Pittosporums are a large group of tough and adaptable evergreen shrubs or smallish trees native to subtropical and tropical Australasia, Africa, and Asia and grown in warm temperate climates throughout the world. Most are fairly fast growing in full sun to part shade in any reasonably fertile soil with decent drainage and little to moderate moisture. All bear small, fragrant, late spring or summer flowers in clusters at the ends of stems followed by conspicuous fruits with bright orange seeds. Several species and quite a few cultivars are commonly found in the nursery trade. Pittosporum crassifolium leaves and flowers
Arbutus unedo 'Elfin King' with fruit. With evergreen, leathery, dark green leaves, showy clusters of tiny white spring flowers, small red berries in fall, and red-brown peeling bark, Arbutus menziesii is a signature tree of western North America. Native to coastal evergreen forests from southern British Columbia to California, the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, and the eastern slopes of the Coast Ranges, this tree has long been considered too difficult for most cultivated landscapes. Commonly known as Pacific madrone, A. menziesii is available in small containers mostly from specialty nurseries and at native plant sales. For
Aesculus californica, in winter, at East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Berkeley. California buckeye (Aesculus californica) puts on a bold and fascinating seasonal show. In late winter bright apple-green new leaves burst forth at branch ends and rapidly unfold, quite suddenly claiming the stage among the darker greens of evergreen oaks, bays, and pines. In spring to early summer showy spikelike clusters of lightly fragrant creamy white flowers are held gracefully upright above the leaves. The large polished-brown seeds peeking through leathery, pear-shaped pods are highly decorative on silvery gray branches in fall. Aesculus californica flowers
I hear from long-time residents of Amador County, California, that our native redbud (Cercis occidentalis syn C. orbiculata ) is not found anywhere in that county except where planted. To me, this is a fascinating mystery, as it is commonly reported by reliable sources as occurring in the wild in that part of the state. Some have suggested it may be the soils, that redbud requires “ultramafic” (basic) soils, even serpentine, that are not common in Amador County. If you live in that part of the world, please let us know if you have seen this special plant in the
Where did the notion come from that coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) is slow-growing? If you have this evergreen native oak in or near your garden, you know that the small army of seedlings that crop up soon grow tall and wide enough to obscure your views or those of your neighbors.