When a garden is installed, naturally, everyone hope all the plants will establish and grow. Specifically, everyone wonder: how long will it take to bloom? Last fall, in the blog post “From Brown to California Native Charm” we talked about how a brown lawn was transformed into a charming garden with many California native plants. It looked great when finished, but when will it become a garden full of flowers?
2016 was an unusually wet winter, with copious amount of heavy rains. At night, the frost was quite brutal to the new plants. Luckily, with the exception of two to three plants, all were live and well. The plants did not grow too much during the whole winter time, about 5 months after they were planted.
When spring came, it surely looked different! Colors started popping up, became bigger and denser later in spring.
There are 3 prominent California native plants in the garden : Matilija Poppy, California Golden Poppy, and Monkey Flower, which all bloomed at this time. Others like Hot Lip Sage, Blanket Flower, and Primrose also bloomed wonderfully.
As summer approached, temperatures rose sharply. Several heat waves hit the San Francisco bay area, with temperature going up to as high as over 90F. How did the plants hold up? Did they fizzle? Not a chance! With the hot weather all the plants remain strong. As if spurred by the heat, the California native Red Buckwheat exploded into this splendid blossom, like a dancer in hot pink bursting onto the stage. The blanket flower also expanded its early colors into full blown spectacle. A garden full of colors finally came, just 8 months after the plants were first planted!
From First Planted to Bloom
As this garden illustrates, for a water efficient garden with mostly native and drought tolerant plants, it only takes 7- 8 months to go from newly planted to full bloom. In this case, if you install a garden in fall, you can see the first blossom next spring. Isn’t that nice? The plants can really grow during this period of time. In winter they did not seem to grow much, when they might just be storing the energy; when spring arrived, that energy came out in full force and propelled the rapid growth like magic. Look at this native plant Red Buckwheat. When it was first planted in October, it was this tiny plant. After 6 months in May, it grew quite a bit, but there was no flower yet. Then, in the next 2-3 weeks, all of a sudden, the bush expanded by two times in size and the hot pink blossom broke out from nowhere. It is quite a view. The blanket flower also went through the same magic.
Benefits of a Water Efficient Garden
Before this garden was installed, it was a lawn (turned brown from saving water during the drought). Now that the new garden is fully grown, we can do a comparison. How do they stack up? What are the benefits of a water efficient garden?
To keep the lawn lush and green, it needs about 600 gallons of water a week, and even more in the extremely hot days like the ones over 90F couple weeks ago. The garden that was installed, on the other hand, only needs about 1/6 – 1/4 as much. This means some 1500 gallons of water can be saved in a month, enough for 3 months of indoor use for an average family in California. The secret to this much water saving? the plants – all are drought tolerant, and drip irrigation system.
A Beautiful View for the House
With all the vibrant colors the garden adds a beautiful view for the house. Better yet, it changes with different seasons. In May, it was yellow with the California Golden Poppy; in June, the hot pink from Red Buckwheat and red from blanket flower splashed the space.
Provide Food to Bees
Bees and other pollinators like the native plants, as they have been feeding on them for hundreds of thousands of years. Look at these bees on this Golden Poppy – they just like it, even when most its flowers already faded and they can find other plants in the same garden. Bees are hugely important for us, yet they have been on a decline. Plant more native plants in our garden, bees surely will appreciate it!
Santa Clara Rebate Program Open
The Santa Clara Landscape Conversion Rebate Program is still open, and you can apply for its rebate. Take advantage of the program and plan for converting your lawn to a water efficient garden. Find out details here. Act today, and see a water efficient garden in bloom tomorrow!