Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates is now available.
Click here to learn more

2 06, 2022

Matilija Poppy

2022-06-20T18:22:07-07:00Categories: Blog, California Native, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , |

You will hear that Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) is hard to start and hard to stop, and to some extent this is true.  But if you plant this magnificent California native from one-gallon cans in late fall or early winter, and the spot you choose has excellent drainage (hillsides, mounds, raised beds), you should have self-sustaining plants by the second year. Plant carefully without disturbing the roots.  Water thoroughly at planting and weekly through the first summer.  The huge (4-6 inches across) white, crepe-papery flowers with bright yellow stamens each last about a week and then cleanly drop all their

25 05, 2022


2022-05-25T15:18:51-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , |

If you're looking for a perennial that feeds many butterflies, birds, and bees and serves as a host plant for many caterpillars, you can't do much better than a native solidago. With one or more species native to every state in the United States and much of Canada, the genus is high on the list of "keystone" plants for every ecoregion in North America. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies on solidago With the common name of goldenrod, solidagos could be confused with half a dozen other plants that share the name but do not have the same stellar

8 05, 2022


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

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

3 03, 2022

The Merits of Milkweed

2022-04-24T07:57:15-07:00Categories: Blog, Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , |

Another great plant for habitat gardens, milkweeds (Asclepias species) support more than the critically endangered monarch butterfly. As most gardeners know, monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweeds, which contain chemicals that are toxic or unpalatable to most other insects, birds, and mammals. Monarch caterpillars, along with the juveniles of several other insects, are able to metabolize and sequester these chemicals, in the process making themselves toxic or unpalatable to predators. Asclepias speciosa, showy milkweed, native to western North America Hundreds of other insects visit milkweed flowers for their high-quality, prolific, readily accessible nectar, including native bees, honey bees,

14 12, 2021

Jerusalem Sage

2021-12-14T18:29:30-08:00Categories: Blog, Garden Plants, perennials, subshrubs|Tags: , , |

Although each species has a common name of its own, plants of the genus Phlomis are often called Jerusalem sage whether they hail from Portugal, Morocco, Turkey, or Israel. These are summer-flowering shrubs, subshrubs, or perennials with felted or woolly, sagelike leaves, many with serrated margins and silvery undersides. Whorled clusters of small, usually downward curving, two-lipped flowers are displayed at intervals along upright stems. Flowers are followed by ornamental seedheads that persist through the winter. Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) In the garden Jerusalem sages blend well with many other low-water, sun-loving plants, especially the salvias and other

6 11, 2021

Cyclamen for the Garden

2021-11-15T16:09:31-08:00Categories: Nora Harlow, perennials|Tags: , , |

Cyclamen in supermarkets, their plastic pots wrapped gaily in shiny paper, are as emblematic of winter as are poinsettias of Christmas and red roses of Valentine's Day. We can perhaps be forgiven for thinking of cyclamen as short-lived decorations to be discarded after flowering since that is how these charming little plants are usually marketed. Cyclamen hederifolium Supermarket cyclamen are mostly highly bred, frost-tender cultivars of Cyclamen persicum, a winter- and spring-flowering species native to the summer-dry eastern Mediterranean region. These cultivars are commonly grown as seasonal houseplants and are known as florists' cyclamen to distinguish them from

Go to Top