Yipee, It's fall! I've been away from the computer and out in the yard. Yanking crab grass, pruning shrubs. Preparing to plant. Yesterday I popped in at the Theodore Payne Foundation to buy wildflower seed, and chat with nursery manager Louise Gonzales about what to add to my garden this year. Fall and winter are the time to start native plants. I like to sow my wildflower seeds in the fall. I scatter them about indiscriminately, and wait to be surprised.
This year I've selected three varieties of clarkia, including elegant clarkia and one called farewell to spring. Elegant clarkia dazzles with its tall spikes of dark pink blossoms. In the wild, I've seen them over five-feet tall. I'll also toss out two kinds of nemophila-- petite, deep-blue "baby blue eyes" and "five spot"-- and a couple of lupines I snatched up a couple varieties of my favorite bulbs, mariposa lily. These little darlings come in a variety of colors, often painted with intricate patterns.
Later, I'll add young perennials, started at Theodore Payne. I'm looking forward to the return of woolly blue curls, a shrub with a delicious minty/pine aroma. It unfurls velvety, purple bracts. (That's a part of the plant below the flower, but to my novice eye, it just looks like more gorgeous flower.) I like to snip some of these and mingle them with roses for a fragrant bouquet.
If you are a notorious plant killer, try the hardy, bold orange California Poppy. It's the state flower and virtually indestructible. But plant sparingly as it will reseed itself profusely.
Recommended Reference: California Native Plants for the Garden, Bornstein, Fross, and O'Brien. For a glimpse at how indigenous plants could look in your yard, visit the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. For more of my writing on native plants, take a peek at the "Southland Ecology" stories on this blog, and check out this radio report on a nursery in San Juan Capistrano.