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California Gardening 177 Stories

If you want further proof of how different California is, watch a Notre Dame football game on TV this month. I'm not talking about the more exciting way California teams play the game but about the fall scenes on Notre Dame's Indiana campus — gorgeous with brilliant autumn color early in the month, then leafless and...
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...
Great Design Plant: Parry Manzanita Stands Out in Low-Water Gardens
The magnificent stature, sculptural branching and sensual, deep cinnamon bark of Parry manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita) make a bold architectural statement. The smooth, dark red bark and sinuous branching are...
Great Design Plant: Broadleaf Stonecrop (Sedum Spathulifolium)
Pacific Northwest native plants are generally thought of as lush, leafy and green, but in fact, there is a wide world of underutilized succulent plants — even cacti — that are native to our region. Sedum spathulifolium is one of the most widespread...
Great Design Plant: Hibiscus Syriacus ‘Sugar Tip’
I’ve never been especially fond of hibiscus. The flowers are impressive, but when it’s not in bloom, hibiscus is just another green-leaved shrub that contributes little to the garden and certainly doesn’t merit a place in my containers. Hibiscus...
Great Design Plant: Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata)
Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) is a magnet for pollinators, particularly bees and wasps, and can be an integral part of a native planting around a vegetable garden. This Eastern native...
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