(In my previous posts Get ready for a promising planting season: Here are some beauties for plant-aholics to drool over Part I and Get ready for a promising planting season: Here are some beauties for plant-aholics to drool over Part II I presented a selection of promising plants that have fascinated me for a long time and that I find useful for many landscape designs. The following is the next installment to my previous posts.)
After the long summer months, the cooler days after a rain are so invigorating, and gardening gets much easier. The light has a special brilliance to it, and the ground is still moist from the first rains this fall. This is my most productive gardening time outside, and when I hear again the sweet, drawn-out Tzeee of the White-crowned Sparrow who recently returned to our gardens after spending spring and summer in the northern regions, I can zone out and be completely at peace.
This is also a very productive time for the plants although we don’t see much of it: With cooler weather plants don’t get stressed (if not hit immediately by Santa Ana winds); the roots are actively growing and will be ready to push out new growth above ground come spring.
Before people get too much wrapped up in the upcoming holiday preparations, I’d like to continue my look around at my magazine clippings, flagged articles and photo gallery and share with you more promising plant discoveries or other interesting tidbits from the landscape and gardening world.
First of all I’d like to mention my delight that this magazine is available again: Garden Design Subscribe to Garden Design magazine, after a hiatus of a couple of years it’s being published again in a revised format. It is in my opinion the only American magazine that educates and makes us dream; without any ads, the close to 130 pages feel substantial like a book, with scrumptious photos and detailed articles. They highlight garden creators and great gardens across America. The garden writers and contributing editors, oftentimes garden artists themselves, cover art, exceptional plants, plant-travel and publish a calendar of landscape events offered in several distinct gardening zones. I find it a must-read for anybody who is interested in the landscaped environment and our interaction with it.
Here now a few more exceptional plants that I’ve found worth my investment of time, money and muscle:
Chondropetalum tectorum Small Cape Rush, Bamboo Rush
At the recent Fall Festival at Waterwise Botanicals www.waterwisebotanicals.com, local grower of outstanding garden plants for water-stared Southern California, I saw how this fascinating Bamboo Rush complimented the beautiful pond that Tom Jesch, manager of this operation, has built.
It’s a lovely pond, full of life with small and larger fish, aquatic plants and many insects and other wildlife that come to drink here; it’s built without liner, pump or mechanical filters. The pond alone is worth a visit; the nursery is open to the public.
Against the pond’s background, Chondropetalum tectorum (Small Cape Rush) from South Africa is a remarkably attractive plant that brings movement and stature to any landscape, be it a naturalistic/eclectic Californian; modern/contemporary or minimalist. It would demand attention planted in mass or as single accent. It is a low maintenance, low water-use plant that evokes the water without necessarily needing its presence; the grass-like plant looks equally good sited along a dry stream bed or a seasonal pond.
Cape Rush forms dense tufted clumps from which arise 2-3 foot tall dark green unbranched stems. The dark brown sheaths at the joints drop off in summer leaving a dark band. Late in the season the stems arch gracefully from the weight of clusters of small brown flowers at the tips.
Plant in full to part sun. It is drought tolerant, and appreciates supplemental water in spring. It is hardy to about 20-25 degrees F. It can be successfully planted in seaside gardens, used in relatively dry landscapes or used as a plant in the shallows of a water garden. Tolerates a wide soil pH range.
3-4 ft high x 3-4 ft wide; sun or shade exposure; drought tolerant; hardy to 2-25 F.
(Don’t confuse this plant with the larger Chondropetalum elephantinum; it is a more robust form up to 6 feet tall.)
Leptospermum scoparium ‘Apple Blossom’ ‘Apple Blossom’ New Zealand Tea Tree
In this garden where we used many succulents and drought tolerant Mediterranean and California natives, the tall shrub in the background with the pink flowers is Leptospermum scoparium ‘Apple Blossom’ (New Zealand Tea Tree ‘Apple Blossom’). This shrub seems to shelter the smaller plants in the foreground, and it makes a pleasing link between them and the canopy of the oak. It also provides a long-lived contrast with the ruggedness of the boulders and the fleshy structure of the Agave desmetiana ‘Variegata’ on the right.
‘Apple Blossom’ Tea Tree is evergreen with double light-pink flowers that appear in a very strong flush in the spring as well as in the fall. Its tiny needle-like green leaves are often tinged with pink (especially during cold temperatures). It requires good drainage, is drought tolerant, and is hardy down to about 20 degrees F. This shrub can also be used as container plant.
Upright shrub to 8 ft tall x same width; full sun; drought tolerant /requires good drainage.
Aeonium hybrid ‘Cabernet’
Aeonium hybrid ‘Cabernet’ with its deep green & wine colored foliage is a low-growing, rounded shrubby succulent that gets to about 2-3 ft wide and to 8 inches tall; in late winter it blooms with brilliant yellow flowers. Here it shows off its tight form against the chartreuse fronds of Coleonema ‘Sunset Gold’, Lavender and the red branches of ‘Apple Blossom’ New Zealand Tea Tree.
I use it as useful contrasting and unifying plant against which more delicate perennials, grasses or more fine-textured shrubs can display their beauty.
Aeonium Cabernet needs full sun in more coastal areas or part shade; in hot inland locations it’s best to protect it from the hot sun. It is summer dormant which means it rests here; over-watering will damage it. Leaves will just tighten but plump right up again with the cooler season. It’s front tender and is quite water-wise; too much water makes it flop.
9 inch tall x 2-3 ft wide; full sun / part shade; regular water to water-wise. Front tender
Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’
In this photo, you can see the reddish tips of the fleshy upright succulent branches of Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’ (Campfire Crassula). This groundcover-type produces propeller-like leaves that mature from light green to bright red.
It grows prostrate, forming mats about 6 inches tall to 2 to 3 feet tall wide . Clusters of white flowers rest on the leaves in the summer. It does best in well-draining soil that is allowed to dry out in between watering. If it can’t dry out regularly, it will produce black spots and floppy growth.
It does well in part sun but also in full sun with minimal water as I observed in my hot inland garden where its growth was much tighter and the foliage color more intense. In gardens where it was not allowed to dry out between watering, I noticed that it produce black branch tips and a very floppy growth.
This Crassula is not very hardy and will be damaged below 30 degrees F°.
6in x 3 ft wide; full sun / part shade; well draining soil; drought tolerant to regular water.
I hope that these selections will inspire you and assist you in your landscape design.
I wish everyone a fun and healthy planting season, and much satisfaction next year when these plants come into their own.
And my best wishes to everyone for a lovely holiday and a prosperous New Year.