Sunshine & sunflowers   2009
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Sunshine & sunflowers 2009



This lecture was given in December, 2009 as part of the California native plant gardening series ‘Out of the Wilds and Into Your Garden’

This lecture was given in December, 2009 as part of the California native plant gardening series ‘Out of the Wilds and Into Your Garden’



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Sunshine & sunflowers   2009 Sunshine & sunflowers 2009 Presentation Transcript

  • Out of the Wilds and Into Your Garden Gardening with Western L.A. County Native Plants Project SOUND - 2009 © Project SOUND
  • Sunshine & Sunflowers C.M. Vadheim and T. Drake CSUDH & Madrona Marsh Preserve Madrona Marsh Preserve December 5 & 8, 2009 © Project SOUND
  • Painter Shirley Novak © Project SOUND
  • Can I do this with CA native plants? © Project SOUND
  • Rediscovering the riches in our own backyard….  Many of our native plants were brought to England in the 1800’s  Our native California wildflowers are some of the staples of the famed English “cottage gardens”  It’s time we learn to appreciate our unique and wonderful annual wildflowers  Hardy  Drought tolerant  Beautiful  Inexpensive – re-seed1840 print – Jane Webb Loudon London © Project SOUND
  • California natives include both annual & perennial ‘wildflowers’ © Project SOUND
  • Which is useful for the home gardener…who needs to consider all 12 months of the year © Project SOUND
  • Annual Wildflowers in the garden  ADVANTAGES:  Easy, fast  Brilliant colors; spring- summer  Relatively low maintenance  Seeds are cheap  DISADVANTAGES:  May require re-planting every year  ‘the golden-brown season’ – may not be appropriate for situations that require a ‘neat’ look © Project SOUND
  • Perennial Wildflower in the garden  ADVANTAGES:  Includes some early bloomers  Do not have to be planted every year.  The familiarity that comes from seeing the same plants in the same garden year after year allows gardeners to coordintate and fine tune color and texture sequences as different perennials come and go each season.  Mature perennial flowers are often quite drought-tolerant  DISADVANTAGES:  Takes time to mature.  Propagating plants may be difficult – or more costly if you buy the plants  You have to do the yearly management – pruning, etc. © Project SOUND
  • The ‘mixed garden’ includes both annual& perennial species (wildflowers, grasses) © Project SOUND
  • Combining annual wildflowers & perennial species  Are they compatible?  Water requirements  Light requirements  Mulch  Nutrients  How will the area look throughout the year?  Should I include:  Annuals?  Herbaceous perennials?  Bulbs & corms?  Native grasses?  Even sub-shrubs? – can plant annuals between them to give some extra color © Project SOUND
  • Combining annual wildflowers & perennial species – an example © Project SOUND
  • Challenges & opportunities  Needs to look good year-round (front yard)  Back (near wall) gets extra water from neighbor’s sprinklers  Nice and sunny – good place for native annuals & perennials  Want some native grasses to carry grass them from other areas in front yard © Project SOUND
  • How I chose to meet the challenges – a mix and match strategy  Plant Zone 2-3 herbaceous perennials along wall  Include native grasses & bulbs amongst the perennials  Have a separate area for annual wildflowers – but make it look neat with a crushed rock mulch  In summer, perennials will cover a part of the annual area, making it look less bare © Project SOUND
  • Painter Shirley Novak © Project SOUND
  • * Yellow Mariposa Lily – Calochortus luteus © Project SOUND
  • * Yellow Mariposa Lily – Calochortus luteus  Foothills of Central & N. CA Coast, & western Sierras – CA endemic – s. to Ventura, Kern Co.  Heavy soils in grasslands, coastal prairie, open areas in oak savanna, mixed oak woodland and mixed-evergreen forest.  In the Lily family (Lilliaceae),8461,8487 © Project SOUND
  • Yellow Mariposa is a typical Calochortus  Size:  ~ 1 ft tall  ~ 1 ft wide  Growth form:  Herbaceous perennial from a bulb  Dies back to the bulb in summer dry period – emerges with the rains  Foliage:  Grass-like; blends right in with native grasses  Roots: relatively short (15 inches or so max.); bulb can be eaten raw or cooked/baked © Project SOUND
  • Flowers are showy – get your camera! Blooms: in spring, usually Apr- May but may be as late as June in our area – rain/ temperature dictated Flowers:  Typical Mariposa shape – typically 3 petals  Lovely golden yellow with red & orange blotches & markings  Usually 3-4 flowers/plant  Attract hummingbirds, butterflies, a host of insects Seeds: flat, tan seeds Vegetative reproduction: produces bulblets © Project SOUND
  • One of the more garden-  Soils: friendly Mariposas  Texture: any local from heavy clays to sandy loam  pH: any local  Light:  Full sun  Loves spring/summer heat – fine in hot areas of garden  Water:  Winter/spring: needs adequate water – if needed, supplement  Summer: must have summer dry period  Fertilizer: likes poor soils, but can use ½ strength during growth period  Other: fine with light mulch – gravel/coarse sand is best Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences © Project SOUND
  • Calochortus can be started from bulbils or seeds  Takes time – 3-5 years from seed  You can propagate a lot of plants for little $$ - if you’re patient  Suggest planting in pots of tubs that can be left intact in a cool, dry place in dormant season  Check size of bulbs in 2-3 years; if large enough, then plant out © Project SOUND
  • Mariposas in the garden  Charming pot plants – hide the pot in a cool place in summer  In summer-dry gardens; will reseed if happy  In rock gardens  In those hard-to-water places; good with penstemons © Project SOUND
  •  A naturally occurring ‘Golden Orb’ cultivar cultivar  Has been grown by Dutch bulb producers for a long time  Selected for:  Golden yellow color  Larger flowers  Taller flowering stalks  Long bloom time  Survival in gardens  Widely available – native plant and bulb suppliers © Project SOUND
  • A few more yellow bulbs to consider Yellow-eyed Grass - Sisyrinchium californicumGolden Stars - Bloomeria crocea © Project SOUND
  • Dealing with those pesky critters….  Bulbs are FOOD an/penasquitos_final.htm /you-cant-draw-a-box-around-a-cloud/ © Project SOUND
  • If not yellow, then white…. Calochortus superbusCalochortus clavatus Calochortus catalinaeCalochortus albus © Project SOUND
  • Have you noticed that many early spring bloomers have yellow flowers? CA Encelia – Encelia californica © Project SOUND
  • Why use yellow & white flowers?Tidy-tips – Layia platyglassa Contrasts with darker foliage, dark walls, etc. © Project SOUND
  • Tidy-tip flowers stand out because they haveboth color (hue & light-dark contrast © Project SOUND
  • The colors of yellow… 63/images/RCWjava4x4.jpg  Yellow is between green (cooler) and orange (warmer) on the color wheel) © Project SOUND
  • Families with yellow flowers  Lilliaceae (Lily family)  Brassicacaea (Mustard Family)  Papaveraceae (Poppy family)  Asteraceae (Sunflower family) © Project SOUND
  • Strand Wallflower - Erysimum insulare ssp. suffrutescens © Project SOUND
  • Western Wallflower – Erysimum capitatum var. capitatum © Project SOUND
  • Western Wallflower looks somewhat like our local Dune Wallflower  Size:  1-2 ft tall  1-2 ft wide  Growth form:  Short-lived (2-3 year) perennial in our area  Upright growth habit  Dies back to ground in dry season  Foliage:  Leaves sparse, almost linear  Blue-green  Roots: soil-binding © Project SOUND
  • Flowers are fantastic  Blooms: spring – Mar-May in western L.A. County  Flowers:  Bright golden yellow; quite showy  Typical shape for Brassicaceae (Mustard); parts of 4  Open ‘up the stem’  Attracts bees, hummingbirds & other pollinators © Project SOUND
  • Plant Requirements  Soils:  Texture: any, including clays  pH: any local; dislikes acidic soils  Light:  Part-shade (afternoon shade) best in most gardens  Water:  Winter: needs good winter/spring rains  Summer: dry (Zone 1 or 1-2); needs summer dormancy  Fertilizer: none; likes poor soils  Other: let plant re-seed before cutting back in fall © Project SOUND
  • Strand Wallflower is an attractive addition to the garden  Flowers are fragrant  nectar attracts butterflies and native bees  Excellent for:  Natural gardens  “Cottage gardens”  Rock gardens  Soil stabilization (sand)  Perfect for old-fashioned gardens © Project SOUND
  • make a cheerful addition to mixed beds © Project SOUND
  • Mixed beds require planning © Project SOUND
  • What every seed needs to germinate  Water  Warm enough temperatures  +/- light  May be special factors for some plants California native wildflowers are very easy to grow– require no pre-treatment © Project SOUND
  • CA Goldfields – Lasthenia californica ssp. californica© 2009 Barry Breckling © Project SOUND
  • CA Goldfields – Lasthenia californica ssp. californica  Grows in the U.S. Southwest from S. OR to Mexico – including our area  Common in many Plant Communities below 4500 feet elevation © Project SOUND
  • Looks similar to an old friend…Lasthena glabrata © Project SOUND
  • In Antelope Valley © Project SOUND
  • California Goldfields is a nice little spring annual  Size:  < 1 ft tall (may be slightly taller in garden)  12-18 inches wide  Growth form:  Herbaceous annual wildflower  Upright; slender, dainty  Foliage:  Narrow, medium-green leaves  May be slightly hairy & succulent in garden  Roots: < 1 ft – fine in pots© 2009 Barry Breckling © Project SOUND
  • Flowers are true ‘gold’  Blooms:  In spring – anytime from Jan. to Apr. in western L.A. Co.  Tied to both timing of the rains as well as temperature  Flowers:  Smallish: ~ ½ inch heads  Typical sunflower heads  Insect pollinated  Both ray & disk flowers bright to golden yellow  Just dazzling when massed – all tend to bloom at once  Seeds: small sunflower seeds – great treat for the birds© 2009 Barry Breckling © Project SOUND
  • Typical of most wildflowers – will grow in many soils  Soils:  Texture: any local – sand to clay  pH: any local  Light:  Full sun to part-shade – versatile like Tidy-tipsG.A. Cooper @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database  Water:  Winter/spring: needs good soil moisture – may need to supplement rains, particularly when seedlings small  Summer: taper off after blooming ceases – absolutely needed for seed production  Fertilizer: none; likes poor soils, but ½ strength won’t kill them © Project SOUND
  • The lifecycle of Annual plants in theSouth Bay  Seed germination – Fall/Winter (after the first seasonal rains); some require spring warmth; generally quick (1-4 weeks)  Plant growth – Winter (some) Spring, Summer (some) – rapid in warm days of Spring  Flowering – Spring/Summer (a very few in early fall)  Seed production – Late Spring- Summer  Death – Spring (some), Summer (most), Fall (a few) © Project SOUND
  • Seeds of ‘sunflowers’ are easy to grow  Plant at the right time – in winter, just before a major rain cycle  Just lightly rake in the seeds – need light to germinate  Be sure the young seedlings get adequate water  Taper off water after flowering  Let plants reseed – and/or collect dry seeds, dry a week or two, store in cool, dry place (paper bags, envelopes or glass jars) © Project SOUND
  • Goldfields – lovely at any scale  Wonderful as a pot plant on porches, balconies, etc. – spot of bright color  Massed as they grow in nature – will take a while to get good coverage  Mix with other annuals and native bunchgrasses – this was a component of native prairies here  Consider it in the vegetable garden – attracts native pollinators  Great little annuals for edging walks © Project SOUND
  • Other spring-blooming yellow sunflowers  Annuals  Chaenactis (Pincushion) species  All of the Lasthenia species  Layia platyglossa (Tidy-tips)  * Malacothrix glabrata (Desert Dandylion)  Perennials/Shrubs  Coreopsis gigantea & * Coreopsis maritima  Encelia californica (CA Encelia) © Project SOUND
  • Yellow all season long – with sunflowers  Great ‘season stretchers’ – bloom spring & fall  Annuals  Annual sunflower – Helianthus annuus  * Garaea canescens – Hairy Desert Sunflower  Perennials/shrubs  Constancea (Eriophyllum) nevinii - Catalina Silverlace  Grindelia species (Gumplants)Hairy Gumplant – Grindelia hirsutula © Project SOUND
  • Annual Sunflower – Helianthus annuus © Project SOUND
  • * Hairy Desert Sunflower – Geraea canescens © Project SOUND
  • * Hairy Desert Sunflower – Geraea canescens  Southwestern U.S. deserts from CA to UT and south to Mexico  In CA, in both the Mojave & Sonoran deserts  Elevations from sea level to 4,265 feet (1,300 m)  In sandy desert soil, usually in the company of creosote brush © Project SOUND
  • © 2008 Christopher L. Christie© 2006 Dr. Amadej Trnkoczy © Project SOUND
  • Charming annual whose growth reflects it’s desert origin  Size:  1-3 ft tall; depends on water  1-2 ft wide  Growth form:  Annual wildflower  Slender, branching habit  Foliage:  Light green/red stems (usually)  Foliage fuzzy/hairy  Relatively few leaves – but more with spring water  Roots: taproot© 2004 James M. Andre © Project SOUND
  • Flowers are everything you’d want from a sunflower  Blooms:  Two seasons (with some summer water) - Feb–May, Oct–Nov  Relatively long bloom period (like annual sunflower) – flowers open over a month or more  Flowers:  Medium-sized heads – to 2” diameter  Both ray & disk flowers golden- yellow – disk flowers slightly darker  Attract many types of insect pollinators  Seeds: excellent bird food © Project SOUND
  • Desert Sunflowers - easy to  Soils: grow in well-drained soils  Texture: sandy best  pH: any local  Light: full sun  Water:  Winter/spring: needs good winter moisture; let dry out some in late spring  Summer: can water occasionally (Zone 2) to promote fall bloom, then let it dry out again  Fertilizer: none; likes poor soils  Other: best when grown using a gravel/crushed rock or coarse sand mulch © Project SOUND
  • What’s the deal about gravel/crushed rock mulches?  You may have notices that many annual wildflowers like to grow in decomposed granite  Why?  Similar to natural conditions for some wildflowers  Well-drained  Warms up well  Easy for small seedlings to grow through; and protects them  Seeds can avoid predation  Other advantages  Looks neater than bare ground  Looks quite naturalAn inorganic mulch ~ 1 inch deep or lessworks well – you will have to weed © Project SOUND
  • Use Desert Sunflower like a smaller annual sunflower  An appropriate size for large pots and planters  Great addition to desert & rock gardens  Fine in out-of-the-way places, where it will reseed itself  Great habitat plant Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy o f Sciences © Project SOUND
  • Color with confidence – complementary colors  Across from one another on color wheel  Most contrast in hue (color) © Project SOUND
  • Color with confidence – Analogous Colors  Next to one another on the color wheel  Look like the naturally go together © Project SOUND
  • © Project SOUND
  • * Common Madia – Madia elegans© Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Marys College © Project SOUND
  • * Common Madia – Madia elegans © 2007 Neal Kramer © Project SOUND
  • * Common Madia – Madia elegans  West Coast species – WA to Baja  Locally in Santa Monica & San Gabriel ssp. vernalis mtns.  Dry, open, usually grassy places, in shrublands, woodlands, forests ssp. wheeleri often along roadsides  Either coarse or clay soils ssp. densifoliassp. elegans © Project SOUND
  • Common Madia is a typical annual sunflower  Size:  1-3 ft tall  1-2 ft wide  Growth form:  Herbaceous annual  Erect  Foliage:  Leaves mostly below the flowers, linear  Hairy to bristly  Aromatic – unusual – like tropical fruits  Rabbits & ground squirrels will © 2009 Aaron Schusteff eat foliage © Project SOUND
  • One of our showiest sunflowers  Blooms: in summer usually Jul-Sept.  Flowers:  Typical sunflower heads; about an inch in diameter  Ray flowers often clefted – sometimes markedly so  Ray flowers often blotched with maroon – super showy © 2009 Barry Breckling  Flowers close at mid-day  Make nice cut flowers  Seeds:  Small, tufted sunflower seeds  Aromatic seeds were parched and ground for pinole, flavoring  Many birds also like these seeds © Project SOUND
  • Plant Requirements  Soils:  Texture: any well-drained  pH: any local  Light:  Full sun to light shade  Water:  Winter: moist soils during growth period  Summer: taper off water at end of flowering  Fertilizer: none; likes poor soils – but can’t hurt them  Other: save some seeds for next year – or birds may eat them all! © Project SOUND
  • Madias provide nice summer color, fragrance  As a showy, larger addition to the summer flower © 2004 George W. Hartwell garden  As a food plant – for yourself or birds  In the fragrance garden – be sure to plant where you’ll enjoy it © Project SOUND
  • Don’t just limit sunflowers to the flower garden…. © Project SOUND
  • Innate seed dormancy – ways seeds are prevented from sprouting ‘too soon’ Immature embryo – needs ‘after-ripening period’ to develop fully [example: seeds that sprout better the second year] Biochemical trigger – needed to trigger production/release of enzymes [Ex: cold; heat; chemicals in smoke] Germination inhibitors in seed coat – must be leached from seed coat before germination will occur [Ex: require removal of fleshy fruit surrounding seeds; period in damp soils] Seed coat provides physical barrier (usually to water) – seed coat must breached for germination to occur [Ex: ‘scarification’; seeds that pass through digestive tract; seeds that need a ‘hot water treatment like lupines] © Project SOUND
  • © Project SOUND
  • Fire & wildflowers – what’s the story?  Heat?  Smoke – or specific constituents of smoke (smoke is a complex mixture of 1000/s of chemicals)?  Increased availability of sun, water, nutrients? We still have lots to learn about this subject © Project SOUND
  • Whispering Bells – Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora © Project SOUND
  • Whispering Bells – Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora  Southwestern U.S. south to Baja; locally on Channel Islands, Santa Monica Mtns.  Most common in dry, rocky or sandy, recently burned areas.  A common plant of the chaparral ecosystem, which is prone to wildfire.  Emmenanthe is a monotypic genus - contains only one species, Emmenanthe penduliflora © Project SOUND
  • Tons the first year, few the next, none the 3rd year © Project SOUND
  • Whispering bells is quite different  Size:  1-2 ft tall  1-2 ft wide  Growth form:  Annual wildflower  Usually many-branched  Foliage:  Begins as a basal rosette  Clasping leaves are sticky/glandular  Has a mildly medicinal scent – not bad © 2008 Robert Patrie © Project SOUND
  • Flowers are unique  Blooms:  In spring - usually Apr-Jun in S. CA  Flowers:  Lemon-yellow (usual) to bright yellow  Very small  Shaped like little bells – very quaint & old-fashioned looking  Seeds:  Flat, brown with honeycomb pattern surface © Project SOUNDGerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences
  • Why ‘Whispering’?  Flowers droop along the stalk as they age  As the flowers dry, they become papery  When the dried flowers rub together in the wind they make a soft whispering sound – hence the common name© 2003 Lynn Watson © 2008 Robert Patrie © Project SOUND
  • Plant Requirements  Soils:  Texture: rocky or sandy soils best  pH: any local  Light:  Full sun to light shade  Water:  Winter: need good winter/spring water  Summer: taper to Zone 1  Fertilizer: ?? Does increased nitrogen post-fire increase germination rates?  Other: use of charate or other ‘smoke’ treatment © Project SOUND
  • Whispers in the garden  Would make a unique container plant – pair with lupines?  In a rock garden  For erosion control on slopes  ??? Use your creativity © Project SOUND
  • Red, orange, and yellow flowers owe their brilliant hues to a group of pigments called carotenoids. Similar pigments are responsible for some fall leaf colors. © Project SOUND
  • * Western Poppy – Papaver californicum© 2005 Christopher L. Christie © Project SOUND
  • * Western Poppy – Papaver californicum  Coastal foothills of California – locally in foothills of Santa Monica & San Gabriel mtns.  Burns and disturbed places below 2500, chaparral and oak woodland,5590,5592 © Project SOUND
  • Similar to the non-native ‘Iceland’ poppy  Size:  1-2 ft tall  ~ 1 ft wide  Growth form:  Herbaceous annual wildflower  Foliage:  Leaves mostly basal, strongly lobed  Medium green, glandular  May cause slight contact skin rash (typical for poppies)  Roots: taproot© 2005 Christopher L. Christie © Project SOUND
  • Flowers are fantastic!  Blooms:  In Spring - usually Apr-May  Flowers open up over several weeks  Flowers: © 2005 Christopher L. Christie  Bright red-orange color (usually) tho’ may be more pale orange  Relatively large size – 1+ inch diameter  Very showy – folks don’t believe this is a native  Seeds:  Small, round and dark  In typical poppy capsule © Project SOUND
  •  Soils:Plant Requirements  Texture: must be well-drained; in nature, often sandy  pH: any local  Light:  Full sun to part-shade  Water:  Winter: moist soils  Summer: to Zone 1  Fertilizer: none; likes poor soils  Other:  Use charate (or water extract of charate) to stimulate germination  Plant seed in place or transfer© 2006 Aaron Schusteff plants when very young (like CA Poppies – have tap root) © Project SOUND
  • Poppies are among everyone’s favorite flowers  For borders – lovely massed  Along pathways  In cottage garden plantings  In pots & planters  Anywhere you’ve planted non-Beatrice F. Howitt © California Academy of Sciences native poppies in the past © Project SOUND
  • Wind Poppy - Stylomecon heterophylla (Papaver heterophyllum)  Grassy areas and openings in chaparral  Grassy & brushy slopes below 4000 ft.  Rarely germinates in the wild except after a wildfire© 2005 Christopher L. Christie,5600,5601 © Project SOUND
  • Wind Poppy – so showy!!!  Scent of ‘Lily of the Valleys’  Another fire-follower that needs smoke treatmentJ. E.(Jed) and Bonnie McClellan © California Academy of Sciences © Project SOUND
  • Maybe worth the extra effort  Ways to ‘apply smoke’ to seeds  Burn native twigs on the area to be planted  Make charate (charcoal/ash) from native twigs – apply to planted area or medium  Apply ‘liquid smoke’, either as a seed pre- treatment or used to water planted seeds – easier method © Project SOUND
  • You can make your own ‘liquid smoke’ with a grill or home smoker Using a small grill, burn charcoal on half of the base of the grill (as normal) and on the upper grill surface place a pan of water on the other side and native vegetation (woody and leafy) on the side above the charcoal. Cover the grill. As the coals burn the native vegetation the smoke that is created will be infused in the water in the pan. Be careful not to allow the water to boil away. The water created in these ways can be cooled and used immediately or frozen until needed. © Project SOUND
  • Use commercially available smoke infused products  Liquid smoke –  Natural products available from some Australian & S. African sources;  You might also want to experiment with ‘liquid smoke’ product used in cooking  Smoke infused paper discs  Dry smoke infused material to add to planting medium: such as Regen 2000 © Project SOUND
  • CAPE "Super Smoke Plus" SEED PRIMER  Cape Super Smoke Plus is an absorbent paper that is impregnated with fynbos-smoke-saturated water. The paper is then dried and sealed in a polythene packet.  A predetermined volume of water is added to the paper in a suitable container and the seeds are "smoke- primed" by soaking in the smoke-water solution for 24 hours.  A range of natural germination stimulators has been added to the smoke solution to overcome other forms of seed dormancy found in many species. © Project SOUND
  • Be sure to get a product that is just ‘liquidsmoke’  ‘Lazy Kettle’ brand ; ‘Colgin’s brand; ‘Wright’s’ brand  A little bit goes a long way – 1 part liquid smoke to 10 parts water as a starting point  Try it – you’ll have to do some experimentation – let us know your results © Project SOUND
  • It’s no coincidence that artists have CA native wildflowers in their own gardens © Project SOUND
  • Sources of inspiration are all around Manhattan Beach Botanic Garden Palos Verdes © Project SOUND
  • © Project SOUND