In the few years we’ve lived here we have become huge fans of California’s Native Plants, and this week, April 17-23, we’re celebrating the first California Native Plant Week!

California Native Plant Week

Despite having hoards of projects to accomplish, we took some time over this last weekend to participate in some of our local native plant events.

California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica)

On Saturday morning, as California Native Plant Society members, we attended our local chapter CNPS native plant sale.  We picked up two cultivars of California Fuchsia (Epilobium Canum), ‘Everett’s Choice’, and a local variety ‘Pogonip’.  Our hope is these plants will help to add a splash of red color to the gardens when most of our native plants are in summer dormancy.  They’re not blooming yet, but we expect them to be covered in red tubular flowers in summer.

California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum 'Everett's Choice') will be covered in red flowers in summer

Thanks to Barbara’s recent post at Weeding Wild Suburbia about various species of Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron sp.), we ventured into picking up a low-growing mounding cultivar F. californicum ssp. decumbens ‘Ken Taylor’ from the UCSC Arboretum.  Their plant sale was next to the CNPS sale on Saturday.

Fremontia 'Ken Taylor' flower bud

Actually, we picked up two.  Fremontias can be a little persnickety apparently, so this way if one doesn’t make it, we hope at least one will thrive.

Fremontia 'Ken Taylor' blossom

We’d avoided planting Fremontia previously as some members of this genus are quite large, and can overwhelm a small space, but ‘Ken Taylor’ should fit in perfectly.  This lovely shrub resents summer water, and seems like a perfect candidate for our dry slope around the bee hives.

On Sunday, continuing the theme of our native plant weekend, we attended the Going Native Garden Tour.  With so many gardens on display it was impossible to visit them all, but we did manage to squeeze in a few.  Some of our favorite plants this year were this 30 year old, 4 foot high, Ceanothus ‘Carmel Creeper’, which was also clearly a hit with the bees.

Ceanothus 'Carmel Creeper'

I personally thought this specimen of seep monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) was also very dazzling!

A dazzling specimen of Mimulus guttatus

During the tour we acquired a few additional plants for our own garden from some of the nurseries participating in the event, including this Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons) that promises to bloom shortly…

Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)

Flower buds on Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)

At the end of the Tour we stopped by Town Mouse’s garden, and dropped in for a refreshing cup of tea.

A town mouse quietly tending succulents in the garden

We had a lovely visit with the Meeces, Town Mouse, Country Mouse, and Mr. Mouse, and it was great fun catch up on the changes and additions to the garden since last year’s tour.

The front garden was awash in these beautiful Phacelia flowers

If we can make our native sage plants half as happy as Town Mouse’s, we’ll be thrilled!  We have a plain Salvia mellifera here, but nothing nearly as lovely as this ‘Shirley’s Creeper’ cultivar.

The Salvia mellifera 'Shirley's Creeper' was delighting the bees

The lighting at the end of the day was illuminating some of Town Mouse’s poppies in the garden perfectly.

A luminescent California poppy in Town Mouse's garden

We’re hoping that our new plant acquisitions from this weekend’s plant sales and garden tours will blend in nicely with the host of California natives that already call Curbstone Valley home.  We currently have Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita BOP’ in full bloom…

Penstemon heterophyllus 'Margarita BOP'

and our Ceanothus thyrsiflorus are in peak flower too.

Ceanothus thrysiflorus

These plants are near the apiary, along with a Salvia clevelandii hybrid ‘Allen Chickering’.

Salvia clevelandii 'Allen Chickering'

Once established they all should do well without much in the way of summer water.  We hope the Fremontia ‘Ken Taylor’ pictured above will help to bring a splash of yellow to the blues in this dry part of the garden.

Another plant sale acquisition was this delightful Ceanothus ‘Midnight Magic’.

Ceanothus 'Midnight Magic' only grows 2-3 feet in height, and 5-6 feet wide

As rich blue as Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’ this variety is a lower growing, spreading variety of Ceanothus that we hope will bring some variation in height to the garden.

Ceanothus 'Dark Star' grows 6-8 feet tall, and 8-10 feet wide

Honestly, I could have a garden filled with Ceanothus, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Other natives in full flower at the moment include our Iris fernaldii which are multiplying beautifully across the slope.

Fernald's Iris (Iris fernaldii)

The Two-eyed Violet (Viola ocellata) is forming delicate drifts in some of the shadier areas of the garden…

Two-eyed Violet (Viola ocellata)

Our dwarf rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) is just beginning to bloom…

Rosa gymnocarpa

and our solitary Blue Witch (Solanum umbelliferum) has returned.  I wish we had more of these, but so far I’ve only found a single plant growing on an east facing slope.  It was a volunteer though, and we’re happy it’s here.

Blue Witch (Solanum umbelliferum)

We also have the promise of more flowers later this spring including our favorite endemic globe lilies Calochortus albus.

Calochortus albus will bloom in May

Not to be outdone, even our Redwood Sorrel is lighting up the darkest and shadiest areas under our Coast Redwoods.

Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana)

As California is home to more than 6,000 varieties of native plants, we have so many more plants to choose from as we continue to improve the gardens here.  If you live in California, and haven’t yet made space for some of our beautiful natives in your own garden, this week is a perfect week to get to know some of the plants and flowers that call California home.

We have a lot of planting to do this week!

I better head off to the garden…I seem to have some more planting to do!