Ribes odoratum 'Crandall'

on Wednesday, 27 February 2019. Posted in Plant of the Week, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Edible, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'Crandall' Black Currant

ribes crandall

Here is a stellar plant that is beautiful, as well as edible and good for the birds.  This Black Currant is woefully under utilized, perhaps people haven't eaten a currant before or not visited the nursery when they are in bloom.  But come visit in April and you will see a drift of them planted in part shade in our drought tolerant display garden.    Ideally close enough to the rock pile for little hands to pick the fruit when they ripen in summer.  And beckoning you for a closer look with their clove scented, yellow blooms.  Appealing to hummingbirds and butterflies, the flowers develop into black, round fruit that are tart/sweet with a more mild currant flavor and especially high in Vitamin C.  My daughter loves to pick them fresh but they can be made into preserves or baked goods or dried.   Then the fall brings out gorgeous red fall color.  Most currants would appreciate a spot out of extreme heat but will tolerate full sun with good water.  Part shade or morning sun is ideal.  They will get 4-5' tall and wide.  Currants can be drought tolerant once established and do best in a well-draining but compost-rich soil.  They can be a great addition to a mixed use garden- full of edible and ornamental power!

Pinus flexilis 'Vanderwolf's Pyramid'

on Wednesday, 14 November 2018. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Conifer, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Vanderwold's Pyramid Limber Pine

vanderwolf_pine

The 'Vanderwolf' Pine has proven itself a good conifer choice for a hot, dry spot; that won't get too large and has soft, two-toned needles.  This western North American native Pine can tolerate our dry, hot summers and wet winters.  Well draining soil, including dry, rocky hillsides, will help it tolerate those conditions even better.  We have especially been attracted to it because it doesn't have the scratchy quality of most conifers, you can get close to it and enjoy the blue and green needles.  The 'Vanderwolf' has a more open habit than some other sheared looking conifers when young but gets denser with age and can be used as an effective screen, a specimen position, or looks great in groups of three.  'Vanderwolf' is more pyramidal than the species- Pinus flexilis.  It is difficult to pin down a mature size on the 'Vanderwolf' but it is slower growing so it is useful in smaller spaces.  It can get 20-25' tall and 10-15' wide but it seems to get taller more quickly than it gets wide.   Like most pines, it only needs occasional watering once established and this variety is more disease and pest resistant than some other pine species.   Also like most pines, it is deer resistant.

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Vitex agnus-castus

on Saturday, 07 July 2018. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Chaste tree

vitex-plant-of-the-week

Our hot summers allow us to enjoy this Mediterranean native that is drought tolerant and deer resistant.  Heat is neccessary for profuse blooms, and profuse it is once it gets going in July and August.  The blooms slowly open from the base to the tips eventually reaching up to 12 inches long and last at least 4 to 5 weeks.  The color can vary from pale lavender to a darker purple and attract bees and hummingbirds from far and wide.  The fragrant leaves are very attractive on their own- they are divided similar to a laceleaf Japanese Maple and are a very pleasant shade of soft blue-green and gray-green underneath.  Chaste tree is late to leaf out in the spring, helping it avoid damage from our late spring frosts; but makes a good small shade tree in the heat of summer.  One of the fun things about Vitex is that you can grow it into whatever form you like, multi-trunk or single trunk tree or a large, broad shrub.   We have seen older specimens around the valley that are 10' tall by about 12-15' wide, meaning they are cold hardy once established and can get quite large.  However, they can be maintained at 6' tall and wide or trained up as a small shade tree. They take very well to a severe pruning, even all the way back to the ground if needed.  We have also seen them be used successfully in large containers against hot walls and parking lots.  Vitex grow slower with drought conditions and grow fairly rapidly with regular water and richer soil but will tolerate both conditions well.   We have been very impressed with the cold hardiness and drought tolerance of these shrubs as well as their many uses.  Vitex are one of the few choices for a small tree or large shrub that thrives in the heat and have lovely blooms late in the season.  

Phlomis fruticosa

on Monday, 30 April 2018. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Jerusalem Sage

phlomis fruticosa

Jerusalem Sage is a very striking and unusual plant to add to your drought tolerant or deer resistant garden. The fuzzy gray-green leaves seem unpalatable to deer and being a Meditteranean native makes it a great choice for our dry summers. It acts as more of a shrub than perennial, staying evergreen in all but the coldest winters. Ours died back to the ground this past winter, when it got to 7 degrees but came back full and lush this summer. It can grow to 4' tall and wide but can be pruned in fall to keep it more compact.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

on Wednesday, 04 April 2018. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry

amelanchier_closeup

We are in love with this serviceberry.  It is a great small tree or large shrub; we like it multi stem but we have single stem available as well.  It is interesting in all four seasons starting with leaves that emerge bronze, then become a lovely blue-green in summer and turn fiery orange and red in fall.  The white flowers start out as a fuzzy, peach color and seem to last longer than the flowering cherries, at least 3 weeks and then form blue-black fruit that the birds enjoy.  They also are not prone to damage from late spring frosts.   Provide full to half day sun.  Well draining soil and our dry summers should help prevent some of the humidity based diseases it can get.  Can be drought tolerant once established and grows 15-25 feet tall.  Good replacement in sun for multi trunked Japanese Maple.  Looks great with dark green pines or other evergreen as backdrop.