Early Spring Flowers

March is a time of year in the Bay Area that sees a fluctuation in temperatures and in precipitation. This year, we were lucky in January to see so much rain, and then to have a warm and dry February. This brought out the blooms. When it comes to blooming, at Mariposa, we love to see as much late winter and early spring bloom as we can. Not only is it beautiful, after the cold grey days of December and January, but it is also important for our winged friends, the butterflies and the bees. Blooming flowers provide nectar and nourishment when the weather starts to get warm and the pollinators emerge from winter dormancy.

 

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Bumblebee on Fuschia thymifolia

 

Fuschia thymilfolia is an excellent garden performer. It keeps its flowers year round, and provides nectar to a host of pollinators, including bumblebees and hummingbirds. In addition, it does well in dry shade.  Often, trying to find plants that work in dry shade is a gardener’s dilemma.

 

Cerinthe blooms from February to Late Spring in the garden

 

 

Cerinthe is a flower that will readily reseed itself in your garden. It’s lovely blue flowers are one of our first blooms of the year. Bumblebees and honey bees will be glad that you’ve planted it, as it is blooming right when they start to actively forage again.

 

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Lantana and Skipper butterfly

Lantana is blooming in my garden right now, however, I normally think of Lantana as a summer bloomer. Maybe it is the effects of the drought that has it blooming out of season. At any rate, it is blooming, and I have seen several bumblebees visiting during our warmer days in Late February.

 

 

 

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Ceanothus in full bloom

Ceanothus is one of my favorite late winter and early spring bloomers! It’s beautiful soft blue flowers make it a true gem in the garden. The heavenly and faint scent send me swooning every time I leave in the morning, as I have a full blooming Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ blooming right outside my front door. The bumblebees love Ceanothus, and on a sunny day, one can see several of them working the deep blue blooms.

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Ribes sanguenium in bloom

The fairest of all Early Spring blooms is the lovely Ribes sanguineum. It’s graceful plumes of pink flowers are truly lovely to behold. Right now, in many parts of the Bay Area, they are at their peak. Enjoy them while you can. Once the flowers have faded, they will produce currants that are loved by our local birds.

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Gardening and Drought

Gardening and Drought

New Habitat Gardening is about looking at gardening in a new way, from the perspective of the Earth and its desire to stay healthy.

Since the 1940’s in the US, both Landscaping and Agriculture have grown into multi-billion dollar corporate industries, under the inventions of toxic herbicides and pesticides.  With this growth, both industries have neglected the long-term environmental and human health impacts for short term financial benefits and gains.  New Habitat Gardening takes a critical look at the standards of both industries and questions what we can do to improve our environment, improve our health and improve our communities by taking better care of the planet and the living things in it.

DSC_1460_01Drought tolerant Backyard Habitat Meadow, with Sporobolus airoides and cornflower.

 

Drought

Just like all living things, gardens need water to look good.  However, the past four years of drought in California has alerted all good gardeners that the amount of water used in the garden needs to be reduced.  California’s utility departments have incentive based programs to encourage homeowners to use less water in the garden. They include increasing the amount charged per gallon, restricting the days you are allowed to water, or providing rebates for homeowners who take out their lawn, and replace it with a drought tolerant garden.  Professional and hobby gardeners are coming up with even more ways to reduce water in our gardens during this time.  Unfortunately, some homeowners have turned their irrigation off all together. This is not recommended, as dying plants lead to a hotter and drier planet.

AshCliff-9865Drought tolerant Lavender makes a great addition to a drought tolerant garden.

Even in the drought, we need to irrigate.  Plants that are the most highly beneficial to our environment, by providing either food, shelter or both to our native pollinators, also need water to survive.   Restricting our plant choices, creating arid gardens, and taking away water that creates life in the garden is not the way to improve the health of the environment, or of ourselves. Brown is NOT the new Green.

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Water harvesting Dragonfly Pond

Whether or not we irrigate our gardens does not need to be the answer to water conservation in the future.  However, the source of the water that we use in our gardens needs to change. Water HARVESTING and Greywater REUSE  on your property are the two of the primary ways to conserve water in the garden.  Utilizing alternative sources of water (not pulling it from the municipal tap), can dramatically reduce the amount of water needed to keep your garden green.

The type of irrigation system you implement in your garden is also very important. At Mariposa Gardening & Design, we like to use water harvesting, greywater reuse and drip irrigation to reduce the amount of water needed to keep our gardens green.

Even though it is January, and here in California we are enjoying so much rainfall, we are still in a severe drought. It will take years of above average rainfall for our aqueducts and resevoirs to replenish themselves.

As the drought is so relevant,  over the next few weeks, we will focus on the issues that climate change and the drought bring up for all gardeners.  In addition, we will provide you with useful tips and information about how you can implement simple water harvesting and greywater techniques to continue to irrigate your garden, without using additional water from the tap. For more information on this topic, check out my latest article in Pacific Horticulture magazine on the issue, titled GREEN IS THE COLOR OF NATURE.

Welcome to New Habitat Gardening!

Andrea Hurd