Seep Monkey Flower (Mimulus guttatus)

Its officially spring in the garden and we are beginning to get our wildflower show. The month of March brought us some much needed rain and the plants at our garden are sure happier for it. One outstanding wildflower that is blooming right now is the Seep Monkey Flower (Mimulus guttatus) which has bright yellow flowers with red freckles and resembles a monkey's face. This Monkeyflower can be found in all across the state in wet places like seasonal springs, bogs or even roadside ditches. In San Francisco a few places it can be found are the ditch that leads to Fort Point in the Presidio, along the northern section of mountain lake, and in Lobos Creek. This plant is great for wet places and does well under garden conditions with regular water. If you have a leaky faucet or a bird bath that gets regular visits place this Monkey Flower underneath and watch as it takes off with its rhizomes spreading as far as the water will let it. Seep Monkey Flower is a wonderful plant for a bee or hummingbird garden because it is produces numerous flowers and has a long flowering period. If pruned periodically it may flower into the fall but goes dormant in the winter beginning to show its colors again in April.

Seep Monkey Flower at a glance

Sun: Full-Part Shade
Water: The wetter the better
Soil: Tolerates clay, serpentine, sand and seasonal flooding
Wildlife: Bees and Hummingbirds
Pair with: Common Rush, Sedges, Fringe Cup and other stream side plants.

Sights on Site: City College of San Francisco Native Plant Garden


Workday coming up!

Our second round of planting in the new Historical Garden bed will be going on. 
Kaya & Lawrence went out and got 30 plants with the money raised during our donation drive, most coming from San Bruno Mountain, the last refuge of the Franciscan floristic provence. 

When: 11 AM - 1PM Wednesday, February 16th
What: Planting, weeding, picking up trash

Gloves, snacks and tools provided.

Hope to see you out there!


Beach Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)

Beach Strawberry is a perennial member of the Rose family. It reproduces by sending out runners forming a dense mat, which is good for filling in between rocks or on the borders of your garden. Of our two native strawberry species this one is more aggressive and hardier. It grows along the coast and can be found in the Coastal Strand, and North Coastal Scrub. During the spring and summer it has white flowers that give way to tiny edible strawberries. It has adapted to life on the coast by forming a thick waxy coating on the tops of its 3 serrated, oval shaped leaves. This adaptation limits evaporation making the Beach Strawberry a very drought tolerant ground cover. Another way it is adapted to life on the beach can be observed when the plant is buried by shifting sands. When this happens it sends a runner shoot up out of the sand to form a new colony. In San Francisco it can be found in the dunes of Ft. Funston, along Ocean Beach all the way up to Baker Beach and around to Crissy Field. When the Army operated at Ft. Funston (and other coastal sandy sites) they could have chosen Beach Strawberry as one of the plants to stabilize the dunes instead of introducing the invasive, bluff busting ice plant.

Beach Strawberry at a glance

Sun: Full
Water: None or very little
Soil: Requires good drainage
Wildlife: Butterflies, Bees, Birds, and Small Mammals
Pair with: Seaside Daisy, Beach Sagewort, Prostrate Coyote Brush, Coast Buckwheat, Pacific Gum Plant, Dune tansy


Whos Says it Never Snows in SF?

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus in bloom on campus

While the east coast is bathed in blankets of school-stopping snow, here in the cool coastal climate, wintertime means bloom time for species such as the wild lilac, "Snow Flurry,"  (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus).

You can also see the little blue blooms of the coast blue blossom around campus (walking from the bungalows to the back side of the library, for one example) and the bay area. 


City Currents Article

City Currents, CCSF's faculty and community weekly newsletter, ran a piece about the return of the native plant garden.

Go here to read it: California Native Plant Garden Replanted

Ground Breaking Success!

Crima Pogge, Kaya Mac Millen, Mitchell McCartney serving snacks

Time to reflect, and time to move forward. The Ground Breaking Ceremony was a wonderful success. We began the planting of our Historical Garden, connected with students, faculity and community members, and celebrated our Garden Grant award from the California Native Garden Foundation (CNGF).

Crima Pogge, Director of the Center for Habitat Restoration, poured hot tea while Lawrence & Kaya, the NPG Interns, served home baked and community donated food to hungry volunteers. As everyone toured the garden and got to know the stewardship team, Kaya broke the chatter to give a speech about the inspiration and history of the garden, followed by comments from Crima, Lawrence, and our visiting benefactor, Alrie Middlebrook.

NPG Welcomes CNGF & Fosters Partnership with ELSEE
Donations from California Native Garden Foundation

The California Native Garden Foundation brought over fifty plants! We were all able to roll up our sleeves and get our hands into the soil in the new garden. The plant donations and grant are a part of the 
Alrie Middlebrook presented CCSF with the rest of the Garden Grant- a check for $500 dollars to go towards signs and educational material for the gardens.

We are very excited to be partnering with the ELSEE (Environmental Laboratory for Sustainable and Ecological Education) project, which helps research and fund methods to integrate native and food plant gardening on school campuses around california.

Find out more about CNGF and ELSEE on their facebook page and website.

Thank You
Our donation drive has brought in nearly $400 dollars! This money will go directly to the procuring and planting of native species on campus. Thank you to everyone who was able to contribute.

Special thanks to Bill Wilson, a community member who showed up with camera in hand to help document the groundbreaking. Bill Wilson is president of Sunnyside Neighborhood Association and member of the Greening Committee that has been responsible for the maintenance and planting of new gardens along Circular, the road behind Batmale Hall that leads in to campus.

Check out his photos of the garden in our web album here, or visit www.billwilsonphotos.com to see more of his work.

Volunteers at work trying to beat the setting sun


Ground Breaking Celebration

Join us in celebrating the completed planting of our demonstration garden and the future of our ecological garden.

The California Native Garden Foundation will be on hand to present the NPG team and the Biology Department with the Garden Grant check.  The grant funds $1000 dollars in plants and signs. Its a healthy start to our second garden, but continued community support is crucial to the Native Plant Garden's prosperity.

Come by and show your support! Kaya and Lawrence will be baking treats for visitors!

A Good Day to Be a Seed

While the rain may make some dreary, bored, and boarded up in doors, for the California gardener the winter rains mean one of three things: weeding, seeding, or planting.

With our Demonstration Garden a few plants away from completion, the NPG stewardship team emerged from post-finals slumber to sow some wildflower seeds and prepare our northern bed for up coming planting.

Sowing Seeds

Armed with packets of wildflower seeds, two rakes, and an unusually hot day, we revisited the scarred and forgotten soil of the previous native garden bed (which had to be abandoned due to construction upgrades). After six months of neglect and construction, we were surprised to see a healthy population of pearly ever-lasting, yarrow, seaside daisy, and even lupines poking through the weeds. Score one for natives!
This forgotten bed wont be planted in the near future. Lack of funding or responsibility will turn it in to a weed garden before long. We wanted to push off the inevitable a little longer, maybe inspire some students trekking up the Science stairs with spring time displays of Chinese houses, tidy tips, fare-well-to-springs, sky lupine, and bird's eye gilia.

Judith Larner Lowery, of Larner Seeds, recommends sowing wildflower seeds between the first rains of October and in to February. Wildflowers, she notes, are not "drought tolerant" in the same way other California natives are. Rather, they are drought evaders: they complete their life cycle before California's summer drought. Wildflower seeds need consistent water to germinate, so either sow in a wet forecast or be on hand to keep the soil moist. Seeds also need good soil-to-seed contact, protection from predation, and a weed-free bed.

After becoming established, a naturally rhythmed wildflower display doesn't need any more water than the environment provides. To prolong blooms, weekly watering is recommended.

To plant our bed, we raked the upper half inch of compacted soil to create a multidimensional, textured bed to catch the seeds. While Lowery recommends cutting your seed mix with about four times sand or compost to help with even distribution, we simply broadcasted our seeds by hand. A quick stomp around the bed ensured good soil contact, as students passing by looked quizzically at our strange dance.

Today's good rain will help set the seeds in their new home, and we will monitor soil moisture over the next few days to see if hand watering is needed.

To find out more about growing wildflowers, check out Larner's guide here.

Head Gardener Kaya MacMillen sowing seeds