Half the year is over and in the garden I’m walking around taking stock. June usually means the real riotous bloom of the Iris, fruit trees and bulbs is dying down. Now the dry garden can be the spotlight.
Our climate is very close to that of the Mediterranean. We can grow all the plants suitable for that wet winter and dry summer climate. Also we can can choose the best of the colorful, long blooming California natives to provide plenty of interest in the garden. The good news is that so many of these plants are deer and drought resistant that they can be grown in the outer reaches of our gardens.
Sticky Monkey Flower
Last June I visited several Nurseries near Palo Alto and Half Moon Bay.
This colorful native, Mimulus aurantiacus or Sticky Monkey Flower, was found at Yerba Buena Native Plant Nursery last July and this is what it looks like in it’s first bloom in my Central Sierra foothills garden. It has had one dripper on it for the year, which I remove after August this year.
You can plant these in completely dry areas of the garden and they do best with little summer water. In a wild garden setting this plant is perfect.
Shown in the background is a Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasiculatum foliolosum, that Half Moon Bay Nursery sourced from Annie’s Annuals. I have Sticky Monkey Flower in several places now in the garden.
True geraniums are overlooked by deer and pretty drought tolerant….airy, delicate foliage with an abundance of purple flowers. This is G. ‘Rozanne.’ The pale peach behind is Columbine ‘Mccana’s Giant’, a great companion with the same water needs and deer resistance.
I used to hand water these three Cleveland sage, Salvia clevelandii, to get them through the hot summer, but then I found that I needed to spend most of last summer on the coast away form the garden! The garden wasn’t the priority then and I figured that plants that lived through this neglect would be the true survivors.
Now in the severe drought year, I’m seeing the result and it’s just great!
This Cleveland sage, now in it’s sixth year and 4 ft tall, got no water for the last year and I had no time to deadhead t either. Obviously, it doesn’t need me, the gardener, at all!
I’m delighted to see that the yellow Sticky Monkey flower, is blooming right along with it. Every Cleveland sage needs a Monkeyflower!
When, on Facebook, did I last post pictures of the Autumn sage, Salvia greggii, growing around the edges of my dry meadow? Two months ago? Yes, in March!
It’s STILL blooming, people! This is the most colorful, useful plant ever in my view and I grow nearly 25 of these Autumn sage and similar Mountain or Baby sage, Salvia microphylla to add long lasting low key color that blends well with the muted grey green tones of my naturalistic garden.
Shown here with white lamb’s ear and native Blue flax in the foreground..this area gets a once a week spray with the hose. No water though for the last three weeks while I’ve been out of town. What does that say?
Autumn sage can easily be found in four inch pots, in pinks, lavender, purple and red and white
Matilija Poppy, Romneya coulteri, is a perennial or shrub growing to eight feet tall and, says Las Pilitas Nursery, ‘if in a light soil ‘forever’ wide (It spreads by rhizomes).’
The large tissue-paper flowers are white with a yellow center, giving it the nickname, Fried-Egg Flower..
Romneya likes sun and good drainage and loose soil. This one in my garden is planted in a shallow filled-in trough caused by erosion and slightly under an oak in open partial shade.
Las Pilitas Nursery writes in their blog, that ‘they plant three to get one started’ and that’s what happened in my garden, too. Looks like this one, first time blooming and about 4 ft tall, is already started to spread through it’s roots and can do so with plenty of room to run.
Here are two common hybrids, easily found in local nurseries. Pink Penstemon campanulata and Penstemon X gloxinioides ‘Midnight’ behind it are both grown right out where der raom on the outer edge of the garden. They get a spray of from the hose when I water the nearby veg garden.
Buckwheats are becoming more well known as easy care and colorful garden plants and are being found more often in native plant sections of local nurseries in California.
This buckwheat, Sulfur Flower, Eriogonum umbellatum, has grown reliably in my garden, next to these steps for 6 years or so, blooming in the month of May.
This low growing variety forms a dense mat of attractively textured foliage with long lasting blooms that remind you of ‘everlastings’ or straw flowers, as they dry. Never needs any water or care,…no deadheading,..nothing! Look for Eriogonums!
All these plants have been blooming throughout the month of May. I hope you can find one to try.