California Gardening 185 Stories

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 toyon berries was so popular in Los Angeles, in particular, that...
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...
Mistletoe Is Coming to Town
For many, mistletoe prompts visions of holiday celebrations — maybe a stolen kiss or two. When it’s not being used as holiday decor, mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant, attaching itself to the branches of trees for water and nutrients. In winter...
Great Design Plant: Cyrtomium Falcatum ‘Rochfordianum’
By late fall much of the woodland garden has gone to sleep until spring. Many ferns show only brown, lifeless remnants of their former seasonal glory, making the few evergreen fern species even more valuable this time of year. Let’s consider Japanese...
Great Design Plant: Low-Maintenance Calliandra Eriophylla
Pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla) pairs the ability to thrive in the hot, dry deserts of the U.S. with delicate, puffy pink flowers. This medium-size shrub takes center stage in spring (and occasionally in fall), when...
Great Design Plant: Annual Phacelias
Phacelias start their springtime display by uncoiling their curved racemes with flowers of blue, mauve, purple or lavender. As their eye-catching, bell-shaped flowers open, these annuals call pollinators for a yummy meal of nectar and pollen. The high...
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...
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