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19 01, 2022

Leucadendrons for the Garden

2022-01-22T05:13:41-08:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Familiar to many as a knockout component of floral arrangements, leucadendrons are every bit as impressive in the garden. Most are best grown where winters are mild, soils are acidic, and excellent to perfect drainage can be provided, but some are less fussy than others. Dozens of these South African endemics are native to varied habitats, from damp coastal flats to frosty mountain slopes and from the summer-dry Western Cape to summer-rainfall KwaZulu-Natal. Leucadendron 'Little Bit', a hybrid of L. salignum and L. discolor, is a delicate offset here to the bold blue leaves of Agave americana  Most leucadendrons

5 01, 2022

Aloe arborescens

2022-01-05T08:23:53-08:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, shrubs, succulents|Tags: , , |

There is nothing timid about Aloe arborescens. At six to eight feet tall and at least that wide, with multiple, densely packed rosettes of thick, succulent, bluish gray-green leaves, this adaptable, shrubby aloe takes the stage wherever it is planted. Native to summer-rainfall southeastern Africa, the torch aloe, as it is often called, also thrives in mild-winter, summer-dry climates. Aloe arborescens Not content to dominate by size alone, in winter this aloe sends forth upright spikes of intensely red or red-orange, tubular flowers that rise two feet above the leaves. A mature plant with dozens of flowering spikes

1 12, 2021

Evergreen Euphorbias

2021-12-02T05:53:08-08:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, perennials, subshrubs|Tags: , , |

It may seem surprising that evergreen euphorbias aren't used more often in commercial and public landscapes, where year-round good looks and ease of maintenance are so highly valued. Euphorbia characias (Mediterranean spurge) All of these evergreen subshrubs have fairly predictable shapes and sizes, a neat, almost architectural habit, and extraordinary color combinations that both offset and complement many other plants. Although the floral show is a spring and summertime event, the sculptural quality of the leaves and stems makes evergreen euphorbias especially effective in the winter garden. Perhaps the failure to include the shrubby euphorbias in commercially maintained

6 11, 2021

Cyclamen for the Garden

2021-11-15T16:09:31-08:00Categories: Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , |

Cyclamen in supermarkets, their plastic pots wrapped gaily in shiny paper, are as emblematic of winter as are poinsettias of Christmas and red roses of Valentine's Day. We can perhaps be forgiven for thinking of cyclamen as short-lived decorations to be discarded after flowering since that is how these charming little plants are usually marketed. Cyclamen hederifolium Supermarket cyclamen are mostly highly bred, frost-tender cultivars of Cyclamen persicum, a winter- and spring-flowering species native to the summer-dry eastern Mediterranean region. These cultivars are commonly grown as seasonal houseplants and are known as florists' cyclamen to distinguish them from

17 08, 2021

Ornamental Alliums

2021-08-17T17:05:33-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

I've always loved the delicate little alliums native to the west coast of North America and have long ignored the larger Mediterranean and Asian species, especially their highly bred, look-at-me cultivars, as just too formal or artificial-looking for my laid-back, mostly summer-dry garden. Allium unifolium, native to coastal mountains from southern Oregon to northern Baja California But, in much the same way that yellow flowers come to be appreciated by maturing gardeners as the youthful obsession with pinks and lavenders gives way, plants once considered unsuitable may eventually be seen as welcome counterpoints. Allium aflatunense seedheads and

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,

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