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
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
With its large, tightly packed, silvery bluish white, mint-scented leaves and outsized, scarlet, pink, or rarely yellow flowers, this shrubby eucalyptus brings show-stopping drama to almost any summer-dry garden. Its features are decisively eucalypt, but its effect, especially at full height and in full bloom, is Alice-in-Wonderland. Eucalyptus macrocarpa can be pruned to maintain it at almost any size. Here it combines perfectly with Agave americana. One of several Australian shrubs called desert mallee, mottlecah can reach eight to ten feet tall and wide, sometimes erratically upright but more often sprawling. Mallees are shrubby eucalypts native primarily
Summer-dry gardens can be beautiful. The art and science of gardening is learning which plant prosper in garden settings. Many plants are meant for summer-dry climates and don’t need lots of water, though careful irrigation improves their beauty. I do water my own California garden in summer; and so does every farm and every garden – all summer. It simply doesn’t rain. The irrigation water has to come from somewhere, other than a faucet.