Shown here in May, the native Bush anemone gives several weeks of bloom in late spring. It is actually a rare species, growing only in a few sites in Fresno and Madera counties. But growers of native plants have popularized it for California gardens. Unlike many natives, it is not fussy about soil and can tolerate regular watering, but is also tolerant of drought.
Ok, it's not native here, but it is native over on the northwest coast. Mahonia has bright yellow flowers in winter, edible fruit that attracts songbirds, and tolerates drought or watering, sun or shade. Prickly leaves resemble holly. This original species is tall and rangy, but new forms have more compact growth habit, shinier leaves, coppery new growth, and more abundant bloom.
Can you see why it's called Fried-egg flower? Matilija poppy is the other common name of this Southern California native. A big (up to 8 feet tall!), spreading, somewhat coarse-looking plant with flowers that bob above the foliage in summer. Easy, tough, moderately invasive, tolerant of watering or drought.
Worley describes these as "painted icy pink and white flowers" on red-violet stems. Another profuse bloomer in the sun-loving, drought-tolerant Salvia greggii group.
Yellow is the holy grail of Salvia breeders, and this is the closest yet. Suncrest Nurseries describes it as "very compact" to 18 inches, which makes it a low growing shrub in this group.
Patrick Worley, the breeder at Suncrest Nurseries who introduced this describes it as a "greggii type" to about 2 feet tall and wide. These lighter colors stand out nicely against the dark green foliage. A plant will have 30- 50 flowers at a time during autumn.
For many years, the annual Scarlet sage was the best-known member of Salvia. These showy flowers are planted in spring, bloom through fall, and then die with frost. But the blooms are non-stop and they attract hummingbirds as readily as their perennial and shrubby cousins.