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California Gardening 150 Ideabooks

Yep, it has been another dry winter for California, the second in a row — from San Diego, 40 percent below normal rainfall, to Eureka, 20 percent below. You know the story if you've been around California for a while in the last 35-plus years. We've gone through three major droughts — including one that is the worst...
California Gardener's May Checklist
Nature tells us that the California spring is over by May, especially after another dry winter. Look for the wildflower clarkia in the brown hills. Its common name says it all: farewell to spring. But it's not a sad time at all. May brings roses...
California Gardener's June Checklist
This is a month when you can sit back and enjoy all you have put into your garden earlier in spring or previous years. Smell the roses and star jasmine. Bite into the first tiny squash, no need to cook it. See if your tomatoes have set any fruit yet....
California Gardener's July Checklist
This time of year I wake up thinking about watering — sometimes, though, about the Giants game the night before, or Mad Men if it's Monday. True, most of California has had hardly any rain since last Christmas, but instead of obsessing about...
California Gardener's August Checklist
From the sparkling beaches to the craggy mountaintops, Northern California's magnificent scenery and activities beckon summer vacationers. Those same places also vividly display the area's wildly contrasting plant climates that make gardening here so...
California Gardener's September Checklist
It's pretty safe to say that fall, more than any other season, is what distinguishes California gardening from anywhere else. Notice I'm not talking about the weather. In much of the U.S. and around the world, September and early fall often deliver the...
Northern California Gardener's October Checklist
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...
Southern California Gardener's October Checklist
Fall is prime planting time in Southern California. The well organized among us are rumored to plan all year long so that they're ready to spring into action the instant the hot weather subsides (usually by mid-October). The shorter days, cooler nights...
California Gardener's November Checklist
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...
California Gardener's December Checklist
As a way to make us appreciate what we had, I guess, my mother used to tell a girlhood story about trudging through the California foothills gathering red toyon berries to sell for holiday decorations. She wasn't the only toyon bandit. In the 1920s collecting...
Rudbeckia Mania: Go Beyond Black-Eyed Susan in the Garden
I must admit that in my early gardening days, I wasn’t much of a black-eyed Susan fan. The plants are OK — they look nice enough, add a nice splash to any garden and are fairly easy to maintain. I do like how some of them self-sow and slowly change...
Great Design Plant: Sunrose Dazzles on Dry Slopes
Sunrose is a carefree perennial that dazzles when in bloom and soothes winter-weary eyes when dormant. This versatile plant loves dry soils and is at home on slopes, in containers and in xeriscapes. Use it as a cheery accent plant or a small-scale ground...
Great Design Plant: Desert Marigold Cheers Up Hot, Dry Areas
The flowers of desert marigold will brighten up the landscape even where water is scarce and the sun is blazing. Often seen along roadsides, in wildflower gardens or even growing alongside cacti, desert marigold is one perennial that can handle tough,...
Great Design Plant: Winter Jasmine Gladdens Snowy Gardens
Just when you can’t bear the thought of another gray day, winter jasmine comes to the rescue. Cascading bright green branches are covered with sunny yellow flowers from Thanksgiving to early spring, not missing a beat — even when it snows. Although...
Great Design Plant: Ocotillo for High-Reaching Flair
The deserts of the American Southwest are famous for the many different types of plants that flourish in the hot and dry conditions. Perhaps the most iconic plant found in all three Southwestern deserts is the ocotillo. Although ocotillos are found...
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