Driving the foothills: Stopping and turning around….
We had to stop and turn around to photograph this field of Lupine, Vetch and Blue dicks under the oaks growing thickly in a patch. Iridescent blues just glowed here in a flowery show right next to the roadside not far from our home near Oakhurst.
To encourage the wildflowers and ephemerals on your own Sierra Foothill property, you merely have to weed out the non-natives. I had to learn which was which, but as I cataloged the seedling photos of both,…I memorized the look of each.
Sliver Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons
Sliver Bush Lupine is a 3-5′ perennial and evergreen (silver) bush with 3-6 inch flowers iridescent blue spikes. It needs full sun, good drainage, will tolerate some water but best on the dry side. Bush lupine seems to be deer proof and attracts butterflies and is very showy and fragrant. It is native to California.
Blue Dicks, Brodiaea pulchella
Blue Dicks grows from small corms or bulbs and blooms in Spring throughout California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. If not crowded out with non-native weeds like filaree and grasses like Hedgehog Dogtail grass, Blue dicks will spread and multiply on well drained slopes. Blue Dicks tolerate clay soil and attract butterflies.
Harvest or Elegant brodiaea, Brodiaea elegans
This pretty native has the same umbrella-like umbrel tipped with bright blue or lavender-blue trumpets about 1 inch long. The six petals have little if any yellow in the center of each flower, but a paler shade of the same flower color, which can distinguish it from other brodiaeas. It grows 8-10 inches tall on sunny woodland slopes in great numbers, all through the California foothills and other areas of the West,…and in my garden!.
American vetch, Vicia americana
Vicia americana is an annual twining vine that is native to California. It blooms at the same time as lupine and Blue dicks.
Long vine-like stems, with leaves with 12–18 leaflets, end in tendrils which sprawl or climb to 3 feet. Vetch appears most commonly in violet, purple, lavender, or white flowers in crowded tangled patches. Vetch blooms in Spring and afterward forms pea-like seedpods.
I’m not sure why, even in my own garden, the blues appear first,…the Wild lilac or Ceanothus, the Iris, Bugle weed or Ajuga and Swan River daisy, Brachyscome are all blooming now in the last week of March*. Apparently they do in this one field, above, as well.
*This blue bloom in my garden, is much earlier, almost a month earlier than other years due to drought. Amazingly, it’s been a green grass, and wildflower bonanza out there in the wild despite this!
Weed and they will come
This area was planned for a California native garden, planted with sprawling manzanita, creeping Sage ‘Dara’s Choice’ and Monkeyflower. There’s a Cleveland sage and Spicebush, too, all edged in clumps of daffodil.
I removed the grass and weeds, mostly filaree, by sitting down, slowly and methodically weeding out the baddies. Surprisingly, it took less time than I thought,…a shady afternoon for an area this size along the right side of the path to the tree. Very satisfying!