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About Nora Harlow

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So far Nora Harlow has created 96 blog entries.
15 06, 2024

Roses for Summer-Dry Climates

2024-06-15T10:14:57-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, roses, Water|Tags: , , |

My grandmother, the wife of a southern California orange rancher, grew dozens of roses on a sizable plot set aside solely for this purpose and planted in grid formation like an orchard. I don’t know how much water she gave them, but in good water years, when the sluice gates were open for the citrus trees, I imagine she had access to plenty. In dry years, with the cash crop at risk, the roses likely received little or none. 'Madame Isaac Pereire', a fragrant, repeat-blooming, 19th century Bourbon rose Experienced gardeners know that many old roses can

17 05, 2024

Hummingbird Sage

2024-05-17T10:56:24-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , , |

Blooming from early spring well into summer, hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) is an easy and adaptable plant for summer-dry climates. This low, slowly spreading sage accepts sun or shade, almost any reasonably drained soil, and moderate, occasional, or no summer watering. It is an especially good candidate for dry shade. Salvia spathacea in flower in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Hummingbird sage is endemic to central and southern California, commonly found in sunny or shaded spots among oak woodland, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub in foothills and valleys not far from the coast. Summer-dormant if grown dry,

16 04, 2024

Salvia x ‘Bee’s Bliss’

2024-04-16T17:14:54-07:00Categories: Blog, groundcovers, Nora Harlow, subshrubs|Tags: , , , |

The groundcover salvia known as ‘Bee’s Bliss’ has been popular with gardeners and nursery professionals almost since its introduction in 1989 -- and for good reason. With so many excellent salvias in the trade today, there are others that are more powerfully scented or more conspicuously floriferous but few are as accommodating, reliable, and inherently useful in the mostly summer-dry garden. Salvia 'Bee's Bliss' This cultivar was discovered at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley and is believed to be a hybrid of Salvia leucophylla and S. sonomensis (or possibly S. clevelandii). ‘Bee’s Bliss’ stays

16 03, 2024

Ceanothus ‘Valley Violet’

2024-03-16T15:37:53-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, groundcovers, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

If you are looking for a groundcover that blooms reliably and profusely in early spring, looks good year-round with no cutting back, needs little or no supplemental water, is dense enough to keep down weeds, and is generally ignored by deer, you can hardly do better than Ceanothus ‘Valley Violet’. Its only requirements seem to be good drainage and just the right amount of sun. Ceanothus maritimus ‘Valley Violet’ at the University of California, Davis, Arboretum This is a selection of Ceanothus maritimus, which is endemic to coastal hills and bluffs in San Luis Obispo County, California. The

15 02, 2024

x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii: What’s in a Name?

2024-02-15T07:45:35-08:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, shrubs, trees|Tags: , , |

It’s a mouthful. x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii, the hybrid monkey hand tree, is the result of an intergeneric cross between the Mexican monkey hand tree, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon, native to Guatemala and adjacent parts of Mexico, and the flannelbush cultivar Fremontodendron ‘Pacific Sunset’. The latter is itself a cross between F. californicum, native primarily to California, and F. mexicanum, native to northern Baja California and adjacent parts of San Diego County. Distinctive flowers and leaves of x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii, hybrid monkey hand tree As are its parents, the hybrid monkey hand tree is best known for its distinctive flowers,

23 01, 2024

Some Mild-Winter Summer-Dry Sumacs

2024-01-23T15:36:18-08:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Sumacs are current or former members of the genus Rhus, notorious for those species that spread aggressively by suckers or by seed (e.g., staghorn sumac, African sumac) as well as for those that through mere touch can bring on a ferocious rash (poison ivy, poison oak). Yet there are well-behaved and beneficent sumacs too. Several of these are exceptionally fine shrubs native to mild-winter, summer-dry southern California, Mexico, and parts of the American southwest. Unlike most sumacs, these are evergreen. Rhus integrifolia, lemonadeberry or lemonade sumac Rhus integrifolia, lemonadeberry or lemonade sumac, is 8-10 feet tall and

22 12, 2023

Fruitless Olives?

2023-12-22T07:13:49-08:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, shrubs, trees|Tags: , , |

To aficionados of olives and olive oils planting fruitless olive trees may seem a pointless exercise. Yet there are good reasons to include these well-mannered trees and shrubs in summer-dry landscapes. Olives need little summer water and they blend well with other summer-dry plants. With a history going back thousands of years in the Mediterranean region and hundreds of years in summer-dry parts of the Americas, olive trees instantly evoke, on sight, nostalgic associations with sunny summer-dry lands. Fruitless olives do the same without the mess. Olea europaea 'Wilsonii' at Huntington Botanical Gardens Fruitless olives are cultivars

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