Gum Plant

Gum plant (Grindelia hirsutula). (Sort of, mostly) evergreen perennial. These plants start blooming when other natives are winding down. They bloom a long time with no supplemental water, grow in clay and might even reseed if they’re happy. They get about two feet tall in our garden, if they don’t flop over. We tried the…

Showy Milkweed

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). Herbaceous perennial. Monarch butterfly food plant. Showy milkweed is bolder and more structural in the garden than its narrow-leafed cousin. It also benefits from fall planting, and might perhaps like a bit more water than narrowleaf milkweed. These photos were taken in April and May – the shots with the caterpillar…

Narrowleaf milkweed

Narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis). Herbaceous perennial. Food plant for Monarch butterfly. In a good year, these plants would be missing leaves devoured by Monarch caterpillars. This is not a good year in our garden. This is an easy enough milkweed to grow. Plant in fall. It will sit pretty much without growth, then die down…

Matilija Poppy

Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri). Large herbaceous perennial. Give these full sun, lots of room and let them go. They’ll happily spread all over your garden, but when planted at the back where their flowers appear above other plants this won’t be a problem – as long as they have space to thrive. They need good…

California Buckeye

California buckeye (Aesculus californica). Deciduous shrub/tree. Wonderful bark, impressive flowers and decorative shiny round seed pods (called buckeyes or horse chestnuts) make this a good choice for larger gardens, especially with rock outcroppings where the roots can grow around and over the rocks as the plants mature.

Salvia 'Pozo Blue'

Grey Musk Sage

Pozo Blue Hybrid Musk Sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’). Evergreen shrub. Hummingbirds and carpenter bees love these plants. The hummingbirds arrive early in the morning before the bees are up, then move on to other flowers during the day. The foliage is as the name suggests – pungent. Water very sparingly in summer, if at all. These…

Clarkia amoena

Farewell to Spring

Farewell to Spring (Clarkia amoena). Annual. These flowers, along with California poppies, have the best recurrence. They reseed prolifically to reappear every year as long as the soil in their plot does not get overgrown by weeds. No summer water, but by then these plants have set seed and died.