WHAT TO PLANT
Baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and five-spot (Nemophila maculata): Blue and white flowers, shade tolerant, pretty in containers. Grows to 10 inches.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense bellum): Actually a mini-iris and perennial, this early- to mid-spring bloomer should be started in a pot; otherwise, it's likely to be weeded out with crab grass. Does well along paths and borders in semi-shade with other native irises. Can tolerate full sun but will burn up midsummer. Cut it back and wait for it to return in the winter. Grows to 6 inches.
California goldfield (Lasthenia californica): Bright yellow show, good for butterflies. Grows 6 to 12 inches.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica): The state flower is an early bloomer with repeat blossoms through fall. Typically annuals but can perennialize for two seasons. Brilliant orange; hybrid in white and second blossoms in yellow. Combine with almost any other wildflower. Attracts bees. Grows 8 to 12 inches.
Chinese house (Collinsia heterophylla): White and purple flowers. "California Native Plants for the Garden" authors recommend combining them with poppies and bunch grasses. Commercial seed mixes can result in spotty germination, stranding an occasional beauty queen in masses of poppies and flax. Grows 6 to 15 inches.
Globe gilia, or blue thimble flower (Gilia capitata): Blue flowers with bright green leaves. Combine with poppies and tidytips. Attracts bees. Grows 6 to 24 inches.
Tidytip (Layia platyglossa): Early bloomers. Yellow daisy-like flowers. Superb butterfly plant. Combine with globe gilia and lupine. Usually grows 6 to 12 inches but can reach 2 feet.
Medium to tall:
Arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus): Blue flowers, early bloomers. Superb for caterpillars, bees and hummingbirds. Don't bother planting if you have snails; these flowers are caviar to gastropods. Grows 24 to 36 inches.
California aster (Lessingia filaginifolia): Perennial shrub with handsome, dirty-pink flowers. Terrific butterfly plants and valuable as late-season bloomers. Hybrid 'Silver Carpet' praised by "California Native Plants" authors for silvery foliage and ability to hug ground in a broad mat. Grows 12 to 36 inches.
California desert bluebell (Phacelia campanularia) and tansy leaf phacelia, also called wild heliotrope (Phacelia tanacetifolia): Essential for gardeners who love blue, deep, dark blue and lavender flowers. Bluebell grows 6 to 18 inches; tansy leaf phacelia usually grows 24 to 36 inches.
Elegant tarweed, or common madia (Madia elegans): Yellow daisy-like flowers. Exceptional stamina, late bloom, important for butterflies. Grows 6 inches to 3 feet.
Farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena): Stunning pink flowers. Superb late bloomer. Leave them to dry out and spill their seeds as elegiac salutes to summer. Grows 12 to 24 inches.
Red monkey flower (Mimulus puniceus) and other monkey flowers: perennial shrub, hummingbird favorite. Most grow 1 to 5 feet.
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus): Rises 2 to 5 feet with branching stems and blooms that repeat through autumn. Plant away from irrigation.