Dan (my better half , #1 supporter and COO of the farm) is pretty serious about minding our water usage. Despite him jokingly and lovingly hiding the water bill from me each month, the truth is, when we started the flower farm, we made several lifestyle changes in how we use our water.
With "the state of drought" always in the back of our minds, we have managed to offset a large portion of our household water consumption by making sustainable changes to our habits (3 minute showers, buckets under the shower heads, excess water to indoor plants, better laundry management, etc.) so that the water we would otherwise use in the household, can be used towards irrigating our plants. (We've also considered implementing a grey water system, but that is a whole entire beast altogether!)
In addition to trimming back in our household, we installed and converted our irrigation to drip on virtually all our planting areas. One of our biggest "YIPEE" moments was the installation of large vertical rain collection tanks that gravity feed water to our field.
Looking back ...When we first bought our home, I took the liberties of ripping out the English style garden in the front of the property and converting the area to a mixture of native and drought tolerant plants that require less water.
What's the icing on the cake here?
We grow the variety called 'Howard McMinn.' It is a steady grower mangeable in size of approximately 3'T x 6'W. I'm sure if it was left to its own devices that it would grow much taller, but we take plenty of trimmings in early Spring to keep it tame. It has beautiful small eliptical evergreen leaves with white bell like blossoms that hummingbirds LOVE!
We have multiple species of this beauty on our property. Many are volunteers. They all have excellent vase life and I love the different berries and flowers that are set out by these plants.
Despite some of their slightly tacky flower heads, this is truly a prolific plant during the warm summer months. Trim it for cuttings and it bounces back within weeks with more blooms!
4. Brazilian Pepper
Though it reigns from South America and the Peruvian Andes, it has been dawned the name "California Pepper Tree." Its berries turn coral in early December and are perfect for holiday arrangments.
5. Australian Mint Bush
I've always thought this plant to be the faster growing cousin of 'Pittosporum Marjorie Channon.' It has a similar leaf colors (cream, hint of yellow, and chartreuse green), but additionally, it does set out dainty lavender flowers in early Spring.
'Lemon,' 'Parvifolia,' and 'Moon Lagoon' are amongst our favorites. Despite our attempts to grow it here on our farm, it literally grows rampant on the roadside.
Considered an invasive in California, it is abundant and reliable throught the year for greenery and fill. It has beautiful lime colored seed pods in summer and they turn to a deep navy blue in late fall/winter. I would not be quick to plant this one as it will spread quickly. You're better off to see if a neighbor has some and to ask for permission to harvest.
We have Ceanothus in both a lavender/blue hue and white. Harvest when the blooms are 1/2 open and give it a hit of hairspray to set the blooms. Thankfully the pretty blooms outweigh the tiny mess on the table when the tiny blossoms expire.
Planting and Harvesting
Late November through February is a great time to plant natives as the ground is cool and it allows for young plants to get established in the soil along with some rain from Mother Nature.
When it comes to harvesting, there are no said tricks that we do here. We trim our natives no different than our cut flowers. Be sure to harvest in the early morning and rest your loot in a cool dark place with a floral holding solution. If you don't have a holding solution, fresh tepid water will do!