It may be winter, but in Donna Bodine’s California garden, there is a lot going on!
These are photos of what is happening now in my San Francisco Bay Area garden (Zone 10). I grow California native plants and also have an urban farm where I grow fruit trees, berries, and lots of vegetables in raised beds. My native garden is really starting to come alive. Plants in bloom now serve as food sources for early pollinators, such as hummingbirds and our native bumblebee.
I’ve been gardening with a focus on growing California native plants and food organically in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. The biggest challenges for me are understanding how to adapt my gardening practices in response to our ongoing drought, as well as climate change.
I started my own garden design firm (BeeLand Farms) this year to help people better connect with plants to achieve multiple benefits for their health and the environment. I use my own garden as a demonstration garden for my landscape practice.
Manzanitas are my favorite winter-blooming shrub. ‘Ian Bush’ (Arctostaphylos densiflora cultivar, Zones 7–10) has the graceful winding habit and maroon-colored peeling bark of some of the larger manzanitas, but on a smaller scale. So it’s a great choice for a smaller garden. The pink-and-white heart-shaped flowers are gorgeous too.
Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena) is a lovely, hardy, annual native wildflower. I wanted a second wave of wildflowers in the garden after the big spring bloom, so I started seeds in May 2020 and planted them out in July. The plants have been blooming since September 2020, with still more to come! Coyote mint (Monardella villosa,Zones 6–10) is mixed in with the clarkia.
This pink flowering current (Ribes sanguineum v. glutinosum, Zones 5–10) grows in partial sun, next to California anemone (Carpenteria californica, Zones 8–10), checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora,Zones 5–10), and California bee plant (Scrophularia californica). I planted this shrub three years ago, and this is its first bloom.
Basil ‘Wild Magic’ (Ocinum herbalea) is a perennial herb (grow it as an annual in colder zones) here in the Bay Area that tastes like Thai basil. Letting this basil flower does not make the leaves taste bitter, so it’s a feast for bees and people too!
To see more from Donna, check out her instagram: @beelandfarms
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