Patch took a recent stroll around the neighborhood to confirm that spring is in full bloom. Here are some seasonal favorites to admire at botanical gardens, public parks or your own back yard.
Damianita, a Mexican sunflower, makes a dainty, drought tolerant groundcover. Taller varieties of Mexican sunflowers are blooming now, too. Many are self-sowing annuals and some are woody perennials. Prune lightly.
Erigeron or Seaside Daisy. This dainty pink bud opens to a white flower with a bright yellow center. Flower is held aloft on a long stem which seems to float above the foliage. Good in shade or filtered sun. Surprisingly drought tolerant, easy care and long lived.
Lantana camara grows as a prostrate or cascading creeper or shrub to six feet tall. Leaves and berries are noxious to animals. It also asserts itself with neighboring plants, emitting a chemical barrier with chokes out competitors. This beauty is considered a dangerous weed in many parts of the world. That said, butterflies, bees and birds love its plentiful bright flowers and nectar.
Hebe is an evergreen shrub originally from New Zealand, a sister Mediterranean clime. Heat lovers, they don’t care for winter cold. Spring is the correct time to plant these, which gives roots an instant growth jolt in warm soil. The leaves of hebes are opposite, at right angles from each other, forming a square pattern around the stem. Hebe ‘Amy’ with violet colored flowers grows to about three feet tall X three feet, and is a good container plant.
Mimulus species or Monkey Flower comes in a variety of sizes, from four inches to six feet tall with various watering preferences. This Sticky Monkey Flower or Bush Monkey plant prefers drier locations and will reach about four feet tall. The “monkey” refers to the shape of the seed pod. These are considered short lived plants, as annuals or biennials.
Matilija Poppy or Romnea couteri is a member of the poppy family and a California native. If planted in your garden, make sure to select a full sun location with plenty of room to reach and spread. The “Fried Egg” plant grows to 8 feet tall.
Cistus or Rockrose are Mediterranean natives, and come in groundcover to shrub heights. They love dry summers, poor soil, ocean wind and salt spray. If regular water is offered they prefer well-drained soil.They are fire-resistant, and are planted in fire-hazard areas. These carefree plants don’t do well with hard pruning. They bear two to four inch flowers in shades of light pink to near-violets spring through summer. Great in rock gardens or sunny borders.
Salvia ‘Celestial Blue’ is a hybrid of two or more California native sages. This drought tolerant shrub is one of a score of California natives, perennials all. Light pruning and little to no water show us who’s boss. Blatant: this carefree plant.
Lonicera japonica or Japanese Honeysuckle is a sweetly fragrant vine literally abuzz with activity. Bees love the creamy yellow to pink flowers, as do butterflies and hummingbirds. Stake or train against a sunny wall, or use as groundcover for erosion control on a slope.
Trumpet Vine comes in shades ranging from white to yellow to red. These are vigorous climbers and need room to grow. Can go several years without pruning, but do best when old wood is removed. Red and yellow flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.