One of my favorite things about this time of year is for a few short weeks, my Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) and Bog Salvia (Salvia uliginosa) are in bloom at the same time.
Pineapple sage can pretty much deal. Drought tolerant, heat tolerant, grows in clay soil… And it gets nice and big: 5’x’5. The leaves smell like pineapples. The red flowers start at the very end of summer and last all fall.
Bog salvia likes a lot of water (and Pineapple sage happily adapts). It can get to be 6′ tall but probably not more than 3′ wide. The cool thing that I’ve discovered is that it will flow in around your other plants and you get this beautiful effect of the blue flowers weaving in through other flowers or foliage.
These are growing in a raised bed where they have completely filled in around a lemon tree, a rosebush, and a columnar apple tree. I cut them both down almost to the ground the first week of the year when I prune my roses and don’t touch them the rest of the year. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them both.
Water Dog Lake Park is a beautiful, secluded, wooded canyon with several miles of trails. There’s a wide main trail and several smaller side trails with oaks, eucalyptus, California buckeye – and it’s right in the middle of Belmont. Which you would never know when you are down on the trail. Lots of dogs, hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and the occasional rattlesnake and very occasional mountain lion. (Yes, really – one year a mountain lion and her almost grown cub kept wandering up out of the canyon and to my children’s middle school.) About half a mile down the main trail is a lake where dogs can swim (and afterwards roll in the dirt). Apparently, these are not the water dogs for which this park is named. The lake is home to a barking salamander that is called both Water Dog and Mud Puppy.
Important to note: limited parking and no bathrooms. Here’s a trail map: http://www.belmont.gov/Upload/Document/D240001116/OpenSpaceTrailMap2005.pdf
Crane Creek Regional Park could be my favorite hike in California. It’s a beautiful little jewel of a park with 128 acres and about 3 1/2 miles of trails. It’s not especially challenging, just gentle rolling hills. This is the California landscape I love – Oaks, California Bays, Buckeyes, and acres of golden grass. The park allows dogs on leash, and horses.