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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

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

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

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

17 08, 2021

Ornamental Alliums

2021-08-17T17:05:33-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow|Tags: , , |

I've always loved the delicate little alliums native to the west coast of North America and have long ignored the larger Mediterranean and Asian species, especially their highly bred, look-at-me cultivars, as just too formal or artificial-looking for my laid-back, mostly summer-dry garden. Allium unifolium, native to coastal mountains from southern Oregon to northern Baja California But, in much the same way that yellow flowers come to be appreciated by maturing gardeners as the youthful obsession with pinks and lavenders gives way, plants once considered unsuitable may eventually be seen as welcome counterpoints. Allium aflatunense seedheads and

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