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Oleander

Nerium 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 housing developments and along freeways in the 1960s and ‘70s, oleanders now seem to be seldom planted except by those who appreciate the dense screening provided by their lush evergreen foliage, their lengthy period of exuberant flowering, and their robust constitution.

Oleanders are astonishingly tolerant of drought, reflected heat, wind, salt spray, poor soil, neglect, severe pruning, and almost every other insult that can be directed their way. Other than full sun and occasional summer water until fully established (which can be five years or more), oleanders seem to have few requirements. One thing they cannot stand is prolonged freezing, although even from that they may quickly recover.

Forty years ago I planted oleanders in gardens I made for others.  Twenty-five years ago I planted them in my own garden as a screen between me and my neighbors. A dozen years ago I cut them to the ground and authorized their destruction by backhoe during a major garden renovation. They sprang up again and are still thriving.  Faced with such determination, who am I to say they cannot remain?

Native to or naturalized in warm temperate and subtropical areas from southern Europe and north Africa east to southwest Asia, oleanders are upright woody shrubs eight to ten feet tall and wide, although there are dwarf cultivars half that size and others that reach heights of eighteen to twenty feet.  All have long, narrow, lance-shaped leaves and funnel-shaped flowers in showy clusters at the ends of branches.  Flowers are pink, red, white, salmon, or yellow and some are lightly scented though, lacking nectar, they are not noticeably attractive to bees and butterflies.

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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Carpenteria

Gardeners who relish a bit of a challenge and delight in a smashing success probably already grow California’s native bush anemone (Carpenteria californica).This is a connoisseur’s plant, elegant and refined virtually year round and seasonally extravagant in its flowering. Where … 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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