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Descriptions with photos of garden plants suitable for summer-dry gardens.

5 10, 2023

Seaside Daisy

2024-06-27T19:37:53-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials, subshrubs|Tags: , , , |

Erigeron glaucus, the aptly named seaside daisy, is an herbaceous perennial or subshrub with composite flowerheads that blanket the plant from spring into fall. Native to coastal bluffs and dunes from northern Oregon south to Santa Barbara County, California, its flowers are wildly popular with bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Erigeron glaucus (seaside daisy) The species is somewhat variable. Habit ranges from a nearly flat mat to a mound more than two feet tall. The semi-succulent leaves can be grayish green, dark green, or bright green and broadly lance-shaped to oval, spoon-shaped, or spatulate, often with wavy

18 07, 2023

Lotus hirsutus

2024-06-27T19:37:51-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, perennials, subshrubs|Tags: , , |

Most longtime gardeners know this low, velvety, gray-leaved subshrub as Dorycnium hirsutum, by which name it is still often referenced today. Described by Linnaeus as Lotus hirsutus, it was recently returned to that genus, but the name change has been slow to receive wide acceptance. Lotus hirsutus (Dorycnium hirsutum) with Aloe striata in Ruth Bancroft Garden Assuming that the plants I’ve seen and grown over the years are all the same species, Lotus hirsutus seems to be quite variable. The plants in my garden today are mostly upright and mounding, two feet tall and three to four

19 06, 2023

Cedros Island Verbena

2024-06-27T19:37:50-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, perennials, subshrubs|Tags: , , |

Cedros Island verbena puts on quite a show. Tiny, five-petaled, star-shaped flowers with a faintly sweet-spicy fragrance are tightly packed into round-topped, inch-wide clusters. Clusters are continuously refreshed as older flowers discreetly disappear and new buds open at the tips of short spikes. The small, deeply divided, bright green leaves on wispy-looking but sturdy stems lend a delicate, almost lacy effect. Glandularia lilacina 'De La Mina' flowering with muhlenbergia and ceanothus Cedros Island verbena (Glandularia lilacina) was formerly known as Verbena lilacina and is still popularly known by and marketed under that name. The plant is native

18 05, 2023

Agave striata

2024-06-27T19:37:49-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, succulents|Tags: , |

There is a place in almost every garden for the calming effect of architectural or sculptural plants. These provide vivid contrast in texture and form to the blowsy, undisciplined character of many of our favorite perennials and shrubs. Some are grasses, some are yuccas, some are dasylirions, and many are agaves. Agave striata, with the common name of narrow-leaved century plant, is a distinctive example. Agave striata with Yucca baccata (behind) and Yucca parryi var. truncata (in front) Agave striata is a fairly small plant, two to three feet tall and wide, with a spherical rosette of

13 03, 2023

Bulbines and Bulbinellas

2024-06-27T19:37:47-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , |

It is perhaps not surprising that bulbines and bulbinellas are often mistaken for one another. Both form clumps or rosettes of grasslike or straplike basal leaves and both bear tiny, star-shaped, yellow, orange, or white flowers in cylindrical or cone-shaped clusters atop tall stems. Most of both genera are native to South Africa with a few bulbines from Australia and a few bulbinellas from New Zealand. Bulbine latifolia has succulent leaves resembling an aloe without spines There are, however, significant differences between the two that may affect how they are used in the garden. Almost all bulbines

21 02, 2023

Helleborus 101

2024-06-27T19:37:46-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , |

It might seem that hellebores are for expert gardeners and collectors only and a few of them are. The rest may look delicate, fussy, and difficult to grow but are quite amenable to cultivation in a fairly wide range of soils and situations. Hellebores, especially species but also many of the hundreds of cultivars, lend a connoisseur’s cachet to gardens in summer-dry parts of the world. Helleborus orientalis, beautiful in its own right, is the main parent of many hybrids If you are a newcomer to hellebores, there are several things it might be helpful to know.

14 01, 2023

Ferns for Summer-Dry Climates

2024-06-27T19:37:43-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, ferns, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

Guaranteed to lift your spirits on the dreariest of winter days, summer-dormant Polypodium californicum (California polypody) appears suddenly with the first fall rains, remains a lustrous bright green until mid-spring, and then just as suddenly dies back to the ground leaving barely a trace. Polypodium californicum in University of California, Berkeley, Botanical Garden Native to coastal California and northern Baja California, Polypodium californicum is usually found in shaded canyons, on streambanks and north-facing slopes, and on rocky cliffs and bluffs within or near the summer-fog zone. A volunteer in my northern California garden, it has reappeared reliably

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