Monday, March 30, 2015

Dudleya Returns

Indulge me.  I think Dudleyas are the cutest plants ever.  My infatuation dates from before I had educated myself about native plants.  I discovered my first dudleyas at a retreat center in San Marcos:  silver jewels tucked under the deep shade of an oak.  Such an unlikely place for a succulent!  Then I saw the same silver rosettes scattered on a tall north-facing cliff (road cut) on Highway 101 near Thousand Oaks-- so delightful.  I can tell which of my friends are plant lovers: they've noticed those Highway 101 landmarks too!

These giant Chalk Dudleyas (Dudleya pulverulenta) were seen on private property in north San Diego county.
Note the tea bottle for scale.
It may be that, since Dudleyas look like desert plants, people are less likely to kill them by overwater than other natives.  They may shrivel in summer, and many of them (including the big silvery rosette kinds) get misshapen in frost.  Most prefer part shade rather than sun.  Don't cook your Dudleya. But other than that, treat them like a succulent.  Always err on the side of underwater, and great drainage.

Crystal Cove SP had these cabbage-y Dudleyas growing on a road cut (where else?) in deep shade.

This Dudleya (lanceolata, I believe) in deep damp shade did not look much like a succulent,
except for the characteristic flower stalks forming
Dudleyas really want to grow sideways.  Can you tell?

This Catalina Dudleya (Dudleya virens ssp. hassei) purchased from Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden
was directionally challenged.
No problem.  I just tucked him sideways into a slope that I can see from my kitchen window.  What a delight!

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has Dudleya ground cover.  How cool is that?

This is also Catalina Dudleya, but with a little different growth pattern.
And no, that bluish stuff so trendy all over coastal Southern California as ground cover is not Dudleya. It's Blue Senecio.  You are not likely to see Dudleyas for sale in regular nurseries or growing in a suburban yard– though you may see the occasional Chalk Dudleya.
NOT DUDLEYA! Blue Senecio. 'Blue Fingers.'
 Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden's Grow Native nursery (in Claremont) has the best selection of Dudleyas for sale that I have seen.  Indulge yourself!

For sale: Dudleya Cymosa - Grows widely in California, even in in frosty places like Sierra foothills!
A new gardening friend gave me some cuttings from her Dudleya collection. Yippie! And the San Diego CNPS Garden Tour offered plenty of dudleyas in pots and all over gardens.  Dudleyas are starting to bloom too.  Stay tuned for more Dudleyas!

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Peak Experience

Field trip with the OC California Native Plant Society: plant nerd heaven!  On Sunday I went to Elsinore Peak with 22 other plant nuts and one agreeable toddler.  We were shepherded by the intrepid Ron Vanderhoff on a gentle ramble, slowed considerably by the need for all to inspect each rare sprout.  
Mountain Chapparal on Elsinore Peak.
Black Sage (Salvia mellifera) in front, Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) behind, and mountains to the south.
The clay-soiled meadow at Elsinore is home to exotic bulbs such as Chocolate Lily (Frittilaria biflora).  It is also threatened by illegal off-road vehicles and the very invasive Yellow Star Thistle.  Profuse thanks to Back to Natives volunteers who have been hand-pulling thistles.  They will either be eradicated or take over; those plants do not share.
Chocolate Lily

As each new plant was sighted, a spirited consultation might ensue until the detailed identity of the subject was assured.  "This is Ranunculus occidentalis, not californicus, which we usually see by the coast.  Californicus has 10 or 12 leaves, while occidentalis has five."  How about that?  I planted occidentalis labeled californicus; the botanical garden which shall remain nameless can't count.
These mystery Buttercups can't count either.
Plants with extra-petaled flowers were in a stand of 5 and 6 petaled Ranunculus occidentals.  Doubled?  Hybrid?
While the hard core botanists were getting excited over unusual plants that were not yet in full bloom or not very showy, I was getting reacquainted with old friends. Mariposa Lilies, for instance.
Splendid Mariposa Lily (Calochortus splendens).  I think all Mariposa Lilies are splendid.

And Manzanitas.  The two native to our area are Bigberry (Arctostaphylos glauca) and Eastwood (Arctostaphylos glandulosa).  The leaves  of the two look similar, but Eastwood can grow back from its roots after a fire, while Bigberry's strategy for survival is... to produce lots of berries.
Bigberry Manzanita: characteristic deep red bark and some berries left.  It flowered in January or so. This specimen was about thirty feet tall!.
I did meet some new friends too.  Look at the odd seed pods on this one.
Wing-fruit (Lomatium dasycarpum)
In my as-yet unfruitful quest for a grape soda lupine, I met this near relative.

Southern Mountain Lupine (Lupins excubitus var. austromontanus)
looks just like Grape Soda Lupine, but doesn't smell. Darn.
And I tasted a most delicious Red-Skinned Onion:  milder than your store-bought yellow onion, and the greens were tasty too.  If you find seeds, let me know!
Allium haematochiton.  Yum!
From Elsinore, we went on to a couple other sites; I will show you what we found there later.

As I sat sorting through my photos the evening of the hike, my heart soared.  I felt like the richest person in the world, to have seen such treasures with new friends who know them so well.  These words came to mind.
What does it mean that the earth is so beautiful, and what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live? (Mary Oliver)
Yucca stand out against the sky like an exclamation point.

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Confessions of a Hand Waterer

Watering your yard in suburban California is a given.  But hand watering is so retro.  So it is with some embarrassment I confess: I hand water my native garden (when I water it at all.)
Sophisticated irrigation equipment.
In the front yard, I have no choice.  The sprinkler system is programmed by the association gardeners, as part of a larger system with non-native plants and a bog that passes for a lawn.  All I could do was cap the sprinklers and make my own way.  By the time I redid the back yard, I decided it was just easier to water by hand.  Really.
This nifty gadget from Lowe's will cap off a sprinkler.
Screwing sprinkler heads shut didn't work for me; some still leaked.
Las Pilitas Nursery suggests watering gallons on first planting, then letting natives survive on ambient water.  Two years of drought following my garden renovation made that approach unworkable.  Besides, my tiny garden is always at close view.  I want a little more green in summer than ambient conditions would provide.

My controller will water once a week minimum, too often for established natives.  I never found automatic sprinklers very satisfactory anyway, even for the roses.  Auto-sprinklers are better than total neglect, but they never seem to distribute water the right way, without waste, especially around dense shrubs.  But that's what Coastal Sage Scrub, and pleasing flower borders, are: dense shrubs!
Dense shrubs (13 different native plants.)
I could have set up a drip system.  Drip is not recommended by either Las Pilitas Nursery or Tree of Life Nursery, though Juan Garcia at the Irvine Ranch Water District swears by it for all non-lawn applications.  But he's a gadget geek.  Drip systems eventually clog, which you only discover when the plant dies.  Unless you are one of those people who does preventative maintenance on your drip sprinkler system twice annually, and files your taxes on February 1, in which case I have nothing to say to you.

Further, drip systems (unless densely networked) produce narrow vertical columns of soil and leave the rest bone dry.  That works for some plants sometimes, but in no way resembles how plants get water on our coastal hills.  They get wet leaves, from rain, fog and dew.  They like wet leaves (in cool weather, i.e. at night.)   Desert natives may mind wet leaves, in which case our dew would rot them long before semiweekly sprinkling.
California native brews to aid garden watering. Lilac verbena and towering white sage in the background.
So here's what I do.  I water new natives, gallon-sized and smaller, once a week for the first two months.  After that, it's once every 2-3 weeks.  In the summer, that's briefly with a hand held sprinkler set on "shower."  I'm just washing off the dust.  Las Pilitas advises "Dave's Beer Watering: "
After a bad day in the office, or every Monday, (no more than once per week folks), grab a beer, coffee, tea, water, whatever and a hose.  Spray the foliage and splash the ground until the beer is gone. Your yard work is done. Hard work but someone has to do it.
Take note, folks.  One thorough soaking in summer and your natives can DIE. DEAD. DECEASED.  Have I made my point?  Now you are thinking to yourself, how can a plant survive being just barely wetted every other week for five months?  It's called summer dormancy, and almost all California natives do it.  Many natives have no protection whatsoever from the molds that flourish in warm damp soil.  Why? Because in thousands of years they never experienced any warm damp soil; their roots were completely dry six or more months a year.
Awkward micro sprinklers giving the garden a slow soaking.
Rube Goldberg system features velcro and plant stakes.
In the winter, when rain does not oblige, I pull out the micro sprinkler array (from Tree of Life Nursery) to give the yard a good soaking– so far twice this year.  This involves running a very low volume of water for hours.  I could leave a system in place like Tomaz does.  But Tomaz's system looks inconspicuous.  Mine looks goofy.  So I set it up and take it down.  It's a pain, I confess.   If my garden were not such an absurd shape and I wasn't so finicky about conserving water, I could just run an old fashioned sprinkler like we did in the Dark Ages.
Remember these?
A few shade-loving and riparian (stream-side) natives tolerate, or even appreciate, the 5-7 day watering I give my roses.  These include coral bells, native mints and nettles, hummingbird sage, and strawberries. Potted natives need frequent watering, but good drainage.
The strawberries and the coral bells get a little extra water.

I have decided to stop being embarrassed about hand watering.  It avoids geysers, watering in the rain, watering the sidewalk, dead zones and runoff.  And who would water three times a week if they had to do it by hand?  The final benefit of hand watering is not the beer.   Put simply, I pay attention to my plants.  I give them what they need when they need it.  They do better that way.

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Garden Tours!

The 2015 native garden tours are starting to happen.  These include:

Theodore Payne Society: March 21 & 22 - covers LA and Valley areas.  Sorry for the late notice. Very fancy!  See enticing photos here.

CNPS San Diego County: March 28 & 29 Pretty fancy, sounds like. (I'm going to that one!) Gardens in Poway and San Diego city.  See photos on their Facebook page for your virtual touring pleasure.
You can tour my garden any time!
CNPS Orange County:  May 2.  Working on becoming fancy, and cheaper than the others. More info on this one later.  Tomaz and I will be one of the gardens.  Fun!
The formal tour is a good excuse to spruce up. I already pruned the Coyote Bush (center).  Think I'll paint those utility doors a darker color.
More tours (mostly in Northern California) are listed at the main CNPS site here.

Touring is a way not only to see a variety of great native gardens, but to quiz the gardeners on their plant choices and gardening know-how.  We see different garden styles and microclimates, which helps clarify what we like best.
The Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica) bloom peaked in late January.  So spectacular I went out and planted another one.  This one likes drip irrigation and blooms prolifically in light shade.  Great transitional plant.
You can't catch everything in a tour.  Natives do not all bloom at the same time.  Never fear, I'll pixelate what you miss and deliver it to your screen.
Virtual tours have their advantages.  You can see unusual things like this Hummingbird Moth (aka Sphinx moth), which loves Lilac Verbena, like its namesake.

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

California Gold (Flannel Bush)

A spectacular native is Fremontodendron, with the prosaic name of Flannelbush.  It will never fit into my yard but should be a staple of slope and highway plantings.  Alas, the Irvine Company remains oblivious to its allure.  With its profuse yellow to orange flowers, similar in size and shape to their leaves, it looks as though fall arrived in spring.
Flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum) in the wild, in spring.  Photo courtesy of Las Pilitas Nursery.
Flannellbush is related to mallows, and it has a somewhat mallow-shaped leaf.  It can grow to the size of a tree.  The leaf might make you wonder if it was a dwarf sycamore tree.  Until it bloomed.
This Flannelbush towers over a proper sized Coast Sunflower adjacent to an arroyo at UCI.  
Flannelbushes are notorious for their intolerance of summer water.   That could be a virtue if dealt with properly.  Last year I saw them for sale at Armstrong Nursery.  I'm sure none of those plants are still alive.
One of RSABG's Flannelbush cultivars.
The best display of Flannelbushes is at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont.  They have created several cultivars, and also some enormous Fremontodendron hybrid trees (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon x Fremontodendron 'Pacific Sunset' if you want to get technical) that are a wonder to behold.  Fall in Spring.
"That thirty-foot (wide and tall) tree can't be a Flannelbush!" I said to myself when I first saw this colossal beauty.  But it is– a Flannelbush hybrid.
One handsome Flannelbush resides at UCI and is visible from the campus ring road, bringing me fall each spring as I run my daily errands.  I assume it gets no supplemental water.  It is fairly toasted right now after a record-breaking heat wave in winter.  But it still has some nice blooms. Its neighbors fared a little better.
My favorite flannelbush.  Those brown bits are toasted leaves.  Oops.  Maybe it can grow back this spring.
As with some other California natives, the British have brought out the best in Flannelbush-- witness this UK Telegraph article. They recommend espaliering it on a south-facing wall.  That is some kind of dramatic. Maybe in San Francisco.  But it won't work here (See the L.A. Times article explaining why.) And it would probably get overwatered in summer and die.  Sigh.  What is so hard about NOT WATERING A PLANT?!!

Flannelbushes can get real big.  I don't care for the smaller hybrids like 'Ken Taylor.'  Little leaves, little flowers, no drama.  'California Glory' is the favorite of the Brits, and I agree. If you have the space to try a Flannelbush, you'll never have to water in summer.  Read up so you have a good chance of success.    Then invite me over to toast fall in spring.

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Is Your Gardener for Hire?

A blog reader asked if my gardener was for hire. I thought the rest of you might like to know what I told her....

Design is an ongoing process. Tomaz and I reworked this shared bed a little last weekend.
Instead of one lonely Deer Grass, now there are three (and a little less lawn.)
When they get over their haircuts, I hope symmetry will appear.
I am the gardener, from start to finish. I was working very part time when I installed the garden. I had a landscape architect friend (great knowledge of design, less of natives) to help me with design. I willfully ignored some of her advice, to my detriment.  Key to my success with natives is a knowledgable next-door neighbor Tomaz Mastnak (and lots of websites, and Colin at Tree of Life) to help me with plant selection and care. I hired a couple half-days from a kind gardener and his teenage son with a strong back to do turf removal, soil shifting, and some planting.

Some of the 50 pots with a plan, January 2012.  I was somewhat terrified.
For care, it is very hard to find someone who will not overwater natives and knows that they are supposed to go dormant in summer. In fact any low-water garden is a challenge for commercial gardeners. You will have to coach most of them. Fortunately for we who do it ourselves, natives need less care than, for instance, roses— though more mindfulness, shall we say, than a lawn.

The same bed two years later.  Hummingbird Central. Yes, I squeezed in a few more.
Are you sure you want native and not just low water? The former is wonderful, but a lot harder to do than the latter (not intrinsically, just given the present state of gardening knowledge and plant availability.)

I am still learning the local landscapers and gardeners who do natives well; until I see their established work I won't post specific referrals.  Tree of Life Nursery offers referrals for landscape designers and architects who work with natives.

Annuals like Tidy Tips are hard to "design"
and you better not "weed" the wildflower before you identify it!
These guys greet me from Tomaz's yard.
 I'm hoping they'll join their friends next year on my side..
For an authentic restoration with local plants, Back To Natives has a design service. I might do that if I had acreage.
That ferny thing in the center is supposed to be a tree.
I'm giving it another year to show some verticality.
(Fernleaf Ironwood,  Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius)
Plans only take a gardener so far.
My friend could give you a nice low-ish water design (with a few natives in it) for a modest consideration. Cheryl Fields, (949) 290-6406.  If you’re on the cheap, draw up a scale drawing and let’s talk about it.

I would love to know gardeners who don't kill natives.  Most of our hardworking low-cost neighborhood gardeners are aghast at the idea of setting your irrigation for less than three times a week! If you know of such people who are taking on new clients, let me know.  Please!!
Blue Eyed Grass (Sysirinchium bellum).   So cute. Easy to propagate.
 Summer-dormant perennial.  Popping up all over my yard!
These are From Crystal Cove SP, where they definitely don't get supplemental water.
If you plant this year, do it before April or in late Fall. It might be great to get some background plants in soon while figuring out the rest. Let me know how it goes! 

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eating Weeds

There is something magical about eating what I have grown and picked myself.  I suspect I'm not the only one who feels that way.  Mine is not a vegetable garden.  I have a few fruits and herbs.  But I have discovered another culinary treat: weeds!  Well, maybe.

Stinging Nettle.
If you touch this plant you'll be very sorry.
But it tastes good.  Go figure.
My friend Bellonda forages and eats wild plants.  While we were hiking together, she was pointing out:  "This is edible, if you're desperate.  That is edible, if you want to bother."  But not long ago she came back from a foraging trip gushing about all the yummy treasures she had found.

Bellonda's stinging nettle tea and soup.
She gave me a jar of stinging nettle soup.  Talk about hair of the dog that bit you!  It was delicious.

I want to respect natural parks and other protected lands.  I also want to preserve any plant material not found in abundance, or residing in heavily traveled areas.  So my foraging options are limited.  I know that dandelions are edible (when young, and you won't find them any other way in my garden.) But I never remembered to bring them in the house.  Now I've tried it a few times... and while the act is satisfying in a man-bites-dog way, I am not yet a fan.

Eat mustard, all you want!
 These plants look cheery but they crowd out native plants and destroy mycorrhizae,
the soil fungus that helps water natives.
At the moment there is plenty of foraging in non-preserve areas of UCI.  In addition to dandelions, mustard galore!  Your typical Black Mustard leaves are ghastly at any size, hairy and thick.  But some other mustards are tender and succulent when young, if nippy with mustard tang.  The flowers are also nippy and tender-- and so festive!   So... mustard greens and flowers on the salad!

And here is one I never learned as a kid: Sour Grass, a.k.a. Oxalis: the three-leaf clovers (large and small).  As long as you choose tender young leaves, it's quite fun to brighten a salad with this tart, but not bitter, flavor. Sad to say, my yard has plenty of this weed.

A neighbor makes these nifty garden boxes with baby greens and flowers.
We are all supposed to be eating our greens.  If there's one vegetable you grow at home, fresh baby greens could be a great choice.  (They need cool weather, sun, rich soil, protection from snails and rabbits... I'm not bothering at present.)  But just a few sprigs of fresh picked wild greens, a.k.a. weeds, brightens any salad.

Culinary notes (to self, and anyone else who might try foraging greens):
  • Be sure to wash them well! I used a salad spinner.  Nothing ruins my appetite for greens like a bit of gravel. 
  • Use a base of tender young lettuce and put the greens on top for spice– unless they're really mild.
  • Serve with a simple dressing. I like fancy olive oil and Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, or Girard's Champagne Dressing.
  • Add something sweet to the salad if your greens are bitter.  Or at least something tart.  or salty.  Or all three!  Bitter does not stand well alone. 
If you think this whole foraging thing is a hoot and want to learn more, check out this Facebook feed: Pascal Bauder.  He is writing a book on gourmet cooking with foraged foods and he is very good at what he does.  I think I'll skip the bugs though.  You can join him.  Remember not to harvest from protected lands, or to take more than a portion of what is growing.

Pascal does all kinds of fancy stuff with wild food.
(Images used by permission.)
Soon the weeds will get big and tough.  So if you are going to experiment with eating weeds, start now.

Disclaimer:  Some native, garden, and naturalized plants are quite poisonous.  Public areas and front yards may have been sprayed with who knows what.  Any accessible wild area, including reserves and parks, may have been treated with Roundup to kill non-natives.  Recruit a trusted friend who knows what's what, or join Pascal on one of his foraging trips.  But go ahead and eat the dandelions and oxalis in your yard!

Bellonda's stinging nettle soup with sour cream and bacon.  Yum!

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hot Book (for Orange County)

It's hot, because Amazon resellers are jacking up the price more than three times list!  I'm glad it sold well, and I hope they print more.  (First printing only 2500 copies.) It's Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains, by Robert Allen and Fred Roberts.  At $35 it's pricey, but what a great gift for a local floraphile or hiker.  Sea and Sage Audubon in Irvine has a dozen left at list price, and it's available online from CNPS-OC.  But probably not for much longer.

I love this book.
It's on my nightstand to prime my eyes for beautiful dreams.
California  has thousands of flowering native plants; a comprehensive guide might require a wheelbarrow.  Or a computer.   Those little tri-folds at the entrance to the trail don't take you very far.  Our climate and terrain are so diverse.  Similar-looking plants of different species grow here but not there, how does a hobbyist tell one from another?

With the guides, outstanding photos, and indexes in this book, I can avoid deluding myself that I've found a plant that only exists in Shasta County.  I actually identify the flower in question, or at least produce a short list of candidates.  I know which plants in my yard really grow in the nearby hills too.  And I can drool over photos of flowers I might really see in person!  Hooray!

Because of this book, I can confidently state that these little gems
in the UCI Ecological Preserve are California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica).
Don't expect to get accurate bloom times from this book.  Bloom times near the coast are so quirky-- they may be a month apart on different sides of my yard.  But there's lots to learn about where to find what, history of names, uses of plants, and insets about neat collaborations between plants, bugs, butterflies, and other wildlife.  And detailed descriptions that really help you figure out which plant you've seen.

Best of all, this book offers a sense of place and breathtaking beauty from two guys who put their heart and soul (and 12 years) into making Orange County wildflowers accessible to the rest of us.  Orange Coast Magazine ran a cute story on them.  Deep gratitude for the encyclopedic knowledge and persistence of Bob Allen and Fred Roberts.

These little beauties, seen on coastal ridge line trails,
 are California Sun Cups (Camissoniopsis bistorta), it turns out.
Bob Allen calls the cover flower, commonly known as Blue Dicks, "School Bells,"  because he gives tours to school groups who just can't get past the more common name.  That's the thing about common names: you can pick your own!  (I do.)

If I remember to check the style color next time, I'll know for sure which Prickly Pear I'm seeing.
This one was at Crystal Cove.  I never knew what a style was before. 
You don't actually have to bring this tome hiking with you.  Just snap photos of the plant in question with your phone and figure it out when you get home, or maybe in the car.  Remember to get a snap of the foliage.  And in tricky cases, the underside of the flower.  And don't forget the style!  Before this book, I never could keep my lupines straight, but now I know I saw Pauma Lupine, Stinging Lupine (very fuzzy, don't cuddle) for sure, and probably Coulter's Lupine and a few others too, in my last Crystal Cove hike.  I'm still looking (smelling) for Grape Soda Lupine.  Happy hiking!

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Roadside Attractions

Last Saturday my "hike" was along Mission Canyon Road in Santa Barbara.  The Botanical Garden was closed, setting up for the beer party that was sold out.  I snuck in and snapped a few cuties.  I hadn't see Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii I believe) in bloom before; this one does not have holly-shaped leaves:

A random plant of Desert Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia)
was not in a roped-off section of the Garden. 
We parked next to the Botanical Garden, then walked up to the road's end.  It was nothing special for Santa Barbara, which means it was gorgeous. As we walked along the garden's roadside, we saw a wonderful mix of native shrubs: lemonadeberry, toyon, laurel sumac, sugarbush, mountain mahogany,  and a few more, with a few oaks as well.  Keep those in mind for a trimmable background xeriscape evergreen hedge.
From left to right: Toyon, Sugarbush below, Laurel Sumac, with Oak in the back.

Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia) berries here had the thickest white frosty coating I have ever seen.
Usually they are pink from the reddish hard seed under the coating.
 That coating comes off on your fingers, is slimy to touch, and tastes of citric acid, thus the name.
Kid fun!
We could tell as soon as we hit residential property.  Though the lots were large and very steep, folks had stripped the native foliage and planted whatever.  Sad.  And nobody was keeping out the invasive bad actors.  Natives were still found on some of the steepest slopes.

Lacy Greenbark CeanothusCeanothus spinosis, with the faintest tint of blue,
 growing on vertical patches of land, is probably a local native.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) grew low and lush, and was just starting to bloom.
I am starting to know natives from non-natives.  I can't help loving the non-native Oxalis, though it crowds out native wildflowers all up and down the California coast.  If you want to nibble on it and check out its common name "Sour Grass," feel free!

Non-native Oxalis, probably Oxalis pes-caprae, which spreads by tuberous roots.
Fountain grass, however handsome, is bad news. Not only does it crowd out natives, it provides dense dry summer fuel for fires.

Fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum): good looking, bad actor.
Roadside attractions I was not able to photograph:  Gorgeous hillsides of yellow Coast Sunflowers and blue Lupines along Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Mountains on the way to Solvang.  Hard to pull over in 50-mph traffic on windy roads in the rain.  And at my favorite road cut on Highway 101, in addition to the silver jewel-like Dudleya pulverulenta I always ogle, I noticed for the first time some Giant Coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea, formerly Coreopsis gigantea.) A Dr. Seuss plant if there ever was one!

The main attraction was my son Mark, the "token white guy" performing with Ravaani,  a UCSB Indian a cappella group that does mashups of American pop songs with Indian songs.  I'm glad I got to see the roadside attractions too.

To subscribe to this blog, click here.
To use text or photos from this blog, click here.
To share this post (do share!) click on the appropriate tiny icon below (email, facebook, etc.)