Front yard makeover continued

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It has been six weeks since the last post – shame on me! I really am trying to be better about this and do hope that I have not lost too many of you. After posting on October 18th I went into plant sale mode, preparing for the annual plant sale for the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter of California Native Plant Society. We sold loads of plants, raised money to support efforts to understand and protect California’s unique and beautiful flora, and met many new people and old friends who share our passion for gardening with California native plants.

The following weekend was full of talks, demonstrations and delicious foods made from California native plants. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s first ever California Native Food Symposium was a real treat. I’m sure it was loads of work to put this program together but I do hope it is just the first of a continuing series. Regardless, I now have white sage, Pacific Blue sage and yerba buena hanging in my laundry room (it would be in the kitchen if I didn’t have mischievous cats). I also made some chickweed (I know it is not native to CA) pesto. I learned at the RSABG food table that sunflower seeds work well as a substitute for China-grown, but still expensive, pine nuts. I also added a bit of wild sage.

The week after the symposium we started planting the monarch waystation in the South Pas nature park. Although I haven’t had time to write about it, the gardening season has been a busy one.

So today I finally got to work in my own garden and it was glorious. In an effort to brighten up the burned out look of the front yard since the avocado tree came down, I put in a bunch of flowery lovelies:

  1. Solanum xanti ‘Mountain Pride’ (1 – 1g)
  2. Verbena lilacina ‘De La Mina’ (4 – 1g)
  3. Sisyrinchium bellum (5 – 1g)
  4. Fragaria chilensis (4 – 1g)
  5. Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’ (2 – 1g)

Here’s what it looks like:

New plants
New plants: De La Mina verbena, blue-eyed grass, seaside strawberry, Electric Blue penstemon.
Front yard looks bare
Front yard looks too brown, though I do love brown. Juncus (to left and bottom) survived the extra sun and heat but the ground cover of seaside strawberry burned out. It would probably fill in over time but I am impatient and nervous about the spring garden tour, so I’m adding four new plants.
Seaside strawberry groundcover
Seaside strawberries will hopefully grow into a shiny green ground cover.
Plants set out in front yard.
Plants set out in front yard by sidewalk: De La Mina verbena and Electric Blue penstemon. These join existing verbenas and Margarita BOP penstemon.
Mountain Pride solanum is a lovely, flowery perennial.
Mountain Pride solanum is a lovely, flowery perennial.
New plants in and watered.
New plants in and watered. Hope to use this picture in a before-and-after sequence with wildflowers, penstemons, and verbenas all in bloom next spring.
Senecio palmeri
Palmer’s senecio has new leaves below. Of course I couldn’t help myself but had to prune.
Pruned Palmer's senecio
Got carried away but I really think this plant will respond well to its hair cut. Either that or it will die – time will tell.
Hopefully some of these cuttings will root, especially the senecio, so if it doesn’t appreciate my heavy-handed pruning I can try again. Also made cuttings from a bright yellow Cleveland monkeyflower. I have been making cuttings from this plant for years – one of the easiest plants to root from cuttings.
Here’s a mini-demo on making cuttings of the Cleveland monkeyflower. I’m no expert, but it works for me. Cut stem (1-1/2 to 2 inches long) below node (where leaves grow).
Remove almost all of the leaves. Cuttings lose water from the leaves so it is important to remove as many as possible but leave enough to provide a bit of energy for the growth of roots.
Although it is best to use sterile perlite or some other sterile cutting mix, I make my own from leaf mold, perlite, sand, and garden soil. Since I don’t have a misting system, I like to have organics to keep the root area moist. I risk damping off – mold forming at stem/soil interface – but with these easy to root plants, I am usually successful. I poke holes in the soil for the cuttings.
These plants probably don’t need rooting hormone but I had it on hand – and in hand – so why not?
All tucked in.
My new officemates, the cuttings, never talk when I am working. Actually, the one thing I have learned about rooting cuttings is that temperature matters. The roots won’t grow when it is cold outside, and the fastest way to failure is to place them in the sun where they dry up and cook. I am thinking about getting a heating pad for them.
Plans for edible garden with native plants in front yard.
Here’s the plan from my last post. Already I have failed to follow the plan! Rather than putting in Abutilon palmers (Ab palm) shown in bottom left corner, I put in the Electric Blue penstemon and left a columbine that has been there for about a year. Now that I think about it, the Palmer’s mallow (Abutilon palmeri) would not have been a good choice for that location since I think it gets a bit too large and might block my neighbors’ view of the sidewalk and street as they pull out of their driveway.