Objective: Fall planting Ca Natives,…and to have fun!
Each October, on my birthday weekend, a favorite nursery plans it’s annual celebration and harvest festival. I’m so flattered! But really, since Fall is the best time to plant here in the foothills, I go to this event for fun and also with an objective.
The objective is, to have fun buying whatever my heart desires in the way of plants and pots.
I have held this tradition ever since the neighbors, Renota and Marcie introduced me to this nursery back in 2001. Intermountain fills any empty space with craft and food booths and people sit under the trees to eat lunch at the picnic tables and benches, all while listening to local folk music groups. This event is free! Free, except for what you spend on plants and goodies. The timing is good for Christmas shopping.
2015 Plants purchased:
Black sage, Salvia mellifera
Black Sage is a three foot evergreen shrub with white to light blue flowers from March to July. This sage is native to sunny dry slopes in the coast ranges from San Jose to Baja. It likes sun, tolerates some shade. Salvia mellifera is native on gravel-sand to adobe clay in full sun to part-shade. Its limitation seems to be rainfall. It needs about 15″ of rainfall. It gets between 12-40″ in its range, with the lower number being compensated for with fog drip. Important butterfly and hummingbird plant. Quail love the seed. Some companion plants for Salvia mellifera are Quercus agrifolia, Trichostema lanatum, Keckiella cordifolia, and Eriogonum fasciculatum.
Black Sage, Salvia mellifera along a coastal trail.
Creeping Snowberry, Symphoicarpos mollis
Creeping Snowberry grows on north slopes, in ravines, and sometimes is all that’s left of an oak woodland in full sun. The more coastal the setting the more sun this snowberry can handle. In some of the shady ravines the light intensity is so low you have to use 400 speed film at noon to take a picture. I’ve seen Creeping Snowberry along the edge of an interior climate in the heavy shade of Umbellularia californica and Quercus agrifolia a few miles from here where they were growing flat and 5′ across with the leaves 1 foot between nodes.
Creeping snowberry was planted at CALM (California Living Museum) in Bakersfield in full sun; looks excellent there for a month each year, when it is in flower and the new leaves are coming out. Then the leaves burn off on the first hot day. But in San Luis Obispo it is over by the Mens Colony in full sun and it looks fine.
Pink flowers are used by hummingbirds, the snowberries are used by California Thrashers(when they get real hungry as the berries taste like Ivory soap).
A delightful, slow-growing groundcover in a shady garden or cool sun gardenGrey
Tansy, Tanacetum densum amani Europe, Russia
AKA ‘Beth Chatto’. This is going around in this country under the Beth’s name when in fact it is simply one of her Desert Island plants – one that she simply can’t be without. Finely cut as a feather silvery leaves on a low evergreen plant which thrives on dry and sun. Small yellow flowers.
Golden Currant, Ribes aureum
A 3-6′ short deciduous shrub. The flowers are scented yellow. It flowers from April to May. Native to moist areas, central Sierra Nevada east to Rocky Mtns. It likes sun to part shade. It can tolerate standing in water to drought. A very tolerant plant. I’ve seen it growing 5 foot away from a stream in the Eastern Sierras area, covered with very good currants on it. They are about the size of blueberries, the seeds are not bad and the flavor is excellent. The berries can be either yellow, red, or purple when ripe. The flowers are well liked by the hummingbirds. Very easy to grow. Just water. This form will probably not fruit in mild climates. In very mild climates it may not come out of domancy.
Mountain Spiraea (Meadow sweet,) Spiraea densiflora
Spiraea densiflora Torrey & A. Gray (not an active name; please see Spiraea splendens)
Dense Flowered Spiraea, Meadow sweet, Mountain Spiraea, mountain spirea. Spiraea densiflora, a dicot, is a shrub that is native to California and is endemic (limited) to California.
Starlight sage, Salvia mellifera x apiana
Starlight Sage is a fast growing shrub that takes sunshine and heat well. This hybrid was introduced by the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens and is most likely a product of California natives “White Sage” (Salvia Apiana) and “Black Sage” (Salvia Mellifera).
Like other native sages this plant has distinctly fragrant foliage and whorls of long lasting tiny white flowers that attract all manner of wildlife. Hummingbirds, as one would expect, work this plant frequently but most recently I’ve seen a few different species of Bee spend time collecting pollen. Maybe I’ll try harder with insect identification but for now I’ll go with “wee fuzzy honey bee types” and “big black shiny bee types”, both of which seem non-threatening, haste ye back!
This sage does well in little to no water when planted in the ground but in a pot it’ll be fine with a good drink every couple of weeks. The pretty little white flowers appear in early spring and continue through the summer. A small 1 gallon specimen will grow fast to 4′ by 4′ in one year so it’s great if you are looking to fill space quickly with a valuable wildlife plant.
Wild watermelon sage, Salvia microphylla cv.
Whether this plant was named for the vibrant watermelon pink color of the flower or the fruity fragrance of the leaves, Wild Watermelon Salvia is sure to enhance any garden. Its flowers can be used as an edible garnish, if you can bring yourself to deprive the hummingbirds.
The vibrant greens and pinks provide just the right contrast to the grays and light purples of lavenders like our Dutch Mill Lavender. This a lovely early spring blooming combination. However, when the Dutch Mill Lavender is finished flowering the Wild Watermelon Salvia will just keep on blooming.
Wild Watermelon can get up to four feet tall and four feet wide. It can be pruned anytime it gets out of shape. We normally prune to about a foot all around in mid- summer and then again in mid-fall.
Autumn sage ‘San Antonio’, Salvia greggii
Brilliant salmon and peach bi-color flowers. Blooms spring through fall. Grows to 3 feet tall. Full sun. Prune back in winter.
Dwarf Wooly Daisy, Eriophyllum lanatum ‘Siskiyou’
Eriophyllum lanatum ‘Siskiyou’
An extremely variable species ranging from the immediate coast to the high mountains of California into Oregon. The cultivar ‘Siskiyou’ is a Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery selection. Lush gray-green woolly foliage forms low mats up to a foot tall and 2-3 feet wide. Blooms over a long period, spring into fall with cheery 2 inch golden-yellow daisies. This tough perennial will thrive in full sun to very light shade, decent drainage and moderate summer water once established. The open faced daisies are an excellent sources of pollen and nectar and make good platforms for insects to perch, attracting butterflies, bees and other insects.
Purple Sage, Salvia leucophylla ‘Figuroa’
Fuzzy white-gray leaves and lavender-pink flowers make this a standout. Deer resistant, attracts butterflies, fragrant flowers. Hardy to 15 °F.
Dudleya cymosa cymosa
Canyon Liveforever (Dudleya cymosa ssp. cymosa) is a native perennial herb that grows in northern, southern and central California. It tends to grow in rocky slopes, at elevations from 300-8900 feet.
Alpine Catchfly, Silene uniflora prostratus
(info for silene alpestris) or sea campion?? Or Alpine Catchfly, Silene suecica
A useful rock garden or alpine perennial, this flowers during the summer when so many other alpines have already finished. It forms a low, trailing mound or tuft of deep green leaves, bearing short stems with starry white flowers over a long season. Prefers a gritty, well-drained soil but dislikes being extremely dry. Excellent growing between rocks or in walls. Evergreen. Most likely will prove hardy to Zone 4 or possibly colder.