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8 05, 2022

Sisyrinchiums

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

2022-04-05T17:17:43-07:00Categories: 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 30-50

15 03, 2022

Mule’s Ears

2022-03-15T10:22:16-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , , |

Every bit as cheerful as the better known annual sunflowers, the eight to a dozen species of Wyethia, or mule's ears, are low-growing perennials native to dry slopes, seasonally moist meadows, and woodland or forest openings in much of western North America. Most are 1-3 feet tall, with a loose rosette of large, broadly lance-shaped to oval, green or sometimes gray-green leaves and bright yellow sunflowers in late spring and early summer. Deciduous and dormant in winter, they reliably reappear as days lengthen in early spring. Wyethia angustifolia These are excellent plants for pollinators and other wildlife, attracting

19 02, 2022

Ornamental Currants and Gooseberries

2022-02-19T05:28:23-08:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, shrubs|Tags: , , |

Although usually grown for their exquisite flowers, ornamental currants and gooseberries are ideal components of habitat gardens that provide year-round sustenance for wildlife. As some of the first shrubs to flower wherever they are found, they are important sources of early-season nourishment for hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators. Their leaves are food for the caterpillars of butterflies and moths that support the offspring of nesting birds. And their fruits, well, let's just say they're gone almost before the gardener has a chance to sample them. Ribes sanguineum, red- or pink-flowering currant Currants and gooseberries both belong to the

21 09, 2021

Wild Buckwheats

2021-09-21T19:38:43-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Garden Plants, groundcovers, perennials, shrubs|Tags: , , , |

What could be more emblematic of the summer-dry/winter wet, semi-arid, and arid climates of western North America than the wild buckwheats? Annuals, perennials, and low to medium or tall shrubs, one or more species of Eriogonum is native from western Canada to Baja California and throughout much of the intermountain west. More than 100 species are native to California, from seaside cliffs to rocky alpine outcrops. Eriogonum grande var. rubescens Most of the buckwheats commonly available to gardeners are shrubs or shrubby perennials with green to gray-green or silvery gray leaves and masses of tiny flowers in small,

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,

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