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22 08, 2022

White Sage

2022-08-22T13:46:25-07:00Categories: Blog|Tags: , , |

The standout qualities of California white sage (Salvia apiana) come into sharpest focus in August or September, when many other summer-dry salvias have gone over, dropping their leaves and sprawling widely, bare and somewhat rangy at near-complete rest. There it is, white sage, in its late-summer finery, looking, though different, as handsome as it did in spring. Salvia apiana, California white sage, in summer White sage does go through seasonal stages but all are attractive. Its new leaves in late winter are gray-green and lightly felted, broadly lance-shaped or elliptic, and the 2- to 4-foot shrub is

12 07, 2022

Island Morning Glory

2022-08-07T15:04:28-07:00Categories: 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

29 06, 2022

Shrubby Tanoak

2022-06-29T13:42:15-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, shrubs, trees|Tags: , , , |

Tanoak or tanbark oak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. densiflorus) is a large evergreen tree with deep green, leathery, oblong leaves with prominent veins, sometimes wavy edges, and often toothed margins. The small, creamy white, late-spring flowers are held in showy clusters of narrow, stiffly upright or outstretched catkins. The leaves and flowers resemble those of American chestnut (Castanea americana) and the fruit is an oaklike acorn with a shallow, bristly cap. New leaves of shrubby tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides) Tanoaks are interesting and attractive at all times of year, but they are quite slow growing and they eventually

2 06, 2022

Matilija Poppy

2022-06-20T18:22:07-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , |

You will hear that Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) is hard to start and hard to stop, and to some extent this is true.  But if you plant this magnificent California native from one-gallon cans in late fall or early winter, and the spot you choose has excellent drainage (hillsides, mounds, raised beds), you should have self-sustaining plants by the second year. Plant carefully without disturbing the roots.  Water thoroughly at planting and weekly through the first summer.  The huge (4-6 inches across) white, crepe-papery flowers with bright yellow stamens each last about a week and then cleanly drop all their

8 05, 2022


2022-05-08T09:06:34-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , |

Tough little plants with a delicate appearance, sisyrinchiums are ideal for naturalizing in the garden. Members of the iris family, along with freesias, crocuses, and irises themselves, sisyrinchiums spread by rhizomes and by seed, cheerfully expanding their chosen territory, mingling with but usually not disturbing their larger neighbors. Flowers of Sisyrinchium bellum (western blue-eyed grass) Sisyrinchiums are easily recognized by their six-petaled, blue to bluish purple, yellow, or sometimes white flowers with bright yellow centers. Their linear to narrowly sword-shaped, green to bluish or grayish green leaves are basal, mostly upright, and overlapping at the base as is

18 04, 2022

Shrub Poppies

2022-04-18T17:31:33-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Unusual members of the poppy family, bush poppies (Dendromecon species) bear flowers and fruits that resemble those of the perennial California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) but on woody shrubs that can reach six to eight feet tall or more. Leathery, waxy, dark bluish gray-green leaves are a perfect foil for the glossy, bright yellow, saucer-shaped flowers. Flowers are followed by narrowly cylindrical seedpods that explode when dry, sending seed several feet in all directions. Dendromecon harfordii Dendromecon rigida, bush poppy, is native to dry slopes and rocky washes in coastal mountains of California and northern Baja California, with some

5 04, 2022

Oaks for Small Gardens

2022-08-07T15:14:42-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, trees|Tags: , , , |

Native oaks are larval hosts for more kinds of butterflies than most other plants, and caterpillars are the primary food that nesting birds can feed their young. This makes oaks one of the best choices for supporting butterfly and bird populations and encouraging both to make their homes in your garden. Quercus durata, leather oak Where does that leave those whose gardens are too small for a full-sized oak? At maturity, most oaks become large to very large trees. California's valley oak, Quercus lobata, is the largest North American oak, in time reaching 75-100 feet tall and

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