My cottage garden continues to be one of the major joys of my
life. This summer it is jumble of annuals and perennials all
crowded together, jungle-like. Sitting quietly in the garden, I can
actually hear pollinators buzzing all ‘round. Sunflowers and
hollyhocks bloom six to seven feet tall along the fence, with the
incredible Hooker’s evening primrose (Oenothera elata ssp. hookeri)
out-blooming and as tall as them all. This biennial is covered with
bright yellow, large, saucer-like flowers all summer long. Each
flower becomes a pod filled with little black seeds. They pop open
and shoot the seeds out and you’ll always have primroses in your
Another enchanter: Bidens ferulifolia, which I first saw at the
Melissa Garden, is in the aster family and sprawls over a
three-foot area with bright yellow flowers in constant bloom.
Annuals planted by seed in May are in full bloom: Flat-topped
zinnias of every color; bachelor’s buttons reflecting back the blue
skies; cosmos in pink, purple and white; Mexican sunflowers
(Tithonia) with their tall branching arms tipped with huge orange
flowers; scabiosa so covered with bees you can scarcely see their
lavender flowers; orange calendulas; fuchsia-purple lychnis, or
rose campion, tipping their seed capsules onto the soil to ensure
more fuzzy silver-gray leaves and bright flowers, and more.
St. John’s wort, or Klamath weed, is becoming invasive in the one
hundred fifty acres behind my house in Forestville. I see great
patches of its scruffy-looking yellow flowers blooming in isolated
groups on the hillsides and along the deer trails. I am seeing it
in all the roadside ditches and fallow fields throughout Sonoma
County. Hypericum perforatum is the botanical name for this highly
visible perennial. It spreads by both seeds and rhizomes. I go to
pull it out and it just breaks off. I fear I will have to accept
this European import as we accept the presence of dandelions and
Scotch broom. I am slowly winning a war against yellow star
thistle, a dreaded invader, in the same meadow. I have sprayed it,
stomped it, and pulled it, after it popped up two summers ago. But
the Klamath weed is different. It is widespread and I can only hope
the wildflowers can compete with it. I don’t like to be
pessimistic, but I have my doubts.
If herb gardening is of interest, you are invited to attend an
event at Lynmar Estate Winery at 3909 Frei Road in Sebastopol on
Wednesday, August 31, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event, “Growing and
Using Herbs as a Part of Daily Lifestyle,” is a presentation and
book signing for the book, “Homegrown Herbs,” written by Tammi
Hartung, with photographs by Saxon Holt. The winery has been
planted extensively with wildflowers and other plants as habitat
for pollinators.
Attendance is limited to the first sixty guests. Please RSVP to
Candi Norris at (707) 829-3374, ext. 102, or to
[email protected]
I have just received a copy of Hartung’s and Holt’s book (Storey
Publishing) and I am smitten with the incredible photography of
Saxon Holt. He is a renowned plant photographer and his pictures
are featured in many books. Check him out at: and
google Tammi Hartung for information about her herb growing farm in
Colorado. Her book is one that has been missing from the
do-it-yourself gardener’s bookshelf, a customer friendly manual on
how to grow herbs and so much more. I’ll be writing more on her
book in September.
The Fall Biodiversity Plant Sale at Occidental Arts & Ecology
in Occidental is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both August 20 and 21. A
Second Chance Sale will be the same hours the following weekend,
August 27 and 28. As usual, they will be selling their organic,
open-pollinated annuals and perennials. Go to: for a list
of the plants they will offer.
Please note that the Windsor Garden Club has a beautiful Website: The organization has been growing and
causing lots of excitement in Windsor. Check out the Windsor Town
There is no CNPS general meeting in August, but get ready for some
great fall programs, starting in September and the plant sale in
Please contact me at: [email protected].

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