Thursday, July 3, 2014

Visit to Martha Walker Habitat Garden in Napa, CA

In mid-June we had an opportunity to return to the Napa/Sonoma valley region of California.  Most of this trip was involved with tasting some really good wine.  Between tastings we took in some beautiful scenery along the Russian River and the Coastal redwoods near Bodega Bay.   One morning in Napa we paid a visit to the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden.  

While I grew up in California and learned something of the state's ecology, all of my plant ID skills were learned on the East Coast.  I was a little overwhelmed at first not knowing the plants that I was looking at.  I did find some plant tags to get started.  After a while I started recognizing relatives to plants that I knew from the East.

Here are some photos of some of the plants I recognized.  (There are many more that I don't.)   The website was helpful in confirming some of the ID's.

The California Poppy was in bloom throughout the region.
It does well on well drained soils.

The California Buckeye was also in full bloom in the middle of June.
The palmate leaves and large panicles of flowers are similar to the eastern species.

It was easy to spot this Western Sycamore.  Note that the seed pods are hanging in a chain (raceme).
This is different from the American Sycamore (P. occidentalis) which has singly borne pods
and London Plane (P. x acerfolia) which has pairs of pods. 

When I saw this branch I immediately thought of our Eastern Redbud (C. canadensis).
 I found the tag indicating that it was a Western Redbud.  Instead of having
heart-shaped leaves of the eastern species, these are roundish,
many with an indention at the tip (retuse).

This Spiraea looks a lot like Steeplebush (S. tomentosa),
but that species is not listed as native to California.
 It may be S. douglasii, Rose Spiraea

Here is one of many Monkey Flowers in the garden.
There are over 70 species of Mimulus native to California.
I put some Allegheny Monkey Flower (M. ringens) in my garden
at home this year and am still waiting for it to bloom.

This is one of the many oak species in California (I couldn't find a label).
This is a quintessential tree to the coastal hills and valleys.

The dappled shade under the oak tree provided a very soothing resting spot.  

I had to look on the Calflora site to learn about this Matilija Poppy.
There are two very similar species on Romneya.  These plants
were common along the highways in Napa. (Note the state bird in the background.)

This is one of a number of Sage species in the garden.  I liked this one
because of the interesting form of the spent flowers.
I can image this having an impact all through the summer and fall.

If you are in the Napa Valley area I highly recommend a visit to the Martha Walker Garden for an overview of many native California plants grouped according to their natural habitats.

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