California Poppies

Over the past few years I’ve grown several different color varieties of California poppies. Cream, yellow, white, red, double orange, and purple. This year I haven’t added any new ones but it is interesting to see the different colors and shades the seedlings take on. Some revert back to the typical yellows and oranges of the species but there are subtle differences between them.

Which is your favorite?





El Diablo!

It is no wonder that deer have cloven hooves for they are surely the minions of the devil!  At least from a gardeners point of view.

This Geranium ‘Bill Wallis’ has been munched!

All the construction for the sewers in town means that a large number of fences are temporarily down. Now I am not foolish enough to believe that any of these little fences offered 100% protection against deer but my neighborhood had a series of fenced areas that seemed to funnel the deer to other areas of town.  Sadly that barrier is now gone. Shortly after the construction began I noticed my beautiful Eschscholzia californica ‘Mahogany’ had been munched on. That seems particularly cruel since the field the deer came from has tons of wild California poppies that no one would miss. Next on the menu were my Clarkia seedlings. Clarkia amoena seems to be a particular favorite as most of the plants have been eaten to little nubs.

Finally the above Geranium was munched on and since I now live on a sand and dirt road (courtesy of our new sewer pipes) I found evidence leading right up to the plant.

There is no question who the guilty party is!

One of the annoying things is that my neighbors don’t share my horror at these hoofed vermin infesting our neighborhood.  They are all like “OMG it was a buck. It was so pretty.” and when I suggest that the next time they see him they chase him off or sic their dogs on him they look at me with horrified expressions on their faces.  As if I am some sort of serial killer.

The real serial killer here is a plant murderer though!

I’m trying out some Liquid Fence on some of the tastier plants and so far that seems to have done the trick for now.  But reapplying it may be a bit costly.  What tricks have you used to keep hungry critters from munching on your garden?



Cool Plant of the Week!

I know I just talked about California poppies the other day.  But this little plant is looking so awesome this weekend that it had to be my cool plant of the week.

Eschscholzia californica ‘Moonglow’

I’m so impressed with this cream-colored selection of California poppy that was introduced by Larner Seeds. In just a few months it has gone from tiny flat little rosette in a four inch pot to this big mound covered in blooms.  All my other new poppies planted at the same time have one or two blooms now but this little trooper is really out doing itself. I can’t wait to see how it performs long term.

California Poppies!

Did you know that April 6th was California Poppy Day?  Me either.  So I’m about a week late but just in time for my Aunt Barbara’s birthday.  Happy birthday Aunt Barbara!

I planted about two dozen California poppies in the garden and most of them are starting to bloom now.  I thought it would be fun to compare them.

Eschscholzia caespitosa and Nemophila menziesii

This little yellow poppy is an annual and is less than a foot across and tall.  They have been blooming their little heads off since early March.  In the future I’ll definitely plant a lot more of them and plant them closer together. I’ve decided that all my annuals will be smooshed together in the future for more dramatic “instant gratification” results.

Eschscholzia californica ‘Mahogany’

Mahogany is supposed to be deep red-orange like this

Not like this

California poppies are all various seed strains so you have to expect some variability.  Sadly of the three Mahogany I planted two ended up to be the orange above. Pretty much just like the common species.  Not that there is anything wrong with them. But the orange ones are all over town. I wanted something a bit different.  Still I will probably keep them.  I’m glad at least one turned out red.

Eschscholzia california ‘Apricot Chiffon’

Normally I am not that into double and ruffled flowers but there is something about Apricot Chiffon that I love.  This is the first of eight plants to bloom. I’m hoping they all look like this and none of them turn out to just be the straight species.

Cool right?

‘Moonglow’ has a visitor.

What do you think is it a bee or a fly?  I can’t tell.  I only see one pair of wings but the other pair might just be hidden.  Are those pollen baskets on the back legs? They are kind of hidden. It was pretty tiny. Does anyone know their little bees?  Whatever it is it seems pretty happy.

Last is ‘Buttermilk’.  It looks like ‘Moonglow’ but is much more yellow and the flowers are larger and a bit ruffled.  I believe it might also have some double or semi-double flowers in the future as well.

Check in tomorrow for another English garden visit.


I heard what sounded like a cross between a bird and a dog barking so went outside to have a look around.

Turned out it was some California quail visiting the neighborhood!

This pair went running by and scrounged a bit in the weeds in my side yard.

The “barking” was coming from this male quail who found a high vantage point where he could keep watch. He was calling to several other “watchmen” quail down the block.  I’ve heard this noise in the distance before but didn’t realize it was quail.  I’ve only heard them make a sort of cooing little bloop noise as they run around in the underbrush.

I’m pretty psyched because quail are awesomely cute and also California’s state bird.  The coolest thing about them is when they have their babies the little chicks look like walnuts with feet running along behind their parents.  The mortality rate is pretty high on these guys so they usually lay a dozen or more eggs. I’m glad to have them in the neighborhood and hope to see them some more.

In other news the first of the California poppies I planted opened today.  This color selection is called ‘Moonglow’ and is a nice creamy white.  I stuck with white poppies in the mediterranean bed and oranges and reds in the other beds.

Another lovely little cream-colored native is Platystemon californicus or cream cups.  These have been blooming for a few weeks now and not only are they adorable but they are also fragrant if you get down on the ground and stick your nose right into them.

We had a nice heavy drizzle this morning.  I’m sure a lot of non gardeners and folks with 9-5 weekday jobs are not too happy that the past 3 weekends have been rainy but I’m not complaining. I actually hope we have a late rainy season that continues right through April this year.

Winter Walk-Off: Fifty Shots around Los Osos

Les over at A Tidewater Gardener is hosting his annual “Winter Walk-Off Challenge”. Since I have been so busy working on installing my gardens I haven’t had much time to explore town the past month so I thought participating would be a good excuse to get out and go for a walk.  I’ve done blog posts about walks to the north, south, and west so I thought for this one I would head east towards the more rural part of town.

I ended up taking tons of pictures and chose fifty to share which is a bit much so feel free to just scroll through and click on any that catch your eye for a bigger view.

Ceanothus is still in bloom.

There is this cute little honor system honey stand of honey on a busy street in the middle of town.  Apparently it is all local honey.

Echium candicans starts blooming in winter and will continue into spring.

Nice little water wise garden in front of this house with natives, mediterraneans, and succulents.

Cotyledon orbiculata is in bloom.

Cistus X purpureus

Acacia have been in bloom for the past month. This species is quite common though I am not sure what it is.  Maybe Acacia longifolia.  If anyone knows feel free to correct me.

Close up of the Acacia.

The further east you go the larger the lots get.  I’m not sure what is going on in this front yard but I am totally imaging gardens here.  I would kill for a yard this big.

Leucadendrons are still looking magnificent.  Like this yellow one…

and this orange one.

Quail Decor

It looks like they are getting read to do some work in this gated yard on the east side of town.  I love their view of Hollister Peak in the background.

Not all ice plant are evil invasives.  This one is quite lovely.

I wanted to get a closer look at this garden room and what appears to be a small field of lavender but there were two loud and aggressive dogs guarding that were not happy to see me.

This large front yard has a coastal dunes planting theme going on.

And heading back towards the west end of town this yard had a Japanese inspired collection of bonsai and an ornamental lathe house for Cymbidums to shade them from the sun.

Another species of Acacia.

LOVE this.  What a welcome entrance with a Cantua scrambling up an arbor.

Cantua buxifolia

California poppies have been in bloom since our last (brief) rain storm.

LOVE everything about this.  It is a canary aviary, with a green roof, featuring daffodils, decorated with a metal sculpture.

Their yard is also protected by some alien artwork.

They should seriously win an award for awesomeness!

More Leucadendrons.  They are almost as common here as Rhododendrons and Azaleas are back east.

This Leucadendron ‘Jester’ goes nicely with the red garage in the background.

Love these houses!  The one on the right is for sale.

Linaria which goes by the common names of toadflax or baby snap dragons is a common escaped weed in California.  I loved the color combination of this one.

This house had native plantings including this Salvia spathacea or hummingbird sage.

Close up of their flowery coolness.

Pretty sure this little chuckle patch is Leucanthemum hosmariense.  I love any type of daisy flower.  I probably should add some to my garden.

I made my way back to my neighborhood and the bay.  I believe this is a female northern shoveler.  Look at how crazy her beak is!

Dutch Iris by the bay.  The north-western part of town is called Baywood or Baywood Park.  This is one of the few areas that actually has some shops and restaurants and bed and breakfasts (and the laundromat where I do my laundry).  We are a “bedroom community” for San Luis Obispo so most of the rest of town is just houses without a real downtown.

A very fragrant Psoralea pinnata. Some people say it smells like Kool-Aid.  It is definitely fragrant but I’m not sure if I even know what Kool-Aid smells like so I don’t know if that description is accurate (I was more of a Hawaiian Punch kid growing up).

Close up of the little pea flowers.

Geranium madarense are in full bloom now.  These monocarpic plants die quite spectacularly after they finish blooming and reseed quite a bit.  There were tons of seedlings around this plant.

Close up of the exquisite detailing of the flowers.

Looking back south over this little arm of the bay.  My neighborhood is beyond the break in the trees toward the left.

Calla lilies are lovely but are also a pernicious, nearly impossible to remove, weed.  I’m glad I don’t have any in my yard.

Before I headed home I decided to stop at the Audobon Societies Sweet Springs Nature Preserve which is just a few blocks from my house.  This is the spring running into the bay with Morro Rock in the background.

This is the doomed Eucalyptus grove that makes up the preserve.  There are over one hundred trees here and they are planning on chopping them down so they can add more natives.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand they are established trees hosting communities of wildlife (hummingbirds and monarch butterflies to name a few) and provide some windscreen. I can see this grove from my house where it is already very windy. I imagine it will be worse without them.  On the other hand it will open up the view of the bay (which again I will be able to see from my house) and the addition of more native plants might be quite lovely over time.  Of course there is a bitter debate raging and there are people trying to stop the destruction of the trees.

View of Morro Rock from the preserve.

Lots of different birds make this area of the bay their home or use it as a resting place during their migration.  I believe these are cinnamon teals.

And I believe this is a group of green-winged teals.

This is a view from the north of the field near my house.  See those three palm trees over on the left? I live right across the street from them. I think it is because of this field that we have bluebirds. I have seen him several more times since the first time (and I never have my camera handy!).

Mimulus aurantiacus in an empty lot.

Chickens at my neighbors house!  Lots of my neighbors have chickens. I can hear them clucking sometimes as they lay their eggs in the mornings.  No one in my part of town seems to have roosters but I did hear some crowing on the east side of town this morning.

More ice plants in bloom.

There are lots of empty lots in town because there is a building moratorium due to a lengthy (over 30 year) battle over the switch over from septic to sewers. This lot has a nice little vegetable garden at the far end.

Finally home sweet home.  I took this shot to show the view of Montana de Oro in the background. I can’t actually see it from inside my house by it is nice to know it is there.

Hope you enjoyed this (rather long) walking tour of Los Osos.  And be sure to check out A Tidewater Gardener on the 19th of March to see the rest of the tours that people have taken around their neighborhoods.

Other things I liked about SoCal

The hummingbird garden on my balcony.The street art across from my old apartment in Santa Monica.Los Angeles Arboretum.Peacock at Los Angeles Arboretum.Mountain view from my old apartment in Santa Monica.Blooming nectarine at South Coast Botanical Garden.
Orange Leucospermum hedge blooming in Sunset Park, Santa Monica.Antelop Valley Poppy Reserve in April.Antelop Valley Poppy Reserve in April.Bounty from the Santa Monica Farmers Market.The Drosanthemum floribundum carpeting this sloped front yard near my old apartment in Santa Monica.The Santa Monica Community Garden on Main Street.
My favorite was the sweet pea guy.Kite Surfers in Malibu!View of the ocean from my old apartment in Santa Monica.Dioscorea elephantipes at California Cactus Center in Pasadena.Charmlee County Regional Park in MalibuView of Malibu and the Pacific from Charmlee County Regional Park.
Amazing arrest I saw.The gardens at the Getty in Brentwood.The view of Los Angeles from the top of Runyon Canyon Park.Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden in Claremont.Coreopsis gigantea blooming on the cliffs of north Malibu.

Things I liked about SoCal, a set on Flickr.

Here are a few more pictures that didn’t make the cut but were still pretty cool. Click the thumbnails to see a description.