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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.

31 01, 2023

April Showers Bring May Flowers — Or Do They?

2024-06-27T19:37:45-07:00Categories: Blog, Climate, Nora Harlow|Tags: , |

If it seems that some of your trees or shrubs are leafing out or flowering early these days, it may be so. One of the most commonly observed effects of global warming is early onset of these usually reliable signs of approaching spring. Ceanothus maritimus ‘Valley Violet’ usually blooms in early spring. The species is native to coastal bluffs of San Luis Obispo County, California. We know that global warming is not just something that will happen in the future. It’s happening now, has been for decades, and the speed of change is accelerating. According to the

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

23 10, 2022

Ginkgo

2024-06-27T19:33:27-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, shrubs, trees|

My neighbor's ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) is coloring up again, bright yellow now, headed for screaming saffron. I don't know why it still surprises me, this always welcome yet somehow unnerving contrast against the dark green coast live oaks and bays that dominate my garden. This ginkgo was planted more than thirty years and three neighbors ago and its fall transformation still takes me by surprise. Fall colors of Ginkgo biloba in the San Francisco Botanical Garden Usually planted for its stunning fall color, Ginkgo biloba is attractive and interesting at any time of year. Long-lived

30 09, 2022

Scented Geraniums

2024-06-27T19:33:26-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, subshrubs|Tags: , |

Plants commonly known as scented geraniums are species and cultivars of the genus Pelargonium with especially fragrant leaves. Most pelargoniums have at least lightly aromatic leaves, but some are grown primarily for their fragrance. Minty, fruity, spicy, nutty, lemony, or other distinctive aromas are released when leaves are touched or bruised. Pelargonium 'Orsett', with mint-scented leaves, cascades over rocks and walls Scented geraniums are small, tender, fast-growing, semi-woody subshrubs native to summer-dry, winter-wet climates of southern Africa. They are easily grown where winters are mild and where, if summers are hot, some afternoon shade can be

12 07, 2022

Island Morning Glory

2024-06-27T19:33:23-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, vines|Tags: , , |

There aren't many vines native to California, and few are truly evergreen. Fewer still are both evergreen and vigorous enough to cover a good-sized arbor or trellis. Calystegia macrostegia (coastal or island morning glory) is one that really fills the bill. It may drop leaves in summer if grown dry, but a little supplemental water or summer fog is enough to keep it green and growing near the coast. And vigorous? You may have to hold it back. Widely flaring flowers of Calystegia macrostegia tend to close by late afternoon or on cloudy days. The species is

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