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Living with native plants.

A FOUR-SEASON

PALETTE OF PLANTS

A rich diversity of flowering plants mingles with greenery in varied shades and forms to give the garden year-round appeal. Spring's almost frenetic color is produced by a large assortment of flowering shrubs, perennials, and trees.

Among the shrubs, California lilacs (Ceanothus), with white, blue, and lavender flowers, are very eye-catching. Mr. Worthington rates this the most useful native genus for its range of size and form. Silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons), with dramatic purple flower spikes (see page 69), is also striking in spring.

Colorful nonwoody perenials are orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), blue and purple Douglas iris (I. douglasiana), and pink coral bells (Heuchera hybrids).

Yellow-flowered flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum) is trained as a small tree (shown below). This completely drought-resistant plant requires excellent drainage.

In early summer, Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) bear spectacular 9-inch-wide, yellow-centered white flowers on stems towering to 8 feet. Later, pink and white buckwheats (Eriogonum species), red California fuchsia (Zauschneria californica), blue penstemon (P. heterophyllus), red Wester columbine (Aquilegia formosa), indigo-colored woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), and yellow yarrow (Eriophyllum confetiflorum) reach their peak bloom.

Late summer and early fall are naturally restful seasons in the native garden. Though some flowers linger, foliage texture and color offer the most interest then.

Two of Mr. Worthington's favorite evergreen shrubs, lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia) and sugar bush (R. ovata), contrast with the wispy silver foliage of aromatic shrubby sagebrush (Artemisia) and sage (Salvia).

These Rhus tolerate a broader range of garden conditions than many native plants. They are useful in erosion control and can be trimmed to a dense, formal hedge. Lemonade berry is native to coastal regions of Southern California and Baja and does best on the coast. Sugar bush, native to dry inland slopes, will grow on the coast (away from salt spray and sea winds) and can substitute for lemonade berry inland; it's very tolerant of heat and drought.

Though not as though or long-lived as the Rhus, sagebrushes and sages contribute color and fragrance characteristics of the area. Soft-textured coastal sagebrush (Artemisia californica) is a top performer, with gray-green foliage that reaches a height of 4 feet and spreads 2 to 3 feet wide.

Two prized woody sages used here are erect-growing black sage (Salvia mellifera), with dark green leaves, and mounding Cleveland sage (S. clevelandii), with ash-gray leaves and blue flowers.

Low-mounding evergreen coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis 'Twin Peaks'), with 1/2-inch leaves, is a dependable ground cover that sets off the sages in the foliage tapestry. Pruning every few years maintains shape and vigor.

Late fall and winter rains rejuvenate the landscape. The usually subtle patters and colors of tree bark are accentuated in the season's low light. Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) has graceful branches with smooth, red to purple bark; its bell-shaped white flowers appear in winter. Other plants with decorative bark include sycamore (Platanus racemosa), Catalina ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus asplenifolius), and redtwig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera).

GARDENING WITH

NATIVE PLANTS

Because even native plants evolved in a wide range of habitats, their cultural needs are diverse. Much of California has long, dry summers, so many natives now in cultivation can handle summer drought once established--but don't make assumptions. Check reference books or ask nursery personnel for the needs of individual plants.

Some native plants (lemonade berry, for example), though adapted to drought, will flourish with supplemental irrigation. Others, however, such as California lilac and flannel bush, are not likely to tolerate extra water--especially in summer.

Best planting time is fall, when plants naturally receive moisture for growth. Plant in soft, loose soil free of rocks and clods. Do not amend; even in poor soil, most natives can get enough nutrients.

Native plants need regular water while they are becoming established (but plant in a site with good drainage because soggy soil can encourage disease). After two months, water less often but deeply to encourage deep root growth. Don't water during the hot part of the day, especially in summer. Keep water off the trunks of sensitive trees and shrubs.

Mulch plants to conserve water, keep roots cool, and discourage weeds.

FINDING PLANTS

AND PLANT ADVICE

Following, we list nurseries in California that specialize in native plants. Also check those well-stocked with Mediterranean and water-conserving plants.

See page 88 for plant sales scheduled this month; ask a California Native Plant Society chapter about sales at other times.

Growing Natives, a bimonthly newsletter, discusses individual plants, sources, and design strategies. Send $30 to Box 489, Berkeley 94701.

California Flora Nursery, Somers and D streets, Fulton; (707) 528-8813. Open 9 to 5 weekdays, 10 to 4 Saturdays.

Las Pilitas Nursery, Santa Margarita. For directions, call (805) 438-5992. Open 9 to 5 Saturdays.

Mockingbird Nurseries, 1670 Jackson Street, Riverside; (714) 780-3571. By appointment only.

Mostly Natives Nursery, 27215 State 1, Tomales; (707) 878-2009. Open 9 to 4 Wednesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 Sundays.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara; (805) 682-4726. Open 10 to 3 Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 11 to 3 Sundays.

Theodore Payne Foundation, 10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley; (818) 768-1802. Call for hours.

Tree of Life, 33201 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano; (714) 728-0685. Open 8 to 4 Fridays.

Wapumne Native Plant Nursery Co., 3807 Mount Pleasant Road, Lincoln; (916) 645-9737. By appointment.

Weber Nursery, 237 Seeman Drive, Encinitas; (619) 753-1661. Open 8 to 4 Tuesdays through Fridays.

Wildwood Nursery, 3975 Emerald Avenue, La Verne; (714) 593-4093. Open 9 to 5 daily except Sundays.

Yerba Buena, Woodside. For directions, call (415) 851-1668. Open 9 to 5 daily.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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