Muhlenbergia are wonderfully ornamental bunch grasses, widely adapted to almost all summer-dry climates. Yes, we are biased, but no garden should be without at least one Muhly grass. As a warm season grass, flowering in late summer, they are particularly useful as focal points and drama for the autumn and winter garden. Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass, California native bunch grass with Ceanothus, at Native Sons Nursery The largest Muhlenbergia, M. rigens, is commonly known as deer grass, not because deer like to eat it, rather the big mounds draw deer to sleep on them. Indeed, like many
In a not uncommon response to summer-dry heat, a number of trees and shrubs shed their bark in the middle of the summer. Summertime bark break, manzanita (Arctostaphylos) In California, this exfoliation seems to happen almost instantly in madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and many species of manzanita (Arctostaphylos) with great delight to any observer who watches these natives with any regularity. One day a walk in the dry woods, the always beautiful red mahogany bark will be split open, as the bark rolls back and the girth expands just that much more. In manzanita the bark will curl back
Supplemental water is critical for gardens. Even the most enthusiastic native plant gardener recognizes the urban environment is not natural and cannot support a beautiful, healthy garden without some irrigation, especially in dry years.
All plants are drought tolerant in their native habitat and no plant can live without water. No matter where a garden is located, the tropics or the desert, the plants in that garden should naturally tolerate periods of lower than average water. They may thrive with supplemental water during dry periods but the term “drought tolerant” can be very misleading, especially in summer-dry climates.
We expect summers to be dry here in California. In summer-dry and mediterranean climates dry summers are not drought, they are normal and rainless. Gardeners learn to adapt and use plants that are native to this climate and ecoregion.