Select Page

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.

California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) - Click any image to enlarge

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.

California Poppies glowing in the afternoon sun

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.

Numerous creatures, like this crab spider dining on its prey, can be found among the flowers

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.

California lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)

Also in peak bloom this week are our favorite Iris fernaldii.

Fernald's Iris grows wild here, and we're encouraging as many to grow as possible

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.

Fernald's Iris (Iris fernaldii)

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.

Checker Lily (Fritillaria affinis var. affinis)

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 petals of this subspecies are not as heavily checkered as some in the species

The Two-eyed violets, Viola ocellata, are still going strong, and have been since early March.

These dainty violets will disappear as the weather warms

This year seems to be a spectacular year for our Coast Fairy Bells (Prosartes hookeri).

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.

Nemophila Menziesii

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.

Spider on Nemophila menziesii

Near the apiary, the native wood roses (Rosa gymnocarpa) are just beginning to bloom.

The only rose we grow here, the wild native wood rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)

We’ve also noticed lots of little Chia Sage (Salvia columbariae) seedlings that volunteered from a plant that self-sowed last year.

Chia Sage (Salvia columbariae)

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’.

'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 loved Encelia californica in the garden last year, but apparently so did our resident rodents

I’m happy to say we’re seeing a lot more native blackberry (Rubus ursinus) this year.

Native Blackberry (Rubus ursinus)

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.

Cynoglossum grande is setting a lot of seed 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.

Native Western Wakerobin (Trillium ovatum) seed head

Companions to the Trilliums, our native fern species are pushing lots of new growth, including the Western Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum)

Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)

Coastal Wood Fern (Dryopteris arguta)

Wood Fern (Dryopteris arguta)

and the Giant Chain Ferns (Woodwardia fimbriata) near the creeks.

We recently found some wild Giant Chain Ferns (Woodwardia fimbriata) growing 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.

Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)

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).

Woodland Star Flower (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.