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The Spring of the Year

2009 February-March 018 copy  Tulips aren't common in San Francisco, because they don't get enough winter chill to returm in subsequent years, but they are so lovely when they do appear that I can never resist photographing them.


Here is a flower that is much better adapted to our local gardens.

2009 February-March 038 copy

I planted this flower in my front garden to give me winter blooms, but there it is, still blooming in spring. It's called Tagetes lemmonii, or copper canyon daisy. Mine is maybe 3 1/2 feet tall, but they can reach 6 feet. The plant has a strong scent when you brush against it, which Sunset describes as a mix of mint, marigold, and lemon. Some love it; others hate it. It was the favorite scent of one of my students, while someone just told me they were violently allergic to it. Who can say? But mine isn't where it would get brushed against much, so I won't find out which visitors love or hate it. This is a frost-sensitive plant, and may not live many years, but I am enjoying it so far. It has four or five branches in various stages of bloom, and when a branch has bloomed out, I'll cut it back. Wish I could put the scent on screen so you could see what you think, but the technology is lacking, alas.

2009 February-March 042 copy 

One of the best food crops in a San Francisco garden in spring is one that comes up wild if you let some seed drop the previous year. It's the native plant miner's lettuce, which is Claytonia perfoliata. The perfoliate part refers to the fact that the stems grow out of the center of the leaves. The little flower stems elongate and then seeds form, but the leaves are nicest in a salad when the first flowers open. They are crunchy and mild, a real treat. These are wet from one of our last rains, but we aren't having any rain now.

It has been sunny the past few days, and today the wind has been blowing hard all day. It is weather like this, in the spring, that will catch local gardeners by surprise and cause them to lose a few plants. The sun and wind will dry the ground quickly, and plants will wilt. Have you checked your garden for water lately? 


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