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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

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 09, 2021

Grevillea ‘Austraflora Fanfare’

2021-09-11T07:55:54-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, groundcovers|Tags: , |

Dozens of grevilleas have moved in and out of the nursery trade over the years, mostly medium to large shrubs and a few mounding groundcovers with needlelike, narrowly oval, or finely divided leaves and intriguing flowers typically described as either "spidery" or brushlike. Grevillea ‘Austraflora Fanfare’ Grevillea 'Austraflora Fanfare' is distinctive for its nearly flat, widespreading habit and its long, dark green leaves deeply lobed in sawtooth fashion. Less than a foot tall and spreading 10-15 feet wide, the dense foliage drapes over walls and cascades down banks, prominently displaying the pinkish red, one-sided, brushlike flowers from late

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

17 06, 2021

Lion’s Tail

2021-06-18T11:29:54-07:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , |

Some plants just naturally bring out the child in all of us, and lion's tail (Leonotis leonurus) is surely one of them. The whorled clusters of softly woolly yet spiky-looking, neon orange flowers can look almost cartoonish --a caricature of flowers-- spaced out along emphatically upright, six- or even eight-foot stems. Leonotis leonurus in full bloom in the San Francisco Botanical Garden Of the nine to twelve or more recognized species of Leonotis, only lion's tail, a perennial or subshrub endemic to eastern South Africa, is reliably available in nurseries. Lion's ear (L. nepetifolia), an annual native from

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,

13 05, 2021

Eucalyptus macrocarpa (mottlecah)

2021-05-13T17:27:49-07:00Categories: Blog, shrubs|Tags: , , |

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

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