Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring is Here!

It is officially spring as of today, so happy Equinox!

We have had very little rain for the last three months (there are cracks in the pastures already), but now that the trees are leafing out, it is almost dazzlingly green on the farm, with some very nice splashes of color here and there.

We have five or so types of daffodils growing on the farm- we can't quite remember if we planted these, or if they arrived here on their own.

Dr. Hurd Manzanita
This particular type of manzanita can grow to be very large, and while manzanitas in general like full sun exposure, this one seems to be quite happy getting only morning sun, having deep shade the rest of the day.  The white flowers are delicate and luminous- a visual treat in an awakening to spring landscape.

Yellow Flowering Currant
Whomever named this one got really creative in the same way that someone names an Irish Setter "Red".  This type of currant is one of many native to California and is supposed to be more heat and sun tolerant than the somewhat showier pink flowering currant we have over closer to our seasonal creek.  This particular specimen gets some dappled morning sun, full midday sun, and afternoon shade, and has quickly grown to being five feet tall, though it is a little on the leggy side for a shrub.

Ceanothus, also known as California Lilac

The ceanothus shrubs are the real show offs of spring here- covered with intense clusters of brilliant blue flowers, they smell lightly of honey.  There's usually a cloud of beneficial insects working away on these- the various predatory wasps, hover flies, bumble bees and honey bees.

Bumble Bee on Ceanothus
If you want to know where the phrase "busy as a bee" comes from, hang out around a blooming ceanothus.

Hummingbird Sage

One of my favorite members of the salvia family native to California is hummingbird sage.  The flowers are very intense, and the hummingbirds do indeed seem to love it.  It doesn't grow in bush forms as many of our other sages, but produces runners underground, and forms a cluster of plants.  It has fairly large leaves, especially for a sage, and a heavenly smell when you bruise the leaves.

And then we have this flower.  It was here when we moved in, just sort of randomly growing in what had been a bit of lawn.  We moved the plants to a patch of ground we later realized was really poor soil, but they seem to be doing fine in that location.  They appear to grow from bulbs, the leaves are flat and iris-like, they get no summer water, and after they bloom, they go dormant like our daffodils.  They are not invasive, but I have yet to encounter them in my native plant wanderings, and we've not seen them in any of the many (many, many) flower catalogs that populate our mailbox.  We like them- they are bright and cheerful- we'd just love to know what they are.


Bill said...

Beautiful flowers. Happy Spring!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I agree, I think the Ceanothus is second only to Coyote Brush for bee activity. Our 'Puget Blue' is just really starting to reach peak bloom, and it's being totally mobbed today.

The last flower has me intrigued. I wonder if it's native? It reminds me of a Triteleia bloom, but I can't find one that quite matches. It's pretty though! Happy spring!

Vicki said...

Could the last flowers be a kind of Sparaxis? (Bulbifera?) Their growing habits sound the same and the way the flower stems are arranged looks the same. I'm guessing. My grandmother used to have the tricolored ones along her walkway, and I just love them. My neighbors have some of the tricolored ones in their lawn and they are blooming wildly now. In the summer they will be invisible.

Sarah said...

Vicki- you hit the nail on the head! I did the Google thing for Sparaxis, and there were several pictures of the variety we have.

CVF- I was *so* hoping it was some sort of rare California native, but alas, it is a South African native. At least it isn't obnoxious and invasive, something I am intensely happy about.

Bill- Thanks! Happy spring to you as well!