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

13 05, 2021

Eucalyptus macrocarpa (mottlecah)

2021-05-13T17:27:49-07:00Categories: Blog, shrubs|Tags: , , |

With its large, tightly packed, silvery bluish white, mint-scented leaves and outsized, scarlet, pink, or rarely yellow flowers, this shrubby eucalyptus brings show-stopping drama to almost any summer-dry garden. Its features are decisively eucalypt, but its effect, especially at full height and in full bloom, is Alice-in-Wonderland. Eucalyptus macrocarpa can be pruned to maintain it at almost any size. Here it combines perfectly with Agave americana.   One of several Australian shrubs called desert mallee, mottlecah can reach eight to ten feet tall and wide, sometimes erratically upright but more often sprawling. Mallees are shrubby eucalypts native primarily

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 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,

28 07, 2017

Peeling Bark

2021-03-16T17:50:05-07:00Categories: Blog, trees|Tags: , , |

In a not uncommon response to summer-dry heat, a number of trees and shrubs shed their bark in the middle of the summer. Summertime bark break, manzanita (Arctostaphylos) In California, this exfoliation seems to happen almost instantly in madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and many species of manzanita (Arctostaphylos) with great delight to any observer who watches these natives with any regularity. One day a walk in the dry woods, the always beautiful red mahogany bark will be split open, as the bark rolls back and the girth expands just that much more.  In manzanita the bark will curl back

26 04, 2017

Oleander

2021-04-20T19:33:17-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: |

Nerium oleander Every so often it is worth reconsidering a once wildly popular plant that, apparently for no reason other than overexposure, has fallen completely out of favor. Agapanthus is one of those plants. Oleander (Nerium oleander) is certainly another. Overplanted in housing developments and along freeways in the 1960s and ‘70s, oleanders now seem to be seldom planted except by those who appreciate the dense screening provided by their lush evergreen foliage, their lengthy period of exuberant flowering, and their robust constitution. Oleanders are astonishingly tolerant of drought, reflected heat, wind, salt spray, poor soil, neglect, severe

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

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