photographs at my house this month.
Not all of them, though. I took a few in previous weeks. This one, for example, shows the peak visible bloom time of my mountain lilac (Ceanothus 'Joyce Coulter'), the blue-flowering prostrate shrub at the base of the blue pot. This was in late March, before the white meadowfoam and bird's eye gilyflowers started blooming.
This is the same area now. There are still some blue mountain lilac flowers under there somewhere, but you can hardly see them anymore because so much else is in bloom now.
You can still see a few blue mountain lilac flowers here if you look closely. But the more attention-grabbing flowers now are three species that are much shorter-lived: California poppies, bird's eye gilyflowers, and white meadowfoam.
Here is a closeup of the mass of white meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba).
Also blooming in this same flower bed under my big front window are some Western yarrow (Achillea millefolium), California buttercups (Ranunculus californicus), and woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca 'Golden Alexandria' in the foreground, and the wild form of Fragaria vesca in the background).
And this, one of the few non-natives I've planted. This is spunky monkeyflower (Mimulus naiandinus 'Mega').
Okay, so there are a few other non-natives I've planted. Like this one, a hedgerow cranesbill (Geranium pyreniacum 'Bill Wallis'). Annie's Annuals really talked this one up; they said that by its second year, it would be covered in gazillions of flowers. Mine is in its second year and has three flowers, plus maybe twenty flower buds. I am underwhelmed. Apparently it doesn't like the climate or the microclimate here.
And then there's my little apple tree (Malus pumila 'Gala'). It produces a dozen or so apples every year, but they're undersized and not very good. I believe this is because the tree isn't getting cross-pollinated. I could plant another apple tree, but what I'd like to do us graft a branch of a different type of apple tree onto this one. I'm not sure how well the tree would handle it at this point in its life, though. This is still a very small tree.
But let's go back to the flower bed under my big front window. See the big mass of green directly in front of the blue pot?
That's a native deerweed (Acmispon glaber). It's just barely beginning to bloom now, with tiny yellow flowers. This is a closeup of its first few flowers.
And now we've seen enough of this part of my front yard. Let's head across my driveway.
Over to the side where the three spherical boxwoods are.
I planted two Munro's globemallows at my house and one desert globemallow at my house, and one of each at Barry's house. I planted them all at the same time, last fall. Both of Barry's grew huge, although Barry's desert globemallow then fell over and is probably now dying. None of mine has grown huge; the Munro's globemallow below is the largest of mine. My other Munro's globemallow and my desert globemallow haven't bloomed or even grown much at all. These plants seem to strongly prefer Woodland over Marysville.
Here are two closer views of my blooming Munro's globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana), accompanied by Douglas' meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii).
On the left edge of the last photo above, you can see a bit of my sand-dune wallflower (Erysimum capitatum). This is a strangely varied plant. I've mail-ordered seeds of it and got herbaceous plants with bright yellow flowers. I've seen it in the wild as herbaceous plants with yellow-orange flowers. And I bought this one in a one-gallon pot from Bay Natives Nursery in San Francisco; this one again has bright yellow flowers, but also this one is really quite shrubby. All those brown stems you see here are quite stiff and woody, not at all like the stems of the herbaceous plants I grew from seed before. I don't know what to make of all the variation.
Also blooming nearby is a desert beardtongue (Penstemon pseudospectabilis).
And two narrowleaf onions (Allium amplectens).
And a white prettyface (Triteleia hyacinthina).
This isn't properly blooming yet, but my yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) has buds on it for the first time ever. Here it is with a California poppy.
There are also a couple of non-native irises next to the boxwoods. These are Dutch irises (Iris × hollandica).
Proceeding around the side of my house now . . . last month, this bed was full of Calla lilies that came with the house. Now it isn't! I dug out all the Calla lilies and planted a mix of non-native coral bells (Heuchera 'Marmalade) and two species of native ferns: coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia) and California polypody fern (Polypodium californicum). The one in the foreground here is a coffee fern.
Proceeding toward the gate to my back yard, you'll find some wood violets (Viola odorata) that came with the house.
Upon passing through the gate into my back yard, you'll see this Pacific Coast hybrid iris (Iris 'Pacific Coast Hybrids') to your left.
To your right, youll see hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) and California poppies.
This is as good a time as any to show you my wide variety of colors of California poppies this year.
Especially pink. This is a banner year for pink California poppies.
Continuing straight ahead along the side of my patio, you'll next arrive at some Hartweg's doll's lilies (Odontostomum hartwegii). These are a native monocot that has done much better for me than most of the other native bulbs and corms. They come back reliably every year and even increase their numbers.
Continuing straight ahead to my back fence will bring you to some coral bells (Heuchera maxima). These are native to the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California.
Also nearby are some non-native Confederate violets (Viola sororia) that came with the house.
And a Japanese flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica) that came with the house.
And some meadow rue (Thalictrum fendleri) that I planted. The flowers in the foreground are female flowers. The slightly showier flowers out of focus in the background are male flowers.
Heading to the other side of my back yard, you might notice my highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum 'Legacy') blooming in a pot.
And then, to conclude your tour, here is my other side yard. It's blooming just as beautifully as it does every spring, with a giant carpet of Douglas' meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii) edged with California poppies.
There is a difference this year, however, and not for the better. My fence fell down during the winter storms!
I taled to my neighbor about it several months ago, and he absolutely refused to let me help pay for the repairs. He said he'll build a replacement fence himself and doesn't want me to help pay for any of the materials. That's very generous of him - quite unnecessarily so - but I'm not sure when he's planning to actually get around to doing it. His sliding-glass door looks directly out onto my side yard, and I'm beginning to suspect that my flowers might be motivating him to avoid fixing the fence. This probably is a prettier view than the strip of concrete and fence he'd otherwise be looking out onto.
Oh well - I guess it's nice that I can provide my neighbor with some flowers to look at for a while. They're annuals, so they'll all die off in another month or two anyway. For now, here's a parting closeup of them.
And a flashback to Barry's yard, because I still can't get enough of it.