29 Apr Beyond Succulents: 10 Favorite Native Plants from a California Garden Tour
Earlier this month, we spent a day guiding ourselves around home gardens all over L.A.’s Eastside and San Fernando Valley. They varied in size, design and mood, but here’s what united them: All the gardens primarily grew native plants—flora indigenous to this region. Yes, it was Day Two of the Theodore Payne Foundation 2016 Native Plant Garden Tour!
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our preview of this tour, plus a schedule of similar tours across California. By this point, visiting native springtime blooms is an event for us, one that always brings surprises, new species to adore, aromatherapy, colortherapy, and the therapy that happens when you see pollinators caking themselves in pollen. It was also a fun change of pace to see showy flowers that weren’t attached to succulents.
Here are our 10 favorite native plants we saw during the tour—plus one towering bonus!
And another bonus. Click the linked species names for care information and/or seeds you can purchase directly from the Foundation.
There were 41 totals gardens to visit over two days. This is Garden 29 in Glendale.
By the time we were finished, we had visited nine gardens in about six hours. On left is an Isomeris arborea, or bladderpod. On the right, is purple Clarkia unguiculata.
We highlighted the gardens that we wished to see before hitting the road. We ended up adding Garden 37 and 39. Oh, and we couldn’t find Garden 28!
Each garden contained at least 50 percent native plants. Here’s a shot from the first garden we visited (Garden 38 in Pasadena): the Cecile Brunner Climbing Rose cascading above me is not indigenous to the area, but it is dreamy.
1. Ceonanthus ‘Snow Flurry’
Ceanothus season is in full swing. We saw lots of classic California lilac shrubs, but this Ceanothus ‘Snow Flurry’ blew our minds at Garden 33 in Pasadena.
2. Lavatera purisima, or tree mallow
Tree mallow adds curb appeal in Pasadena (Garden 33).
3. Fremontodendron californicum, or flannelbush
Reaching for the skies at Garden 39 in South Pasadena. We love the contrast of the yellow flowers and dark leaves.
California flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum) lounges shaggily on this fence in Garden 32 in Altadena.
Flannelbush makes a great backdrop!
4. Iris douglasiana cultivar Pacific Coast Iris
Iris douglasiana cultivar spotted at Garden 38 in Pasadena. The garden had a woodland feel you don’t often see in coastal Southern California.
5. Carex pansa, or California Meadow Sedge
Carex pansa, or California Meadow Sedge, mimics the waves of the Pacific.
A closer look at that Carex pansa in Garden 38 in Pasadena.
6. Sphaeralcea ambigua, or desert mallow
Why can’t we stop staring at this desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)? The color has something to do with it, the same shade as a backlit watermelon Jolly Rancher.
Ryan sitting in a hot tub of plants. (You might remember the Instagram post.)
7. Vitis californica ‘Roger’s Red’ California wild grape hybrid
It’s a thick green leafy blanket for your border.
8. Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons
Another foresty vignette courtesy of this drought-tolerant lupine.
We took home some seed pods! Lupine seeds, like that of many native plants, are very easy to propogate.
9. Eschscholzia californica
California poppies come in two shades. Eschscholzia californica and Eschscholzia californica maritima. Both make great borders along paths like this location in Garden 32 in Altadena.
For a brighter variety, try Eschscholzia californica maritima.
Or stick with the classic and its richer shade of gold.
10. Nemophila maculata, or California five spot
We love the playful faces of this shrub we found growing on a front lawn: Nemophila maculata, or California fivespot.
We had spotted the California fivespot at Garden 30 in La Cañada Flintridge after admiring the large palo verde at the entrance.
Baja bonus! Boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris)
Back at Garden 33 in Pasadena, a 35-foot-tall boojum tree towers over the rest of the garden.