Walking through the garden, it’s clear that April is when Spring really arrives here. I can’t allow California Native Plant Week to slip by without a brief look at the native plants in our gardens this week.
There are of course the usual suspects, like the quintessential California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica), which are popping up all over the gardens.
We have quite a few more of them this year inside the fenced areas. We had some planted outside the fence, but over a few years the deer and gophers have eliminated them.
Early in the season they appeared somewhat stunted due to the lack of rain, but March and April brought enough precipitation to finally encourage them to grow and bloom.
The locally native Ceanothus thyrsiflorus are in peak bloom this week, and the break in the wet weather couldn’t have been timed more perfectly, and the bees are relishing the flowers.
Also in peak bloom this week are our favorite Iris fernaldii.
Inside the deer fence, where they’re protected, these Iris are really starting to fill in. This year we seem to have an impressive number of flowers, including a new cluster blooming in front of the bee hives.
Blooming just a little later this year, the wild Checker Lily (Fritillaria affinis var. affinis) returned in the same area near the road this year. Last year was the first time we’d found these growing on the property.
We’re seeing just a few more flowers than last season, but there are lots of immature plants in this area so we hope we’ll see more next spring.
The Two-eyed violets, Viola ocellata, are still going strong, and have been since early March.
This year seems to be a spectacular year for our Coast Fairy Bells (Prosartes hookeri).
The plants vaguely resemble our native Western Solomon Seal (Maianthemum racemosum ssp. amplexicaule), but are much smaller in stature, and the tiny delicate blossoms, which are easy to miss, are tucked beneath their broad leaves. This year we’re seeing many more plants, and the flowers seem much more abundant this spring.
In the orchard and gardens, Nemophila menziesii is blooming, but only in a few small areas as much of it was removed. It’s a preferred food source for the Meadow Voles, so we’re trying to discourage them by thinning the groundcover plants in the orchard.
I obviously missed a few when I pulled the plants up this winter, and now they’re blooming I can’t bear to remove them. Besides, I don’t think this spider would appreciate me taking out these flowers.
Near the apiary, the native wood roses (Rosa gymnocarpa) are just beginning to bloom.
We’ve also noticed lots of little Chia Sage (Salvia columbariae) seedlings that volunteered from a plant that self-sowed last year.
A number of other sages are close to blooming, but the most floriferous sage at the moment seems to be the Salvia mellifera hybrid ‘Shirley’s Creeper’.
Despite losing one Encelia californica to gophers over winter, a replacement waiting in the greenhouse has pushed forth its first sunny bloom.
I’m happy to say we’re seeing a lot more native blackberry (Rubus ursinus) this year.
We’re slowly, with the help of the goats, selecting against the highly invasive Himalayan blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) that grow here, in favor of our native species.
Some of the wildflowers are already fading, and setting seed, like this native Forget-Me-Not (Cynoglossum grande). I’m hoping to be able to harvest some of this seed for propagation this year.
The Trillium ovatum are also done blooming for the season, but many are setting beautiful seed heads, bringing the hope of more Trillium in the coming years.
Companions to the Trilliums, our native fern species are pushing lots of new growth, including the Western Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum)
Coastal Wood Fern (Dryopteris arguta)
and the Giant Chain Ferns (Woodwardia fimbriata) near the creeks.
The red-tinged Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) foliage continues to emerge, and we seem to have many volunteer seedlings showing up this spring.
It really does seem as if Spring has suddenly burst forth here, although there are still many more plants waiting in the wings to bloom, including the native Monkeyflower, a number of native sages, buckwheats, and these wild native Star Flowers (Trientalis latifolia).
With plenty to look forward to, we’ll have to check in on the native garden again next month, and see what else is blooming.