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29 06, 2022

Shrubby Tanoak

2022-06-29T13:42:15-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, shrubs, trees|Tags: , , , |

Tanoak or tanbark oak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. densiflorus) is a large evergreen tree with deep green, leathery, oblong leaves with prominent veins, sometimes wavy edges, and often toothed margins. The small, creamy white, late-spring flowers are held in showy clusters of narrow, stiffly upright or outstretched catkins. The leaves and flowers resemble those of American chestnut (Castanea americana) and the fruit is an oaklike acorn with a shallow, bristly cap. New leaves of shrubby tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides) Tanoaks are interesting and attractive at all times of year, but they are quite slow growing and they eventually

2 06, 2022

Matilija Poppy

2022-06-20T18:22:07-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , |

You will hear that Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) is hard to start and hard to stop, and to some extent this is true.  But if you plant this magnificent California native from one-gallon cans in late fall or early winter, and the spot you choose has excellent drainage (hillsides, mounds, raised beds), you should have self-sustaining plants by the second year. Plant carefully without disturbing the roots.  Water thoroughly at planting and weekly through the first summer.  The huge (4-6 inches across) white, crepe-papery flowers with bright yellow stamens each last about a week and then cleanly drop all their

8 05, 2022


2022-05-08T09:06:34-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , |

Tough little plants with a delicate appearance, sisyrinchiums are ideal for naturalizing in the garden. Members of the iris family, along with freesias, crocuses, and irises themselves, sisyrinchiums spread by rhizomes and by seed, cheerfully expanding their chosen territory, mingling with but usually not disturbing their larger neighbors. Flowers of Sisyrinchium bellum (western blue-eyed grass) Sisyrinchiums are easily recognized by their six-petaled, blue to bluish purple, yellow, or sometimes white flowers with bright yellow centers. Their linear to narrowly sword-shaped, green to bluish or grayish green leaves are basal, mostly upright, and overlapping at the base as is

18 04, 2022

Shrub Poppies

2022-04-18T17:31:33-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Unusual members of the poppy family, bush poppies (Dendromecon species) bear flowers and fruits that resemble those of the perennial California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) but on woody shrubs that can reach six to eight feet tall or more. Leathery, waxy, dark bluish gray-green leaves are a perfect foil for the glossy, bright yellow, saucer-shaped flowers. Flowers are followed by narrowly cylindrical seedpods that explode when dry, sending seed several feet in all directions. Dendromecon harfordii Dendromecon rigida, bush poppy, is native to dry slopes and rocky washes in coastal mountains of California and northern Baja California, with some

5 04, 2022

Oaks for Small Gardens

2022-04-05T17:17:43-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, trees|Tags: , , , |

Native oaks are larval hosts for more kinds of butterflies than most other plants, and caterpillars are the primary food that nesting birds can feed their young. This makes oaks one of the best choices for supporting butterfly and bird populations and encouraging both to make their homes in your garden. Quercus durata, leather oak Where does that leave those whose gardens are too small for a full-sized oak? At maturity, most oaks become large to very large trees. California's valley oak, Quercus lobata, is the largest North American oak, in time reaching 75-100 feet tall and 30-50

15 03, 2022

Mule’s Ears

2022-03-15T10:22:16-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , , |

Every bit as cheerful as the better known annual sunflowers, the eight to a dozen species of Wyethia, or mule's ears, are low-growing perennials native to dry slopes, seasonally moist meadows, and woodland or forest openings in much of western North America. Most are 1-3 feet tall, with a loose rosette of large, broadly lance-shaped to oval, green or sometimes gray-green leaves and bright yellow sunflowers in late spring and early summer. Deciduous and dormant in winter, they reliably reappear as days lengthen in early spring. Wyethia angustifolia These are excellent plants for pollinators and other wildlife, attracting

19 02, 2022

Ornamental Currants and Gooseberries

2022-02-19T05:28:23-08:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Although usually grown for their exquisite flowers, ornamental currants and gooseberries are ideal components of habitat gardens that provide year-round sustenance for wildlife. As some of the first shrubs to flower wherever they are found, they are important sources of early-season nourishment for hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators. Their leaves are food for the caterpillars of butterflies and moths that support the offspring of nesting birds. And their fruits, well, let's just say they're gone almost before the gardener has a chance to sample them. Ribes sanguineum, red- or pink-flowering currant Currants and gooseberries both belong to the

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