Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

on Wednesday, 15 November 2017. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Compact Strawberry tree

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Compact Strawberry tree is one of our favorites for so many reasons- it can tolerate sun or shade, drought tolerant, provides fall flowers for the hummingbirds, has long lasting, spectacularly colored fruit, and it's evergreen!  You can see how this relative of our native Madrone gets its common name of Strawberry tree- the orange and red fruits resemble strawberries- although edible, they are more for wildlife as they are bland  and mealy in texture.  The honey scented, white, urn-shaped flowers can appear from fall into early spring and the fruits often come on at the same time or not long after.  Some years seem to have heavier fruit set than others, but the fruits are so decorative and long lasting that they don't qualify as messy.  With leathery, dark green, oblong leaves, reddish new stems and shaggy auburn bark it is handsome all year.   It is not the most fast growing evergreen shrub but will grow steadily to 5-7' tall and wide (eventually larger).  With annual pruning it can be kept tighter and smaller.  It is one of those rare plants that is happy in sun or part shade making it a great choice for a hedge with varied conditons.  It is also tolerant of various climates and soils.  We have some planted on the north side of our house that have done wonderfully with no supplemental water after their first year and even survived the 7 degree winter with no damage!  In extreme cold they will show some damage; so best to plant where they are not completely exposed to cold winds.  The winter of 2013 where we got to zero degrees for several nights proved fatal to some Arbutus and some rebounded after suffering damage on top.  They can take little to regular water and are tolerant of many soil types.  We wish they were deer resistant but unfortunately the tips get chewed too much to be reliable.   Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is great in foundation plantings  or hedges.  You will be hardpressed to find an evergreen shrub with more year round interest, plus the hummingbirds will thank you for providing a much needed winter nectar source.

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight'

on Saturday, 30 September 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Dark Knight Bluebeard

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This late summer bloomer goes by several common names, Bluebeard, Blue Spirea, or Blue Mist so we usually stick to calling it Caryopteris. It is indispensible for an easy, deer resistant, drought tolerant (but also tolerant of moist soils), and long blooming addition to your garden border. The plant in the photo is 'Dark Knight' which is a darker shade of periwinkle-blue from the common 'Blue Mist' variety. Both varieties put on a show with hundreds of flowers from July to frost, attracting honeybees and butterflies from all around. A low maintenance plant, Caryopteris can be kept at 2-3' tall and wide with a spring pruning but will get larger if left unpruned. We find that our winters do some tip pruning anyways so it is best to clean them up in spring when you see new leaves emerge and pruning right above them, which can sometimes be as low as 6" from the base. They quickly recover into a nice mounded shape, looking dense and uniform. So they are great for the maintenance person that loves to come in and hedge trim everything! With its aromatic, lance shaped leaves, this shrub has proven to be deer resistant. The leaves have a blue/silver tinge that look great with other silvers like Artemesia or contrast with purple foliage like smokebush. We find Caryopteris to be drought tolerant because of its very deep taproot but can look lusher with regular water in well draining soil. Full sun is best and they will tolerate reflected heat.

Baptisia australis

on Sunday, 30 April 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Blue False Indigo

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Baptisia or Blue False Indigo may not be all that familiar but it should be for it's striking purple flower stalks and refreshing blue-green foliage.  It has what we always look for- drought tolerant (has deep roots), deer resistant in some areas (poisonous), good cut flowers (blooms in May- June), long lived (so can require some age to bloom and is slower growing), North American prairie native (can tolerate clay or sandy soils), and butterfly attractor.  The easy to care for Baptisia can get 3-4' tall and 2'-3' wide and is rather vase shaped, so low growing perennials at it's base might be nice. Looks great with chartreuse Euphorbias, round headed Alliums, or silver Artemesia nearby. The sweet pea-like flowers make a great contrast with grasses as well. 'Solar Flare' is a newer yellow variety.

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward'

on Sunday, 16 April 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Shade Plants, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

King Edward Red Flowering Currant

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Flowering currants are at their best in late April with their cascades of flowers and scalloped leaves, but late fall and early spring is the best time to plant natives to get them established before the summer heat. 'King Edward' has darker pink flowers than the species but both attract hummingbirds, and then songbirds with the dark blue berries that follow the flowers. They are a great native that can take dry shade under an oak or other large tree.  Morning sun or dappled shade is best and don't overdo the summer water, they are used to summer drought and winter wet.  Flowering currants grow quickly and have a lovely open habit that mixes well with other plants.  They can get at least 4-5' tall and wide.  We also have the yellow blooming species- Ribes aureum, whose flowers seem even more scented and has vibrant red/orange fall color.  Flowering currants are great as part of a mixed screen or hedge in dappled light.

Prunus dulcis

on Tuesday, 07 March 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Edible, Trees, Flowering Plants

Almond Trees

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There are many varieties of late blooming almonds if you were thinking our springs are too cold to grow these wonderful nuts.  Nuts are a beneficial addition to the home orchard because they have so many uses- in baking, butters, and roasting, and are easy to store.  Besides the crunchy and nutritious nuts, Almonds have beautiful and fragrant white to light pink flowers, usually coinciding with the ornamental plum and cherry blooms of early spring.  Like peaches, they will perform best in a protected spot; ideally away from cold winds or cold air sinks.  Hope for a fairly frost free spring for best flower and nut production!  However, almonds perform wonderfully in our summer heat.  Once established they require moderate water, a deep soak every couple of weeks is best; as all fruit trees like good drainage and no standing water.  The late blooming Almonds are cold hardy to negative 20 degrees once established, with 'All in One' being a little less cold hardy-  Zone 8 is best.  They will produce nuts typically 2-3 years after planting and are naturally semi-dwarf (typically 15-20' in height but can be pruned smaller), perfect for smaller yards.  Come early for the best selection!

The varieties we like are: