Sylvia challenged herself to see how many of my native grow in her garden. This is her report. PB
One of the great things about blogs is that we can ‘travel’ to other countries and see plant communities in the wild, we can see them through the eyes of a like minded gardener. I have learnt so much from blogs about how to grow plants or why something will not grow for me. This set me thinking
about how little I knew about Pomona’s area of America and the wild plants that grow there. How many plants do I grow that are wild to Pomona? I thought it would make an interesting post.
When I went to look for some of Pomona’s natives in my own garden, I found it a bit of a challenge; our climates are so different. In the West of England we rarely have a shortage of rain and drought years are few and far between so this is not something I consider. I have lost more plants to being too wet rather than too dry.
Plant ‘hunters’ often tell us that we should see plants growing ‘in the wild’ to really understand how they grow, but for most of us that is not possible. However we do know our own native plants and with a growing realisation that a lot of these make lovely garden plants able to copy with the local conditions and we are cultivating more of them.
The first plant I know comes from California is Californian Lilac, this is a favourite shrub of mine. One of the few shrubs that I have more than one variety of. I used to have 3 but lost one – I think because it got too wet! We had an small underground water leak which also killed a Robinia
tree. Ceanothus is border line hardy in the UK but living in the south they seem to thrive, they are considered a good coastal plant here. (Pomona do they grow by the sea in California?) The two I have are both evergreen varieties Ceanothus azureus ‘Concha’ and Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var.
repens, I hope Pomona is not going to tell me that these species don’t come from California!
My ceanothus have so many flowers because they are selected forms. The one in the back garden is more shaded and I think flowers for 2 weeks at the most. But the one in sun in the front flowers for longer and is inclined to have a few stray flowers though the summer. Interesting that it copes with more wind and wet here and doens’t have the hot
temperatures. I am surprised it isn’t grown more, possibly because it can die for no reason, as it is such a useful evergreen plant. I don’t think that it will survive in some of the colder area of the UK. Which is why it is often recommended for the coastal areas where the winters are milder. We all talk of plants for the winter hardiness but the summers really do make a difference. I struggle with Morning Glory (annual climber) because of the colder wet summers yet can’t grow blue poppies because of the heat!
I have to prune both these plants every year to keep them to their allocated spaces. Cocha likes to tap our bedroom window if I forget to trim it! This winter, which was colder than we have had recently, one whole limb died but
it doesn’t seem to have effected the rest of the shrub. Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. repens is a vigorous plant for me but I wouldn’t be without its blue fragant flowers in May. The rest of the year both plants are a lovely green and blend into the garden, Californian Lilac is definitely a very beautiful garden plant and one I wish I had room to grow more off.
I have grown Calfornian Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) from seed and bought some seed to grow this year but it is still in the packet! I will try to get some into the ground hopeing to get some flowers before the end of summer. The first time I pulled some of these up I was amazed at the long root, good for finding and storing water I assume. I get some volunteer plants from the original seed I planted and I like their ferny foliage and bright orange flowers. Do these grow wild around you Pomona?
Now I got a bit stuck, what else is native to Pomona’s area of California, Lupins? I have had trouble with lupins the plants either die on me or are a horrible colour, I have tried seeds without any luck. This year I have my first blue lupin flowering – I wish I had bought more plants and I have a packet of seed to try again. I know lupins come in lots of colours but I like blue and having seed pictures of blue lupins flowering in the wild I will keep trying to get a few blue ones.
The lupin is different from the wild types that grow in California, as it is a garden hybrid. (Interestingly we don’t use the ‘e’ in the common name)
Considering the very different climate, rain and temperatures that we both have, it is not surprising that I don’t grow many plants for this area. It is amazing that so many plants will adapt to such different climate conditions. It is fun to think about the countries our plants come from
especally when you ‘know’ someone that lives there.
Next post: I take up Sylvia’s challenge: how many English natives are in my garden?