Tom’s Garden

Growing by the Bay

Category: native plants

Red-flowering Currant

Red-Flowering Currant

Red-flowering Current

The genus Ribes includes currants and gooseberries (the name is derived from a Farsi word meaning “acid-tasting”). Gooseberries bear thorns but currants are thornless. Gooseberry fruits are larger and sweeter, and more often eaten raw (though birds favor the small berries of currants).

Ribes sanguineum, Red-Flowering or Pink-Flowering Currant, is native to the Western US. It produces pendant flowers that are beloved by hummers, in late winter or early spring. This one began flowering in our garden around Groundhog’s Day, that is, the cross-quarter known as Imbolc in the druidic calendar, which is the beginning of our spring here in the Bay Area. The flowers are long lasting, hanging on through our dry summer. Small blue berries appear in the fall, to the delight of birds.

I think we purchased this plant from Watershed nursery in Richmond last spring. It is now about five feet tall in a large container. In the ground it would probably get to be six to ten feet. It seems to like part sun rather than full, and is said to produce fruit even in nearly full shade. It is drought tolerant once established.

Ribes sanguineum has a bushier shape than Golden Currant, Ribes aureum, which is almost vinelike and in our garden seems happy against a fence. The red-flowering variety is also more deciduous, although this one never went fully deciduous. But the new leaves are glossier and greener, while last year’s leaves are more mottled and tend toward yellow. In some situations the plant will produce excellent fall color as the leaves turn. The leaves are fragrant.

This is a great habitat plant for Bay Area gardens, and a real beauty besides.

California Cleome

California Cleome (Peritoma arborea)

Many California native plants have been given unloving common names, and Peritoma arborea — best known as Bladderpod — counts among them. More blandly called Californea Cleome, it is notable for its unusual yellow flowers, which bloom year-round, and its globular fruits, which rattle when shaken. Native to Southern California and Baja California deserts, it is extremely drought tolerant, without turning gray or silver like many such plants, but instead remaining cheerfully green.

Salvia apiana (White Sage)

Salvia apiana (White Sage)P6145179

A California native plant. I wrote about this in “My Artemsia,” an essay appearing soon.

Artemisia pycnocephala, Sandhill Sage

Artemisia pycnocephala (Sandhill Sage

This is the final piece for the artemisia essay I’m working on. This replaces the version below, which I wasn’t happy with.

Artemisia pycnocephala, Sandhill Sage

 

Artemisia californica, California Sagebrush

Artemisia californica, California Sagebrush

Artemesia douglasiana, Mugwort

Artemisia douglasiana, Mugwort

Continuing my project of photography-derived botanical art. This is Artemisa douglasiana (Mugwort), a California native.

Sisyrinchium bellum, Blue-Eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium bellum, Blue-Eyed Grass

A California native.

Datura wrightii, Sacred Datura.

Datura wrightii, Sacred Datura.

Hummingbird Sage and White Sage (California natives).

Hummingbird Sage and White Sage (California natives).

new acquisitions

New Acquisitions

new acuisitions

At the Watershed Nursery in Point Richmond we picked up several California natives that we will be trying out in the garden. We also got a few nonnative plants from the nearby Annie’s Annuals. Stay tuned for updates on how these do. Here the new plants — in the black containers — are in an area near the house that gets the most attention. (The large ceramic containers contain three kinds of figs.) The new plants (nonnatives marked with asterisks) include:

Artemisia douglasiana (Mugwort)
Asclepius cancellata (Wild Cotton) *
Atriplex leucophylla (Beach Salt Bush)
Camissonia cheiranthifolia (Beach Primrose)
Cunonia capensis (Butterknife Tree) *
Datura wrightii (Sacred Datura)
Fraxinus latifoloa (Oregon Ash)
Malva assurgentiflora (Island Mallow)
Mimulus aurantiacus (Sticky Monkeyflower)
Monardella villosa (Coyote Mint)
Plantago subnuda (Tall Coastal Plaintain)
Ramnus California (California Coffeeberry)
Salvia melliflora (Black Sage)
Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird Sage)
Sambucus nigra (Blue Elderberry)
Scrophularia california (California Bee Plant)
Stipa pulchra (Purple Needlegrass)
Tanecetum parthenium aureum (Golden Feverfew) *

The Watershed Nursery, a cool place specializing in California Native Plants (reasonably priced), is located near the intersection of 580 and Richmond Parkway:

Watershed Nursery, Point Richmond, California

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