Ed Mirsky | Hoska Drive
|Ed Mirsky and natives. Photo Art Olson
Now is the time to start planning your drought tolerant native California plant based garden. That is what I did last year, and although my garden is a work in progress, I’m well on my way to a drought tolerant garden with year-round color. Here is my approach to creating the garden.
• The first step is to choose an area for the new garden. I chose the east border of our property. It’s a sandy slope, the north end of which receives about eight hours of sun per day during the summer, and it receives progressively less sun to the south due to trees.
• The second step is to select the foundation plants and the accent plants. I wanted plants that are three to six feet tall. Their height can be maintained below six feet with a little trimming.
For sunny dry areas with no supplemental water, I selected a mix of pink-flowered Del Mar Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa), white-flowered Snowball Ceanothus
(Ceanothus rigidus “Snowball”), yellow-flowered bladderpod (Isomeris arborea), and blue-flowered Wooly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum).
In sunny areas with some supplemental water as needed, I selected a mix of blue-flowered San Diego Sage (Salvia munzii) with a few yellow and red flowered monkey flowers (Diplacus aurantiacusI) and red-flowered California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum). Add red-flowered Island Snapdragon (Galvezia specios), or blue-flowered Salvia Bee’s Bliss (Salvia leucophylla ‘Bee’s Bliss’) for more texture.
In shady areas with some supplemental water as needed, I selected a mix of pink-flowered Evergreen Currant (Ribes viburnifolium) with red- flowered Climbing Penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia) for year-round color. Add yellow-flowering Sticky Monkey Flower, Diplacus aurantiacus and add magenta-flowered Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea) for additional color.
• The third step is to turn off the water to the area you want to upgrade to native plants and come up with a plant layout design. And you can gauge your potential water savings.
• The fourth step is to plant the area. That should be done in November. Don’t add any soil amendments such as compost, but it’s a good idea to add rocks or non-nutritive mulch.
There are some non-native plants that will survive our climate with little or no supplemental water. I’m giving Texas Primrose a try. It’s low growing and has yellow flowers most of the year. Many, but not all, succulents will survive in Del Mar with some supplemental water, but they break easily so place them wisely.
• The fifth step is to monitor the plants for the first year. If a plant looks like it’s stressed (leaves yellowing, etc.) give it a big drink (not a surface spray).
• The sixth step is to sit back, watch the birds sally high and the butterflies flutter by, and enjoy your garden.
For a description of the plants mentioned above, visit the Theodore Payne Foundation (www.theodorepayne.org/. Select Native Gardening, and then search for the plant by its scientific name.) To buy native plants, see Mia at Cedros Gardens or Val at Las Pilitas nursery, Escondido.