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There’s no question that this is my favorite time of year.  The native gardens are at their absolute best between May and June, when so many of the plants are in peak bloom.

This proved to be a very busy weekend for us, as we tried to catch up on a rather long project list that’s been pushed to the backburner in recent weeks.

The last of three new native garden beds is finally planted

After removing an absurd number of rocks, and old flagstones, we finally finished planting out the last of the three new native garden beds in front of the house.

We’re really excited to see how this entire area fills in over the next few seasons.  Of the native sages planted in this part of the garden, Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’ is clearly putting on the best show at the moment.

'Pozo Blue' is a hybrid of Salvia clevelandii and Salvia leucophylla

Not to be outdone though, these Salvia ‘Allen Chickering’ out in the orchard are no slouches either.

Salvia 'Allen Chickering' is another Cleveland sage hybrid that grows very well here

I honestly can’t decide which of these two sage varieties I like the best.

Native Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum)

As they settle in, the recently planted Eriophyllums are starting to push out a lot more flowers too.

Wooly Sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum)

They’re already attracting all sorts of insects, including our native Variable Checkerspot butterflies.

Variable Checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona)

This particular butterfly chose to spend the night on an Eriophyllum lanatum blossom, and didn’t leave until the sun warmed the flowers mid-morning the next day.

There's something quite fascinating about butterfly eyes! (click image to enlarge)

Out toward the orchard, the California Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula) is blooming profusely, and enticing lots of bees. Come fall, these plants will be sporting clusters of red berries.

Native Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula)

The Sticky Monkeyflowers (Diplacus aurantiacus ssp. aurantiacus) are finally blooming too, and should continue flowering over the next few weeks.

Sticky Monkeyflower (Diplacus aurantiacus ssp. aurantiacus)

Even this newly transplanted Monkeyflower near the fountain is managing to produce a few blooms too.

Sticky Monkeyflower needs little to no supplemental irrigation here once established

Our native deerweed (Lotus scoparius) has filled in tremendously over the last few weeks, and is just starting to show signs of blooming.  When it does, the hillside above the orchard will be awash in yellow, and the bees will mob their tiny nectar-laden flowers.

This native deerweed currently looks like a dull wash of green, but soon will be ablaze in yellow flowers

Although the Iris fernaldii are finished for the season, nestled between the Lotus and Monkeyflowers, the last of the Globe Lilies (Calochortus albus) are still blooming.

Globe Lily (Calochortus albus)

The deer still devour most of these flowers growing outside of the deer fence, but within the fenced garden, and orchard, these beautiful globe lilies are thriving, and slowly increasing in number.

The native Coffeeberries are almost finished blooming for the season, and setting clusters of fruits.  These plants have no difficulty with pollination, as the bees are drawn to their nectar rich blooms.

Native Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case')

Native Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) is also finished flowering for the season, and will soon be sporting pairs of black fruits where the flowers had been.

Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata)

The last of our tiny native roses (Rosa gymnocarpa) are also winding down for the season.

After a hard winter pruning these native roses (Rosa gymnocarpa) produced plentiful blooms this spring

Closer to the bee hives, Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita BOP’ and ‘Catherine de la Mare’ are both blooming profusely.

Penstemon heterophyllus 'Margarita BOP'

Penstemon heterophyllus 'Catherine de la Mare'

California phacelia (Phacelia californica), new to the garden this spring, is now in bloom, and enticing plenty of bumble bees.

California phacelia (Phacelia californica)

Hopefully these plants will self sow over the next few seasons, and fill in across this part of the slope.

The Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata) I started from seed has been blooming for weeks in this part of the garden too, and is still going strong.

Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata) is very easy to start from seed

The bees, and butterflies, including hoards of skippers, seem to really enjoy these flowers.

These Gilia were started in flats, then transplanted in front of the bee hives

The most eyecatching flowers at the moment though are the native California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica), which have been putting on a tremendous show this season.

These California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) seem to glow in the afternoon sun

Even though we had to thin a number of these out because they provide too much cover for gophers and voles, the ones we left behind have been doing extremely well.  I suspect we’ll be pulling more seedlings over winter as these plants self sow throughout the orchard.

Their impact is enhanced when they're planted in large groups

Unlike some of the cool-toned plants, the advantage of the poppies is that their vibrant orange color makes them pop against the greens of the surrounding woodland, making them clearly visible on the slopes, even when viewed from some distance away along the farm road.

The Sulfur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Shasta Sulfur’) that we planted last year is another stand-out on the slopes this spring, and I hope to plant a lot more of it later this year.

Sulfur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum 'Shasta Sulfur')

The greenhouse is brimming with various plants at the moment.  Flats of some other Eriogonum species I propagated from seed are still waiting to move outside, including California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), and Chalk Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium).

California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

I’m hoping to plant at least some of these outside the deer fence, but it remains to be seen if the deer will leave them alone.

Chalk Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium)

Numerous cuttings taken from some native sages before they set flower buds this spring, are busily growing roots in the greenhouse too.

These 18 native Salvia cuttings were taken from a single plant this spring

As the deer completely ignore these plants here, and the cuttings root so easily, it’s not really possible to have too many of these.  Within a year, each one of these plants will be 4-5 feet tall!

Even though our attention has been diverted away from the gardens repeatedly this spring, the native plants, at least, have been content to carry on without too much attention from us.  That’s the beauty of native plants, they’re not particularly demanding for time, or attention.

The kitchen gardens, however, require more attention, and are still a little behind schedule. We’ll look more closely at the state of the vegetable and herb garden in the next post, including an up close and personal look at a surprising someone we found lurking in the herb bed this morning!