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11 06, 2021

Embracing Wildness and Change

2021-06-12T07:30:06-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

It is possible that the most life-negating aspect of modern landscapes is the whole idea of landscape maintenance. Landscape maintenance implies -- no, insists -- that landscapes must be maintained as originally designed, whatever the costs and losses. A lightly maintained meadow garden in California In the service of what is called maintenance, most residential front yards and almost all commercial landscapes are forced into compliance, preserving the outlines of their original design but with virtually no sign of life. Shrubs considered too large or wrongly shaped are brutally distorted. Weeds and “bugs” are sprayed with pesticides. Soil,

28 07, 2017

Peeling Bark

2021-03-16T17:50:05-07:00Categories: Blog, trees|Tags: , , |

In a not uncommon response to summer-dry heat, a number of trees and shrubs shed their bark in the middle of the summer. Summertime bark break, manzanita (Arctostaphylos) In California, this exfoliation seems to happen almost instantly in madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and many species of manzanita (Arctostaphylos) with great delight to any observer who watches these natives with any regularity. One day a walk in the dry woods, the always beautiful red mahogany bark will be split open, as the bark rolls back and the girth expands just that much more.  In manzanita the bark will curl back

16 04, 2017

Deer grass

2021-04-20T19:42:41-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, grasses, Nora Harlow|Tags: , |

Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is a fine-textured bunchgrass with erect to gracefully arching grayish green leaves to three feet tall and four feet wide and a haze of tawny or silvery gray mid-summer flowers on stems that rise two feet above the foliage. Muhlenbergia rigens (deer grass) Native to many plant communities throughout much of California south and east to New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, this adaptable grass prefers some moisture but can go all summer without irrigation if winter rains have been sufficient. Occasional summer water may keep plants nearly evergreen. Easy and fast-growing in full sun

6 01, 2017

Pacific wax myrtle

2017-04-17T22:55:30-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, shrubs|Tags: , |

Myrica californica as a tall privacy hedge Pacific wax myrtle (Myrica californica) is a tall, dense evergreen shrub, perfect as a backdrop for any garden large enough to accommodate it.  Fast-growing, adaptable, and good looking year round, this is a fine choice for informal hedges, windbreaks, and privacy screens. You will hear that Pacific wax myrtle can be sheared as a formal hedge, but don’t do it. Shearing destroys the natural grace of the glossy green leaves, which are long and narrow, softly serrated, and elegantly displayed on multiple upright stems. If you find its height of 12

24 10, 2016

Carpenteria

2017-04-17T22:59:59-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, shrubs|Tags: , |

Carpenteria californica Gardeners who relish a bit of a challenge and delight in a smashing success probably already grow California’s native bush anemone (Carpenteria californica).This is a connoisseur’s plant, elegant and refined virtually year round and seasonally extravagant in its flowering. Where it is happy — and there’s the catch — it is surprisingly easy to grow. This splendid multi-stemmed shrub is grown mostly for its impressive early to midsummer display of large, glistening white, lightly fragrant, simple but showy flowers with bright yellow stamens. Carpenteria is evergreen, with long, narrow, somewhat leathery, dark green leaves that are

3 05, 2016

Dasylirion

2016-09-27T19:46:03-07:00Categories: Blog, shrubs, succulents|Tags: , , |

Dasylirion wheeleri in succulent border with barrel cactus in foreground A boldly architectural plant for big drama in pots or in the ground, Dasylirion wheeleri (desert spoon or sotol) forms a dense, symmetrical rosette of long, narrow, silvery blue-green, somewhat twisted leaves with aggressively hooked teeth along the margins and attractively frayed straw-colored tips.  Over time plants develop a short, stout trunk, which may not be noticed unless older brown leaves are removed. Native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, Dasylirion wheeleri is rather widely available in the trade.  Several other dasylirions are available with a

26 03, 2016

Salvias

2016-03-26T15:03:18-07:00Categories: Blog, perennials|Tags: , , |

Salvia officinalis with oregano in background There are sages (Salvia) for almost any garden.  Annuals, perennials, or shrubs; low and spreading to tall and upright; sun or shade loving; moist or dry soils or anywhere in between.  If you are unsure what a particular sage needs, look it up or consult your nursery professional before adding it to your garden. One of the most reliable low-water sages for full sun is Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii), and one of the best varieties is ‘Winifred Gilman’.  The spikes of bright lavender-blue to purple flowers in early summer are memorable, especially

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