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7 Native Plants Great for Your Garden

7 native plants great for your garden If you go for a hike in one of the state parks or nature preserves in northern California now, chances are, you will see blossoming wild flowers.  They can be as tall as a tree (Matilija Poppy), or as small as a daisy. Standing with flowers of all the different colors and shapes, they make spring come to life.  Wild flowers under blue sky – one of the most beautiful scenes you can see in nature. Benefits of Gardening with Native Plants Native plants are not only beautiful, they are great for gardening.  Adapted to California’s dry and windy environment, they are hardy, strong and can thrive without any care.  There are a lot of benefits of gardening with native plants:

  • Water efficient: these plants do not need that much water; compared to a lawn, a garden with mostly native plants can save a significant amount of water;
  • Low maintenance: they can thrive on their own; no or little care is needed.
  • Attracting butterflies, birds and bees: they sure like the food from the plants that they know well, and you can view them often in addition to the beautiful blossoms.

The native plants below are excellent choices for a garden.  They are all water efficient plants and all qualify for Santa Clara Water District’s Rebate Program. Matilija Poppy What does the flower look like to you?  That is right, a fried egg!  Also named Fried Egg Flower, Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri) is native to dry, sunny environments in Southern California and Baja California.  The flower is one of the biggest of any species native to California. Matilija Poppy is very drought tolerant.  It can grow to be 7 feet tall and 28 feet wide.  The flowers usually begin from early spring and can last until late summer. Tree PoppyCalifornia Poppy When spring comes, the bright color of California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) lights up hills and open spaces throughout California and other western states.  Easy to grow, drought tolerant, and that golden color – this plant is ideal for a water efficient garden. California Poppy California Lilac  This shrub with dense blue flowers ((Ceanothus spp.) can be seen everywhere in California.  It is very tough and drought tolerant.  It can grow to be 4-6 feet tall. California Lilac Monkey Flower Monkey Flower Monkey Flower (Mimulus spp.)  is a perennial plant native to the west coast areas from Southern Oregon all the way to Baja.  It can grow to be 5 feet tall. In flowering season, the whole plant can be covered with golden blossom, which makes it really stand out. It is quite drought tolerant. Moneky Flower Beach Aster  As its name indicates, this perennial plant ((Erigeron glaucus) is native to the beach areas on the west coast.  Very hardy and drought tolerant, it doesn’t need any care once established, yet flowers for a long time (spring to late summer).  It can grow to be 1 feet tall and 2 feet wide.  This is a great choice for gardens on the west coast. Beach Aster Douglas Iris  The plant with the beautiful flower is native to areas along west coast.  Very easy to care, quite drought tolerant.  It can grow to be 2-3 feet tall.  Another great choice for a water efficient garden. Douglas Iris Yarrow Yarrow This perennial plant (Achillea millefolium) is very easy to grow and drought tolerant.  There are different varieties, with white or yellow blossoms.  They can grow to be 1-3 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide, depending on the variety. They are aromatic and attract butterflies. Golden Yarrow

How much water have Californians conserved?

Last April, facing California’s historical 4 year drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order making it mandatory that statewide urban water use be reduced by 25% compared with 2013 levels starting June 2015.  In May 2015, the State Water Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring an immediate 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use.  Now one year has passed, how well have Californians been doing?

CA water savings since mandate started

Overall, we, the Californians have done quite a good job!  In the month of April 2015, before the emergency regulation, water reduction was a less-than-impressive 13.7%; after, it more than doubled to 29%, easily beating the 25% target.  In the next 4 months in a row, from June to September, the savings all exceeded the 25% target with a high of 31.4% in July. As the cooler and wetter months of fall and winter rolled along, the water saving levels declined to below 25% target, they also started a month-to-month decline, from 22.4% in October 2015 down to 12% in February 2016. The State Water Board renewed emergency water conservation regulations in Feb 2016, making it effective through October 2016.  Following the renewal, people in the state stepped up the effort again, reaching an impressive 24.3% of water reduction in March. Overall Result Statewide the total savings from Jun 2015 to Mar 2016 achieved 23.9% compared with the same months in 2013, which equates to 1,295,703 acre-feet (422.2 billion gallons).  How much is this amount of water?  It is enough to supply the whole population of California for 2 months! Watering for Outdoor Landscaping How can this much of the water saving be achieved?  A huge part of the answer lies in the savings from lawns and outdoor landscaping. Watering for lawns and outdoor landscaping can account for over 50% of daily water use in many areas; to achieve a 25% reduction it is imperative that watering for lawns be cut back significantly.  In addition to traditional measures such as reducing the length and frequency of watering, the most effective way is to convert a lawn to a water efficient garden. The Department of Water Resources targets to replace 50 million square feet of lawns and ornamental turf with drought tolerant landscapes.  To that end, it has been providing funding for lawn replacement programs; some water companies and local agencies also provide their own rebate programs. See some of the rebate programs here. A water efficient garden doesn’t need to be bare and plaid, with just cactus plants.  Instead, it can be full of beautiful blooms, colors, and all kinds of different plants.  Here you can see some of the garden designs. To calculate how much water you can save by converting a lawn to a water efficient garden, check out the calculator. Overall, while collectively we have all done a pretty good job conserving water, we can continue with our efforts and do even better.  To build a water efficient garden is one of the best ways to go. Comparison

Jupiter’s Beard – Drought Tolerant Splendor

Jupiter’s Beard (Red Valerian)

At this time of the season, everywhere you go in North Cal – Monterey, South Bay, East Bay, chances are you will see the bright blossom of Jupiter’s Beard, or Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber).  On the streets, in the gardens, at the beach, by the mountain, the pink, crimson and purple colors paint out the picture of spring so vividly. The Beard of Jupiter The name must be one of the most unusual for a plant.  Why such a name?  Well, take a look at this statue of Jupiter: P1 By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16480594 Look at the shape of his beard!  Here is the introduction of Jupiter on Wikipedia: “Jupiter, also Jove (LatinIuppiter [ˈjʊppɪtɛr]genIovis [ˈjɔwɪs]), is the god of sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology…His identifying implement is the thunderbolt and his primary sacred animal is the eagle” In addition to the shape, as the king of gods (Roman time), Jupiter’s beard must also be enormous and magnificent, a perfect match for the wonder and splendor of the flower. P2 While you are taking a break to appreciate the flower, if your kids are also around, it can become some good storytelling time too, about Jupiter and any stories in the Roman mythology. Water Efficient Plant Jupiter’s Beard is an excellent plant for a water efficient garden.  Once established, it needs very little to no water.  It qualifies for Santa Clara Water District’s Landscape Rebate Program. Jupiter’s Beard can grow to be 3 feet tall, and 7 square feet wide.   It can be planted as a focal point of a garden, or part of a border for an area or yard. Jupiter’s Beard grows well in full sun.  It can grow in most soil types.  Very little care is needed after it establishes. Variety Most flowers of Jupiter’s Beard are in the colors of crimson, pink and purple.  There are also white ones, but those are rare. The flowers attract butterfly and bees. In a nutshell, if you want a plant that can grow quite tall, that has splendid and bright blossom in spring and summer, that is very easy to care and doesn’t need any watering once established, Jupiter’s Beard will be an excellent choice.

Jupiter's Beard (Red Valerian)
Jupiter’s Beard (Red Valerian)