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Peeling Bark

In a not uncommon response to summer-dry heat, a number of trees and shrubs shed their bark in the middle of the summer.

Summertime bark break, Manzanita, Arctostaphylos

In California, this exfoliation seems to happen almost instantly in Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and many species of Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) with great delight to any observer who watches these natives with any regularity.

One day a walk in the dry woods, the always beautiful red-mahogany bark will be split open, as the bark rolls back and the girth expanding just that much more.  In manzanita the bark will curl back in neat tight curlers.

Manzanita – Summertime Bark break, exfoliating

Madrone seems to come off in ribbons.

Madrone, Arbutus menziesii – Summertime bark break

Both of these genus are well adapted to summer-dry conditions but one must be careful to match the right species to the right microclimates. Manzanita are native to many parts of California and gardeners would do well to check with local nurseries, or if you are lucky enough to be in California, check in with your local native plant society chapter to find the best ones.

In nature Madrone are found in dry sloping conditions often in the company of taller Bay and Oak trees, and usually need just the right soil mycorrhizal relationships to thrive.  Gardeners might consider the Arbutus unedo, a mediterranean native, more adapted to garden conditions.  The bark is lovely and the large fruit are highly ornamental but you don’t get the exploding bark.

Madrone – Summertime bark break

Oleander

Every so often it is worth reconsidering a once wildly popular plant that, apparently for no reason other than overexposure, has fallen completely out of favor. Agapanthus is one of those plants. Oleander (Nerium oleander) is certainly another. Overplanted in … Continue reading

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Deer grass

Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is a fine-textured bunchgrass with erect to gracefully arching grayish green leaves to three feet tall and four feet wide and a haze of tawny or silvery gray mid-summer flowers on stems that rise two feet … Continue reading

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Pittosporums

Pittosporums are a large group of tough and adaptable evergreen shrubs or smallish trees native to subtropical and tropical Australasia, Africa, and Asia and grown in warm temperate climates throughout the world.  Most are fairly fast growing in full sun … Continue reading

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Newsletter 2 February 2017

This is the second newsletter since Summer-Dry was launched two years ago, so those of you who might have been looking for this update expecting news have not missed anything directly, though there have been about 40 plant descriptions posted to … Continue reading

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Is The Drought Over ?

It has been raining like crazy in California this winter.  Or rather, it has ben raining like a normal winter. In a summer-dry climate we expect it to be winter wet. But is the California drought over ? Here is … Continue reading

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Pacific wax myrtle

Pacific wax myrtle (Myrica californica) is a tall, dense evergreen shrub, perfect as a backdrop for any garden large enough to accommodate it.  Fast-growing, adaptable, and good looking year round, this is a fine choice for informal hedges, windbreaks, and … Continue reading

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5 thoughts on “Blog

    • it does – look good.
      I was going to add you to Feedly, but not sure if you will be adding new posts?

      I’ve been following GIMCW’s idea of small m mediterranean, as I garden in South Africa’s Southwestern Cape fynbos.

      • Thanks Diana – Delighted to have you drop by from the fynbos! We will soon be adding Nora Harlow as editor to add more blog posts and plant information. Stay tuned….

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