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                  Idyllwild Garden Club
Discovering the Joy of Mountain Gardening

                    Partially Supported Through the Generosity of the              
            Idyllwild Community Fund and the Pine Cove Water District

HomeFeatured Plant of the Week
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Our California Native Flora -
'A weekly feature of the Idyllwild Garden Club'

ButtercupGrape Soda LupineShooting StarChocolate LilyWestern (Mtn,) AzaleaHumboldt Lily
Mt Pink Currant Western PennyroyalCoyote MintScarlet BuglerPinkbract ManzanitaHairy HoneysuckleWinecup clarkiaYellow Bush SnapdragonMountain Spirea / Rose MeadowsweetChinese HousesScarlet Monkey FlowerCalifornia,or Chilean AsterRose Sage/Giant Purple Sage
Lanceleaf Liveforever Common SnowberryTree Poppy Or Bush PoppyApache Plume California FuschiaPacific Coast Irises Sticky Cinquefoil Canyon SilktasselFragrant Pitcher SageSummer HollySnow Mtn PenstemonWestern Wake-RobinFremont's Bush MallowDaylily-Christmas IsBitterbrushWestern RedbudNew Mexico LocustHeirloom Daylily ‘Evelyn Claar’Korean Spice ViburnumSquaw Bush


Squaw Bush Sumac  (Rhus trilobata)

Squaw Bush Sumac is a very tidy looking, 3 to 5 foot high deciduous shrub. It has a very attractive arching habit.  In the early spring, groups of yellow flowers appear before the shrub leafs out on hairy branches.   The sticky fruits follow later and are bright crimson to reddish in color and covered with very fine short hairs.  Then in the fall, Squaw Bush turns a most beautiful bright yellow, then orange to red color in warmer drier climates.  Rhus trilobata is native from Oregon, down through California and Baja, across to the Rocky Mountains and down to Texas. It likes sun to part shade. It looks tidier in more sun. It is very drought tolerant. Indians used the berries as a mordant in dyes.


                    Photo courtesy to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis





Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)
 What more can anyone ask for on a warm late March to early April day than the ambrosial fragrance of a Korean spice viburnum? The heady fragrance nearly cloys the senses when in close proximity, but these wonderfully scented blooms can be detected over 30 feet away! 


 This is a slow growing deciduous shrub with toothed, soft and felt-like dark green leaves that bears pink buds in late spring that open to white or pink-flushed flowers borne in domed clusters. The intoxicating fragrance is reminiscent of spice cake. The plant also has attractive red foliage and berries in the fall. It grows to about 6 feet tall and wide. This shrub likes acidic to average well-drained soil and some summer moisture. There are several varieties and a smaller 3 to 4 foot high dwarf form, ‘compactum’ available.





Witch Hazel

(Hamamelis x intermedia)

In the cultivated landscape this winter is a is a hybrid group of medium-sized shrubs that are valued for bright fall foliage and nodding clusters of yellow to red blooms that typically appear in early to mid-February. None exceed the beauty of the ‘Jelena’ Witch Hazel pictured here with its multicolors of red, copper, yellow, orange and white on every bloom!  All of the colorful hybrid varieties are reliant on H. mollis (Chinese witch hazel) brought to North America from China early in the 20th Century, & hybridized with H. japonica (Japanese witch hazel).  There is also a North American native species H. virginiana.

These are large shrubs, 12 to 15 ft. in height and width for full sun or part shade that appreciate some rich amended and well-mulched soil with a little summertime moisture. The flowers consist of many narrow, crumpled petals and are said to resemble shredded coconut, mop heads or spiders.  Most are fragrant and bloom over a long period.  Flower stems make a wonderful, scented winter bouquet indoors.

Witch Hazel may have gotten its name from the Old English word, “wiche”, which means bendable and the name “Hazel” from the Hazel twigs used for divining rods. While our early colonists used the twigs to search for water, American Indians were already aware of the medicinal benefits this unusual tree offers.

So If you're looking for something to brighten up your dull winter landscape, count on these easy to grow shrubs or small trees to get the job done.







Photo ‘Witch Hazel’ courtesy to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis

Heirloom Daylily ‘Evelyn Claar’


    This spring, try planting some daylilies! The daylily (Hemerocallis) is a plant that's easy to love and heirloom daylilies offer a living connection with gardeners of the past. While native to Asia, they have been hybridized in the US and Europe since the 1930s. Their vibrant colors and lush foliage make them a perfect accent in just about any garden, and their hardy, vigorous, low-maintenance disposition makes them delightfully easy to grow. Often seen lining walkways or in borders, daylilies will grow and thrive in a variety of conditions and in just about any climate. If you're looking for a carefree, dependable perennial, try growing some daylilies.

One of the best of the ground-breaking mid-century pinks, ‘Evelyn’ (1949) is a delicious peachy-melon color with a rosier eye and gold throat. Free-flowering and vigorous, it was bred by University of Chicago botany professor Ezra Kraus – who clearly knew what he was doing. Shorter than many daylilies at 24-30 inches tall, it is an early to mid-summer bloomer, and winter dormant. A good source for heirloom daylilies is

Photo courtesy ‘Old House Gardens’ to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis

New Mexico Locust  (Robinia neomexicana)


This Locust tree is native to the southwestern United States  and the southeastern portions of California, where it is uncommon below 5000 ft elevation in canyons in the Mojave Desert and in the desert mountains up to 8500 ft., also known as the sky island pinyon –juniper habitats, growing along streams, in the bottoms of valleys, and on the sides of canyons.

The New Mexico Lucust grows to 15-30 ft. tall with bristly shoots. The aromatic flowers are showy and white or pink, produced in spring or early summer in dense, drooping and unbranched flower clusters or racemes, that are  2-4 inches long and hang from the branches near the ends. The fruits are brown bean-like pods with bristles like those on the shoots.  It is very drought tolerant and requires little or no supplemental water when established.  It tolerates heavy pruning and shaping as a small, flowering deciduous tree.


 New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana), Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis

 Cercis occidentalis or “Western Redbud”
 Redbud is a deciduous shrub to small tree, 14' high with magenta flowers in spring, generally February-April. The flowers usually emerge before the leaves. Western Redbud is native on dry slopes (usually next to a spring or seasonal creek), Coast Ranges and Sierra foothills to 4500', and east to Utah. Its reddish-purple seed pods hang on the tree in winter. This ornamental tree likes full sun, some summer water for faster growth and regular water in desert areas. It's tolerant of clay soils but needs a winter chill before flowers set properly. Flowers and young pods are edible. The young, small redbud plants are not cold hardy below 20 degrees F., so select a larger specimen or give it a somewhat protected site from winter winds and mulch well.  Older plants are no problem at 10 degrees F. or less.  The native species is suitable for dry gardens.
NOTE-Club Member comment: Just FYI - I babied my 3 western redbuds, loved them so much, gave them more attention than any other plant in my garden - none thrived, too cold, I think, and only one has survived, not much larger than when I planted it 10 years ago.  My friend admired mine so much that she bought one several years later and it's now 25 feet tall and wonderfully lovely - but she lives in San Pedro. Erin O'Neill    RESPONSE: Yes, as I said the younger plants are easily damaged at 20F & below, and even at a higher temp if there is enough wind chill for several days.  The larger specimens a far more hardy--and even those I would give protection from winter wind---nevertheless, they are worth the try for many folks since every little subtle location in the garden is different, even down the street from you or me!  Best always!  Harold


 Photo courtesy Redwood Barn Nursery to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis



Purshia tridentata

Bitterbrush is a gray small-leaved shrub, usually from four to five feet high and a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae). The intricately branched prostate stems often root where they touch the ground.  The cream-colored, tubular, short-lived flowers appear yellow due to an abundance of yellow pollen and  are solitary at the ends of short branches.  They are very intensely, wonderfully sweet smelling.  The semi-evergreen leaves are deeply three-cleft and very hairy on the undersides.

The species is found growing at 3000 to 10,000 ft. from  British Columbia to California in the east Cascades and in the Columbia River Gorge, then east to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Give it full sun and dry conditions, but in a normal yard will tolerate some water and shade.  Bitterbrush is an important browse plant. (Do not use in high deer area.)  The seeds are food for birds and chipmunks. Chipmunks appear to be the main dispersal agents.

Bitterbrush  (Purshia tridentata). Photo by Steve Matson, courtesy CALPHOTOS to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis


Daylily "Christmas Is"

Hearty and easy to grow in the mountain gardens, the daylily is a reliable, lovely blooming perennial capable of holding its own in any landscape design and is now one of the most popular choices. The botanical name is Hemerocallis derived from two Greek words meaning "beauty" and "day" - thus the common name of daylily (note that the daylily is not a form of lily, which is the genus Lilium). The daylily originated in China and can be found in literature as early as 2697 BC. It arrived in Europe by the first century AD but failed to be of much interest. Because daylily does not easily cross pollinate, breeding did not ensue. The key to pollination was just discovered in 1921 by the American, A. B. Stout. Since that time the number of cultivars has reached nearly 40,000.

 The daylily can be characterized as a clump-forming perennial with four distinct growing parts which consist of the roots, the crown, the foliage, and the scape. Each daylily plant puts up scapes that have several buds and each bud gives one day of loveliness, fragrance, color, and grace thereby providing several weeks of garden beauty throughout the bloom season. The daylily is available in wide ranges of color, size bloom, height, form, and patterns priced as low as a few dollars per plant up to hundreds of dollars per plant depending on its availability. Performance is as widely varied from scapes with only a few buds to scapes with high bud counts in excess of 60 per scape!  Where older varieties might only put up a few scapes per season, now newer established varieties may put up dozens and repeatedly throughout the season - all will vary somewhat depending on basic variables. There are literally hundreds of varieties available today in all size blooms, scape heights, colors, habits & bloom time, forms, and patterns.


Fremont’s Bush Mallow


Malacothamnus fremontii

This wide ranging chaparral shrub is valued by gardeners for its gray foliage, white stems, fragrant porcelain pink flowers and very rapid growth (not to be confused with a very different native species called “Apricot or Desert Mallow”, or Sphaeralcea ambigua).  Given full sun, decent drainage, and little water, this shrub can grow at least 4 feet in a single year, to a maximum size of about 6 ft. and equally as wide.  It may be kept pruned in the late fall after flowering for a more compact form. This variety is recommended underneath oaks and pines.  A native from the Eastern Sierra Nevada down to our San Jacinto Mountains, it blooms all the way from April till autumn!  This bush mallow prefers good drainage, but tolerates clay soil, as well as deer and heat, too!  It will stay evergreen, but for best appearance prune hard in late autumn or early spring.  It is cold hardy to down to 15 F.

  Photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis


 Western Wake-robin  

(Trillium Ovatum) 

A beautiful spring native with distinctive clumps of diamond shaped, green whorled leaves and 3 petal, large white flowers fading to pink. The flowers are often described as musk-scented.  Each plant will reach approximately 18” high and 1” wide and eventually will form large colonies in partial to full shade with humus rich soil.  The trillium can also be propagated by seed, a much slower process.  In nature a sort of back-up system is in place with the cooperation of mice and ants, to help spread the seeds.  Ants especially are attracted by a protein-rich fleshy attachment to the seed called an “elaiosome”. They carry the seeds back to their nest, consume the desired part and then discard the seed itself, which in turn eventually germinates having been conveniently “planted” in the ground in an organically rich environment.  This plant adapts well to our dry summers when the plant has gone dormant for the season after flourishing from a moist winter and springtime.  As a Western woodland native, it is hardy to -20 degrees.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis

Snow Mountain Penstemon 
(Penstemon purpusii)







This “threatened” native species of ‘Beardtongue’ is a low growing mat to 12” across with-gray leaves and purple flowers in early summer. It grows in rocky open and forested mountain habitat and is perfect as a garden "edging" or in a rock garden   It wants full sun where the summer temperatures are less than 80, more shade as the climate gets hotter. Provide this plant with very well-drained soil, and low water.   It is hardy to –10 degrees F.  Native to California.

Photo courtesy Rick York and CNPS to the Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis

Summer Holly 

Comarostaphylis diversifolia

This is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub or small tree to 20 ft. tall and is a member of the Heath (Ericaceae) family. Little seen, but highly attractive shrub for chaparral or woodland garden. Its shiny green leaves with a serrated edge, beautiful shredded bark, urn shaped white flowers in the spring  and late summer red berries are all attractive features. The birds love this evergreen, too.  It occurs naturally on dry slopes in coastal chapparal.  It is cold hardy to 10F.  Provide it with well draining rocky soil, partial sun and water deeply once a month in the summer.  It is often recommended as specimen.









Courtesy Christopher Christies to IGC     -     Courtesy National Park Service to IGC, Harold Voorheis

Fragrant Pitcher Sage


 (Lepechinia fragrans)

   This erect, shrubby, fragrant perennial grows to 4 feet high. It takes full sun to part shade inland and is drought tolerant. It masquerades as a salvia, but is really from the mint (Lamiaceae) family.  It will generally bloom from April to June with showy purplish flowers.  This handsome plant is a good companion to other chaparral shrubs such as monkey flowers, coyote mint, chamise, and lupines.  It is native to San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains and the Channel Islands, but adapts very well to our San Jacinto Mountains if given just a little summer moisture, partial shade and a little winter protection, like a south wall of the house (reported to be “ok” down to 20 degrees F, but will freeze out at 10F).  It is often sold as the cultivar “El Tigre”.






  Photo Courtesy of Orchid Black to Idyllwild Garden Club, Harold Voorheis

Canyon Silktassel Bush

(Garrya veatchii)

This native is a bushy, evergreen shrub that will reach six feet in height and displays very showy flowers that hang in long catkins from the ends of the branches. It has oval-shaped leaves that range from one to three inches long.  It prefers full or partial sunny sites, and is exceptionally drought tolerant once established.  It grows on dry slopes in chaparral, central and southern oak woodlands from the Baja up to the San Luis Obispo area of California.  It can be used as a good foundation plant or evergreen hedge.  

Sticky Cinquefoil
(Potentilla glandulosa)

     Sticky Cinquefoil is a one to two foot tall perennial with creamy, yellow flowers. It has soft pinnately compound leaves and red stems. Sticky cinquefoil occurs from Alberta and British Columbia in the north; south to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Baja California; and east to South Dakota. It is most commonly described as occurring in forests and woodlands throughout its range, but it also occurs in sagebrush and grassland communities.
      It is a leafy plant with several stems, often reddish and sticky with minute, glandular hairs, topped by yellow flowers in loose branched clusters. There are many subspecies of this variable, semi-woody plant. The leaves are reminiscent of strawberry, but have more leaflets. The rather small flowers vary from cream to yellow and occur in small, loose clusters. The upper stems have glandular hairs, hence the name. Overall height is from 1-2 ft.
     Potentilla glandulosa is a good companion to Checkerbloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora), Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), and California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica or Epilobium canum) in a native garden. Available for purchase at Theodore Payne Nursery and Las Pilitas Nursery.

Coast Irises

These eleven, native species are found in the western United States, mostly Oregon and California, but also Washington. They are a subgrouping of

Beardless Irises

and grow from rhizomes.  Most of them are evergreen and they are native to areas with wet winters and dry summers and moderate temperatures.  They flower in the spring and seem to appreciate occasional summer water, especially in warmer summer areas.  They can be challenging to divide and transplant and this is best done in the wet winter months.  There have been many hybrids between the various species and these are often sold as Pacific Coast hybrids with cultivar names (for purchase see

).  They are "petite" irises for the most part, often only 10-12 inches high and look great in a rock garden.   Many adapt well to the Idyllwild area and gardeners report good success.  Pacific Coast Irises include:
  • Siskiyou iris (Iris bracteata)
  • yellowleaf iris (Iris chrysophylla)
  • Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana)
  • Fernald’s iris (Iris fernaldii)
  • Hartweg’s iris (Iris hartwegii ssp. hartwegii, ssp. columbianum, ssp. pinetorum, and ssp. australis)
  • Del Norte County iris (Iris innominata)
  • bowl tube iris (Iris macrosiphon)
  • Munz’s iris (Iris munzii)
  • Purdy’s iris (Iris purdyi)
  • toughleaf iris (Iris tenax ssp. tenax)
  • Klamath iris (Iris tenax ssp. klamathensis)
  • long tube iris (Iris tenuissima ssp. tenuissima and ssp. purdyiformis)

The Hartweg’s Iris below grows from 2000-7000 ft. elevation, and is native to the Sierra Nevada and our neighboring San Bernardino Mountains.

California Fuchsia

(Epilobium canum aka Zauschneria californica)

 Requiring no summer water & highly attractive to hummingbirds, California fuchsia, a western U.S. native, will reach about 30” tall. In late summer and fall, when so few natives are looking their best, this prolific bloomer fires up the garden with its amazing flare of scarlet red 1.5” trumpets.  Cut to the ground after bloom for best appearance each year.  It will spread by roots, so do allow room or keep it contained in a parking strip or large pot.  It is known to be deer resistant.  It is stunning when planted with the yellow spires of California Golden Rod (Solidago californica) and both are in full bloom together!

Apache Plume (Fallugia Paradoxa)

Fitting for low-water landscapes, Apache Plume, a member of the Rose family,  is a soft-textured shrub showcasing its lovely white rose blossoms and rosy, feathery seed heads through the summer.  Fruit clusters with feathery, purplish tails are said to resemble an Apache headdress.  The shrub normally grows to 3-4 feet high (but can grow to 6 feet), and has a loose, casual appearance.  It looks attractive when it is pruned heavily (but this is optional), even down to the ground, in the winter.  Pruning maintains a more compact plant, and the shrub will grow back from the crown each year, flowering later in the summer than unpruned bushes. Hardy USDA Z3.
It is native to deserts of southern California and east to Texas.  It likes full sun, is drought tolerant, but likes and will bloom more profusely with a little indirect summer water.   It is probably best when planted 10-15 feet from a watered area.  In areas of summer thunder showers, it should be drought tolerant.  Apache plume is a “showy” plant with no care.  It is an interesting companion planted Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland Sage) or Salvia 'Pozo Blue' (Pozo Blue Sage).

Tree Poppy or Bush Poppy






     (Dendromedron rigida harfordii)


Stiff, waxy leaves and bright yellow flowers make this plant unmistakeable. In the garden, it likes very well-drained soil and no summer water once established. It is hardy down to 10-15 degree F.


It is a beautiful shrub, growing 4 to 6 feet high and wide with graceful gray green willow-like foliage and great quantities of bright yellow flowers 2 to 3 inches in diameter. The shrubs flower for a large portion of the year (April-August) and are very showy when in bloom. Grows on rocky slopes. It is susceptable to knock-down from strong winds, so place in a wind-sheltered area. Do not fertilize. Native to the coast ranges from Sonoma County to Baja and the western base of Sierra Nevada.  Available at Tree of Life Nursery, San Juan Capistrano, CA. or

Common Snowberry

(Symphoricarpos albus laevigatus)


Common Snowberry is a chin-high, deciduous shrub, gradually forming a thicket by way of its rhizomes, or underground stems. It is native to the coast ranges, San Luis Obispo north to Alaska. This shrub produces edible, white berries. (Before you get all excited, they taste like bitter Ivory soap, but birds don’t seem to mind, too much!).  Snowberry likes sun to shade and some summer water. Hummingbirds visit it in summer when the small, pinkish flowers are on it.  In the fall of years in which we have had a good, wet winter, or if given some moderate irrigation, Snowberry is very beautiful as the bush becomes overloaded and the branches start to arch from the weight of all the white berries developing at the tips.  This is a nice underused plant.  In our mountains where there is snow, it can be an effective large scale groundcover.  Its root system is vigorous and deep enough to hold most banks.  Soils do not seem to matter as long as the drainage is fair. This shrub may be mail-ordered via or    


Plant Description and Details

White as snow and puffy like mini-marshmallows, eye-catching berries dot the otherwise naked Snowberry bushes in the fall and winter. In the early summer, diminutive pink, bell-shaped flowers appear. These lovely, rounded bushes will spread by roots to create thickets, so plant where you need streambank (or cutbank) stabilization, wildlife cover, or low underbrush for a not-so-dry area. Food source for wild birds.
Common Names Common Snowberry, Waxberry
Community Mountain
Annual Water Needs 15-20 inches
Drought Tolerant Low Water
Native Range Moist Areas, streamsides, no extreme shade, no very dry areas.
Native States CA, CO, ID, MT, OR, UT, WA
Hardiness Down to Zone 4
Exposure Sun - Shade
Placement Specimen shrub, bushy thicket.
Mature Height 2 - 4 ft.
Mature Width 4 ft.
Group Spacing 2-8 ft.
Blossom Color Pink
Blooms Early Summer
Establishment Tips Water at planting and 2-3 times deeply the first summer.
Maintenance Tips Give it a place where it can spread out and form a bushy thicket. Leaves often get mildew in summer, but it does not hurt the plant.
Wildlife Notes Bird and rodent food, deer browse.
Plants Symbol SYAL
Family Name Caprifoliaceae
Lewis & Clark Yes

Common Snowberry – Fruit (top), Flower (Below), Penny Nyunt-Las Pilitas Nursery

Lanceleaf Liveforever (Dudleya lanceolata)

 Dudleya lanceolata is a one foot tall and wide succulent plant known by the common name 'Liveforever'. This plant is native to the mountains of southern California and Baja California, where it is found in rocky areas and slopes. This dudleya has fleshy, pointed leaves of variable shape and size, from a basal rosette of flat, spade-shaped leaves to bunches of longer, thicker leaves. Its stem is erect and bears a branching inflorescence with up to 20 flowers on each of its few branches. The flowers are generally bright yellow, pink, or red, with pale green bases.  Hardy to about 12 degrees F.



Rose Sage or Giant Flowered Purple Sage (Salvia pachyphylla)

This is a 2-3 foot tall shrub with attractive blue flowers  that occur in showy purple bracts. It is similar to Purple Sage (S. dorrii) which occurs in juniper woodlands. Rose sage needs no summer water in most of populated California, but requires excellent drainage.  It likes full sun and sandy soil, with no weeds. Deer don't seem to like it much.  The foliage is silver colored and is evergreen.   Butterflies and hummingbirds like it.  This sage tolerates a lot including  mulch, rocks, drought and some water.  This plant is currently available in Idyllwild at the seasonal "Greentrees Nursery" on Hwy 243 opposite Ridgeview Dr.

Penny Nyunt - Las Pilitas Nursery


August 6,2010: California or Chilean Aster, (Aster chiliensis)
This fast spreading one ft high and 3 ft wide perennial is native along the California roadsides, but adapts well to our mountains with minimal moisture. Leafy green shoots are topped with 1 1/2" wide pale lavender flowers with yellow centers in summer. It is a quick spreading plant and a good soil stabilizer, and can be a bit invasive, but is easily managed.  It is good filler in a meadow garden where it attracts butterflies and beneficial insects. 

If you plant along with California Goldenrod (Solidago californica) and  Narrowleaf California Fuchsia (Zauschneria cana) the flower bed will come alive in late summer and on through the first frosts.  California Aster seeds are available by mail order at Larner Seeds online (


July 9, 2010: Scarlet Monkey Flower, (Mimulus cardinalis)



This is a beautiful native, growing about 2 ft. high and a 3-4 ft. spread, with deep orange-red flowers.  It is common along rivers and streams through much of California.  Currently it is in bloom along Strawberry Creek in Fern Valley with several Lemon Lilies (Lilium parryi) growing alongside.   An excellent hummingbird flower, it needs sun and water, but can survive in the garden with once weekly watering.  Generally, it is a very vigorous plant under right conditions.  It tends to die back to the roots in winter, but rebounds in the spring.  This flower, the Lemon Lily and several other flowering natives may be seen during the Lemon Lily Festival by taking the Idyllwild Garden Club Creekside Tour in the Festival Program.

July 2, 2010: Chinese Houses (Collinisia Heterophylla)






Light purple 1-2 ft. high spires of pagoda-shaped flowers grow quickly on this California native annual wildflower. Blooms heavily in mid-season (early July), then gone with the first frost.  Reseeds itself each spring where seed falls on bare ground.  This was observed week of June 28th along Strawberry Creek in the “Grotto” area off Idyllmont Rd.

June 25, 2010: Mountain Spirea or Rose Meadowsweet

 (Spiraea densiflora splendens)

Mountain Spirea is a little deciduous sub-shrub with gray-green foliage and reddish pink flowers in clusters two-three across. It flowers in the late summer when it sometimes seems like nothing else is even green.  It is a native from 2000 feet to 11,000 feet from the central Sierra Nevada to B.C.  It grows under Ponderosa pine, Kellogg Oak and Black Cottonwood on a north-east slopes.  Mountain Spirea nicer as you go to higher elevations. The overall size is 24” high x 30 inches wide.  It is best with afternoon shade and light to moderate summer water.  Available at several native to part-native nurseries on the club website.

June 18, 2010: Yellow Bush Snapdragon, Keckiella antirrhinoides







This is a good looking, small leafed, three foot or so perennial shrub with yellow, 3" to 4" flowers and very similar in shape to a common snapdragon.  It is native to the interior areas of southern California, west of the mountains where it blooms in early summer. This species likes part shade, tolerates full shade inland, full sun along the coast, good drainage, and little summer water (summer wash offs). It's fairly deer proof if not over watered. It is cold tolerant to at least 0 degrees F.  Hummingbirds visit it during flowering season. Although it is summer deciduous with no water, the Yellow Bush Snapdragon looks great even in 100+ degree F weather when the foliage is washed off a few times during the dry season.  For the month of June and into July this plant is beautiful.  In October it becomes invisible by going deciduous unless you choose to water it periodically. The fragrance of the flowers is wonderful. NOTE: This shrub is available via "Wild California" Growers (Hwy 243, Banning), listed on our club website,  under native plant nurseries.


June 11, 2010: Winecup clarkia, Clarkia purpurea


       This native species of wildflower is known by the common names winecup clarkia, winecup fairyfan, and purple clarkia. It will self-seed readily and is a fine addition to the garden.  It may be  found in a variety of habitats, including the Twin Pines Road area between Pine Cove and Banning, Ca. in June.  It flowers along a reddish stem which may approach 15-30 inches height and has a few, bluish gray, lance-shaped leaves. The one inch wide, bowl-shaped flowers have four small petals in shades of pink, purple, or deep wine red, often with a streak or spot of pink or red in the middle.








 The Honeysuckle family is best known domestically in our area by the climbing garden honeysuckle, a close relative of our native Hairy Honeysuckle.   Many of the wild native species will do well in the garden also, if given the proper conditions they need. This native Honeysuckle vine is found in nature as a loose groundcover in oak forests, or growing through native shrubs. Its loose growth and sparse foliage do not make it a suitable vine for a trellis, but it is quite attractive planted as it occurs in nature, near the base of a shrub it can twine through to display its pink springtime flowers and cherry red fall fruit.  It is coming into bloom now (June).

  June 1, 2010: Idyllwild or Pinkbract Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei drupacea)











 Our native Idyllwild manzanita grows 6 to 12 ft tall. It has gray foliage, reddish brown bark, and pink flowers.  You will find it growing on dry slopes in chaparral and yellow pine forest plant communities from the San Bernardino mountains South. This manzanita has slightly fuzzy sticky foliage and flowers and is currently (Mid-May) in bloom throughout our Idyllwild area.  Native people use an infusion of leaves for diarrhea and for poison oak rash.  The fruits were mashed to make a drink, or eaten fresh, or dried for later use.  The branches were used for building.  The wood was used to make tools.  The leaves were mixed with tobacco for smoking.



May 28, 2010: Scarlet Bugler, Penstemon centranthifolius


This Penstemon is a very showy one to two foot perennial with a 2-4' spike of two inch red flowers in April-July.  Native to dry slopes in the coast ranges and also the Southern Sierras up to 6500'. Give this Penstemon full sun. Very drought tolerant.  Excellent in rock gardens.  Cold tolerant to -15 deg. or less. Needs good drainage with very little organic matter. Heavily used by Hummingbirds.  You will see this plant on your drive up and down the “Hill”.

May 21, 2010: Monardella Villosa, or “Coyote Mint”

Bushy perennial to a foot high with pleasantly mint-scented leaves and heads of tubular blue or purple flowers in summer. Attracts butterflies and bumblebees. Drought tolerant; needs good drainage.This perennial will grow to 1-2' tall by 1-2' wide.  Hardy to USDA Z7 (0-5 F). The dark green leaves contrast nicely with long blooming lavender flowers (June-August). Place in full sun to light shade, with good drainage and little summer water. Cut back heavily in winter for a compact plant next year. This is one of our California native plants.  Flowers attract a wide variety of butterflies and beneficial insects.  (from Harold Voorheis, Idyllwild Garden Club)


May 14, 2010: Monardella odoratissima,  Western Pennyroyal

A 1-2' perennial with 1" white flowers arising from pinkish buds. The fragrant foliage has a very good mint odor. Native to 2000'+ throughout much of the West. It likes part shade to shade where the summers are hot and full sun where the temperatures do not reach above 85-90 deg. It needs a fairly rich soil and some garden water. A middle to upper montane species that resents lower elevations in the west. It is very useful on the in rock gardens or perennial beds.  

  May 7, 2010:  Ribes nevadense, Mountain Pink Currant

 This is a deciduous shrub, growing up to 3-5'.   It should be used as a pink showcase around a mountain cabin.   Native to 4000-8000' throughout California,  it will flower April to July with 6" hanging pink cascades. This is one of those plants that can grow in creeks or not. It survives drought conditions well, but does not mind wet conditions either.   Many Idyllwild Garden Club members grow

this to attract the birds when it fruits.

Phantom Orchid  April 29, 2010: Lilium humboldtii ocellatum, Humboldt Lily










 This rare and beautiful lily has large 3-4" red-yellow flowers on 3' spikes. At higher elevations it has grown to 6'. This subspecies is native to many parts of southern California  and is growing in gardens here in Idyllwild quite successfully.  It is a very showy and attractive lily, somewhat drought tolerant, but needs perfect drainage. The lilies are divided into wetland species and dry land species. This is a dryland species. It grows on sunny chaparral slopes, and also does well in Idyllwild (make a little gopher-proof  closed wire basket around the bulb).  Sorry, if you have deer, this one may be not be a good choice. 





Penny Nyunt - Las Pilitas Nursery

April 22, 2010: Rhododendron occidentale, Western Azalea







   Rhododendron Occidentale, or more commonly know as Western Azalea (locals sometimes call it the “Mountain Azalea”), is a shrub with green foliage and creamy white flowers that may be tinged with pink and have a yellow blotch.  It is of the genus Rhododendron and has has a moderate growth rate with a height of 10 feet at maturity. Its duration is perennial which means it will grow year after year.  The active growth period is spring and summer and blooms during late spring.  It is somewhat tolerant of shade and is routinely available commercially in many hybrid forms.  Rhododendron Occidentale or Western Azalea’s floral region is California and Oregon.  It can be found in wild, woodland areas of both Idyllwild and Pine Cove, Ca. (from Harold Voorheis, Idyllwild Garden Club


April 9 2010:  Alpine Shooting Star (Dodecatheon alpinus)

This native wildflower is a small perennial that goes dormant in summer.  It has a 1 foot high flower cluster with 1/2 inch shooting stars, and is good in woodland garden or north slope.  The foliage color is silver while the flowers are pink. This plant is one of the first wildflowers to come up in the spring.  All the wildflower lovers in our area compete to be the first one that sees one. 






  April 02 2010: Grape Soda Lupine (Lupinus Excubitus) 





California native, Lupinus excubitus or Grape Soda Lupine, will soon be arriving in our mountain roadsides and trails. A favorite of many members! 


Grape Soda lupine is one of the smaller bush lupines with many different forms that range from the desert to mountains. The foliage is gray and the spring flowers are purple with a fragrance like grape soda. Do not water after the first summer in most of California.  Lupines prefer sandy or loam soil.  Birds relish the seed, butterflies work the flowers.


Penny Nyunt - Las Pilitas Nursery

March 20 2010 - California Buttercup - A spring Native! 

Here is a California native wildflower that is pretty & useful. The cheerful yellow flowers bloom on long stems over finely-cut foliage. Blooms in early to mid spring along with many other CA native wildflowers. It would look very pretty mixed with Nemophila menziesii “Baby Blue Eyes” or Stylomecon heterophylla. Fast growing, it gets to be about 1’x1’ & is dormant in the summer. The seeds are edible & can be ground up & used as a flavoring in soups, or as a meal for making bread. A yellow dye can be obtained from the flowers. Hummingbirds & insects also enjoy the flower nectar, making this plant a good addition to the wildlife garden. Tolerates clay soil and reseeds!

March 13 2010 - Chocolate Lily - Fritillaria Biflora
The Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria biflora), a California native, may be seen in bloom at the Santa Rosa Plateau ( Take Clinton Keith Parkway from I-15 to Visitor Center & get directions) during late March
The largest populations are along the Trans-Reserve Trail, but a few on the Vernal Pools Trail.   Chocolate Lily is severely declining in Southern California, but apparently is more widespread in central California near the coast. Substantial populations in San Diego County, Orange County, and Riverside County should be strongly considered for protection, despite the relative abundance of this species to the north.
Also profuse right now are Johnny Jumpups, Ground Pink, and Shooting Stars. Lupine and CA Poppies are just starting to get good. Other species in bloom include Bush Monkeyflowers, Blue-eyed Grass, Blue Dicks, Checkerbloom, Buttercups, California Lilac, Goldfields, Milk Maids, and Red Maids. The oaks and willows are also in bloom with their understated flowers. Also look for California newts in the creek on the Adobe Loop Trail.