Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Plant of the Week: Farewell To Spring

Around February, my garden came under attack from little sprouts of Clarkia amoena.  Soon enough, a jungle of massive Clarkia plants created a new topography, towering over the Eriogonum grande rubescens, hiding the Dudleya hassei flowers and hey, wasn't there a Manzanita somewhere over there? 

The almost neon flowers stun passersby, except the new populations of bees busily darting about with pollen crumbs smattered all over them!  The flower color varies, but most commonly pink with magenta-brushed petals sets the stage.  Salmon in the first photo and white with bursts of pink blush add variety.

Thankfully, Clarkia amoena is an annual, which means they'll grace us with their presence for late Spring, early Summer and then fade away.  Besides using the fabulous dried seed heads in unusual floral arrangements, I had hoped that leaving them standing in the garden would also feed some local birds.  Obviously they weren't interested, judging by the number of plants I now have.  Oh well, more for me!

Many different Clarkias can be found throughout California and serve as a new wave of color after the Poppies and Lupines say their goodbyes for the season.  The Pink Ribbons Clarkia can be especially festive!.

Sun:  Full sun to part shade
Soil:  I guess anything in between the extremes, but I've successfully had plants grow out of adobe-like clay
Plant:  Sow seeds in the Autumn.  It might be too late to find plants, but try Annie's.  Put this one on your must-have list for next year!
Buy it:  I'll gladly give seeds to anyone who wants them!  I'll be up to my ears this year!  Larner's also has some lovely Clarkia seeds of many different varieties.
Good for:  Causing a riot in the garden!  Filling in space when plants are young, continuing the show when the Poppies have faded, pink gardens, bee and butterfly gardens.


  1. It seems we're going to need the 'pink section' and the 'orange section' in our gardens. Your Clarkias are stunning! I must have some, they look amazing! However, they'll clash with the California does the Penstemon, and the Collinsia. I just need to figure out where to put the cool toned, versus warm toned natives in our garden, so that everyone gets along!

  2. Do you sow them directly in the soil? I've planted clarkia in my West Oakland junkyard-turned-garden, but they never returned.

    Only the toughest plants last in that inhospitable space. Maybe the local mice ate the seeds. Who knows?

  3. I've never been a huge Clarkia fan but yours are gorgeous! Hmmm, I may need to pick some up.

  4. I planted Clarkia years ago, forget how they fared, but I think they can't take our heat and humidity. I'll put them on my list of seeds to try for ealy next spring.

  5. Your posts always leave me excited about the fall when I'm going to plant my garden - my plan is to go back through your blog and plant all your suggestions!

    For now it's back to pulling out ivy, oleander and privets - my back hurts just thinking about it!

  6. Incredible! Those colors are so vivid that they almost make my eyes bleed!

  7. These are beautiful! And your post cracked me up about the bees :)

  8. Thanks, all!

    I had to laugh at your "matching" comment, Clare! I'm a rampant clasher, so I'd love to see your compositions sometime.

    Lisa, I had the same problem with supposedly "foolproof" Gilia capitata. Last year, I just tossed the Clarkia seeds into the garden and this year did absolutely nothing- not even watering! You're welcome, by the way! Let's have a proper visit sometime soon!

    Thanks, Ms. Dirty Girl. I love it when my perceptions change on plants. Sometimes it's all about context.

    Nell Jean, good luck, but I think you're right about humidity. Clarkia tend to bloom in the dry heat of late Spring. Wish I had some advice for you!

    Byddi you are just so sweet! I'm absolutely flattered! Good luck with the army of invasives.

    Maya- yeah, it's a little overwhelming!

    Thanks Melissa!