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

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

14 12, 2021

Jerusalem Sage

2021-12-14T18:29:30-08:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, perennials, subshrubs|Tags: , , |

Although each species has a common name of its own, plants of the genus Phlomis are often called Jerusalem sage whether they hail from Portugal, Morocco, Turkey, or Israel. These are summer-flowering shrubs, subshrubs, or perennials with felted or woolly, sagelike leaves, many with serrated margins and silvery undersides. Whorled clusters of small, usually downward curving, two-lipped flowers are displayed at intervals along upright stems. Flowers are followed by ornamental seedheads that persist through the winter. Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) In the garden Jerusalem sages blend well with many other low-water, sun-loving plants, especially the salvias and other

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

15 11, 2021

What is a Drought-Tolerant Plant?

2021-11-15T19:38:45-08:00Categories: Blog, Climate, Water|Tags: , , |

Many plants are advertised or described as drought-tolerant, but what, if anything, does that tell us? Drought-tolerant where? Drought-tolerant when? Drought-tolerant if . . . what? By now, with unusually dry weather increasingly common worldwide, most gardeners likely are aware that drought itself may be defined in different ways, depending on one's perspective. Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) At the risk of oversimplifying, meteorological drought is lower than normal precipitation. Hydrological drought is lower than normal streamflow or groundwater levels. Agricultural drought is inadequate soil moisture for specific crops. Socioeconomic drought is insufficient water supply to meet demand. Ecological drought is insufficient

21 10, 2021

Sasanqua Camellias

2021-10-25T16:26:08-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, shrubs|Tags: , , |

There was a time, not that long ago, when sasanqua camellias were less well known to most gardeners and less often grown in gardens than japonicas, but that time has surely passed. Of the dozens of sasanquas available from specialty nurseries and online, a few can even be found in the gardening sections of big-box stores. 'Yuletide' on a frosty winter morning There are many reasons for the popularity of Camellia sasanqua and its abundant offspring, especially in summer-dry climates. Most camellias do best in mild, humid climates with regular summer water, but established sasanquas, with afternoon shade

8 10, 2021

Parrotia persica

2021-10-09T09:16:47-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, shrubs, trees|Tags: , , , |

A connoisseur's tree, Parrotia persica or Persian parrotia offers a virtual kaleidoscope of colors and textures from one season to another and over the years. Through the seasons the deeply veined, serrated, broadly oval leaves of this deciduous, multitrunk or low-branching tree turn from spring's bronzy purple to summer's rich green to a sometimes astonishing fall combination of reds, oranges, yellows, and even pinks. Individual trees can vary widely in their fall display, and not every year brings the exact same colors at the same times on the same tree. Parrotia persica leaves in fall color Adding to

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