Malacothamnus fasciculatus ‘Edgewood’
Chaparral mallow. Open, evergreen shrub to 6’ with vigorous, spreading rhizomes. The gray-green, shallowly lobed leaves give way to soft pink flowers in open panicles. Best in full sun with infrequent summer water, the chaparral mallow is useful on dry slopes mixed with other native shrubs or combined with Mediterranean perennials and shrubs. Hardy to 20F. Coastal ranges of California and Baja California.
Maytenus boaria ‘Green Showers’
Mayten. Evergreen tree up to 80’ tall grown for its tidy, clean foliage and weeping habit. The slender branches bear narrowly elliptic, finely toothed leaves on pendulous branchlets and fragrant though inconspicuous, light green, star-shaped flowers in late spring. Deep, occasional watering is recommended to discourage surface roots and the annoying suckering habit of this otherwise exceptional tree. Resistant to oak root fungus. ‘Green Showers’ has deep green leaves that are broader and more densely arranged than on the species. Plant in well-drained soils. Good feature tree in a raised bed or patio if suckering is controlled. Hardy to 10F. Chile.
Honey myrtle, Paperbark or Bottlebrush. Evergreen trees or shrubs with bottlebrush-like flowers, the honey myrtles vary greatly in form, size, leaf shape, flower color and blooming period. Most tolerate heat, wind, poor soil, limited moisture and salt air, and are usually vigorous and fast-growing. Many have decorative bark that peels in thick, papery layers as well as the distinctive flowers that attract birds and nectar feeding insects. Best in full sun with occasional water once established. A number of species have become serious weeds in other regions of the United States. The following make excellent screens or shade trees in California gardens. Hardiness varies but most will tolerate to 20F. Australia, New Caledonia, New Guinea.
elliptica: Granite honey myrtle. Shrub or small tree to 15’ tall with an equal spread. Noted for its elliptical, bluish or gray-green foliage that takes on a bronze cast when actively growing, and for its crimson-red flowers, 3-4" long that appear from spring until fall. The brown, papery bark adds an additional ornamental flourish as it shreds in long columns from the trunk and branches. Tolerant of some shade, it prefers full sun; one of the toughest shrubs we grow. Useful as a screen, windbreak, or in large containers. Western Australia.
fulgens: Scarlet honey myrtle. A small to medium shrub up to 8’ tall with green to gray-green, glaucus foliage. Flower color is variable; the clone we grow has scarlet flowers with golden anthers. Plant in full sun with excellent drainage. Western and Central Australia.
incana: Gray honey myrtle. Though size is variable in the species, our clone reaches 15’ tall with a wide spread. The weeping habit of its long, arching branches gives this plant a delicate appearance. The velvety leaves are grayish-green to smoky gray and are often tinted purplish in youth; leaves are more rarely green and glabrous. Cream-colored flowers appear in early spring. Best in full sun, but this adaptable plant will tolerate semi-shade and drought. Prune to shape into a handsome small tree. Western Australia.
thymifolia: Thyme honey myrtle. Smaller shrub usually to 4’ with an equal spread, bearing stiff, narrowly elliptic, miniature leaves resembling those of thyme. The bark is flaky with a cork-like texture, and the pink flowers in clusters have feather-like segments, quite different from the usual bottlebrush appearance. Like other Melaleucas, it is tolerant of many soil types and garden situations in California. Australia.
wilsonii: Violet honey myrtle. Medium shrub to 10’ tall with dense, fissured bark on older stems. Flowers are a warm pink and open in late spring or early summer. Best in a warm, sunny site, but tolerant of some shade. Useful as a hedge or screen. Southern Australia.
Honey flower. Striking evergreen shrub to 8’ tall and wide grown primarily for its bold and highly textural foliage. Plants bear large, blue-green leaves that are coarsely serrated and extremely pungent when brushed against; one common name, Touch-me-not, gives the gardener polite warning. Tall brownish-red flowering racemes appear in summer, but in truth it is the foliage that warrants the most attention. Almost primeval in its appearance, the honey flower is best utilized in containers as a specimen, or beside pools or streams where it can call to mind what plants must have looked like "way back when". Plant in full sun or light shade in moisture-retentive, well-drained soils. Provide moderate water. Hardy to 20F. South Africa.
Bee balm. A branched, upright perennial herb to 3’ tall with inconspicuous white flowers, bee balm is grown primarily for its strongly lemon-scented foliage. The leaves are light green and heavily veined, and release their pungent aroma when bruised or crushed. The fresh leaves are used to garnish or flavor drinks, fruit cups, salads, and fish dishes, while the dried leaves are used in potpourri. Plants prefer full sun or partial shade with rich, well-drained soils. Shear periodically to keep compact. This common herb is tough and drought tolerant, and will usually self-sow and spread rapidly. Hardy to below 0F. Southern Europe.
Dawn redwood. Known as a living fossil, this fast-growing deciduous conifer has an unusual story of discovery. In 1941 Japanese paleobotanist Shigeru Miki found something exciting during his studies of the fossil specimens of Sequoia. He noted several differences among the specimens that were sufficiently distinct to represent a new, previously unnamed fossil genus. Believing it to be extinct, he named the genus Metasequoia. (Meta comes from the Greek and means with or after.) During that same year an unusual conifer was discovered in the remote village of Modaoqi, China and was later found to be identical to the newly named fossil genus. The tree was named Metasequoia glyptostroboides. Some of the oldest dawn redwoods now growing in the United States grew from seed that originated in Modaoqi, where three Metasequoias stood, one of them one hundred feet tall and over six feet in diameter. Local villagers believed the tree to be the home of God. In 1948, this tree, still healthy and holding seed-filled cones, was estimated to be 450 years old. In 1980 the largest trees were placed under protection by the Chinese government, but long-term survival remains uncertain due to habitat encroachment. Strongly reminiscent of California’s coast redwood when leafed-out, the dawn redwood has smaller cones and bright, apple green leaves that are soft and flexible to the touch. The leaves are arranged oppositely, in pairs on short branchlets, and turn a rich, coppery-bronze in autumn, then fall usually after the first hard rain of the season to expose the outstretched naked limbs and russet-colored trunk. Trees suffer from winter wind damage in cold, dry areas, and require protection from salt winds that cause foliage burn and from hot, reflected light in enclosed areas. A stunning specimen tree in containers, it can also be planted beside, or in, shallow standing water. Tolerant of lawn watering and resistant to oak root fungus. My daughter found the fleshy branch-tips made a delectable meal for her pet bunny. Hardy to 15F. Western China.
Monkey flower. Most are perennials with widely differing needs, but all are noted for their funnel-shaped flowers with 2 "lips", that are thought to resemble a monkey face. The brightly-colored blossoms appear in a wide variety of colors during spring and early summer. The monkey flower was originally listed in a footnote from early botanist Chamisso’s journal during his scientific expedition of California with Escholtz (of Eschscholzia fame) from 1815 to 1818. He goes on to say it is, "found mixed with others belonging to the country; and most of the kinds are yet undescribed." Hardiness varies. America, South Africa and Asia.
aurantiacus: Orange bush monkey flower or Sticky monkey flower. Woody shrub to 4’ with buff-orange, 1-2" flowers from spring to summer. The variable leaves range from broad to narrow, are usually deeply-veined with slightly rolled edges, and are almost always sticky to the touch. Provide full sun, well-drained soil and moderate to occasional watering when established. Hardy to 10F. Chaparral community from Southern Oregon to California.
hybrids: (picture)A group of selections made for desirable garden traits, chief among them being flower color. The ones we grow produce large flowers in various colors; we’ve had white, shades of yellow, orange, copper, salmon, red and maroon. Plants prefer sun or light shade, good drainage and no water once established. Most grow to 3’ tall, and display showy blooms over a long period from spring into early fall. Like many in the genus, the narrow, dark green, glossy leaves are often sticky. We continue to work with many different hybrids and will report on our experiences. Richard Persoff has been working in this field for some time and has produced some promising material that is being sold under the name, ‘Persoff’s Hybrids’.
‘Jack’: Burgundy-red flowers.
‘Trish’: Dusky rose-pink blossoms.
puniceus: Red bush monkey flower. Woody, branching and glutinous shrub, 2-5’ tall, with lanceolate leaves. Our material produces scarlet flowers from spring to summer. Hardy to 20F. California to Northern Baja.
Coyote mint. Perennial to 8" with furry, pale green leaves on creeping stems, and long-lasting heads of delicate purple-red flowers in late spring and summer. The foliage has a strong minty-sage fragrance. Prefers full sun and moderate summer water with well-drained soils. Hardy to 10F. California.
Pacific wax myrtle. The name is derived from the Greek myrike, the Homeric name for tamarisk. An erect, densely branched evergreen shrub up to 30’ tall, the Pacific wax myrtle is usually smaller especially in garden situations. On coastal bluffs where it is subjected to heavy winds, it assumes a low, dwarfed form. Usually multi-trunked with smooth gray bark and a columnar habit, its main appeal is its clean, handsome foliage that provides a rich green element to the landscape throughout the year. The new leaves unfold bright apple-green and sparkle in the afternoon light against the mature dark green, glossy foliage. Useful as a screen, an informal hedge, or trained into a small formal tree. Mature plants are drought tolerant, but much more effective with regular garden water in coastal sites. Hardy to 0F. Coastal areas from California to Washington.