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17 05, 2024

Hummingbird Sage

2024-05-17T10:56:24-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , , |

Blooming from early spring well into summer, hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) is an easy and adaptable plant for summer-dry climates. This low, slowly spreading sage accepts sun or shade, almost any reasonably drained soil, and moderate, occasional, or no summer watering. It is an especially good candidate for dry shade. Salvia spathacea in flower in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Hummingbird sage is endemic to central and southern California, commonly found in sunny or shaded spots among oak woodland, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub in foothills and valleys not far from the coast. Summer-dormant if grown dry,

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

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

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

14 01, 2023

Ferns for Summer-Dry Climates

2023-01-14T05:49:18-08:00Categories: Blog, California Native, ferns, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

Guaranteed to lift your spirits on the dreariest of winter days, summer-dormant Polypodium californicum (California polypody) appears suddenly with the first fall rains, remains a lustrous bright green until mid-spring, and then just as suddenly dies back to the ground leaving barely a trace. Polypodium californicum in University of California, Berkeley, Botanical Garden Native to coastal California and northern Baja California, Polypodium californicum is usually found in shaded canyons, on streambanks and north-facing slopes, and on rocky cliffs and bluffs within or near the summer-fog zone. A volunteer in my northern California garden, it has reappeared reliably

9 12, 2022

Environmental Benefits of Perennial Grasses

2023-02-03T23:04:05-08:00Categories: Blog, grasses|Tags: , , |

Perennial grasses have long been popular garden subjects, usually for their aesthetic value -- the meadow effect when used in large drifts, the drama when backlit by the setting sun, the architectural beauty of those that retain their formal shape even into dormancy. Festuca mairei (Atlas fescue) catches afternoon light in a California garden There are, of course, other good reasons to use perennial grasses liberally in both private and public landscapes. Grasses are an integral part of many ecosystems and they provide many environmental benefits at local, regional, and global levels. Canada geese feed on

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

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