Six on Saturday

As always, thanks to the Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday.

With Fall comes another native plant sale. I inevitably brought home quite a number, with plans to plant as soon as possible so they can take advantage of 3 rainy seasons to get established before the heat and prolonged drought of summer. Still debating where to place most of them, though a fair number will be dedicated to the new bed in front of the house (about which, more later) and the slopes leading down to the creek. Here are profiles of 6 of my recent acquisitions. Information below drawn for the most part from the California Native Plant Society’s website,, which is an excellent resource regarding plants native not only to California, but to southwest Oregon.

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1. California spikenard (Aralia californica). Only member of the ginseng family native to coastal California and southwest Oregon, particularly riparian environments. Happiest in shady locations protected from wind, with well-drained soil and access to a natural water source during dry summers. On long, fuschia colored stems, bears tiny, purple-black berries eaten by birds. Aralia californica also supports bees, butterflies, and moths. A preparation of the root is a traditional anti-inflammatory, cough suppressant, and treatment for arthritis. Can be propagated from seed, crown division, or rhizome cuttings. A graceful addition to the woodland garden, with spikes of green-white flowers. 10 ft tall.

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2. Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa). Short-lived self-seeders native to Western North America. Adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions, though prefers moisture and afternoon shade. Flower combines reddish orange with yellow and resemble Chinese lanterns at a 1920’s garden party. 3 ft tall. Supports birds, butterflies, and moths.

3. Buckwheats (Eriogonum umbellatum, Eriogonum compositum, Eriogonum elongatum). Keystone species for sagebrush scrub ecosystems. Suitable for well-draining, sunny sites. Supports birds, bees, butterflies, and moths.

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4. Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata). Slowly spreading rhizomatous perennial that grows along streams in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California. Striking leaves and pink/white flowers on long stems. Part shade, requires moderate/high moisture.

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5. Black elder (Sambucus nigra). Large flowers pollinated by flies, dark purple berries. Supports birds, bees, butterflies, and moths. 30 ft tall.

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6. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia). Prominent component of coastal sage scrub community, part of chaparral and mixed oak woodland habitats. Evergreen with small white flowers and red, berry-like fruits. Handle a wide variety of soils, sun/part shade, tolerate moisture. Support bees, birds, butterflies, and moths. Generally 8 ft tall.


10 thoughts on “Six on Saturday

  1. I like both the leaves and flowers of the Buckwheat.

    The Elder is a plant I’m very familiar with as it’s pretty common here in the UK (even in the more urban environment I live in). On the other end of the scale is the Toyon, which I’ve never come across before – it looks great!

    Now you’ve just got to plant them all!

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    • Yes, precisely, and I hope to tackle that challenge this weekend. Buckwheat is one of my newer favorites, as I was unaquainted with it until moving here and have since encountered it in open areas on local hikes. I was pleased to find so many varieties on offer at the plant sale.

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    • Yes, I am looking forward to watching it grow, if I can create the right growing conditions! Somewhat concerned about Darmera’s moisture needs and not convinced that it could survive winter flood conditons by the creek.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Darmera would look good next to the creek, but I am worried that it would be carried away on the winter flood. Requires further consideration. Just looked, and there doesn’t appear to be any relation between our native wild buckwheat and the edible plant (Fagopyrum esculentum), which originates in Asia. However, California buckwheat was apparently used by Native Americans to make tea and bread.

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