All Hail the Contrarian

Working on the October’s event calendar, if anyone has anything that the Ramblers might be interested in please drop me a line.  I have one major plug, hope you don’t mind.

Next Saturday, October the 6th the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy will be having their first ever native plant sale, just in time for fall. It will be held in conjunction with the first Saturday of the month Help of Ojai swap meet at the offices on Baldwin Road.  I plan to have about 150 totally native, totally local plants grown from totally personally collected seed.  Just to temper everyone’s expectations, these aren’t super-fertilized professional-looking, bursting with blooms natives (no offense Nopalito, RIP).  I’m pretty sure that all plants will be 8 bucks, with every penny going towards preserving and restoring your current and future local wilderness.

Now for what you’ve all been waiting so patiently for… the bloom of the month.  Not such an easy task in September when the local color palette ranges from tan to brown to rust.  Hold on… what are those bright red things hugging the hill as you drive up 33 to Ojai?  Ah of course, the last colorful refuge of the season, the delightful California fuchsia:

Epilobium canum, formerly genus Zauschneria (much catchier I think).  Epilobium translates to “upon a capsule”, meaning the flower and seedpod appear at the same time, while Zauschner was an 18th century botanist.  Fuchsia is a member of the Onagraceae (Evening Primrose) family.  A distinguishing characteristic of the family is 4 petals and 4 sepals, in the case of Epilobium canum the sepals are the same color which gives the appearance of 8 petals.

The flowers are borne on woody, fragile 6-18 inch stems covered in hairy, gray-green bladelike leaves, either opposite or alternate arrangement.  They form colonies via underground rhizomes, with new volunteers popping up often yards away from the mother.  In Ojai they prefer some shade, though I’ve seen specimens in full sun.  They look quite shabby in the winter but come back fresh in spring.  The tube shaped flowers are an important source of nectar in months when hummingbirds have little else.

My favorite spots to see fuchsia are on the shady hillsides of Gridley as you approach the trough, the Pratt/Cozy Dell loop and coming down the Murietta fire road.  They will be blooming for another month and then you get the fluffy seed pods.  They don’t look like much but trust me they are in there, and they germinate like gangbusters.

Fuchsia fluff which carries the seeds

Also extremely easy to propagate from cuttings.  If you don’t have a green thumb native plant nurseries will generally carry one of the many hybrids rather then the straight local species.   These can range from crawly ground covers to glorious 4 foot high stalks, from almost white foliage to dark lush green and flowers which can be pink to red and everything in between.   Fuchsia can get unruly in a garden, but they are easy enough to pluck out.  Cut adults back to the ground each winter, I would give young plants a year to mature.  Some of my favorites for the garden:

Narrowleaf fuchsia, common in Malibu area

‘Catalina’ fuschia, up to 5 feet tall


Enjoy the weekend everyone….

This entry was posted in Bloom of the Month, Getting Involved, OVLC and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to All Hail the Contrarian

  1. Myrna Cambianica says:

    Write about the Bagrada Bugs … well, Bagrada Hilaris that is. All of us who garden should be aware of this invasive pest. And there must be lots of Brassicaceae in the native flower category that may be affected in some way.

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