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July 20, 2005

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Publication Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cover story: Going Wild -- June showers brought July wildflowers to a spectacular late-season display at Yerba Buena Native Plant Nursery near Woodside Cover story: Going Wild -- June showers brought July wildflowers to a spectacular late-season display at Yerba Buena Native Plant Nursery near Woodside (July 20, 2005)

Text with photo essay in the print edition:

by Andrea Gemmet

Almanac Staff Writer

Clarkia blossoms blanket a meadow-like garden in a quilt of pinks and pale purples, a lovely display in any season, but a surprising sight in mid-July.

Dry summer sunshine's hallmark is golden hills of dry grass, the tawny color of a lion's back. But this year, the rainy season that never seemed to stop is offering brightly colored consolation for stormy April, soggy May and inclement June with a bower of native flowers off Skyline Boulevard.

Yerba Buena Nursery owner Kathy Crane says she has never seen such a prolific display of wildflowers so late in the year. In the nursery's Gerda Isenberg display garden, native flowers flourish in their native fashion, unwatered except for raindrops.

The bleeding hearts may be dried up and bloodless, and the fairy lanterns have long since lost their luster, but a bevy of blooms have taken their place: small purple gilia ; substantial matilija poppies (Romneya coultei ), with flowers that look like floppy fried eggs; and pert mimulus in a rainbow of colors.

Lanky yet dainty California sunflowers stretch toward the light, while purple-blue caterpillar flowers creep in the shade. Checkerbloom and frothy stalks of achillea millefolium are at the height of loveliness.

The late-season garden hums with life on a hot July afternoon. Tiny bees hurry to and-fro, fumbling for pollen among the petals, while butterflies cartwheel toward the showy milkweed and the towering, yellow-flowered fremonadendron .

A lazy cat basks in the sun as a San Francisco garter snake zips across a path and disappears among rows of pots.
INFORMATION

** Yerba Buena Nursery is located on Langley Hill Road, about 2 miles off Skyline Boulevard. Turn at 19500 Skyline Boulevard, 4.5 miles south of Highway 84, opposite the Thomas Fogarty Winery. Follow the signs on the winding road to reach the nursery. It's open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and closed Mondays. For information, call 851-1668. A map is available on the Web site YerbaBuenaNursery.com. To preview what's in bloom, the Web site has a weekly posting of photos of the wildflowers growing in the Gerda Isenberg display garden. Visitors are welcome.


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