Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Couple of Natives

Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman'

Douglas iris
Late winter and early spring are times I really appreciate the native plants in my gardens. Many years ago I planted some ceanothus in a couple difficult spots in my Laguna garden. One did not make it (too close to a sprinkler), but the other one thrived for years and grew into an enormous shrub covered with gorgeous blue flowers for months every spring. I can't think of many other plants that brought me so much pleasure without any care from me. One day it was entirely dead, overnight, the victim of underground voles that ate the root system causing an immediate and untimely death for my beloved ceanothus. I have planted many more, but none have grown the the proportions of that one, although there is always hope because I have a number of them in different locations, waiting for one to take off. This picture is one that is blooming beautifully outside my front door in SJC. It has potential. Right next to it is a couple clumps of Douglas iris, another native plant. They both are doing well. Finding a good spot for native plants in our gardens is often tricky because they can have very specific cultural needs due to California's varied topography. A plant that will grow naturally on one hillside will perish on the next hill for a variety of reasons. Soil, sun exposure, and moisture levels can vary greatly throughout our region, making growing natives a little tricky. My best advise? Try them out in different parts of the garden and don't be discouraged if they don't respond immediately. Successfully growing California natives may take some patience and determination, but they are worth it!


Lucy said...

I'm always startled that Ceanothus exists. And now I'm startled to hear it called a native because, of course, where I live - it isn't!

Sheila said...

Lucy, I guess every plant is a native somewhere!