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California Gardening 181 Stories

Other than the smell of a turkey roasting in the oven or the sight of a quarterback tossing a football to a receiver in the flat, nothing makes me feel better about November than a persimmon tree fully loaded with gleaming orange fruit among foliage turning a matching color. This is a plant that says a lot about...
Great Design Plant: Convolvulus Cneorum
The silvery foliage and white flowers of bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum) make it is easy to see the benefits of adding it to the landscape. Not to be confused with invasive bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis),...
Great Design Plant: Cedrus Atlantica ‘Glauca’
There are certain trees that just seem to have soul. Conifers in particular, with their unique and unusual shapes and time-tested strength, seem to have personalities just as strong as their human counterparts. This is why I am drawn to them. Enter the...
Decorate the Landscape With Versatile Agave
Agave have a long history of being used as an accent plant in the landscape, where they attract attention wherever they are planted. With their succulent leaves reaching up toward the sky, agaves add a great spiky texture to the landscape. The ability...
Great Design Plant: Polystichum Polyblepharum
A well-designed shade garden makes up for its lack of raucous colors by providing subtle surprises at every turn. Here structure, texture and shape rule. While many plants provide only one of these qualities, there are some that rank high on all three...
Great Design Plant: Encelia Californica
California brittlebush (Encelia californica) is a must for low-water habitat gardens. This vigorous and dependable subshrub shows off its exuberant mass of large daisy-like flowers in spring and fall. Its long, bountiful bloom periods,...
Great Design Plant: Parkinsonia Flor Paints the Desert Green and Yellow
Perhaps the most iconic tree of the desert Southwest is the palo verde (Parkinsonia florida), with its characteristic green trunk and branches. This native desert tree comes with a Spanish name that literally translates to “green...
How to Spot a Drought-Tolerant Plant
Have you wondered why some plants can handle intense sun and infrequent watering while others wilt? With rapidly growing drought conditions through much of the U.S., the desire to add plants to the landscape that can handle hot and dry climates is on...
Great Design Plant: Purple Needle Grass, California’s State Grass
Selected as the official California state grass in 2004, purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra) has a tough constitution and showy awns, making this native bunchgrass an option for low-water home gardens and restoration projects...
Great Design Plant: Arctostaphylos Glauca Nourishes and Delights
As with many manzanitas, big berry (Arctostaphylos glauca) has an architectural structure with dark red seasonally peeling bark and sinuous branches that add a sculptural sensibility to a rugged or natural garden. Its extra-large...
Got a Hot, Humid Landscape? Add Tropical Flair With Air Plants
Air plants are unique, because they occupy an ecological niche in the treetops of the forest. Because of this special place in the ecosystem, they provide habitat and food to beneficial insects, which then become food for birds. Adding air plants to your...
6 Overlooked Asters for Tough Spots
Asters are one of the most diverse groups of flowering plants out there, and how I love planting underutilized native asters. With shrinking pollinator numbers and habitat loss, it’s more important than ever to plant natives. And the late summer-fall...
Great Design Plant: Snowberry Pleases Year-Round
Wander along nearly any stretch of Pacific Northwest roadside or through a forest clearing, and you will soon encounter vast thickets of snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus). Most commonly seen in roadside ditches in farming areas, growing with steeplebush...
Smart Plantings Grace a Hillside Garden
Most of landscape architect Pete Pedersen’s projects aren’t eight years in the making — but then again, they’re not his own family’s property. This one is. Starting with a blank hillside, Pedersen designed a lush, inviting landscape that...
Great Design Plant: Western Sword Fern Adds Prehistoric Drama
While commonly seen in the Pacific Northwest, western sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is nevertheless one of the region’s most visually distinctive — even dramatic — native plants. Its dark green, prehistoric-looking fronds can reach...
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