Weekend update

I met Margaret at one of the native plant classes that I've been to recently. We share the fact that we've both recently taken on significant native plant garden projects. She happened to stop by on Friday and we spent an enjoyable 20 or 30 minutes chatting about native plants. She was seeking one of the other houses in my neighborhood that have converted their front and back yard plants to mostly Mediterranean species.

We discussed my front garden design and she agreed that the buckwheat I'd placed front and center was too large. That's OK. As a result of our conversation, I've put in a smaller buckwheat species - what I think is San Miguel Island or Red Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens). This species was profiled in a recent LA Times article by Emily Green. By coincidence, I already had one of those that I had propagated from cuttings taken when I saved what I could from the Cabrillo butterfly garden. I've now put it front and center, shoving a few of the overabundant Gilia and Poppies to the side. If it grows well in my heavier than optimum soil, I'll shovel-prune its bigger cousin. Problem solved.

My son was ill this weekend. Juli was infected in under 24H after contact and succumbed. I stayed healthy, perhaps because of a flu shot last year. Between playing games and watching movies with my son I managed to complete the backyard border and cross it off my To Do list. I spent some extra time moving the border to give me a bit more space to put plantings in and I feel it was well worth it. The nice thing about this border is that it can be moved and adjusted far more easily than the poured concrete concept that I started with. I have plenty of bricks left over - I'll use them on front entrance and bedroom side yard most likely.

I have a few plants left to put in and move, but I'm rapidly getting to done for this native plant season.

Other chores accomplished this weekend: mowing, edging, weeding, throwing crap out, donating old clothes to the Salvation Army, making three squares a day.

Here's the first part of the LA Times article on native buckwheat mentioned earlier:

LAST summer, a chef friend stood admiring the edge of my herb garden, joking that the blaze of color from the red-flowering buckwheat planted along the border was far too pretty to harvest for pancake flour.

In truth, I had no intention of grinding up the blossoms. It seemed incredible that even the most avid Russian blini maker ever had the patience to mill and sift the tiny flowers, which truth be told are not really red, but an intense dirty pink. Crush the flowers in your fingers and the seeds are so small, you can barely see them. You'd need an acre to produce a canapé.

It took native plants man Bart O'Brien to set me straight -- once he had stopped laughing -- that cooking buckwheat comes from another genus of plants, Asian in origin, called Fagopyrum. Our native American western buckwheats come from the genus Eriogonum, pronounced "air-ee-og-oh-num," and my floating and delicate red-flowering buckwheat is a species with the oddly aristocratic name E. grande rubescens.

So much for culinary references. Yet I couldn't rip this California native from my herb garden. No plant looks better planted in the foreground of dill and fennel, which also have spiring flowers. Moreover, long after dill is done and fennel quits in late summer, showing the limits of some immigrant plants in their adopted land, the native buckwheat is still flowering.
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