Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’
The 2012 Perennial of the Year: By Harold Voorheis, Horticulturalist Idyllwild Garden Club
And the winner is Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' for the Perennial Plant Association (PPS) Perennial of the Year! Popular and easy-to-grow, Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)is an early blooming, clump-forming perennial that's ideal for the shade garden. It originated as an Eastern European woodland plant that grows to about 12-15 inches high by 24 inches wide. The cultivar ‘Jack Frost’ is a beautifully variegated selection. Its heart-shaped leaves have a silvery white sheen and distinctly dark green veins. In late spring to early summer it bears delicate clouds of tiny bright blue flowers (reminiscent of forget-me-nots) with yellow-centers, which rise above its foliage. I began growing this showy little plant four years ago and it has performed very well at Pine Cove Gardens. Siberian bugloss prefers partial sun to shade and rich, well drained loam. Its hairy leaves give it a bit more resistance to slugs than other plants growing in moist, shady conditions. It is a fine shade perennial and makes a charming addition to the spring border with miniature daffodils and tulips. It works well as an informal ground cover under high branching deciduous trees and is a good ‘filler’ between evergreen shrubs. Amending soil with compost is recommended and watering moderately especially in dry periods is about the only maintenance required. Brunnera is completely dormant in the winter with no foliage on view, but it is early to appear every spring with the unmistakable blue of the forget-me-not. It demands little and pays big dividends to the frugal gardener.Photos courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Winter’s Gem…The Lenten Rose
by Harold Voorheis, Horticulturalist - Idyllwild Garden Club
The Helleborus and its’ many hybrids are a winter-flowering shade plant that possesses the unique ability to bloom in sub-freezing temperatures, often when snow is on the ground. Growing to to about 18 inches tall, the Lenten Roses features cup-shaped, 2 inch diameter, rose-like flowers ranging in color from white to pink to light rose-purple with center crowns of contrasting bushy yellow stamens. The typical bloom time begins February for 6-8 weeks and some varieties start later but extend into late March or even early April. Palmate dark green leaves are evergreen in warm climates but deciduous in extremely cold winters. In the Idyllwild area, plants will remain evergreen in moderate winters, but may become scorched and tattered in extremely cold weather, particularly if not insulated by snow cover.
The plants are best grown in organically rich, well-drained humus-like soil in part shade to full shade. Locate plants in areas protected from cold winter winds. Clumps establish fairly quickly. New plants can be obtained from division of the clumps (best in spring) and from seedlings which grow up around the plants as a result of self seeding. When massed, plants form an attractive ground cover. Locate near a kitchen window, patio or sidewalk for a therapeutic pick-me-up on dreary late winter days.
Photo Courtesy Heronswood to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Wintersweet(Chimonanthus praecox) By Harold Voorheis
Much of the year, this upright, big shrub or small deciduous tree fades into the background. But it is the fragrant waxy flowers that appear in the winter that are the big attraction. They are soft yellow, accented with a splash of reddish brown within. They open at a time of year (late January to mid-February) when we need the uplift that the bare-branched flowers of the Wintersweet offer.
Chimonanthus praecox, "Wintersweet" or often called the “Ice Flower”, is a native of China and Japan and is widely grown as an ornamental plant for its spicily scented winter flowers; these are also used in floristry as cut flowering branches, which can also be forced as with forsythia. The plant prefers medium exposure to sunlight or high dappled shade, a fresh climate (hardy to USDA Zone 7), and soft, acidic permeable ground not waterlogged in winter. A protected, south-facing wall encourages early flowering, and a position should be chosen where its spicy perfume can be appreciated while coming and going from the house. Space needs to be allowed for its eventual 12 ft. height and spread to 10 ft, since untimely summer pruning to keep an ill-sited shrub in check will sacrifice flowering the following winter.
At the end of its flowering, since it flowers most freely on ripened young wood and has little summer and autumn interest, it is thinned and pruned similarly to Forsythia by partly heading back and a few thick old stems removed at the ground.
In China the Wintersweet was domesticated during the Song Dynasty and inspired courtly poems from the eleventh century; at the Chinese New Year when in flower, sprigs are used as hair ornaments. In China, prunings are dried and kept to perfume linen cupboards.
Photo courtesy ‘botanicalgarden.ubc.ca’ to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Heavenly Bamboo: Nandina Domestica
Here is an evergreen shrub that adds a quiet beauty to the garden all year round, yet adds an extra bonus during fall and winter with colorful leaves and bright red berries. Nandina or heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) is both tough and durable and originally from China and Japan, it was introduced to the United States in 1804 for use as an ornamental plant. It grows 6 to 10 feet high and spreads 3 to 5 feet. The plant looks like bamboo in its lightly branched, cane-like stems and delicate, fine-textured foliage (thus, the common name “Heavenly Bamboo”). The leaves are divided into many 1- to 2- inch, pointed, oval leaflets, creating a lacy pattern. Young foliage is pinkish, and then turns to soft light green. The foliage is tinged red in winter, especially in full sun and with some frost. The flowers appear in May to June and are pinkish white. Each flower is ¼ to ½ inch across, appearing in loose, erect, 6- to 12-inch clusters at the end of the branches. If plants are grouped, shiny red berries follow the flowers in September and persist into and through the winter until the birds finish them. Single plants seldom fruit heavily. There are quite a few cultivars and varieties (including dwarf forms), but some do not produce berries, so check before making a purchase.
Nandina is easily transplanted from containers. It has fleshy roots, which aid in rapid recovery from transplanting. It can be moved at any time except midsummer. Nandina prefers moist, fertile soil, protected from harsh winds. Plant nandina may be planted in dappled shade or morning sun. The color of the foliage varies depending on the amount of sun the plant receives. Leaves assume a reddish tint in winter when grown in part sun. Nandina loses its leaves at 10 °F. Stems are damaged at 5 °F, but the plant usually recovers fast. Careful pruning must be practiced. It is best to thin out old stems every year or head back old canes at varying lengths to produce a dense plant. Renew neglected shrubs by removing 1/3 of the oldest canes in the spring of each year for three years. Great in rows for a hedge or medium screen. Photo courtesy wwwmorningsminion.blogspot.com to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Paperbush -Edgeworthia chrysantha
By Harold Voorheis - Idyllwild Garden Club
The Paper Bush is beautiful in every season, with silvery blue-green leaves for spring and summer, yellow fall foliage, and bright blooms on the bare winter silhouette! Grown in Asia for its bark, and used in the manufacture of fancy paper.
A single 2-inch cluster of the flower perfumes the entire home! This shrub performs the impossible: fills the late-winter garden, otherwise a little bleak, with powerful, sweet fragrance for up to 2 months! A magnificent choice for our southern California mountain Sunset Zone 7 climate, Edgeworthia chrysantha is handsome year-round, but really comes into its own when the rest of the garden is sleeping. If you have a spot of partial shade or dappled sunlight, consider transforming it with this spectacular shrub.
Familiarly known as Paperbush Plant, this well-branched shrub often begins blooming in mid-winter, long after its foliage has fallen and its silhouette is a tracery of thick, upright branches, somewhat like a young fig tree with more spread. Each flowerhead is creamy yellow, composed of masses of tiny florets to form a 1½- to 2-inch cluster. The blooms are set on the very tips of the branches, and once they open, expect them to remain for 6 to 8 weeks, releasing a fabulously sweet, intense scent. There is also “Rubra” variety that is a crayon orange-red.
Winter is Edgeworthia's season of glory, but far from its only time to shine in the partly shaded garden. Spring brings large, slender leaves of blue-green, often with a silvery overlay. The foliage remains lush and green through summer, and then turns a soft shade of yellow for autumn before dropping. Very handsome, it is a fine backdrop for Hosta and Brunnera in the shade border, and blooms at the same time as many Camellia cultivars.
Expect Edgeworthia to reach 8 feet tall and up to 18 feet wide in the garden, given good drainage and relief from punishing afternoon sun. Related to Daphne, it is long-lived and very low maintenance, reaching about 5 feet high within as many years. Superb in the back of the border, it is also a good choice to site along garden pathways. If you cannot find the plant at a local garden center, try a specialty mail order nursery.
Photo courtesy Beedazzled Gardens, Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Giant Blazing Star (Mentzelia laevicaulis) The Giant Blazing Star is a short-lived, very showy, 1-3 ft high and wide perennial that grows an erect whitish stem with many branches. Leaves are long with deeply pointed lobes. Large, bright yellow flowers are composed of 5 narrow to 3 inch long petals with shiny surfaces. The open faced flower forms a star shape with numerous long yellow stamens sprouting from the center, giving the flower a feathery look. The fruit is an oblong capsule that contains many flat winged seeds. Stem and leaves are covered in small barbed hairs that stick to clothing. Blazing Star blooms throughout the summer and into fall. It is found in Western North America at elevations below 8900 feet in arid regions, as well as sandy, rocky and disturbed areas such as roadsides and grasslands. The preferred growing conditions are full sun in rocky to sandy well-drained soil and it tolerates soil that is poor in nutrients.Photo courtesy www.en.wikipedia.org to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Butterfly Mint Bush
(Monardella antonina) This California native plant is a real butterfly magnet! It is a one foot high by two foot wide, compact, evergreen perennial covered with balls of pale purple with some pink (it should not be confused with the more commonly planted “Butterfly Bush or “Buddleja”). The foliage is gray-green with a good mint like fragrance. The leaves make an excellent tea when used in small amounts and not steeped for too long. The long flowering period is generally between July and December and it thrives in full to part sun. It is a fast grower, and is hardy down to 15 degrees F. The Butterfly Mint Bush has a natural habitat in open, rocky slopes, oak woodland and chaparral. It is very similar to Coyote Mint (Monardella villosa) but a little shorter. Photo courtesy www.calphotos.berkeley.edu to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Pussytoes (Antennaria rosea ‘Nyewood’) The antennarias are 6 inch high by 1-2 foot wide matting perennials closely related to the daisy family (Asteraceae or Compositae) and are common on higher open slopes and flats of our western mountains from California to Alaska and is a plant of many habitats in its’ range from dry to wet climates and low elevation to very high. It is also a very morphologically diverse species so individuals can look very different.
They have small closely packed, oval leaves, covered with whitish wool. Clusters of chaffy flower heads are borne on short stems above the foliage in summer. Flower color varies from creamy white to pale pink in the typical forms. ‘Nyewood’ is distinguished by rather bright pink flowers. These are pleasant, easily grown plants for rock and container gardens, even potentially useful as a small-scale ground and bank cover. Sun, reasonably well drained soil, moderate to occasional watering. Hardy to below 0-F. (Photo Courtesy of www.ikdreams.com to Ildyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Rosa “Schoener's Nutkana”
This little-known rose has a native California parent! It is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous every spring. These beautiful magenta to deep pink flowers are 3 inches across, and the bush is covered with them!
It is variety named after Father Georg Schoener, a priest who became a notable rose breeder, who developed this rose in 1930 as a cross between Rosa nutkana (a Western native rose that grows in coastal areas from Alaska to California, and east to the Cascades) and Rosa 'Paul Neyron' (a circa 1869 ‘antique cabbage rose’). It is a shrub or climber (over 12 feet) rose variety with single, once flowering rose flowers, five-petalled but sometimes with another one or two, magenta to deep pink in color with a large circle of yellow stamens. The plant tends to be a sprawling shrub, with very few thorns on the stems and small light green leaves. (Photo: Wikepedia to Idyllwild Garden Club: Harold Voorheis)
California Brickelbush - Brickellia Californica: This California native shrub may be one of the best and sweetest smelling plants! However, it is a somewhat nondescript little plant and better for an obscure corner of your garden! From a great distance, you will be drawn by the irresistible, powerful perfume! The wonderful fragrance lasts for almost two weeks & it’s one of those mysterious plant scents that can be smelled only at a distance - if you get up close to the flowers & it’s often not noticeable. “Brickelbush” is a common, deciduous shrub of dry, rocky slopes & washes in our chaparral & coastal-sage-scrub areas below 8000 ft. Base branching to 4’ tall & wide, with triangular gray-green leaves, it blooms Aug. thru Oct. The yellowish-green flowers are pendulous & held in little bunches. Quail like the seeds that follow. When planting it in your garden, place it in a spot in full sun or partial shade. Provide water once a week or so the first year and very little thereafter
Bitter Root -Lewisia rediviva
Considered the flagship plant of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Bitter Root (Lewisia rediviva) was discovered by Lewis and named for him by the expedition’s official botanist, Frederick Pursh. This was an important food plant for Indians and for Lewis and Clark and is remarkable in that it grows only in the harshest, driest sites. It is a member of the portulaca or moss rose family. It is most often sold as a taproot or tuber by bulb suppliers.
It is a low, little plant with comparatively big, deep pink to nearly white flowers that bloom on short stalks, nearly within a rosette of narrow succulent leaves. During mid-summer, the Bitter Root is dormant. In late summer the stout taproot bears a low rosette of cylindrical, succulent leaves which remain green over winter and disappear after the plant has flowered. As snows recede, several showy two inch wide flowers are borne on low stems.
It occurs from British Colombia to the San Bernardino Mountains and east to the Rocky Mountains. It needs good drainage and is not tolerant of alkali soils. The peeled, boiled root may be eaten. It needs protection from birds until established. This is an excellent showy plant at higher elevations and at its best in a dry, sun-baked rock garden with sharp drainage. Don’t irrigate in summer to let it rest in a state of summer dormancy.
Lavendar Cotton-Grey Santolina- Santolina chamaecyparissus) : This fine-textured, bushy and mound-forming shrub has gray foliage and yellow, button-like flower heads formed by tubular flowers appearing in summer. It grows up to 2 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Santolina looks great in the rock garden or as an edging in the perennial border. It is both very hardy and exceptionally drought-tolerant. It grows in sandy or loamy soil with good drainage, and full sun. Santolina may need to be cut back severely every year or it becomes long and woody. Make root semi-ripe cuttings in late summer for propagation.
It can be used in flower arrangements for its blue-grey textured foliage & to bring its pleasing odor into the house. But bear in mind that the flowers do not smell as pleasant as the foliage, so when used in fresh bouquets, count on taking bits of it when not in bloom.
Limbs of ferny foliage can be dried with or without flowers for use in wreathes of mixed herbs or for pillows of sweet-smelling potpourri placed in chest-of-drawers as an effective moth repellant lacking the dangerous toxicity (& disgusting odor) of mothballs. The dried & crumbed leaves also make a pleasant spice, or can be used fresh in such dishes as barley soup. As a medicinal plant, it has been used fresh-picked to rub on insect bites to relieve the sting, or internally for upset stomach. Essential oils from the flowers & leaves have been used by perfumeries.
Desert willow, Chilopsis linearis, is a large deciduous shrub or small tree, usually a 15 foot or so small tree. It derives the name from “willow like” long narrow leaves and found growing along desert washes. The Penstemon like flowers are fragrant, and range from pink to lavender. They appear in May and keep coming until Sept. or frost. Likes moderate water and sun. It grows best in inland and desert locations. In most of California, it will grow where there is a frost but the temperature does not fall below 0 degrees F. This small tree is both easy to grow, good looking and fast growing. It has a nice deciduous form. You may prune it to create a weeping willow effect. Hummingbirds hover all around the tree for most of the summer.
Photo Courtesy of Las Pilitas Nursery
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
The Thimbleberry ( is a woodsy berry that grows in forests where there is shade and some moisture. It resembles the Pink Flowered Current and often grows near it. It will usually mature to a 5-6 foot high shrub. Rubus parviflorus is a near relative of raspberries. It is a particularly welcome garden shrub because it has sweet tasty berries but no thorns & does not grow large & rampant. It forms a shrub of about six feet high & wide. It has four to eight inch green to yellow-green maple-like leaves that feel like felt, & which turn brightly golden before autumn leaf-fall.
Showy white flowers occur May through July. The fruit can ripen during a single warm day, going from hard & pink to soft & the deepest ruby-red in a matter of hours, so it has to be picked quickly or it will fall from the branches. They are adaptable to a wide range of conditions, but the ideal is moist rich soil in dappled sunlight or partial shade. It grows along many parts of Strawberry Creek in Idyllwild and Fern Valley. The fruit makes an excellent jam.
Though usually restrained in the garden, it may sucker to excess if ignored, spreading over an area from its rhizomes. In the wild, they tend to die out of old forests for a couple reasons that can be avoided in the garden. First, they prefer recently disturbed locations such as along new roads or where trees have been harvested or especially where forest fires have occurred. They are among the first plants to appear at the start of a disturbed area's recovery. Later when larger shrubs are getting re-established, thimbleberries are not aggressive enough to compete.
Second, even in understory locations where larger shrubs don't displace them, thimbleberries are heavy nitrogen users & decline when soil nutrients decline. In the garden, then, it needs not to be crowded by too many large shrubs, & it needs at least an annual fertilizing as for other deciduous fruiting trees & shrubs.
Silver Carpet Aster
(Lessingia filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’)
This is a lush and attractive native evergreen, perennial groundcover which grows to only 6-10 inches high and has a 3-4 foot wide spread. It produces masses pale violet and yellow flowers in the summer which attract butterflies. It is both adaptable to garden water and to occasional drought. This is a cold hardy plant that grows quickly. It is a perfect compliment for borders, planters, containers. Also, ‘Silver carpet’ can be used effectively under oaks, or in a grassland or meadow.
Photo courtesy Las Pilitas Nursery to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Santa Ana Cardinal’ Alum Root or Coral Bell-(A Heuchera Cultivar)
“Santa Ana Cardinal” Alum Root (Heuchera cultivar) is a vigorous and free flowering, evergreen perennial, developed by Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens in Claremont, Ca. It is the result of a “cross” between the Alum Root (Heuchera maxima) and the Coral Bell (Heuchera sanguinea). It is both quite hardy and drought tolerant. The plant’s 1-2 feet wide basal clump is formed by foliage that has rounded leaves with scalloped edges. Very narrow stems reach upwards to about two feet high and carry a profusion of deep red blooms on airy panicles for a prolonged period. It is especially great planted in drifts in a shady woodland garden setting or border with warm colors.
As mentioned, this variety of Heuchera is a “cultivar”, or cultivated varieties of plants selected and grown for particular features. A cultivar may have a different growth form, flower color, or leaf shape from its wild relatives. It may be more resistant to drought or disease. Most ornamental plants are cultivars. Cultivars can be developed by various combinations of selection and/or hybridization, or by genetic engineering.
Hot Lips Sage
(Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’)
This wonderful sage was introduced at the Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco in 2002. Incredible white and red, bicolor flowers begin in May and is in richest bloom all summer, continuing to flower deep into autumn.
Hot Lips is aptly named. It’s difficult to find a more gaudy and audacious floral display than Hot Lips in full bloom. The crisp white and bright red bi-color contrast of the flower petals snap and pop like fireworks when in full display. You almost expect to see an American flag waving next to Hot Lips. To complete the patriotic picture, Hot Lips is nicely highlighted with a backdrop or companion of light to dark blue flowers. Hot Lips also looks nice as a patio specimen in a blue pot and it certainly works well in a bright cottage-style garden. Wherever you put it, expect it to draw attention.
It really must have full sun and fast drainage is likewise a must. It is drought tolerant, & is one of the liveliest plants in a sun-garden, getting ahead of many summer bloomers. It grows upright to three feet high & as wide, with small finely textured leaves on dark twigs that greatly set off the brilliant blooms. There is a strong resemblance to Autumn Sage (S. greggii). It is best hard pruned in April for a fresh start since it gets a little ragged over the winter.
Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Thread-leaf Blue Star
The Thread Leaf Blue Star is a 2-3 foot high by 3 foot wide perennial that adds pleasing texture to the border and delicacy to a bouquet. In early summer, bushy clumps of elegant, upright stems are crowned with steel blue buds and star-shaped powdery gray-blue flowers held in graceful umbels. Butterflies love it!
The willowy needlelike leaves are captivating, and will eventually burnish to a brilliant gold, and along with the persistent chocolate-hued seed heads, this plant provides a rich autumn show. A southwestern U.S. native, Blue Star is undemanding and long-lived in any garden soil with moderate summer moisture. It is very cold hardy. The Perennial Plant Association has selected Amsonia hubrichtii as the 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year.
Wedgeleaf or Cliff Goldenbush
(Ericameria cuneata var. macrocepahala)
This is a species of flowering shrub in the daisy family. It is a native in rocky crevices along the mountain edges of the Southwestern deserts and from Baja to Nevada (along the east side of the Sierras) and east into New Mexico. The rocky crevices are where it is most often found. The size ranges from about 4 - 12 inches high and is about 15-20 inches wide. The disc-shaped yellow flowers make a real show in late summer and early fall. Gardeners with a rocky hillside can plant this native with Penstemon and California Fuchsia to get about 3 months of flowering. Its great in a rock wall, ugly retaining wall or in the cracks of boulders on your property. It is hardy to 15 degrees Farenheit and once established requires little or no supplemental water.
Dicentra chrysantha or Golden Eardrops is a gray perennial two feet tall with four foot spikes of yellow , aromatic flowers that appear in early May and often continue into July. It is one of the species in the “bleeding- heart” genus of plants. Leaves are blue-green, with many lobed leaflets, and the plant has a taproot. It is found in the interior coastal ranges and the Sierra Nevada Range. It is cold tolerant to 5 degrees Farenheit or less. Unfortunately, this native plant is browsed by deer slightly. The seeds usually do not germinate unless desiccated or seared by fire. The Kawaiisu Indians applied dried, mashed roots of Dicentra chrysantha to the chest for heart pains.
The Rugosa Roses If any roses ever deserved the label "easy", surely it is the hybrid rugosa roses. The ancestor of this class is a central Asian species, Rosa Rugosa. They are one of the hardiest and easiest roses to grow not only in cold climates, but nearly every American growing zone. They are drought resistant, tolerant of poor soil conditions and very disease resistant. They are nearly immune to black spot and mildew, and actually don’t like being sprayed with chemicals.
The best rugosa hybrids have inherited not only their wild ancestor's hardiness but also its glossy, furrowed foliage. This is almost completely immune to fungal diseases, and because these roses are notably pest resistant, they are perfect for those who hate to spray. There is not much to be said about fertilizing Rugosa Roses, they can flourish perfectly with out it. In particular, they don't like chemical fertilizers and will often drop their leaves if with liquid grow formulas. Use a well-balanced, natural-based or organic granular fertilizer in the spring, and an organic liquid fertilizer, such as fish emulsion in the summer. Finally, established Rugosa roses are quite drought tolerant.
These roses bloom throughout the summer, bearing clove-scented midsize flowers that commonly run 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 inches across, though a few may spread to 4inches. This display is followed by a fall show of enormous, tomato red hips that contrast boldly with the yellow, reddish, or purplish foliage. The compact cultivars ( like Rugosa Rose 'Frau Dagmar Hartopp', introduced 1914, 4 ft high/wide, pictured here) integrate easily into a flower border and when massed serve as a handsome ground cover.
A close-up of ‘Frau Dagmar Hartopp‘ rose reveals flowers reminiscent of pink dogwoods. They have a delightful rugosa rose scent and will continue to bloom (though more sparingly) until fall. The later season flowers produce fine red hips that are winter ornament or can be used for jelly and teas rich in vitamin C. Photo courtesy Powell Gardens, Kansa City, Mo. to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Squaw Bush Sumac (Rhus trilobata) Squaw Bush Sumac is a very tidy looking, 3 to 5 foot high deciduous shrub. It has a very attractive arching habit. In the early spring, groups of yellow flowers appear before the shrub leafs out on hairy branches. The sticky fruits follow later and are bright crimson to reddish in color and covered with very fine short hairs. Then in the fall, Squaw Bush turns a most beautiful bright yellow, then orange to red color in warmer drier climates. Rhus trilobata is native from Oregon, down through California and Baja, across to the Rocky Mountains and down to Texas. It likes sun to part shade. It looks tidier in more sun. It is very drought tolerant. Indians used the berries as a mordant in dyes. Photo courtesy Fireflyforest.com to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) What more can anyone ask for on a warm late March to early April day than the ambrosial fragrance of a Korean spice viburnum? The heady fragrance nearly cloys the senses when in close proximity, but these wonderfully scented blooms can be detected over 30 feet away! This is a slow growing deciduous shrub with toothed, soft and felt-like dark green leaves that bears pink buds in late spring that open to white or pink-flushed flowers borne in domed clusters. The intoxicating fragrance is reminiscent of spice cake. The plant also has attractive red foliage and berries in the fall. It grows to about 6 feet tall and wide. This shrub likes acidic to average well-drained soil and some summer moisture. There are several varieties and a smaller 3 to 4 foot high dwarf form, ‘compactum’ available.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) In the cultivated landscape this winter is a is a hybrid group of medium-sized shrubs that are valued for bright fall foliage and nodding clusters of yellow to red blooms that typically appear in early to mid-February. None exceed the beauty of the ‘Jelena’ Witch Hazel pictured here with its multicolors of red, copper, yellow, orange and white on every bloom! All of the colorful hybrid varieties are reliant on H. mollis (Chinese witch hazel) brought to North America from China early in the 20th Century, & hybridized with H. japonica (Japanese witch hazel). There is also a North American native species H. virginiana. These are large shrubs, 12 to 15 ft. in height and width for full sun or part shade that appreciate some rich amended and well-mulched soil with a little summertime moisture. The flowers consist of many narrow, crumpled petals and are said to resemble shredded coconut, mop heads or spiders. Most are fragrant and bloom over a long period. Flower stems make a wonderful, scented winter bouquet indoors. Witch Hazel may have gotten its name from the Old English word, “wiche”, which means bendable and the name “Hazel” from the Hazel twigs used for divining rods. While our early colonists used the twigs to search for water, American Indians were already aware of the medicinal benefits this unusual tree offers. So If you're looking for something to brighten up your dull winter landscape, count on these easy to grow shrubs or small trees to get the job done.
Photo ‘Witch Hazel’ courtesy Gardenphotos.com to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Heirloom Daylily ‘Evelyn Claar’ (Hemerocallis) This spring, try planting some daylilies! The daylily (Hemerocallis) is a plant that's easy to love and heirloom daylilies offer a living connection with gardeners of the past. While native to Asia, they have been hybridized in the US and Europe since the 1930s. Their vibrant colors and lush foliage make them a perfect accent in just about any garden, and their hardy, vigorous, low-maintenance disposition makes them delightfully easy to grow. Often seen lining walkways or in borders, daylilies will grow and thrive in a variety of conditions and in just about any climate. If you're looking for a carefree, dependable perennial, try growing some daylilies. One of the best of the ground-breaking mid-century pinks, ‘Evelyn’ (1949) is a delicious peachy-melon color with a rosier eye and gold throat. Free-flowering and vigorous, it was bred by University of Chicago botany professor Ezra Kraus – who clearly knew what he was doing. Shorter than many daylilies at 24-30 inches tall, it is an early to mid-summer bloomer, and winter dormant. A good source for heirloom daylilies is
Photo courtesy ‘Old House Gardens’ to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana) This Locust tree is native to the southwestern United States and the southeastern portions of California, where it is uncommon below 5000 ft elevation in canyons in the Mojave Desert and in the desert mountains up to 8500 ft., also known as the sky island pinyon –juniper habitats, growing along streams, in the bottoms of valleys, and on the sides of canyons. The New Mexico Lucust grows to 15-30 ft. tall with bristly shoots. The aromatic flowers are showy and white or pink, produced in spring or early summer in dense, drooping and unbranched flower clusters or racemes, that are 2-4 inches long and hang from the branches near the ends. The fruits are brown bean-like pods with bristles like those on the shoots. It is very drought tolerant and requires little or no supplemental water when established. It tolerates heavy pruning and shaping as a small, flowering deciduous tree.
New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana), Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Cercis occidentalis or “Western Redbud” Redbud is a deciduous shrub to small tree, 14' high with magenta flowers in spring, generally February-April. The flowers usually emerge before the leaves. Western Redbud is native on dry slopes (usually next to a spring or seasonal creek), Coast Ranges and Sierra foothills to 4500', and east to Utah. Its reddish-purple seed pods hang on the tree in winter. This ornamental tree likes full sun, some summer water for faster growth and regular water in desert areas. It's tolerant of clay soils but needs a winter chill before flowers set properly. Flowers and young pods are edible. The young, small redbud plants are not cold hardy below 20 degrees F., so select a larger specimen or give it a somewhat protected site from winter winds and mulch well. Older plants are no problem at 10 degrees F. or less. The native species is suitable for dry gardens. NOTE-Club Member comment: Just FYI - I babied my 3 western redbuds, loved them so much, gave them more attention than any other plant in my garden - none thrived, too cold, I think, and only one has survived, not much larger than when I planted it 10 years ago. My friend admired mine so much that she bought one several years later and it's now 25 feet tall and wonderfully lovely - but she lives in San Pedro. Erin O'Neill RESPONSE: Yes, as I said the younger plants are easily damaged at 20F & below, and even at a higher temp if there is enough wind chill for several days. The larger specimens a far more hardy--and even those I would give protection from winter wind---nevertheless, they are worth the try for many folks since every little subtle location in the garden is different, even down the street from you or me! Best always! Harold
Photo courtesy Redwood Barn Nursery to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Bitterbrush Purshia tridentata Bitterbrush is a gray small-leaved shrub, usually from four to five feet high and a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae). The intricately branched prostate stems often root where they touch the ground. The cream-colored, tubular, short-lived flowers appear yellow due to an abundance of yellow pollen and are solitary at the ends of short branches. They are very intensely, wonderfully sweet smelling. The semi-evergreen leaves are deeply three-cleft and very hairy on the undersides. The species is found growing at 3000 to 10,000 ft. from British Columbia to California in the east Cascades and in the Columbia River Gorge, then east to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Give it full sun and dry conditions, but in a normal yard will tolerate some water and shade. Bitterbrush is an important browse plant. (Do not use in high deer area.) The seeds are food for birds and chipmunks. Chipmunks appear to be the main dispersal agents.
Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata). Photo by Steve Matson, courtesy CALPHOTOS to Idyllwild Garden Club,
Photos by Wikipedia to IGC-Harold Voorheis
Daylily "Christmas Is" (Hemerocallis) Hearty and easy to grow in the mountain gardens, the daylily is a reliable, lovely blooming perennial capable of holding its own in any landscape design and is now one of the most popular choices. The botanical name is Hemerocallis derived from two Greek words meaning "beauty" and "day" - thus the common name of daylily (note that the daylily is not a form of lily, which is the genus Lilium). The daylily originated in China and can be found in literature as early as 2697 BC. It arrived in Europe by the first century AD but failed to be of much interest. Because daylily does not easily cross pollinate, breeding did not ensue. The key to pollination was just discovered in 1921 by the American, A. B. Stout. Since that time the number of cultivars has reached nearly 40,000. The daylily can be characterized as a clump-forming perennial with four distinct growing parts which consist of the roots, the crown, the foliage, and the scape. Each daylily plant puts up scapes that have several buds and each bud gives one day of loveliness, fragrance, color, and grace thereby providing several weeks of garden beauty throughout the bloom season. The daylily is available in wide ranges of color, size bloom, height, form, and patterns priced as low as a few dollars per plant up to hundreds of dollars per plant depending on its availability. Performance is as widely varied from scapes with only a few buds to scapes with high bud counts in excess of 60 per scape! Where older varieties might only put up a few scapes per season, now newer established varieties may put up dozens and repeatedly throughout the season - all will vary somewhat depending on basic variables. There are literally hundreds of varieties available today in all size blooms, scape heights, colors, habits & bloom time, forms, and patterns.
Fremont’s Bush Mallow Malacothamnus fremontii This wide ranging chaparral shrub is valued by gardeners for its gray foliage, white stems, fragrant porcelain pink flowers and very rapid growth (not to be confused with a very different native species called “Apricot or Desert Mallow”, or Sphaeralcea ambigua). Given full sun, decent drainage, and little water, this shrub can grow at least 4 feet in a single year, to a maximum size of about 6 ft. and equally as wide. It may be kept pruned in the late fall after flowering for a more compact form. This variety is recommended underneath oaks and pines. A native from the Eastern Sierra Nevada down to our San Jacinto Mountains, it blooms all the way from April till autumn! This bush mallow prefers good drainage, but tolerates clay soil, as well as deer and heat, too! It will stay evergreen, but for best appearance prune hard in late autumn or early spring. It is cold hardy to down to 15 F.
Photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Western Wake-robin (Trillium Ovatum) A beautiful spring native with distinctive clumps of diamond shaped, green whorled leaves and 3 petal, large white flowers fading to pink. The flowers are often described as musk-scented. Each plant will reach approximately 18” high and 1” wide and eventually will form large colonies in partial to full shade with humus rich soil. The trillium can also be propagated by seed, a much slower process. In nature a sort of back-up system is in place with the cooperation of mice and ants, to help spread the seeds. Ants especially are attracted by a protein-rich fleshy attachment to the seed called an “elaiosome”. They carry the seeds back to their nest, consume the desired part and then discard the seed itself, which in turn eventually germinates having been conveniently “planted” in the ground in an organically rich environment. This plant adapts well to our dry summers when the plant has gone dormant for the season after flourishing from a moist winter and springtime. As a Western woodland native, it is hardy to -20 degrees.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Snow Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon purpusii) This “threatened” native species of ‘Beardtongue’ is a low growing mat to 12” across with-gray leaves and purple flowers in early summer. It grows in rocky open and forested mountain habitat and is perfect as a garden "edging" or in a rock garden It wants full sun where the summer temperatures are less than 80, more shade as the climate gets hotter. Provide this plant with very well-drained soil, and low water. It is hardy to –10 degrees F. Native to California.
Photo courtesy Rick York and CNPS to the Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Summer Holly Comarostaphylis diversifolia This is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub or small tree to 20 ft. tall and is a member of the Heath (Ericaceae) family. Little seen, but highly attractive shrub for chaparral or woodland garden. Its shiny green leaves with a serrated edge, beautiful shredded bark, urn shaped white flowers in the spring and late summer red berries are all attractive features. The birds love this evergreen.
It occurs naturally on dry slopes in coastal chapparal. It is cold hardy to 10F. Provide with well draining rocky soil, partial sun.Water deeply once a month in the summer. Often recommended as a speciman
Courtesy Christopher Christies to IGC - Courtesy National Park Service to IGC, Harold Voorheis
Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans) This erect, shrubby, fragrant perennial grows to 4 feet high. It takes full sun to part shade inland and is drought tolerant. It masquerades as a salvia, but is really from the mint (Lamiaceae) family. It will generally bloom from April to June with showy purplish flowers. This handsome plant is a good companion to other chaparral shrubs such as monkey flowers, coyote mint, chamise, and lupines. It is native to San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains and the Channel Islands, but adapts very well to our San Jacinto Mountains if given just a little summer moisture, partial shade and a little winter protection, like a south wall of the house (reported to be “ok” down to 20 degrees F, but will freeze out at 10F). It is often sold as the cultivar “El Tigre”.
Photo Courtesy of Orchid Black to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis
Canyon Silktassel Bush (Garrya veatchii) This native is a bushy, evergreen shrub that will reach six feet in height and displays very showy flowers that hang in long catkins from the ends of the branches. It has oval-shaped leaves that range from one to three inches long. It prefers full or partial sunny sites, and is exceptionally drought tolerant once established. It grows on dry slopes in chaparral, central and southern oak woodlands from the Baja up to the San Luis Obispo area of California. It can be used as a good foundation plant or evergreen hedge.
Sticky Cinquefoil (Potentilla glandulosa) Sticky Cinquefoil is a one to two foot tall perennial with creamy, yellow flowers. It has soft pinnately compound leaves and red stems. Sticky cinquefoil occurs from Alberta and British Columbia in the north; south to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Baja California; and east to South Dakota. It is most commonly described as occurring in forests and woodlands throughout its range, but it also occurs in sagebrush and grassland communities. It is a leafy plant with several stems, often reddish and sticky with minute, glandular hairs, topped by yellow flowers in loose branched clusters. There are many subspecies of this variable, semi-woody plant. The leaves are reminiscent of strawberry, but have more leaflets. The rather small flowers vary from cream to yellow and occur in small, loose clusters. The upper stems have glandular hairs, hence the name. Overall height is from 1-2 ft. Potentilla glandulosa is a good companion to Checkerbloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora), Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), and California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica or Epilobium canum).garden. Available at Theodore Payne Nursery and Las Pilitas Nursery.
Pacific Coast Irises These eleven, native species are found in the western United States, mostly Oregon and California, but also Washington. They are a subgrouping of Beardless Irisesand grow from rhizomes. Most of them are evergreen and they are native to areas with wet winters and dry summers and moderate temperatures. They flower in the spring and seem to appreciate occasional summer water, especially in warmer summer areas. They can be challenging to divide and transplant and this is best done in the wet winter months. There have been many hybrids between the various species and these are often sold as Pacific Coast hybrids with cultivar names (for purchase see
www.wildwoodgardens.net). They are "petite" irises for the most part, often only 10-12 inches high and look great in a rock garden. Many adapt well to the Idyllwild area and gardeners report good success. Pacific Coast Irises include: Siskiyou iris (Iris bracteata) yellowleaf iris (Iris chrysophylla) Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana) Fernald’s iris (Iris fernaldii) Hartweg’s iris (Iris hartwegii ssp. hartwegii, ssp. columbianum, ssp. pinetorum, and ssp. australis) Del Norte County iris (Iris innominata) bowl tube iris (Iris macrosiphon) Munz’s iris (Iris munzii) Purdy’s iris (Iris purdyi) toughleaf iris (Iris tenax ssp. tenax) Klamath iris (Iris tenax ssp. klamathensis) long tube iris (Iris tenuissima ssp. tenuissima and ssp. purdyiformis) The Hartweg’s Iris below grows from 2000-7000 ft. elevation, and is native to the Sierra Nevada and our neighboring San Bernardino Mountains.
California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum aka Zauschneria californica) Requiring no summer water & highly attractive to hummingbirds, California fuchsia, a western U.S. native, will reach about 30” tall. In late summer and fall, when so few natives are looking their best, this prolific bloomer fires up the garden with its amazing flare of scarlet red 1.5” trumpets. Cut to the ground after bloom for best appearance each year. It will spread by roots, so do allow room or keep it contained in a parking strip or large pot. It is known to be deer resistant. It is stunning when planted with the yellow spires of California Golden Rod (Solidago californica) and both are in full bloom together!
Apache Plume (Fallugia Paradoxa) Fitting for low-water landscapes, Apache Plume, a member of the Rose family, is a soft-textured shrub showcasing its lovely white rose blossoms and rosy, feathery seed heads through the summer. Fruit clusters with feathery, purplish tails are said to resemble an Apache headdress. The shrub normally grows to 3-4 feet high (but can grow to 6 feet), and has a loose, casual appearance. It looks attractive when it is pruned heavily (but this is optional), even down to the ground, in the winter. Pruning maintains a more compact plant, and the shrub will grow back from the crown each year, flowering later in the summer than unpruned bushes. Hardy USDA Z3. It is native to deserts of southern California and east to Texas. It likes full sun, is drought tolerant, but likes and will bloom more profusely with a little indirect summer water. It is probably best when planted 10-15 feet from a watered area. In areas of summer thunder showers, it should be drought tolerant. Apache plume is a “showy” plant with no care. It is an interesting companion planted Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland Sage) or Salvia 'Pozo Blue' (Pozo Blue Sage).Tree Poppy or Bush Poppy (Dendromedron rigida harfordii) Stiff, waxy leaves and bright yellow flowers make this plant unmistakeable. In the garden, it likes very well-drained soil and no summer water once established. It is hardy down to 10-15 degree F. It is a beautiful shrub, growing 4 to 6 feet high and wide with graceful gray green willow-like foliage and great quantities of bright yellow flowers 2 to 3 inches in diameter. The shrubs flower for a large portion of the year (April-August) and are very showy when in bloom. Grows on rocky slopes. It is susceptable to knock-down from strong winds, so place in a wind-sheltered area. Do not fertilize. Native to the coast ranges from Sonoma County to Baja and the western base of Sierra Nevada. Available at Tree of Life Nursery, San Juan Capistrano, CA. or www.californianativeplants.com.
Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus laevigatus) Common Snowberry is a chin-high, deciduous shrub, gradually forming a thicket by way of its rhizomes, or underground stems. It is native to the coast ranges, San Luis Obispo north to Alaska. This shrub produces edible, white berries. (Before you get all excited, they taste like bitter Ivory soap, but birds don’t seem to mind, too much!). Snowberry likes sun to shade and some summer water. Hummingbirds visit it in summer when the small, pinkish flowers are on it. In the fall of years in which we have had a good, wet winter, or if given some moderate irrigation, Snowberry is very beautiful as the bush becomes overloaded and the branches start to arch from the weight of all the white berries developing at the tips. This is a nice underused plant. In our mountains where there is snow, it can be an effective large scale groundcover. Its root system is vigorous and deep enough to hold most banks. Soils do not seem to matter as long as the drainage is fair. This shrub may be mail-ordered via www.forestfarms.com or www.ruggedcountryplants.com. Plant Description and Details White as snow and puffy like mini-marshmallows, eye-catching berries dot the otherwise naked Snowberry bushes in the fall and winter. In the early summer, diminutive pink, bell-shaped flowers appear. These lovely, rounded bushes will spread by roots to create thickets, so plant where you need streambank (or cutbank) stabilization, wildlife cover, or low underbrush for a not-so-dry area. Food source for wild birds. Common Names Common Snowberry, Waxberry Community Mountain Annual Water Needs 15-20 inches Drought Tolerant Low Water Native Range Moist Areas, streamsides, no extreme shade, no very dry areas. Native States CA, CO, ID, MT, OR, UT, WA Hardiness Down to Zone 4 Exposure Sun - Shade Placement Specimen shrub, bushy thicket. Mature Height 2 - 4 ft. Mature Width 4 ft. Group Spacing 2-8 ft. Blossom Color Pink Blooms Early Summer Establishment Tips Water at planting and 2-3 times deeply the first summer. Maintenance Tips Give it a place where it can spread out and form a bushy thicket. Leaves often get mildew in summer, but it does not hurt the plant. Wildlife Notes Bird and rodent food, deer browse. Plants Symbol SYAL Family Name Caprifoliaceae Lewis & Clark YesCommon Snowberry Penny Nyunt-Las Pilitas Nursery
Lanceleaf Liveforever (Dudleya lanceolata) Dudleya lanceolata is a one foot tall and wide succulent plant known by the common name 'Liveforever'. This plant is native to the mountains of southern California and Baja California, where it is found in rocky areas and slopes. This dudleya has fleshy, pointed leaves of variable shape and size, from a basal rosette of flat, spade-shaped leaves to bunches of longer, thicker leaves. Its stem is erect and bears a branching inflorescence with up to 20 flowers on each of its few branches. The flowers are generally bright yellow, pink, or red, with pale green bases. Hardy to about 12 degrees F.
Rose Sage or Giant Flowered Purple Sage (Salvia pachyphylla) This is a 2-3 foot tall shrub with attractive blue flowers that occur in showy purple bracts. It is similar to Purple Sage (S. dorrii) which occurs in juniper woodlands. Rose sage needs no summer water in most of populated California, but requires excellent drainage. It likes full sun and sandy soil, with no weeds. Deer don't seem to like it much. The foliage is silver colored and is evergreen. Butterflies and hummingbirds like it. This sage tolerates a lot including mulch, rocks, drought and some water. This plant is currently available in Idyllwild at the seasonal "Greentrees Nursery" on Hwy 243 opposite Ridgeview Dr. Penny Nyunt - Las Pilitas Nursery
California or Chilean Aster, (Aster chiliensis)This fast spreading one ft high and 3 ft wide perennial is native along the California roadsides, but adapts well to our mountains with minimal moisture. Leafy green shoots are topped with 1 1/2" wide pale lavender flowers with yellow centers in summer. It is a quick spreading plant and a good soil stabilizer, and can be a bit invasive, but is easily managed. It is good filler in a meadow garden where it attracts butterflies and beneficial insects. If you plant along with California Goldenrod (Solidago californica) and Narrowleaf California Fuchsia (Zauschneria cana) the flower bed will come alive in late summer and on through the first frosts. California Aster seeds are available by mail order at Larner Seeds online (www.larnerseeds.com).
Scarlet Monkey Flower, (Mimulus cardinalis) This is a beautiful native, growing about 2 ft. high and a 3-4 ft. spread, with deep orange-red flowers. It is common along rivers and streams through much of California. Currently it is in bloom along Strawberry Creek in Fern Valley with several Lemon Lilies (Lilium parryi) growing alongside. An excellent hummingbird flower, it needs sun and water, but can survive in the garden with once weekly watering. Generally, it is a very vigorous plant under right conditions. It tends to die back to the roots in winter, but rebounds in the spring. This flower, the Lemon Lily and several other flowering natives may be seen during the Lemon Lily Festival by taking the Idyllwild Garden Club Creekside Tour in the Festival Program. July 2, 2010: Chinese Houses (Collinisia Heterophylla) Light purple 1-2 ft. high spires of pagoda-shaped flowers grow quickly on this California native annual wildflower. Blooms heavily in mid-season (early July), then gone with the first frost. Reseeds itself each spring where seed falls on bare ground. This was observed week of June 28th along Strawberry Creek in the “Grotto” area off Idyllmont Rd.
Mountain Spirea or Rose Meadowsweet (Spiraea densiflora splendens) Mountain Spirea is a little deciduous sub-shrub with gray-green foliage and reddish pink flowers in clusters two-three across. It flowers in the late summer when it sometimes seems like nothing else is even green. It is a native from 2000 feet to 11,000 feet from the central Sierra Nevada to B.C. It grows under Ponderosa pine, Kellogg Oak and Black Cottonwood on a north-east slopes. Mountain Spirea nicer as you go to higher elevations. The overall size is 24” high x 30 inches wide. It is best with afternoon shade and light to moderate summer water. Available at several native to part-native nurseries on the club website.
Yellow Bush Snapdragon, Keckiella antirrhinoides This is a good looking, small leafed, three foot or so perennial shrub with yellow, 3" to 4" flowers and very similar in shape to a common snapdragon. It is native to the interior areas of southern California, west of the mountains where it blooms in early summer. This species likes part shade, tolerates full shade inland, full sun along the coast, good drainage, and little summer water (summer wash offs). It's fairly deer proof if not over watered. It is cold tolerant to at least 0 degrees F. Hummingbirds visit it during flowering season. Although it is summer deciduous with no water, the Yellow Bush Snapdragon looks great even in 100+ degree F weather when the foliage is washed off a few times during the dry season. For the month of June and into July this plant is beautiful. In October it becomes invisible by going deciduous unless you choose to water it periodically. The fragrance of the flowers is wonderful. NOTE: This shrub is available via "Wild California" Growers (Hwy 243, Banning), listed on our club website, www.idyllwildgardenclub.net under native plant nurseries.
Winecup clarkia, Clarkia purpurea This native species of wildflower is known by the common names winecup clarkia, winecup fairyfan, and purple clarkia. It will self-seed readily and is a fine addition to the garden. It may be found in a variety of habitats, including the Twin Pines Road area between Pine Cove and Banning, Ca. in June. It flowers along a reddish stem which may approach 15-30 inches height and has a few, bluish gray, lance-shaped leaves. The one inch wide, bowl-shaped flowers have four small petals in shades of pink, purple, or deep wine red, often with a streak or spot of pink or red in the middle. The Honeysuckle family is best known domestically in our area by the climbing garden honeysuckle, a close relative of our native Hairy Honeysuckle. Many of the wild native species will do well in the garden also, if given the proper conditions they need. This native Honeysuckle vine is found in nature as a loose groundcover in oak forests, or growing through native shrubs. Its loose growth and sparse foliage do not make it a suitable vine for a trellis, but it is quite attractive planted as it occurs in nature, near the base of a shrub it can twine through to display its pink springtime flowers and cherry red fall fruit. It is coming into bloom now (June).
Idyllwild or Pinkbract Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei drupacea) Our native Idyllwild manzanita grows 6 to 12 ft tall. It has gray foliage, reddish brown bark, and pink flowers. You will find it growing on dry slopes in chaparral and yellow pine forest plant communities from the San Bernardino mountains South. This manzanita has slightly fuzzy sticky foliage and flowers and is currently (Mid-May) in bloom throughout our Idyllwild area. Native people use an infusion of leaves for diarrhea and for poison oak rash. The fruits were mashed to make a drink, or eaten fresh, or dried for later use. The branches were used for building. The wood was used to make tools. The leaves were mixed with tobacco for smoking.
Scarlet Bugler, Penstemon centranthifolius This Penstemon is a very showy one to two foot perennial with a 2-4' spike of two inch red flowers in April-July. Native to dry slopes in the coast ranges and also the Southern Sierras up to 6500'. Give this Penstemon full sun. Very drought tolerant. Excellent in rock gardens. Cold tolerant to -15 deg. or less. Needs good drainage with very little organic matter. Heavily used by Hummingbirds. You will see this plant on your drive up and down the “Hill”.
Monardella Villosa, or “Coyote Mint” Bushy perennial to a foot high with pleasantly mint-scented leaves and heads of tubular blue or purple flowers in summer. Attracts butterflies and bumblebees. Drought tolerant; needs good drainage.This perennial will grow to 1-2' tall by 1-2' wide. Hardy to USDA Z7 (0-5 F). The dark green leaves contrast nicely with long blooming lavender flowers (June-August). Place in full sun to light shade, with good drainage and little summer water. Cut back heavily in winter for a compact plant next year. This is one of our California native plants. Flowers attract a variety of butterflies and beneficial insects.
(from Harold Voorheis, Idyllwild Garden Club)
Monardella odoratissima, Western Pennyroyal A 1-2' perennial with 1" white flowers arising from pinkish buds. The fragrant foliage has a very good mint odor. Native to 2000'+ throughout much of the West. It likes part shade to shade where the summers are hot and full sun where the temperatures do not reach above 85-90 deg. It needs a fairly rich soil and some garden water. A middle to upper montane species that resents lower elevations in the west. It is very useful on the in rock gardens or perennial beds.
Ribes nevadense, Mountain Pink Currant This is a deciduous shrub, growing up to 3-5'. It should be used as a pink showcase around a mountain cabin. Native to 4000-8000' throughout California, it will flower April to July with 6" hanging pink cascades. This is one of those plants that can grow in creeks or not. It survives drought conditions well, but does not mind wet conditions either. Many Idyllwild Garden Club members grow this to attract the birds when it fruits.
Lilium humboldtii ocellatum, Humboldt Lily This rare and beautiful lily has large 3-4" red-yellow flowers on 3' spikes. At higher elevations it has grown to 6'. This subspecies is native to many parts of southern California and is growing in gardens here in Idyllwild quite successfully. It is a very showy and attractive lily, somewhat drought tolerant, but needs perfect drainage. The lilies are divided into wetland species and dry land species. This is a dryland species. It grows on sunny chaparral slopes, and also does well in Idyllwild (make a little gopher-proof closed wire basket around the bulb). Sorry, if you have deer, this one may be not be a good choice.
Penny Nyunt - Las Pilitas Nursery
Alpine Shooting Star (Dodecatheon alpinus) This native wildflower is a small perennial that goes dormant in summer. It has a 1 foot high flower cluster with 1/2 inch shooting stars, and is good in woodland garden or north slope. The foliage color is silver;the flowers are pink. This plant is one of the first wildflowers to come up in the spring. The wildflower lovers in our area compete to be the first to see one.
Grape Soda Lupine (Lupinus Excubitus) California native, Lupinus excubitus or Grape Soda Lupine, will soon be arriving in our mountain roadsides and trails. A favorite of many members! Grape Soda lupine is one of the smaller bush lupines with many different forms that range from the desert to mountains. The foliage is gray and the spring flowers are purple with a fragrance like grape soda. Do not water after the first summer in most of California. Lupines prefer sandy or loam soil. Birds relish the seed, butterflies work the flowers.
Penny Nyunt - Las Pilitas
California Buttercup - A spring Native! Here is a California native wildflower that is pretty & useful. The cheerful yellow flowers bloom on long stems over finely-cut foliage. Blooms in early to mid spring along with many other CA native wildflowers. It would look very pretty mixed with Nemophila menziesii “Baby Blue Eyes” or Stylomecon heterophylla. Fast growing, it gets to be about 1’x1’ & is dormant in the summer. The seeds are edible & can be ground up & used as a flavoring in soups, or as a meal for making bread. A yellow dye can be obtained from the flowers. Hummingbirds & insects also enjoy the flower nectar, making this plant a good addition to the wildlife garden. Tolerates clay soil and reseeds!
Chocolate Lily - Fritillaria Biflora The Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria biflora), a California native, may be seen in bloom at the Santa Rosa Plateau ( Take Clinton Keith Parkway from I-15 to Visitor Center & get directions) during late March. The largest populations are along the Trans-Reserve Trail, but a few on the Vernal Pools Trail. Chocolate Lily is severely declining in Southern California, but apparently is more widespread in central California near the coast. Substantial populations in San Diego County, Orange County, and Riverside County should be strongly considered for protection, despite the relative abundance of this species to the north.Also profuse right now are Johnny Jumpups, Ground Pink, and Shooting Stars. Lupine and CA Poppies are just starting to get good. Other species in bloom include Bush Monkeyflowers, Blue-eyed Grass, Blue Dicks, Checkerbloom, Buttercups, California Lilac, Goldfields, Milk Maids, and Red Maids. The oaks and willows are also in bloom with their understated flowers. Also look for California newts in the creek on the Adobe Loop Trail.