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11 06, 2021

Embracing Wildness and Change

2021-06-12T07:30:06-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

It is possible that the most life-negating aspect of modern landscapes is the whole idea of landscape maintenance. Landscape maintenance implies -- no, insists -- that landscapes must be maintained as originally designed, whatever the costs and losses. A lightly maintained meadow garden in California In the service of what is called maintenance, most residential front yards and almost all commercial landscapes are forced into compliance, preserving the outlines of their original design but with virtually no sign of life. Shrubs considered too large or wrongly shaped are brutally distorted. Weeds and “bugs” are sprayed with pesticides. Soil,

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

16 04, 2017

Deer grass

2021-04-20T19:42:41-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, grasses, Nora Harlow|Tags: , |

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 above the foliage. Muhlenbergia rigens (deer grass) Native to many plant communities throughout much of California south and east to New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, this adaptable grass prefers some moisture but can go all summer without irrigation if winter rains have been sufficient. Occasional summer water may keep plants nearly evergreen. Easy and fast-growing in full sun

6 01, 2017

Pacific wax myrtle

2017-04-17T22:55:30-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, shrubs|Tags: , |

Myrica californica as a tall privacy hedge 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 privacy screens. You will hear that Pacific wax myrtle can be sheared as a formal hedge, but don’t do it. Shearing destroys the natural grace of the glossy green leaves, which are long and narrow, softly serrated, and elegantly displayed on multiple upright stems. If you find its height of 12

24 10, 2016

Carpenteria

2017-04-17T22:59:59-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, shrubs|Tags: , |

Carpenteria californica 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 it is happy — and there’s the catch — it is surprisingly easy to grow. This splendid multi-stemmed shrub is grown mostly for its impressive early to midsummer display of large, glistening white, lightly fragrant, simple but showy flowers with bright yellow stamens. Carpenteria is evergreen, with long, narrow, somewhat leathery, dark green leaves that are

17 05, 2016

Agave parryi

2017-04-17T22:56:23-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, succulents|Tags: , |

Agave parryi Agave parryi is quite variable, some forms or varieties an ethereal blue-gray, others a silvery gray-green, some with leaves that are broad and rather blunt on top, others with narrower and more elongated leaves.  But all are elegantly symmetrical, and all bear leaves with distinctive dark brown to maroon to almost black marginal teeth and an equally dark, viciously sharp terminal spine. Agave parryi grows fairly slowly to about two to three feet tall and wide, and most spread by offshoots or “pups.”  As the plant grows the leaves open from a tightly packed central core,

15 03, 2016

Coffeeberry

2017-04-17T22:57:32-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Frangula californica (Rhamnus californica) California coffeeberry (Frangula californica, formerly Rhamnus californica) is a handsome evergreen shrub with significant wildlife habitat value.  Low and spreading to tall and upright, coffeeberry is an excellent candidate for the summer-dry garden. Coffeeberry can grow to ten feet tall or more and eight or more feet wide, but some varieties are only four to six feet tall and others are mounding groundcovers.  All have substantial dark green to olive green leaves, gray-green beneath, inconspicuous greenish yellow flowers, and copious berries loved by birds and other wildlife. Berries turn from lime green to red

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