Sweet woodruff. The common name is derived from the sweet-smelling leaves and stems that give off a hay-like aroma when dried. A low-spreading perennial that blooms in spring and summer, it has been cultivated since the Middle Ages to flavor May wine. Stems reach 6-12" high and feature star-shaped, white flowers above whorled leaves. Plant in light to deep shade and in loose, moist soils with regular to abundant water. Spreads rapidly with adequate water. The dark green, aromatic foliage adds a rich woodland effect to shaded situations. Hardy to below 0F. Europe, North Africa.
Island snapdragon. Grown in open areas this California native will form a small, broad evergreen shrub, but with support it has a tendency to climb and can reach 6-8’ in these situations. The leaves are about 1" long and half again as wide. Scarlet, tubular flowers, cluster at the tips of branches in mid-spring and intermittently throughout the year. Provide full sun near the coast and light shade inland. Water only moderately or infrequently as established plants are tolerant of drought; also tolerate most soils so long as they have drainage. May be used in hanging baskets or as a vine to cover fences or trellises. A hummingbird favorite. Hardy to 20F. Santa Catalina, San Clemente, and Guadalupe Islands.
‘Firecracker’: Selected for its compact form and bright red flowers.
Coast silktassel. Evergreen shrub or small tree native to the chaparral and mixed evergreen forest plant communities. Mature plants reach anywhere from 8-25’ and bear dark green, leathery leaves with felted or woolly undersides and distinctly wavy margins. Showy catkins appear in winter and spring, and hang like decorative tassels from the outstretched branches. Young plants can be trained as espaliers and will grow to resemble wisteria. Plant in well-drained soils in a sunny or lightly shaded position and provide moderate to occasional water once established. Plants thrive in coastal areas. Hardy to 10F. Coast Ranges from southern Oregon to San Luis Obispo County, California.
‘Evie’: Compact selection with leaves held densely along the stems and long, showy catkins to 8".
‘James Roof’: Similar to above but with silver-gray catkins up to 12" long and often tinged with purple.
Urn-shaped flowers and berry-like fruits cover these evergreen shrubs that are grown primarily for their foliage. Prefer shade or semi-shade and moist, peaty, acid soil. Will tolerate sun if soil is permanently moist. Good choice for the shade of mature trees, especially in association with rhododendrons and azaleas. Hardiness varies. America, West Indies, Japan to Australasia.
shallon: Salal. Mounding evergreen shrub to 4’ with vigorous stolons and red stems carrying broad, sharply pointed, dark green leaves. Racemes of pink flowers in late spring and early summer are followed by edible purple berries resembling huckleberries, but with a bland flavor. Hardy to 10F or below. Western North America (Alaska to California.)
A robust perennial or subshrub growing to 4’ high and 3’ wide and planted primarily for its abundant, colorful blooms. Mature plants have a rounded form and produce slender, leafy stems that bear many 1" long, white flowers that open from pink buds. Noted for its soft appearance and long blooming period in summer. A graceful choice for herbaceous borders and wild gardens, where it will attract butterflies by the dozens. Prefers full sun and light, well-drained soil with regular to moderate water. Give plants a good shearing annually to maintain a tidy form. Hardy to 0F. Texas, Louisiana.
‘Jo Adela’: A smaller, more compact variegated form. Dark green leaves have pale marbled centers. Plants flower prolifically and grow 18-24" high.
‘Siskiyou Pink’: Stems and leaves have a pinkish cast and the flowers open dark pink and lighten with age. Blossoms are produced throughout summer on wiry stems to 18".
Broom. Unusual deciduous shrub to 12" bearing tiny, linear green leaves on woody green branches. Golden-yellow flowers blanket the stems through spring and summer, making this a valuable groundcover for dry banks. Plant in full sun in well-drained soils and provide moderate to occasional water. Mature plants do not tolerate heavy pruning. Hardy to 0F. Greece, Bulgaria.
Cranesbill. Perennial herbs grown for their wheel-shaped flowers and mounding, sometimes aromatic, foliage. Form, flower color and size vary by species and cultivar. Leaves are often rounded, lobed or deeply cut. Most prefer full sun or partial shade and need regular garden water. Tolerant of a range of soils if not waterlogged. Hardy to 10F. Cosmopolitan in temperate regions.
x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’: Plants form a low, tidy mound with bright green
1-2" leaves. Nearly white flowers with pink centers and reddish veining grace the plant most heavily in spring, but appear continuously throughout the year. The clean foliage provides good autumn color. Grows to 12". Drought tolerant in our experience. Highly recommended.
x cantabrigiense ‘Cambridge’: Very similar to ‘Biokovo’ but with darker green foliage and a lavender flower.
x cantabrigiense ‘Westray’: New geranium selection strongly reminiscent of ‘Biokovo’, but offering dark rose-pink blooms and a slightly larger stature. Slowly rhizomatous, ‘West Ray’ spreads to 2-3’ and can be used effectively as a small-scale ground cover. Combine to nice effect with Carex testacea or Deschampsia caespitosa.
cinereum ‘Ballerina’: Spreading, rosette forming perennial with cup-shaped, purplish-pink flowers streaked with dark red veins, and shaded at the base by darker hues. Plants bloom over a long summer season, often beginning in late spring. The soft, gray-green foliage is rounded and deeply divided and grows to 4" tall, spreading to 12". Pyrenees.
cinereum var. subcaulescens: Stout, almost woody rootstock with round, shallowly cut, 1", blue-green leaves. Radiant purplish-red flowers with a black eye form in late spring and summer. Mature plants form small colonies to 4" high with a 12" spread. Italy, Balkans, Turkey.
cinereum var. subcaulescens ‘Splendens’: Broad, rounded, somewhat notched petals are brilliant iridescent purple-red with darker veins and a distinct black-red basal blotch and white margins just above blotch.
endressii ‘Wargrave Pink’: More compact than the species with salmon pink flowers in spring and summer. (One source said the species is more compact and described these flowers as "pink with a faint blue cast [and] notched petals.") We encourage gardeners to make their own decision. Grows to 18" tall and spreads to 20".
harveyi: Finely textured perennial with brilliant silver foliage and small magenta flowers. Mounding habit to 12" with a 4’ spread. Drought tolerant and prefers full sun. Not a heavy bloomer, but the sparkling foliage is all you need. Plants in our garden have been pleasantly reseeding themselves. South Africa.
incanum: Whether billowing up over rocks and neighboring plants or spilling out of an attractive container, this trailing groundcover forms wide cushions of finely-cut, fern-like foliage making it a handsome choice for the California garden. Add the abundant, violet-pink flowers that bloom throughout the summer and fall, and you have a plant that never fails to impress. Cut back hard every other year to maintain a clean appearance. Remarkably drought tolerant once established and reported to be deer resistant. Least hardy of the true geraniums but likely to reseed with reckless abandon in the garden. South Africa.
incanum ‘Sugar Plum’: Similar to the species, but with a darker flower.
phaeum: A good choice for areas with filtered shade, dusky cranesbill as it is commonly called, displays rich burgundy blossoms with a white eye against dark green, jaggedly lobed foliage. Plants grow to 30" tall and are generally slightly taller than wide.
phaeum ‘Samobor’: Similar in form to the species, but boasting delicate light burgundy flowers and handsome foliage marked heavily with dark maroon splotches.
renardii: Favored perennial forming 12" mounds of velvety, roundly lobed leaves that appear quilted. The summer flowers are lavender-white with purple veins. Full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Caucasus.
sanguineum ‘Album’: Somewhat taller than the species, to 18" and spreading to 3’, this cultivar also appears to have a more sprawling, open habit. White flowers with pink veins sparkle against dark green foliage over a long period in early summer. Particularly useful massed as a groundcover, ‘Album’ is reported to be a strong geranium in the warmer parts of Southern California.
sanguineum ‘John Elsley’: The tight, low growing habit and dark rose-pink blooms held over dark green, lobed foliage set this G. sanguineum apart from the rest. Plants bloom from June to September and are exceptionally hardy.
sanguineum ‘Nanum’: Noted for its low, compact habit, ‘Nanum’ has rose-red summertime flowers and is reputed to be deer resistant. Plants grow to 12" tall and 18" wide.
sanguineum var. striatum: Dwarf form to 10" tall with a low, compact habit and light pink, heavily veined flowers from spring to summer. Foliage shows good autumn tints. Excellent choice for rock gardens or as a foreground plant in perennial borders. Most soils with full sun.
traversii var. elegans: Small, mounding geranium from the Chatham Islands off New Zealand, this one reaches only 6" high. The silver, gray-green leaves create an attractive background for small pale pink or sometimes white flowers. Reseeds with vigor in our garden.
‘Ann Folkard’: An excellent choice for shady corners, ‘Ann Folkard’ unfolds chartreuse new foliage that turns rich green with age, and then dazzles again with dark magenta flowers in summer and fall. This sprawling climber forms a billowing mound to 12" high and 3’ across, and looks best when it can intertwine with nearby plants. Striking!
‘Brookside’: Similar to ‘Johnson’s Blue’ but with a more robust growth habit. ‘Brookside’ grows to 24" tall with a slightly wider spread and bears numerous blue-purple flowers throughout spring and summer. Cut back to the crown annually to rejuvenate plants.
‘Frances Grate’ (syn. ‘Silver Sugar Plum’): A robust selection despite its fine appearance, ‘Frances Grate’ forms woody stems covered by silvery fern-like foliage. Pale mauve flowers appear in spring and fall. Plants grow to 15" high and spread to 5’. It has been reseeding in our garden for a number of years, although not in an aggressive manner.
‘Johnson’s Blue’: This ever-popular garden favorite grows to 18" tall and spreads to 2’. Abundant spoon-shaped, blue-violet flowers with reddish veins, appear on a compact plant with deeply divided, medium-green foliage from spring to summer.
‘Midnight Reiter’: Yet another hardy geranium that will make you wonder how you ever gardened without it. ‘Midnight Reiter’ offers deep purple leaves and large, dark lilac flowers. A semi-dwarf, this geranium will stay less than a foot tall or across. Some gardeners insist this plant causes "jaws to drop"! Combine with golden-leafed varieties like Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’ and Carex ‘Gold Fountains’ for an unusual effect.
‘Orkney Pink’: Another geranium selection to add to the ever-increasing palette, this one offers a tidy, vigorous form and quarter-sized, delicate violet-colored blooms with pale centers. The dusty green foliage forms a tight mound to 12" tall and 2’ across. Use in containers, borders, or as a small-scale ground cover. A solid selection.
‘Pastel Clouds’: An interesting seedling selection that purports to be a cross between G. clarkei ‘Kashmir White’ and G. sylvaticum. Plants have large medium-green, deeply lobed leaves and dense clusters of pretty flowers in a range of colors from pale pinks to deep blue-violet. Mature plants reach
‘Patricia’: A vigorous hybrid noted for its large, medium green leaves and numerous vivid magenta flowers. Mature plants reach 24-30" tall with an equal spread. Trim hard annually to renew foliage.
‘Phillippe Vapelle’: Similar to G. renardii (one of its parents) with large, quilted, medium-green leaves. The spring and summertime flowers however are deeply notched and bluish-purple with dark central veins. Grows to 15" high with a slightly wider spread.
‘Salome’: One of our favorite geraniums here at the nursery, ‘Salome’ shines in a container near our office door. The velvety golden foliage trails handsomely and provides a breathtaking backdrop for the shy but lovely lavender blooms. Plant in filtered shade for best foliage color and provide regular water. Mature plants spread 16-24".
‘Stanhoe’: Unusual selection from the Horticulture Department at Merritt College in Oakland, ‘Stanhoe’ delights with silvery blue-green foliage and contrasting pale pink flowers that bloom continuously from spring to fall. Excellent for use in the front of a mixed border or even as an edging plant, it grows to 6" tall and spreads to 1’. Combines nicely with blue or silver grasses like Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’ or Helictotrichon sempervirens.
Marsh Afrikaner. This cormous perennial grows to 3’ tall with rush-like foliage and bears creamy palest yellow flowers marked with purple veins. The delicate blossoms are held on slender stalks and emit a lovely nighttime fragrance. Plants bloom from March to April and are summer dormant. Well-drained soil in a warm site is best; withhold water during the dormancy period. Hardy to 0F. South Africa.
Glechoma hederacea ‘Variegata’
Ground ivy. A vigorous low-growing, spreading perennial with green and white variegated foliage that makes a strong accent in containers or in shady perennial beds. The spreading stems will root in fertile, moist soils and established colonies can spread to 4’. Small violet blooms appear in summer amidst the foliage. Provide part shade and regular water. Hardy to 0F. Europe.
Spider flower. Evergreen shrubs and trees that vary in size, form, foliage and flower. Useful in a variety of garden and landscape situations, many adapt well to drought and survive without any supplemental irrigation once established. The leaves can be narrow and needle-like or attractively lobed with narrow or broad segments. The unusual inflorescences vary as well, and may be solitary, panicles, racemes, umbel-like, many or few, and exhibit a wide range of colors; some even have an overpowering fragrance that attracts birds and nectar-feeding insects. Aborigines use many species for medicinal purposes. Though most varieties perform best in full sun with fast-draining, acid soil, some species or cultivars will adapt to a range of soil types and many appreciate clay loam. Useful as screens, in borders, and as groundcovers. The stiff needle-like leaves of many cultivars may cause skin rashes and should be used with caution in gardens where young children play. Hardiness varies, usually to 20F. Australia, New Caledonia.
gaudichaudii: A prostrate groundcover to 12" tall with a wide spreading habit and handsome foliage. The leaves are ovate, deeply lobed and oak-like, and the new growth blushes red during cool months, later turning a rich green. The dark rose-red winter and springtime flowers are held in 3" toothbrush-like clusters. Well-drained soils are recommended, but plants have done well in heavier soils here on the Central Coast. Prefers some shade especially in inland areas. Hardy to 20F. New South Wales.
lavandulacea: Lavender grevillea. A dense, variable shrub to 6’ with narrow, often pubescent, gray leaves and bright red, spider-like flower clusters that add a strong contrast to the foliage in winter and early spring. Hardy to 15F. Eastern Australia.
rosmarinifolia: Rosemary grevillea. An upright shrub to 6’ tall and nearly as wide, the rosemary grevillea bears (surprise!) rosemary-like foliage and rose-colored, pendant flowers. A generous bloomer in fall and winter, it will continue to please birds and gardeners alike with scattered blossoms throughout the year. Tolerant of difficult conditions such as poor soils, heat and drought, it will also respond well to shearing making it useful as a clipped hedge. Hardy to 18F. New South Wales, Victoria.
thelemanniana: Hummingbird bush. Variable in both size and foliage color, the hummingbird bush ranges from a prostrate 3’ form to an 8’ tall upright shrub. The branches possess a graceful, rounded form and bear dark green or sometimes pubescent gray leaves. Bright red clusters of flowers, in late winter and spring, are tipped yellow or green and often appear sporadically throughout the year. Plants feature an open form that is less suitable for hedging than that of the rosemary grevillea. Surprisingly shade and cold tolerant, the forms we carry have survived 17F with modest damage. Western Australia.
thelemanniana filioba: Evergreen shrub 3-5’ tall and twice as wide with pinkish-red flowers held year round. Provide regular water to establish, then taper off as the plant matures. Hardy to 25F.
thelemanniana ‘Gilt Dragon’: Handsome mounding groundcover with felted silver-gray foliage and deep red flowers. Plants grow to 2’ tall and 4’ across in well-drained soils. Hardy to 20F.
‘Austin Griffiths’: Similar to ‘Noellii’ but with stronger flower color.
‘Canberra Gem’: Vigorous, rounded shrub to 8’ high and wide bearing dark green needle-like leaves. Bright pinkish-red waxy flowers appear most of the year, and especially in winter and spring. Plants adapt well to shade and most soil types, and are useful for screening and hedging, and even for controlling foot traffic. Hardy in most coastal California gardens and tolerant of long periods of drought, this is a tough, dependable shrub.
‘Noellii’: Oft-used shrub up to 6’ tall and 10’ wide with narrow, prickly-pointed leaves and clusters of pink and white flowers that bloom for weeks in early and mid-spring. Best with moderate water in the dry season; plant in full sun and well-drained soil.
‘Poorinda Constance’: A large, rounded shrub to 14’ tall with an equal spread, this is another strong cultivar for California gardens. The dark green, deeply-lobed, oblong leaves sometimes bear small teeth along the margins, and give way in winter and spring to spidery clusters of bright orange-red flowers.