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About Nora Harlow

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So far Nora Harlow has created 60 blog entries.
20 04, 2021

Mendocino Reed Grass

2021-04-20T16:37:56-07:00Categories: California Native, grasses, Nora Harlow|

Commonly known as Mendocino or leafy reed grass, Calamagrostis foliosa is usually described as having blue-green or gray-green leaves with seasonal tints of purplish red, but that's not how it presents itself in my garden. Calamagrostis foliosa flowering in California garden This cool-season bunchgrass is worth growing not for the color of its fine-textured leaves, which for me emerge a rather dull green and remain so throughout the seasons. I grow it for its manageable size, its pleasingly symmetrical form, and the improbably long-lasting, greenish white flowers that remain neatly arrayed on arching stems as they age to

9 04, 2021

Living with Wildfire

2021-04-20T16:40:00-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow|

The goal of "firewise" landscaping is to reduce the intensity of fire and slow its advance as it nears the house. The basic principles are simple and few. Harden the target by making the house as resistant to fire as possible. Keep the area next to the house free of anything that will burn. Design and maintain planted areas farther out to provide no continuous path for fire to reach the house or move up into the tops of trees. Retain sufficient vegetation to buffer the house from airborne embers. Low plantings and concrete patio next to house reduce

19 03, 2021

Weeding in Summer-Dry, Winter-Wet Clay

2021-04-02T08:05:54-07:00Categories: Blog, weeds|Tags: , , |

Where winters are wet, summers are dry, and soils consist of any appreciable amount of clay, the difference between too wet and too dry to weed is barely perceptible. In some years there may be only a few days when the soil is dry enough to walk on without compaction, when weeds come out of the ground without resistance, and when the earliest weeds have yet to set seed. If you miss those days, well, I guess there's always next year. Invasive oxalis (Oxalis pes-caprae) and advancing Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) mix inextricably with fortnight lily (Dietes grandiflora) in

16 03, 2021

Learning to Love Lomandras

2021-03-23T16:15:42-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, perennials|Tags: , |

I long resisted the siren call of lomandras as these evergreen, grasslike plants increasingly appeared in highly regimented commercial landscapes and city medians. They are, after all, decidedly not native to North America's Pacific coast, the flower spikes are often disturbingly spiny-looking and messily ungrasslike, and the most commonly seen lomandras can seem too perfect in both form and color to be real. Lomandra longifolia Watching these plants develop into full form over several years, I searched for incipient tendencies to spread, to flop, or to lose their attractive form or color. Nowhere did they change much over

25 02, 2021

Rosemary

2021-03-23T20:17:06-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, shrubs|Tags: , |

In our continual search for new and unusual plants for our gardens we tend to forget, or to reflexively dismiss, the old, reliable standbys. Rosemary needs no care, has no "down" season, and can last for decades. It is quite content to play a supporting role in any garden scheme and it comes in varied heights and habits. Salvia rosmarinus Prostratus Group cascades over walls There are prostrate or cascading rosemaries as well as upright forms of many sizes. Flower color varies from pale or bright blue to pinkish lavender or even almost white. The fine-textured, intensely fragrant,

16 02, 2021

Wildland Invaders and Garden Thugs

2021-04-20T19:21:23-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, weeds|Tags: , |

Plants that readily establish themselves in wildlands, on vacant city lots, and along rural roadsides typically are adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. They are long lived, self-sow readily, and produce many flowers over a long season. Some bear abundant crops of fruit loved by birds and other wildlife. In other words, some of the same sorts of plants we seek out for our gardens are those most likely to take over and spread. Echium candicans, Pride of Madeira, in a California garden Most plants are not invasive in wildlands or even weedy in gardens. Many

27 01, 2021

The Many Faces of Summer-Dry

2021-02-16T06:16:26-08:00Categories: Blog, Climate|Tags: , |

Summer-dry climates are not dry climates. They are climates where rain falls mostly in winter. This is not a common arrangement. In most of the world, rain falls in summer or is fairly well distributed year round. Summer-dry climates are usually found on the west coasts of continents in the mid-latitudes where seasonally shifting atmospheric pressure cells block or open up to the jet stream and its storms. The photo above shows a coastal northern California climate in summer. The photo below shows a similar coastal northern California climate in winter or spring. Summer-dry climates vary considerably from one place

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