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21 09, 2021

Wild Buckwheats

2021-09-21T19:38:43-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, groundcovers, perennials, shrubs|Tags: , , , |

What could be more emblematic of the summer-dry/winter wet, semi-arid, and arid climates of western North America than the wild buckwheats? Annuals, perennials, and low to medium or tall shrubs, one or more species of Eriogonum is native from western Canada to Baja California and throughout much of the intermountain west. More than 100 species are native to California, from seaside cliffs to rocky alpine outcrops. Eriogonum grande var. rubescens Most of the buckwheats commonly available to gardeners are shrubs or shrubby perennials with green to gray-green or silvery gray leaves and masses of tiny flowers in small,

23 07, 2021

The Carbon Capture Garden

2021-07-23T17:07:40-07:00Categories: Blog, carbon capture, grasses, Nora Harlow, perennials, shrubs, trees|

Carbon capture is widely viewed as a promising means of slowing global warming by reducing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, one of a number of gases responsible for trapping heat and warming the earth’s surface. Carbon dioxide produced by industrial processes can be captured at its source and injected underground. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is naturally taken up by plants, which transform the gas into a form that can be stabilized and stored in soil. Carbon capture is maximized by a diverse planting of deeply rooted trees, shrubs, and perennials, minimally pruned, with no pesticides and soil left undisturbed as

21 07, 2021

Teucriums Are Deer-Proof Too

2021-07-24T12:44:58-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, perennials|

Those of us with unfenced gardens adjacent to wildlands usually learn the hard way which plants are ignored by browsing deer and which, without special protections, are not. It may seem that our choices in plants are rather limited, but lush and lovely deer-resistant gardens can be made. Madeira germander (Teucrium betonicum, in flower) with sages and santolina Perhaps the widest range of deer-resistant options for summer-dry climates lies within the Lamiaceae, or mint family, which includes among its more than two hundred genera many plants that are widely used in gardens where summers are dry -- salvia,

17 06, 2021

Lion’s Tail

2021-06-18T11:29:54-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , |

Some plants just naturally bring out the child in all of us, and lion's tail (Leonotis leonurus) is surely one of them. The whorled clusters of softly woolly yet spiky-looking, neon orange flowers can look almost cartoonish --a caricature of flowers-- spaced out along emphatically upright, six- or even eight-foot stems. Leonotis leonurus in full bloom in the San Francisco Botanical Garden Of the nine to twelve or more recognized species of Leonotis, only lion's tail, a perennial or subshrub endemic to eastern South Africa, is reliably available in nurseries. Lion's ear (L. nepetifolia), an annual native from

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

26 09, 2016

Perovskia

2016-09-27T19:44:04-07:00Categories: Blog, perennials|Tags: |

Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a deciduous woody perennial or subshrub with strongly scented gray-green leaves, silvery gray mostly upright stems, and masses of tiny lavender-blue to deep blue flowers on tall spikes from summer through fall. A fine-textured plant two or three feet tall and wide with an open, airy habit, perovskia is content in full sun with only occasional deep summer watering.  It thrives in almost any soil type, including clay, but must have decent drainage; it sulks and rots where drainage is poor, especially in rainy winters. Native to rocky steppes of southwestern

3 07, 2016

Hesperaloe

2016-09-27T19:47:48-07:00Categories: Blog, perennials|Tags: |

Hesperaloe parviflora Hesperaloe parviflora is a handsome architectural plant, as effective singly in large pots as in mass plantings geometrically arranged in the ground.  It is equally pleasing in a naturalistic mixture of succulents, grasses, or other dry-garden plants. An evergreen plant with long, narrow, gracefully arching foliage, hesperaloe grows three to four feet tall and spreads six or more feet wide by rosettes so closely spaced that they seem to be part of the same plant.  The leathery dark green leaves are spineless with distinctive white threadlike fibers along the margins.  Sprays of pink or pinkish coral

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