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Some of our favorite plants and gardens for summer-dry climates.

16 03, 2024

Ceanothus ‘Valley Violet’

2024-03-16T15:37:53-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, groundcovers, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

If you are looking for a groundcover that blooms reliably and profusely in early spring, looks good year-round with no cutting back, needs little or no supplemental water, is dense enough to keep down weeds, and is generally ignored by deer, you can hardly do better than Ceanothus ‘Valley Violet’. Its only requirements seem to be good drainage and just the right amount of sun. Ceanothus maritimus ‘Valley Violet’ at the University of California, Davis, Arboretum This is a selection of Ceanothus maritimus, which is endemic to coastal hills and bluffs in San Luis Obispo County, California. The

15 02, 2024

x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii: What’s in a Name?

2024-02-15T07:45:35-08:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, shrubs, trees|Tags: , , |

It’s a mouthful. x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii, the hybrid monkey hand tree, is the result of an intergeneric cross between the Mexican monkey hand tree, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon, native to Guatemala and adjacent parts of Mexico, and the flannelbush cultivar Fremontodendron ‘Pacific Sunset’. The latter is itself a cross between F. californicum, native primarily to California, and F. mexicanum, native to northern Baja California and adjacent parts of San Diego County. Distinctive flowers and leaves of x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii, hybrid monkey hand tree As are its parents, the hybrid monkey hand tree is best known for its distinctive flowers,

23 01, 2024

Some Mild-Winter Summer-Dry Sumacs

2024-01-23T15:36:18-08:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Sumacs are current or former members of the genus Rhus, notorious for those species that spread aggressively by suckers or by seed (e.g., staghorn sumac, African sumac) as well as for those that through mere touch can bring on a ferocious rash (poison ivy, poison oak). Yet there are well-behaved and beneficent sumacs too. Several of these are exceptionally fine shrubs native to mild-winter, summer-dry southern California, Mexico, and parts of the American southwest. Unlike most sumacs, these are evergreen. Rhus integrifolia, lemonadeberry or lemonade sumac Rhus integrifolia, lemonadeberry or lemonade sumac, is 8-10 feet tall and

22 12, 2023

Fruitless Olives?

2023-12-22T07:13:49-08:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, shrubs, trees|Tags: , , |

To aficionados of olives and olive oils planting fruitless olive trees may seem a pointless exercise. Yet there are good reasons to include these well-mannered trees and shrubs in summer-dry landscapes. Olives need little summer water and they blend well with other summer-dry plants. With a history going back thousands of years in the Mediterranean region and hundreds of years in summer-dry parts of the Americas, olive trees instantly evoke, on sight, nostalgic associations with sunny summer-dry lands. Fruitless olives do the same without the mess. Olea europaea 'Wilsonii' at Huntington Botanical Gardens Fruitless olives are cultivars

12 11, 2023

Australian Fuchsia

2023-11-12T06:38:09-08:00Categories: Blog, groundcovers, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , |

Plants native to southwestern Western Australia are well known to gardeners in other mild, winter-wet, summer-dry climates. Less widely known, perhaps, are plants endemic to southeastern Australia, where topography and climate are more diverse. The Australian fuchsias (Correa species) are native almost exclusively to this part of the world. Correa 'Dawn in Santa Cruz' Correas are low and spreading to mid-sized or tall evergreen shrubs with small, oval to rounded, dark green to olive or gray-green leaves and pendant, bell-shaped or tubular flowers that resemble those of fuchsias. Rich in nectar, the flowers are favored by nectar-feeding

5 10, 2023

Seaside Daisy

2023-10-05T12:24:33-07:00Categories: 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

21 08, 2023

Amaryllis belladonna

2023-08-21T19:01:28-07:00Categories: Blog, bulbs, Nora Harlow|Tags: , |

Just as daffodils are the classic heralds of spring, the large, usually pink, trumpet-shaped flowers of Amaryllis belladonna are a sure sign of impending fall. Rising straight up on tall, sturdy, leafless stems, the blooms seem to challenge the very notion that the long, hot days of summer are drawing to a close. Amaryllis belladonna blooms in fall. Amaryllis belladonna is familiar to almost everyone whether they know it by name or not. Today these plants are most often seen abandoned along roadsides or as nostalgic remnants of older gardens. Hugely popular in gardens of the past, they

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