Because many California natives go summer-dormant without supplemental water, there's a little joke that still makes the rounds in California horticultural circles: if you want to plant natives, you better learn to like the color brown. But anyone who enjoyed this year's Bringing Back the Natives Tour in Contra Costa and Alameda counties was treated to a bevy of blooms in colors ranging from richly-hued blues to brilliant oranges and baby-soft pinks. Here are a few of the perennials and annuals that really caught my eye. And for those not ready to take the plunge into an all-native garden, many of these blend beautifully with a traditional garden, as long as they have some drainage and aren't overwatered in the summer.
Foothills Penstemon - Penstemon heterophyllus 'Margarita BOP'
Apricot Mallow - Sphaeralcea ambigua
Yellowray Goldfields - Lasthenia glabrata
California Poppy - Escholzia californica 'Apricot Chiffon'
Baby Blue Eyes - Nemophila menziesii
Sticky Monkey Flower - Mimulus
Pink Califonia Poppies, Blue Penstemon and Yellow Monkey Flower
Wind Poppy - Stylomecon heterophylla
Interested in learning more? The next tour is a year away, but California Native Plants for the Garden and Designing California Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens are still the gold standards for beginners and experienced native gardeners alike.