Saturday, June 6, 2015


Hemerocallis hybrid
In the past, I was never a fan of Hemerocallis (daylilies). This plant, as well as a few others, were given to me at no cost by a local gardener at a local plant sale three or four years back. At the time, I did not know what I was doing, so they were planted in the wrong spot, a partially shaded bed with strong competition from coniferous tree roots (which were attracted by the extra water and rich soil). I nearly gave up on them, but when I replanted that bed I moved everything that was struggling out and planted it elsewhere, including these daylilies. They were planted in a new raised bed in a very sunny spot alongside our driveway, and this is the result!

Paying attention to your plants needs is the key to success, some plants are more forgiving, some die the instant their needs aren't met, and many are inbetween. What's important is to have an idea of what they plants need in general, but be able to consider your local conditions (climate, exposure, moisture in the air and in the ground, etc.). Take plant labels as suggestions, not as fact. Responding to your conditions may mean putting a "full sun" plant in the shade if your climate bakes in summer, or allowing more sun in wetter colder climates. It's a life of patience and experimentation, don't give up, keep trying. The successes weigh more than the failures.

Dichelostemma congestum
Dichelostemma congestum
Dichelostemma congestum, otherwise known by the strange name "forktooth ookow" is setting seed now, with some individuals in shadier aspects continuing to flower. Like it's close relatives Triteleia and Brodiaea, the pollinated flowers close around the swelling ovary which contains the black seeds. Any unpollinated florets will simply fall off, the ovaries drying and shriveling. The seed will develop for a few weeks, then the ovaries will dry out and split open, the seed being shaken out by wind or the shaking of the dried scape.

Triteleia hendersonii
One of my favorites, Triteleia hendersonii (or Henderson's stars) is a cormous perennial related distantly to Allium. These are quick to bloom and set seed, unlike the related Dichelostemma which are variable in bloom time (not to mention much more common). They all seem to bloom within a two week period, always a peculiar trait for plants.

Triteleia hendersonii
Similar to Dichelostemma, the pollinated flowers of Triteleia will close over the ovary, petals drying, and turn up while the seed is developed. Not much is known about the mating systems of Triteleia, except for a few species. Honeybees have been known to visit other species, but their native pollinators remain a mystery. Someday I'd like to spend some time studying this species and possibly discover (and photograph) the pollinators that visit it.

Toxicoscordion micranthum
Formerly Zigadenus, Toxicoscordion micranthum is a small species of "death camas". Maybe I just have an obsession with bulbs and native plants, but this plant inflicts a charm on me even though it is small and easy to miss. I think for me, the appeal of a plant is not just the way it looks (most of the time) but it's entire story and the way it lives and survives. Plants are some of the most durable forms of live on the planet, able to survive things that would easily kill a human (extreme heat, extreme dry, extreme cold, predation from insects and animals). Bulbs and other geophytes are particularly fascinating to me, perfectly adapted to living in places that have harsh conditions for part of the year.

Iris chrysophylla
One of the last of the wild Irises, I couldn't resist a few more pictures.

Allium bolanderi var. mirabile
Just in the past few days while collecting seed pods of Erythronium hendersonii, I noticed a few small groups of these small white lily-like flowers. The plants were no taller than 5", and the leaves have dried and were disintegrated. The flowers were about 1/8" wide, wider at the mouth, and about 3/8" long. When I crushed a floret there was the strong smell of garlic! It could only be an Allium!

Allium bolanderi var. mirabile
From a short distance, one can imagine they would be difficult to see from farther away. This could be an adaptation to herbivory, avoiding attention from deer by blending in.

Allium bolanderi var. mirabile
Piperia sp.
An orchid! This wild orchid is growing alongside a woodland path behind our house. It caught me by surprise! It got me thinking about the future. If we ever move, I would hope that a plant lover moved in. Being private land, these plants have no protection. What happens if they instead want a herd of cattle? Or a trailer park?

Piperia sp.
If anyone can tell me the species of this orchid, please enlighten me! I don't recall a scent.

Rupertia physodes syn. Psoralea physodes
With a strange name like forest scurfpea, it should be no surprise that Psoralea (or now Rupertia) is a legume. The name of this plant has eluded me for years, the plant not included in my identification books. However, some good friends from the Native Plant Society of Oregon came to the rescue!
Antennaria howellii
Would you believe me if I told you this is a sunflower relative? Well you have no choice because it is. Antennaria howellii, or Howell's pussytoes is a member of the Asteraceae (Sunflower family, everlasting tribe). The flowers are sometimes called "everlasting" because they are indistinguishable when in flower or setting seed from a distance, like standing. Here you can see the exerted styles and anthers. There's no need to worry, it's all white.

Madia sp.
It seems there are a number of species of Madia growing here. I believe this to be Madia gracilis, but the characteristics which separate the species of many genera of "daisies" is not an area of strength for me. These grow to around 16" in shady areas, mostly in a woodland setting (Madia elegans grows in an open field here), and is the first of the Madias to flower.

Wyethia amplexicaulis
The large native "sunflowers" of Wyethia light up the field behind our house. While there are only a few isolated clumps of this species growing here, their impact is huge. When I mow, I drive around any wildflowers I come across, hoping they will expand and set seed. Doing this also creates a clearer view of the flowers in the field from the house. Everybody wins!

Arnica discoidea
A rayless Arnica, this is the first time I've seen this plant in my yard. It is a single individual, so I hope to collect seed and propagate it. I've heard growing Arnica from seed is challenging, so wish me luck!

Eschscholzia sp.
I am hesitant to assume this is Eschscholzia californica rather than another species. Do they hybridize? Many of these plants grow in a few large patches behind our house. There is much variation is petal shape and color, ranging from yellow to deep orange. 

Eschscholzia sp.
Petal shape of the CA poppies ranges from flat on open flowers to cupped on flowers that don't fully open. Maybe there is a color change and shape change with age.

Aquilegia formosa
On the side of the road on a Northeast facing moist slope lives this! Every time I think I am familiar with the area and its plants I discover something like this, Aquilegia formosa (Western columbine). I am now patiently waiting for seed to be set. Oh yes, I will grow it.

Castilleja sp.
 I never tire of this.

Ceanothus integerrimus
The musky scented deerbrush, Ceanothus integerrimus (not to be confused with the earlier blooming buckbrush, Ceanothus cunneatus) has been in bloom for a few weeks now. The tiny florets are packed onto crowded spikes, themselves crowded on the plants. The plants are a common site on roadsides, much to my delight.

Ceanothus integerrimus
These shrubs grow at forest edges, often leaning into the light. This is most appreciated on roadside banks where the flowers are all leaning towards the road like in this photo. Bees, flies, beetles, and a variety of small invertebrates cherish the floriferous resource (more on that later).

Borago officinalis
Back to the garden, the borage is starting to flower. The plants are a bit shabby, but the flowers are worth it. They are edible, the mildly sweet nectar gives them a candy-like taste. They are a favorite of bees, and I have even seen the odd hummingbird show interest in borage.

Echium vulgare
Echium vulgare (Boraginaceae, borage family), common name vipers bugloss, is reputed as the best bee plant on earth. While I can't speak for the entire planet of nearly 8 billion people, it is definitely looking like an attractive plant to a variety of bees. But there will be more on that later. The flowers produce a lot of nectar, no matter the conditions, and protect it from evaporation by many small hairs (trichomes) inside the floral tube.

Echium vulgare
They are attractive plants, yet not generally available. I grew these from seed fairly easily. The seed looks like borage seed, and must be sown in the fall for germ in the spring. Do it.

Verbena lasiostachys
Lastly, a beautiful soft spoken wild vervain, growing luxuriantly in a raised bed. It flowers almost all year if given water and nutrients. Various bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds adore it.


I just want to say I really appreciate all of you, because without you this would really just be an elaborate way to talk to myself!

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