Dead nettle. A stoloniferous perennial to 6" tall with a trailing habit, this vigorous groundcover can spread to 3’ across. The heart-shaped foliage is often toothed and splashed with variable silvery-white markings, and the flowers in clusters of varying colors, appear in summer. Evergreen in mild climates, dead nettle is winter deciduous elsewhere. Tolerant of a range of soil types, it thrives in shade with ample water, but is often surprisingly tolerant of full sun in mild climates. Must have protection from snails and slugs who will decimate the foliage. Useful in hanging baskets. Hardy to below 0F. Mediterranean.
‘Pink Pewter’: Soft shell-pink flowers held above silvery foliage. A vigorous spreader to 18", ‘Pink Pewter’ blooms from May to July.
'White Nancy': (picture) Silvery leaves with just a hint of green along the margins topped by white flowers.
Lavender. Used by Mary to anoint the feet of Christ, spoken of in William Shakespeare’s The Winters Tale ("Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping..."), and immortalized by Beatrix Potter as "rabbit tobacco" in The Tales of Peter Rabbit, lavender has long resided in our cultural history. Its presence was commanded for seasoning at the royal table of Queen Elizabeth I, and Charles VI of France calmed his nerves by sitting upon lavender-filled cushions. In colonial times, sprigs were mixed with rosemary and used to sweeten linens, or tied in posies and handed to visitors. The name is derived from the Latin lavo, meaning "I wash", and in fact lavender oil was for many years used in water as a fragrant antiseptic. The genus is comprised of shrubs and subshrubs noted for their aromatic gray-green foliage and fragrant flowers that range in color from blue to purple and occasionally even white. The blossoms are held on slender stems above the foliage, and the dried flowers and foliage both are used in potpourri. Their tidy form, relatively small size, low care requirements and aromatic character have made them popular in California gardens. Plant in full sun and well-drained soils for best garden results, with only occasional water once established; plentiful irrigation tends to produce floppy, misshapen plants with reduced flowering. Useful in perennial borders, containers, herb gardens or massed in rows like the fields of Provence where they will emanate their nostalgic fragrance. Hardiness varies by species. Mediterranean.
angustifolia ‘Hidcote’: English lavender. Exceptional dwarf form growing to 1’ tall with an equal spread and bearing aromatic gray foliage held at right angles to the stems. Tall spikes held above the foliage produce masses of densely arranged, dark purple flowers from mid to late-summer. A favorite for arrangements as the dried flowers retain their rich color. Hardy to below 0F. Originally from Major Lawrence Johnston at Hidcote Manor prior to 1950.
angustifolia ‘Munstead’: A semi-prostrate dwarf form to 18" tall with small gray-green leaves and large, deep violet-blue flowers in loose spikes. Splendid for edging pathways, it is equally suitable for use as a low hedge. Earlier blooming than many lavenders, ‘Munstead’ shows color beginning in June or July. Raised at Munstead Wood in Surrey, by Miss Gertrude Jekyll and introduced in 1916. Hardy to 0F.
angustifolia ‘Sarah’: Similar to ‘Munstead’ but larger (18-24") and longer-blooming. Green aromatic foliage with deep lavender blossoms.
canariensis: Canary Island lavender. A handsome lavender with deeply cut, rich green fern-like foliage and blue-purple flowers on slender stalks. Plants grow to 4’ high with an equal or slightly lesser spread. Virtually ever-blooming in mild climates, this is an especially good choice for decorative pots on sunny terraces. Hardy to 25F. Canary Islands.
dentata: French lavender. Commonly used by florists, this is a tall-growing species to 3’ with equal breadth. The grayish-green leaves are fern-like and feature distinctive square-toothed margins, and emit a delicious fresh scent with a hint of camphor that lasts only a few months when dried. Lavender-purple flowers bloom constantly in mild winter areas and are borne on flexible, plump, compressed spikes; they make striking dried flowers. One of the few lavenders that tolerates humidity. Hardy to 20F. Spain and the Halearic Islands.
dentata var. candicans: Though it has a more vigorous nature and grayer, more abundant foliage than the species, this is commonly grown in Australia as French lavender. It is further distinguished by the white, tomentose down evident on the foliage, young stems and peduncles. Hardy to 20F. North Africa, Madeira, Cape Berde Islands.
x heterophylla: (picture) Subshrub to 4’ high and as wide, with almost 2’ flowering spikes bearing bright lavender-purple flowers from mid-spring to autumn. Flowers are lightly camphor scented. Hardy to 15F. Mediterranean.
x intermedia ‘Dutch’: Vigorous hybrid selection with silvery-gray foliage and rich, deep purple flowers with light green calyces. There are a number of clones in California with this name. Useful as a hedge. Hardy to below 0F. Garden origin.
x intermedia ‘Fred Boutin’: A dense grower forming a 2’ mound with woolly, gray-white leaves. The fresh blue flowers are held on almost 2’ stems; not as generous a bloomer as some cultivars, but a durable, garden tolerant selection. Hardy to 10F. Garden origin.
x intermedia ‘Grosso’: Thick spikes with profusely-flowering, deep purple flowers. Plants grow to 3’ when flowering, with an equal spread. Hardy to 15F.
x intermedia ‘Provence’: Compact habit to 3’ with both light and dark blue flower characteristics. This is the variety most commonly used for perfumery in the rocky soils of Provence. Hardy to 15F.
lanata: Woolly lavender. Bold perennial to 3’ with woolly leaves and a strong menthol fragrance. The felted leaves are adapted to dry conditions and dampness contributes readily to fungal diseases. For this reason exercise care in placement to assure full sun and good air circulation. In Lavender Sweet Lavender, Judyth McLeod says, "[It] thoroughly dislikes heavy rains, looking miserable as a white kitten that has been caught in a storm." Deep-purple flowers appear on 3-4’ stalks. Also be sure to provide excellent drainage. Hardy to 10F. Spain.
pinnata var. buchii: Jagged lavender. Aromatic subshrub to 3’ tall with branched stems carrying a short, winged spike of bluish, dark purple flowers. The green-gray leaves are deeply cut and fern-like, creating a lacy appearance. Exceptional selection for drier climates, it is nearly ever-blooming in milder sections of Southern California. Hardy to 20F. Canary Islands.
stoechas ‘Otto Quast’: Spanish lavender. An extremely popular lavender in California gardens, ‘Otto Quast’ is a vigorous and durable cultivar to 3’ tall with an equal spread. The unusual purple flowers form from mid-spring to fall. Hardy to 10F.
stoechas ‘Willow Vale’: An extremely vigorous selection from England’s David Tristam with a strong, upright branching habit and deep blue-violet flower spikes appearing from April to August. The flowers are subtended by rich purple bracts typical of the Spanish lavenders. ‘Willow Vale’ is similar in appearance to ‘Otto Quast’, but has proven to be a much stouter, more vigorous cultivar reaching 2-3’ tall with an equal spread.
‘Blue Cushion’: Low-growing selection to 16" tall with an equal spread and evergreen gray-green foliage. Deep blue flowers are held slightly above the foliage in summer. Tolerant of sandy or alkaline soils.
‘Goodwin Creek Gray’: A hybrid lavender with clean, aromatic, fuzzy gray-green foliage and purple flowers appearing spring to fall. Plants grow to 3’ with a tight, dense habit and prefer full sun, well-drained soil and occasional water once established. Hardy to 25F. Garden origin.
‘Martha Roderick’: Dense, compact hybrid selection to 1’ with dark blue flowers in early summer. Hardy to 10F. Garden origin.
‘Sawyers’: Perhaps "the best" cultivar in the Lavender trials at Wisley, this handsome selections grows to roughly two feet (24-32") and bears dark violet-blue flowers. Use to excellent effect en masse or keep trimmed for a low hedge.
Tree mallow. A widely variable group of summer and fall bloomers consisting of everything from annuals to large, evergreen shrubs. We offer several medium to full-sized shrubs, all of which display colorful hibiscus or hollyhock-like flowers in a variety of hues to complement the attractive evergreen foliage. Adapted to moist winters without frost, and warm, dry summers, the following prefer full sun and moderate water. Most are tolerant of maritime conditions, but require protection from cold, drying winds. Hardy to 20F. Cosmopolitan.
bicolor (syn. L. maritima): Large, mounding shrub to 8’ high and 12’ wide with light gray-green, 2-3", maple-like leaves. The showy flowers are white with rose-purple centers and purple veins. This species features a long flowering season from early spring into late fall in coastal regions. Useful as a background shrub or screen. Southern France.
thuringiaca ‘Kew Rose’: Dark pink flowers and grey-tomentose, deeply lobed leaves adorn this upright shrub to 8’. Tolerant of maritime conditions and hardy to 10F.
thuringiaca ‘Rosea’: To 6’ with downy, gray leaves and long-lasting, mauve-pink flowers.
‘Barnsley’: Upright shrub 6-8’ tall with large, pale pink flowers with a red or dark pink center. Plants bloom throughout the summer. Central and Southeastern Europe.
‘Red Rum’: A compact selection reaching 4-6’ tall and 3-4’ wide with felty, gray-green leaves and magenta-red flowers on burgundy stems. A handsome new selection particularly well-suited for small gardens. Hardy to 15F.
Lion’s tail. A variable genus of aromatic annuals, perennial herbs and shrubs. The distinctive, fuzzy flowers are white, yellow, orange or scarlet and appear in dense whorls surrounded by calyces fringed with long, orange hairs (thus the common name). A frost tender genus, the following prefer full sun with occasional dry-season watering. Hardy to 20F. South Africa.
leonurus: Upright shrub to 6’ tall and as wide with downy, bright orange-scarlet, two-lipped flowers from mid-summer to fall against dark green, narrow foliage. Plants require well-drained soils. A good accent plant for the back of perennial borders. Hardy to 20F. South Africa.
A genus of perennial herbs and shrubs noted for their attractive, sage-like flowers that can be held in spikes, racemes, panicles or cymes. Flower colors range from blues and purples to red, yellow or white. Plants prefer well-drained soils and many are drought tolerant; most are hardy to 25F. North and South America.
calycina ‘Rocky Point’: Low, spreading shrub to 2’ with delicate lavender flowers in spring. Full sun or light shade with moderate water. Excellent for
coastal gardens with other native perennials. California.
fragrans: Fragrant pitcher sage. The young burgundy stems and budding flowers offer a delightful contrast to the downy, gray-green foliage of this fragrant, 4’ shrub. The flowers form on foot long racemes and open lavender-pink with subtending burgundy bracts creating a stunning vision. Cut back after flowering to shape plants; full sun and dry conditions will moderate breakage and improve form. Southern California.
hastata: Reminiscent of a large Salvia spathacea, this handsome subshrub grows to 6’ tall with large, furry, arrow-shaped leaves. Spikes of reddish-purple, sage-like blossoms appear most of the year in coastal California, though they are heaviest in early summer. Plants are strongly aromatic, smelling like an exotic flavor of Kool-Aid. Plant in full sun or part shade in reasonably well-drained soils, and provide occasional water once established. Hardy to 20F. Mexico.
Tea tree. Decorative evergreen shrubs or trees with variable bark that can be smooth, flaking, fibrous or papery. The leaves are often thick, firm and aromatic, and the showy, springtime flowers are small, five-petalled with dark centers, and always abundant. Color varies from white through all shades of pink and red. Adapted to wind, sea spray and sandy soils, tea trees require good drainage and are best in neutral to acid soils, though many will tolerate saturated soils for a portion of the year. Provide only occasional water once established. Useful as a specimen, screen or for accent. The following are hardy to 20F. Polynesia, Australasia, New Guinea.
grandiflorum: A handsome species to 12’, we grow a clonal selection from England with soft gray leaves and rose-colored stems. Suitable as a specimen or screen in full sun or modest shade, this species is adapted to acidic soils and is drought tolerant once established. The foliage color works very well with other Mediterranean shrubs as do the white flowers borne in late winter. Australia.
laevigatum: Australian tea tree. A large shrub or small tree to 30’ high that often develops a large, gnarled trunk with spreading, twisted branches and flaky bark that peels in thin, papery strips. White flowers appear in spring against narrow, muted gray-green foliage. The tea tree adapts to most soil types, including alkaline soils, and serves as a useful screen, hedge, or windbreak in salt laden air. Also good for erosion control. Australia, Tasmania.
laevigatum ‘Reevesii’: Slow-growing with a dense habit and a formal air, this selection grows to only 4-5’ high with an equal spread. The leaves are rounder, larger and more densely set than those of the species, making it an exceptional hedge.
petersonii: Lemon-scented tea tree. Upright shrub or small tree to 25’ with pendulous branches bearing lemon-scented foliage. Mature plants have an open habit and can come to resemble small willow trees. Small white flowers appear in spring and summer and the new foliage often has a bronze-red cast.
polygalifolium ‘Yarra River’ (formerly L. brevipes): Upright shrub to 12’ with an airy, open habit. The aromatic leaves are linear and colored deep burgundy-rose; creamy springtime flowers offer a perfect contrast to the handsome foliage. Durable, drought tolerant and wonderful in the company of gray-leafed plants. Eastern Australia.
rotundifolium ‘Manning’s Choice’: Shrub to about 6’ tall and 9’ wide with large, lavender-pink flowers bearing dark green centers appearing in spring. A Native Sons favorite and arguably the best Aussie in our garden. Australia.
scoparium ‘Apple Blossom’: Noted for its abundant soft-pink, double flowers in spring and summer, this cultivar grows to 6’ tall and spreads to about 4’. The foliage is dark green and needle-like and is densely held on upright branches. Use as a specimen or informal hedge.
scoparium ‘Burgundy Queen’: Similar to other L. scoparium cultivars, but with burgundy-red foliage and double, dark-red flowers. Plants grow to 10 or 12’ tall.
scoparium ‘Crimson Glory’: Compact, densely formed shrub to 6’ with large, double red flowers and burgundy foliage.
scoparium ‘Gaiety Girl’: Abundant, salmon-pink double flowers with dark pink centers adorn this upright shrub in spring and summer. The dark green leaves are tinged red or purple and are held densely on the 6’ frame.
scoparium ‘Pink Pearl’: Upright shrub to 10’ with pale pink buds opening to double, blush-pink to white flowers.
scoparium ‘Red Ensign’: Red-purple foliage and single, red flowers on a 10’ shrub.
Lessingia filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’
California aster. Perennial subshrub with densely tomentose, silver-white foliage and a profusion of lavender flowers from late spring well into summer. This cultivar can spread widely and climb over nearby plants under ideal conditions, so occasional pruning is recommended. Best used in coastal gardens as plants suffer where summers are hot. Full sun and well-drained soils with moderate water. Hardy to 20F. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden selection from the Big Sur coastline.
Related to Proteas, these evergreen shrubs or trees are generally grown for their silvery foliage and the showy bracts that surround otherwise insignificant flowers. Plants require full sun with regular summer water and good drainage; most prefer acidic soils. Hardy to 20F. South Africa.
discolor ‘Flame Tip’: As the cultivar name suggests, the flowers look like burning tips on this medium-sized upright shrub. Yellow bracts subtend the orange and red blossoms that last four to six weeks in late winter and early spring.
‘Red Gem’: Compact shrub with rich green leaves marked by a hint of red at the margins. Red bracts subtend yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. Garden origin.
‘Safari Sunset’: Bushy and densely branched shrub to 10’ bearing multi-colored flower bracts through fall and winter. The showy bracts open a pale shade of red, blush deep wine, then pale from the center to golden-yellow toward the end of the season. Garden origin.
Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Compactum’
Texas sage. Dense, slow-growing evergreen subshrub 3-4’ tall with silvery-gray foliage and bell-shaped, purple flowers that appear sporadically throughout the year, and most heavily during summer. Often found naturally in dry climates and impoverished soil, Texas sage tolerates heat, wind and some alkali if drainage is good. Use as a clipped hedge, or mass it for use as a tall groundcover. Provide occasional water once established. Hardy to 20F. Southwestern North America.
frutescens ‘Silver Cloud’: Silvery leaves and violet flowers.
Cushion bush. Small evergreen shrub to 2’ tall and twice as wide with wiry or thread-like foliage covered by white, wooly hairs. Plants form a dense, rounded mound and are blanketed by pale yellow, almost white blooms in late spring and summer. Provide full sun, well-drained soil, moderate water and an occasional light shearing to maintain form. Thrives in coastal conditions where it will tolerate salt spray, high winds and sandy or gravelly soils. Hardy to 20F. Australia, Tasmania.
Lewisia. A succulent perennial with fleshy leaves and rootstocks, growing to 12" in bloom. The tight, low-growing, glabrous foliage forms symmetrical rosettes sometimes tinged pink, beneath short panicles of large, showy flowers. Plants bloom intermittently throughout summer and the blossoms vary in color, mostly white or pink-striped, though selected cultivars offer rose, apricot or cerise blossoms. Use in light shade on rocky embankments, in rock gardens, dry stone walls or containers. Provide occasional to infrequent water and deadhead plants for continuous bloom in mild winter areas. Hardy to 0F. Northwestern California and Southwestern Oregon.
‘Sunset Strain’: Leaves exhibit a wavy, indented margin, and flowers in a range of orange hues bloom year round in coastal climates.
A perennial herb related to the iris that spreads slowly by short rhizomes. The stiff, sword-like leaves grow to 2’ tall and are an unusual orange-green color with conspicuous orange-brown veins; they are particularly attractive when backlit as they appear to glow in warm, fiery tones. Small white flowers appear on short stalks tucked among the foliage in spring. Plant in sun or moderate shade, with moist but well-drained, slightly acid soil. Well placed at poolsides, as an accent plant, or in containers. Hardy to 15F. New Zealand.
Toadflax. Perennials that resemble small, spurred snapdragons, with narrow, medium-green leaves and flowers in a variety of colors. Excellent for rock gardens and borders, they look best when massed. Some will reseed willfully and caution should be exercised with certain species. The selections listed are reasonably well-behaved in our experience. Plant in full sun to light shade in any well-drained soil. Hardy to 10F. North temperate regions, Europe.
purpurea: Purple toadflax. Summer-flowering perennial with blue-green, linear leaves and a narrow, bushy form to 3’. Racemes of purple-blue flowers with white throats appear in summer. Reseeds in favorable circumstances but not in a brutish fashion. Hardy to below 0F. Central Italy to Sicily.
purpurea ‘Canon J. Went’: Upright perennial to 3’ with gray-green leaves. The pink blooms have orange-tinged throats and open from mid to late-summer.
‘Natalie’: Hybrid with soft blue flowers on silver-gray foliage to 18" tall. Tolerates full sun or light shade. This one hasn’t reseeded in our garden. Garden origin.
Creeping groundcover grown for its white and purple flowers that somewhat resemble small snapdragons (which they are related to). The small flowers appear in spring and last well into fall against bright green leaves that often become tinged with red in cool weather. Plants spread slowly by rooting stems and can reach up to 2’ across, though they grow no taller than 3-4". Provide regular garden water in well-drained soils with full sun. Hardy to 0F.
Flax. The following are perennials with satiny-textured, shallowly-cupped flowers in soft, clear colors that appear from late spring into summer or fall. All exhibit an erect form with branching stems and abundant narrow leaves. They prefer full sun and humus rich, well-drained, peaty soil and tolerate some aridity; plants require only occasional to infrequent supplemental water once established. Use in borders and rock gardens in combination with other sun-loving species. Hardy to 0F. Temperate Northern Hemisphere.
flavum ‘Compactum’: Golden flax. A dwarf form to 6" with an equal spread, this cultivar displays terminal clusters of cool, yellow flowers to 1" wide in summer. Europe.
perenne: Perennial blue flax. A vigorous, blue-flowered species with slender, upright stems to 2’ and grass-like foliage. The branching clusters of funnel-shaped, clear blue flowers in open in succession throughout summer and close in shade or as the afternoon light fades. Western North America.
perenne ‘Saphyr’: A compact, vigorous selection with rich, sapphire-blue flowers.
Lily turf. Grasslike, clump-forming perennials with white or lavender, bell-shaped flowers in spike-like or branched clusters held above the foliage. Plants require full sun along the coast, regular to ample water and well-drained soils. Utilize in small areas, woodland borders, lawn edgings and among rocks as a casual groundcover. Good choice beside streams or pools, but avoid salty and poorly drained areas. Spreads by fleshy rhizomes. The following are hardy to 0F. Japan, China, Vietnam.
spicata ‘Silver Dragon’: Compact form to 8" tall, with narrow silvery-white striped foliage and pale-purple flowers. This oft-used cultivar forms a broad, dense carpet and seems resistant to leaf spot diseases that sometimes afflict other Liriopes. Spreads pleasantly by rhizomes.
Tanbark oak. Evergreen tree to 150’, though usually smaller in garden settings (40-60’), with a moderate growth rate and a stately, solid appearance. Found commonly throughout California as a shrub or small tree in mixed evergreen forests or in association with redwoods or Douglas firs, the tanbark oak is an exceptional native tree that deserves a much more prominent place in California gardens. Mature trees possess furrowed bark on a short gray trunk and distinctive, dark olive-green leaves. The new foliage opens a pale, almost white, lime-green and adds a stunning contrast to the previous year’s thick leathery leaves that are glabrous above and rusty tomentose beneath. A good street or lawn tree, its lower branches sometimes touch the ground and the seasonal leaf litter creates a natural mulch at the tree’s dripline. Tolerant of shade and needing little water once established, the tan oak does require protection from hot sun in Southern California. An extract from the bark was at one time used to tan cattle hides, hence the common name. Hardy to 0F. Coast ranges, from southern Oregon to Santa Barbara County, California.
Evergreen, prostrate, shrubby perennial up to 12" tall, more rarely to 2’. The narrow, rich green leaves are hairy and give rise to brilliant blue, tubular flowers that bloom from May to June. Best in full sun or light shade in well-drained soils with occasional summer water. Often used in rock gardens and on walls, but not particularly long-lived. Hardy to 0F. Southwestern Europe.
‘Grace Ward’: Selected for its low, trailing habit to 6" high, ‘Grace Ward’ creates a dense mat of rosemary-like, dark green foliage blanketed by long-lasting, azure-blue flowers. Blooms in spring and sometimes again in fall.
Perennial herbs valued for their irregular, 2-lipped, tubular flowers in shades of red or blue that resemble honeysuckle or salvia blossoms. Utilize in herbaceous borders, beside streams or ponds, or in containers. Plant in full sun or part shade in well-drained soil with regular water and provide shelter from the wind to prevent breakage. Hardiness varies by species. Tropical and temperate climates primarily of the Americas.
tupa: Clumping perennial to 6’ with a 3’ spread. The large spikes of brick-red flowers offer a charming contrast to the olive-gray foliage in summer and fall. Best in a sheltered, sunny site. Hardy to 25F. Chile.
Japanese honeysuckle. A group of woody shrubs or vines grown primarily for their distinctive tubular flowers that provide nectar for birds and insects (and adventurous children!). Many are quite hardy, non-finicky garden subjects, but most require annual pruning in order to keep in bounds and to prevent a straggly appearance. The following may be used in full sun or part shade in any soil with regular to moderate water. Hardy to 0F. Northern Hemisphere.
‘Sundae’ Ramarama. This evergreen hybrid between two New Zealand natives adds a delicate touch to the California garden without being the slightest bit frail. A cross between Lophomyrtus bullata and L. obcordata, this upright shrub grows to 6 or 8’ with an equal spread, and bears hundreds of small rounded leaves that shiver refreshingly in an afternoon or morning breeze. The individual leaves are marbled with shades of green, cream and pink and are highlighted in summer by small white flowers. Plant in fertile soils in full sun and provide moderate water. Hardy to 10F. New Zealand.
Lupine. Annuals, perennials and shrubs with sweet-pea shaped flowers in dense spikes at the ends of leafy stems. Our native flora has many interesting selections suitable for garden use. The following shrubs have palmate leaves and are best used in dry gardens. Plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil with only occasional water once established. The following are hardy to 10F. Western Hemisphere, Mediterranean.
albifrons: White-leaf bush lupine. A rounded shrub to 5’ tall, this shrubby lupine often develops a gnarled trunk with age. The young stems and leaves are covered with silky hairs that give the shrub a distinctive silver cast, and in spring foot-long spikes appear carrying fragrant purple blossoms, marked with white or yellow. Plants often reseed, forming small colonies if allowed. California.
arboreus: Tree lupine. Fast-growing evergreen shrub to 10’ tall with gray-green leaves and short spikes of fragrant, clear yellow flowers in early summer. We also grow the blue-flowered forms for restoration purposes. Well adapted to coastal areas with cool summers, this is an excellent choice for beach gardens. Requires little water in the dry season. California.
chamissonis: Beach lupine. Named by early California botanist, Eschscoltz after his dear friend Adelbert von Chamisso, it was probably collected in 1824 on his second voyage to San Francisco. Excellent for restoration work along beaches and sand dunes, it is absolutely stunning bordered with Eschscholzia californica var. maritima. Plants grow to 3’ with brilliant, shining silver foliage and blue flowers from late spring well into summer. We continue to work with darker-flowered forms from Montana de Oro. Coastal California to Washington.
Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius
Fernleaf Catalina ironwood. Though first discovered in 1884 by William Lyon and named in part in his honor, it is a Florentine nobleman, Dr. Franceschi, who is credited with introducing this tree into the nursery trade. This pioneering nurseryman upon finding that the seed was difficult to germinate, set out to the Channel Islands with his sons to collect a full-grown specimen with roots and all. Suspected as outlaws by the Coast Guard, they were fired upon until their vessel began to leak. Furiously bailing water, they managed to reach Santa Barbara Harbor with their prize in hand. After planting, their specimen flourished and by 1897, there was sufficient stock of Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius to list it in their nursery catalogue. A slender, evergreen tree, it can reach 60’ with a 20-40’ spread, though it is often smaller in the garden. The attractive foliage is deep glossy green, aromatic and fernlike, and divided into deeply notched leaflets. The lower branches tend to brush the ground and the silvery-gray bark shreds off with distinctive charm in long, thin strips to reveal showy, redwood-colored inner bark. From May through June, small, white blossoms occur in large, flat clusters, 8-18" wide, creating cream-colored umbels that cover the tree. Best used in full sun with excellent drainage, it is fast growing in youth and tolerant of some aridity and drought near the coast, where it is best suited. The tree tolerates many types of soil, but requires periodic deep watering in the summer. Often multi-trunked and particularly impressive in groves, the ironwood can be used on steep, rocky slopes where few other trees will grow. When discovered in 1884, it was thought to be the rarest tree in North America. Native only to the Channel Islands, the ironwood shares its limited distribution with Quercus tomentella and Prunus lyonii. The Chumash people used the wood from this tree to make spears. Hardy to 20F. Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Clemente Islands.