May 19, 2012

My Experiment -Pacific Coastal Annuals in New England

NEMOPHILA MENZIESII 'BABY BLUE EYES" IS A FAVORITE CALIFORNIA WILDFLOWER, SOMTIMES GROWN IN COOLER GARDENS IN THE HIGH ATLANTIC COASTAL  GARDENS OF NOVA SCOTIA AND NEWFOUNDLAND, BUT IN CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS? I ONLY EXPECT IT TO BE WITH US FOR A FEW WEEKS. NOTHING COMPARES WITH THIS COLOR, AND DISPLAY.

It was one of my many experiments this year - attempting to to grow annuals rarely seen in New England, or in many American gardens for that matter, since the cool nights and breezy cool days that they require are rarely found anywhere except in coastal California, Oregon and Washington, and in British Columbia. Add in the fact that these are annuals that one will never find in garden centers as they prefer to be be sown in situ, disliking any root disturbance. A few good garden centers may carry young seedlings, and one should seek them out, but don't expect them to be in bloom while in their containers, for plants must be purchased young, and slipped carefully into prepared holes with no root disturbance. My Annuals from Annies Annuals have been such a success, that next year I will be ordering many more, it's worth the little protection that I need to provide them with cloches in mid March, for a month or two of incredible color.



IT'S A CLASSIC COMBO OF NATIVE CALIFORNIA WILDFLOWERS - WHITE NEMOPHILA MACULATA "BABY FIVE SPOT"  AND LIMNANTHES DOUGLASII ALONG WITH THE BLEST OF  BLUE NEMOPHILA MENZIESII. I AM SURE OUR LOCAL BUTTERFLIES ARE FREAKING OUT, BUT THEY SEEM TO BE GOING A LITTLE CRAZY.

My experiment which I am calling my California Coastal Garden, began not by sowing seeds in the garden, since here in New England, a long, cool growing season would be required, instead, I ordered plants from Annies Annuals, which worked out very well, as they ship large plants that are bushy, and well grown in large, 4 inch containers. In mid March, I planted a few dozen pots of these pre-started annuals, while it was still cold. It was risky, but given that the past 8 months has been warmer than average, and along with the lack of snow cover, I felt that this year might be the perfect year to try something different.



LIMNANTHES DOUGLASII, A CALIFORNIA NATIVE, LOVES THE COOL NIGHTS in SPRING. LIKE LITTLE FRIED EGGS, IN CALIFORNIA, IT IS SOMETIMES CALLED MEADOW FOAM.


Many of these cool-loving plants are growable here in New England, but as potted greenhouse plants for cool or cold greenhouses. In the 1800's, such seed was sown in July and August, to provide winter and early spring color under glass, but given that much of our country experieinces long, hot and humid summers, most of these annuals will pout and disolve with even a hint of muggy, humid heat. It won't be long before such weather arrives in our garden, putting an end to our brief romance with these annuals, but until then, we are enjoying a display of something that is a little different.

THIS WHITE NEMESIA FRUTICANS, IS A VARIETY CALLED 'SAFARI WHITE', AVAILABLE FROME PROVEN WINNERS, IT IS HIGHLY FRAGRANT, AND WILL FILL A CONTAINER WITH FLOWERS AS LONG AS THE WEATHER REMAINS COOL.

CALIFORNIA POPPIES AND OTHER CALIFORNIA WILD FLOWERS ARE TAKING OVER MY ALPINE GARDEN, AND IT'S BEEN AN EXCITING CHANGE FOR A WHILE, AND THE SHOW HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN. OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, GODETIA, MATTHIOLA AND MANY POPPIES WILL BE ADDING TO THE SHOW.

LAYIA PLATYGLOSSA, OR "TIDY TIPS" IS ANOTHER CALIFORNIA NATIVE WHERE IT IS AN IMPORTANT NECTAR SOURCE FOR THE CHECKERSPOT BUTTERFLY.


10 comments :

  1. Looking good! My Nemophila are already done but the Layia should still be in bloom for another week or two. I can't wait to see how your poppies do. I have P. commutatum in bloom now and one of my P. somniferum is so big that I had to stake it.

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  2. poppies seed like crazy. It seems like you only have to plant them once, and then you're pulling them up forever after.

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  3. I love your California annuals! I have a patch of them too, but they like our Washington weather better, they've been flowering here for quite a while now. I sowed mine last year in February under cloches in place, and this year they have self-sowed a new generation. Keep an eye out in your garden next spring for any that might have self-sown. I used to live in Massachusetts, and had lots of California poppies there. Isn't Annie's Annuals great?

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  4. Hi Alison. Thanks. I hope and expect some to self seed, as this bed a raised rock garden, and set against the sunny side of the stone foundation of the greenhouse. I have some Zone 8 plants wintering over already, but it all depends of snowfall. The more we have, the more protected we get.

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  5. Kaveh, some of my P. somniferum are ready to stake too, but I noticed that they are wilting today in the heat. P. rhoeas are growing like crazy, as are P. commutatum, not sure if they will bloom this year, but so far, it looks like it. Had to weed them today, to give them more room. As long as the dogs stay out of them!

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  6. Limnanthes were kind of a letdown for me. Yours may be faring better. I forgot that they grow around vernal pools and like the soil a bit damper so my very dry garden was not to their liking.

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  7. I also did a large order from Annies , getting suckered in looking at photos of all those great CA wildflowers, and itching to fill my yearning for all things blue, yet unlike you I was not brave enough to plant them outside until last week, now I am just staring at them waiting for them to bloom . Thanks for the photo fix! and btw nemisia is one of my favs and mine seem to bloom all summer ? Are they all sensitive to heat? they reseed here like crazy .

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  8. I have had good luck with many West coast wildflowers in Ohio and Michigan. Nemophila self sowed in my last garden very nicely and I've had very good success with several if the lovely phacelias as well. Started a few from seed in the greenhouse this yearand am planting them out now to get them established in my new garden.

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  9. I love your California annuals! I have a patch of them too, but they like our Washington weather better, they've been flowering here for quite a while now.
    Thank you for post..

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  10. This was my first year with Limnanthese douglasii which has made a great splash of color this spring for weeks now.

    Phacelia campanularia is stunning some years, but doesn't self sow reliably. But California poppies become perennial and well nigh ineradiable. More to be experimented with, I think. Great posting, Matt!

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