The garden that I don't visit much anymore

It seems to be doing fine with out me, for the most part. I would like to visit more, but it just isn't possible.


Lots of this purple doug iris this year.


And Phacelia...viscida? Cramming all this math into my brain for the last year has come at some cost, especially to botanical nomenclature.


The Cerinthe major does not seem as vigorous this year as in years past. Is it getting inbred? I wonder. There isn't a lot of free soil for plants to self sow in. Later this summer I think it's really time to start taking out a lot of stuff. Maybe that will make room for happy self-sowing.



Rosa 'Moonlight', one of three roses I was inspired to grow by garden bloggers. Do you know who inspired me to grow 'Moonlight'?


Rosa 'Cornelia'. Not inspired by anyone so much as it was just sitting there when I was at Annie's Annuals one day.


San Francisco's purple Senecio. It has naturalized here in any shady, moist location.


Cretan rock lettuce (Petromarula pinnata), first flowers from seed I sowed at least three years ago. The leaves are edible but they're kind of tough, at least raw.

Petromarula pinnata

One of two surviving Echium pininana of 10 that I started from seed, and it leans terribly. I'll chop it down as soon as the flowers are done and the bees have moved on. I think I overwatered these plants or something. Ignored in the landscape they grow tough and sturdy and quite upright. Nurtured in garden soil, they become lanky and unwieldy.


My stalwart abutilon. Always blooming.


Okay, I have a midterm on Tuesday. More pictures and words later.


Garden Glimpses

I need to finish the roadtrip blog posting, but it's already getting so late. Maybe I'll just do one more post to wrap it up. In the meantime, I visited my garden... Spring is here but I don't have any wildflowers this year which is a damn shame. Spring without wildflowers in the garden feels awful. But with school, I just didn't have time to edit the garden to make room, or get seeds started.

Anyway...I think the closest thing I have to wildflowers might be some Camassia, a grassland prairie bulb. This particular bulb is three or four years old and very reliable in the garden. If/when we move, I'm digging it up and taking it with us.


Heracleum lanatum is another wild plant, and one of the heaviest self-sowers in my garden. I have to be careful where I allow volunteers to remain because the leaves get BIG. If you want a mini-Gunnera for a couple months every spring, welcome Heracleum into your garden.


My love affair with California-native perennial bunchgrasses might be waning. They are also heavy self-sowers, and I find them hard to identify and distinguish, even from weeds. Maybe the mistake was in planting too many different kinds. I think my favorite is California fescue (Festuca californica), but it's a little bit on the large side for the small city garden. Good thing I'm also fond of the smaller Nassella cernua which I also have a few of. If I were starting over now, I might use only Nassella cernua (which you can get seed for from Seedhunt, or buy already growing 4-inch pots from Annie's. But I am also interested in the exotic sedges like Carex testacea and Uncinia uncinata (the redder one in this picture):


Someday, I'll have a large monocots-only bed with those plants and a few hopefully well-placed cordyline, phormium, and beschorneria.



I also want a tree fern glen...


inter-planted with fancy fuchsias.


That's not too much to ask is it?

The Echium pininana (seen here, with Fuchsia boliviana) is in bud and soon to flower. The flower buds (you can't see them here) look red which is interesting because the usual flowers are blue. They could still open blue of course. Or be red. Echium species can be variable and who knows what might happen.


Do you do hanging baskets? So hard to water. I tried a few different times with different plants. Nothing really worked. Maybe in California hanging baskets belong in the shade garden, with tuberous begonias or something.

I've resorted to hanging glass instead.


A few freesia left... some came back from last year which is nice. These naturalize well for my friend on the peninsula. Maybe if I did less gardening they would naturalize for me too. I think they get dug up and/or buried too deeply with my constant puttering. (Not so constant this year tho'.)


The Fremontia is flowering. This plant has decided to do its own thing, totally disregarding the plans I had for it and the role in the garden I intended it to play. All I can do is prune it now. It's kind of cool after the first rush of flowers has faded to cut them all off and let them lie where they fall. They hang around for a couple days; it's a neat effect.



Bernal Hill wildflower interlude

My neighborhood's hilltop has appeared on the blog numerous times. I think this year's spring wildflower show is the most extensive that I have ever documented. For 40-ish very urban acres of San Francisco dogpark, I think you have to agree. Not bad!

I dedicate this blog post to the memory of Barbara Pitschel, former Head Librarian of San Francisco Botanical Garden's Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture (which is where I knew her from), and a long-time member and newsletter editor of the local California Native Plant Society. Barbara and her husband Roland lived in Bernal Heights. She died last August.
Barbara and Roland's long history in the field of ecological restoration in San Francisco began in 1972 when they became involved in Bernal Heights Park, which is now recognized as one of the city's significant natural areas. They helped in the successful effort to transfer this property, a remnant of the original landscape, from the Department of Public Works, where it was a candidate for development, to the Recreation and Park Department (RPD), where it will be preserved in perpetuity in a natural state. The transfer agreement stipulated that any maintenance work undertaken at this park would be only to restore it to a "pre-1825" condition. The Bernal Hilltop Project was the first ecological restoration project attempted in San Francisco and one of the earliest such efforts in California. She and Roland received the Trust for Public Land Award for 30 years of volunteer park stewardship. Barbara was also a member of the Special Libraries Association and was a charter member of the Society for Ecological Restoration.


Barbara would be happy to know that populations of goldfields (Lasthenia californica) and buttercup (Ranunculus californica) vastly outnumbered weedy invasive Oxalis pes-caprae this year.

Ranunculus californica

Lasthenia californica

Goldfields especially, just totally off the hook.




Alas, I'm not hardcore enough to identify species of Lupinus in the field... At the very least Bernal Hill has a few different forms of this very variable pea-family plant making an appearance this year.





The palmately compound lupine foliage is pretty too.


The tomcat clover population seems to grow every year. Trifolium willdenovii?



I think there's more Viola pedunculata too:

Viola pedunculata

Checkerbloom (Sidalcea sp.):


Sidalcea in the grass


Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum):


California poppy, coastal form (Eschscholzia californica v. maritima)

coastal form Eschscholzia

There seems to be a bit more of the pure-orange form this year.



We have the very last of the shooting stars now. (Dodecatheon sp.)


Some lightly tended patches of Salvia spathacea and Iris douglasiana in the southeast corner are going strong.


It's clear that someone maintains them with a bit of weeding now and then. Thank you, whoever you are. There's a bit of something else coming up in here now. I'm not sure what it is, so I left it.


I guess I can't ignore the non-natives too... Chasmanthe and crocosmia grow all over San Francisco and we have them on Bernal Hill too.


You may recall California is a biodiversity hotspot for wild radish. Besides some of the grasses (about which I know nearly nothing), this is Bernal's most prodigious weed, if you don't mind calling it a weed.


Plantago lanceolata comes to us from England, according to the Google. I don't hate it.