The Sonoma Garden ~ Karen Boness

Karen Boness Karen Boness is a Sonoma based landscape designer, certified arborist ISA WE-9654A, and licensed landscape contractor #974035. Her business is Wild Willow Landscape Design. 707.481.8561.


A Vernal celebration

Posted on April 4, 2018 by Karen Boness

Well, we made it through another winter. Late storms finally blessed us with a decent volume of moisture, but now it’s warm again. The sun hasn’t forgotten us. Everywhere little new leaves and teeny-tiny fruits are emerging from their winter homes inside branches and stems and bulbs and corms. It is a time for Vernal celebration.

Here at Wild Willow we are enjoying the abundance of our spring garden – two types of radishes, arugula galore, colorful leaf lettuces and stalwart kale flashing bright purple stems. The first snow peas are almost big enough to devour. We thought the beets were going to bite the dust but they rallied after all.

Signs of spring: a bumble bees hovers among the ceanothus flowers.
Signs of spring: a bumble bees hovers among the ceanothus flowers.

My back muscles are very pleased with our new raised veggie boxes. They aren’t anything fancy. Just hand-me-down redwood and good potting soil. But they are so productive. Since we have never seen any gophers, moles or voles around here we didn’t even bother with gopher wire. I guess it is possible we may regret that some day. For now, it is a joy to witness the edible abundance they hold.

I’m already thinking ahead to our next wave of late spring veggies. It is too early in my opinion for hot season crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. There is enough time to sneak in another quick set of radishes, leaf lettuce and maybe even some more small beets.

I walk around the garden and note the one-inch baby fig leaves. They look like minuscule green hands waving “Hello Sonoma.” I’m sure they have a good year ahead of them. Deep rich burgundy leaves are busting out of the dwarf Japanese maple. My new All-in-One almond tree inside the front courtyard hosts six fuzzy almonds. Who wouldn’t be excited about that? And the Asian pear and peach trees are loaded with pea-size balls. It seems a miracle that these hard spheres will grow into soft, delectable fruit. I can’t wait!

As always, the spring flowers entertain me greatly. I especially treasure the rich scent and the deep indigo of our native Ceanothus blossoms. I was crazy enough to sew ultra-prolific California poppies into my front yard a few years back. I am so in love with their shockingly orange blooms. Having a sad day? Look a California poppy in the face. You’ll be smiling soon.

I have spied ladybugs creeping about the foliage. Dark bumble bees hover among the ceanothus flowers. Even a few butterflies drift about. A pair of mourning doves are building a nest in the Southern magnolia tree. They careful in choosing just the right stem or twig for their avian cradle.

I am grateful for all the great small pleasures my garden gives me. I hope you are celebrating this beautiful spring as well.

Five favorite native California flowers

California poppy – Brilliant orange in spring and fades to yellow as it ages. This is a medicinal plant. Annual or perennial.

Blue Blossom/California Lilac – There are many species and cultivars but most are known for their deep blue, indigo or pale blue flowers. I especially love C. “Dark Star”. Evergreen shrubs and ground covers.

Fremontia/Flannel Bush – This large, sprawling shrub has fuzzy light olive-green leaves that can sometimes cause contact dermatitis. But the profusion of brilliant yellow flowers in late winter or early spring make up for that. Evergreen shrub.

Baby Blue Eyes – A lovely annual wildflower with 5 delicate blue petals and a white interior. Fleeting, delicate and memorable.

Shooting Stars – Another early season annual wildflower. Its form resembles a shooting star. Mostly magenta/pink in color. Prefers part shade to shady conditions.


— Karen Boness



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