A perfect example is the plethora of lupine that tend to hug roadsides in dense mats of low purple flowers. These are the annual species that thrive on moisture trapped beneath the paving. It seeps out in the gravelly shoulders long after rain ceases to fall. This virtually infertile verge catches all the seed to create incredibly dense annual lupine displays flanking pavement.
Another example are cliff faces where these annual lupine show up in extreme conditions. As ephemeral annuals, seed washes down the cliff face with rain to catch in the nooks and crannies. Here they will germinate along with native monkey-flower. After maturing they leave seed to grow next year.
Consider growing the big inland native sub-shrub, Lupinus albifrons, or silver lupine. They thrive on hot alluvial slopes or road base and decomposed granite on the steepest inclines imaginable. These root deeply into the granular base for anchorage and moisture deeper inside the hillside. These perennials show they enjoy porous ground that keeps them properly wet and dry, with nothing but rainfall to become established.
Along the coast the best perennial is Lupinus arboreus, which offers a similar plant that adapts to fog and maritime conditions. Such a perennial is ideal for post fire mudslide zones as well as burned over sites north of Los Angeles.
Mixed lupine wildflower seed can be distributed by hand over any site to assist in revegetation. Not only will the annuals thrive in burned over earth, they may self sow and begin a permanent colony. However, depending on rainfall, the germination rates can be altered by too much or too little moisture at critical times.
Plant perennial lupine from small, nursery grown specimens as soon as the ground can be worked this spring. Give them plenty of sun and a well drained site to lift your blues and prepare for the long rebuilding period to come.
Maureen Gilmer is an author, horticulturist and landscape designer. Learn more at www.MoPlants.com