Heavenly bamboo. A genus of only one species, making it a favorite of taxonomy students everywhere, the heavenly bamboo is not a true bamboo, but an evergreen, summer-flowering shrub grown for its ornamental foliage and flowers. The species reaches 6-8’ tall, but can be easily pruned to a shorter height if desired. Perhaps its most striking feature is the pinnately divided foliage that blushes multiple shades of color throughout the year and has a lacy, almost delicate appearance. The new growth opens pink or bronzy-red, then turns a soft, pale green with age, only to blush almost purple in fall, and often turning to fiery colors of crimson, red, and burgundy in winter. Small creamy-white flowers, some blushed with pink, appear in loose, erect 6-12" clusters from late spring to summer. Shiny red berries follow if plants are grouped together. Plants perform best in rich soil and require moderate to occasional water when established. Resistant to oak root fungus, the heavenly bamboo will tolerate shade, but foliage colors improve in full sun. Hardy to 10F. Japan.
‘Umpqua Chief’: A slow-growing variety to 8’ tall, it has large leaves divided into broad, thick leaflets. The new growth opens maroon, then turns dark green during the warm season and then again to plum with the onset of winter.
‘Umpqua Princess’: Sturdy stemmed selection to 6’ tall, it is much like ‘Umpqua Chief’ but with large leaves and narrower leaflets that offer a finer texture. Lush, bright green in warmer months, the foliage is tinged red and orange in winter.
The following are perennials grown for their nearly ever-present blooms in a range of colors from white to pink to blue. Plants grow to approximately 12" tall with an equal spread and require minimal care beyond regular garden water. Dedicated gardeners might wish to give a periodic shearing to remove tired blooms, but plants will perform without such attention to detail. Plant in full sun and well-drained soils. Good choice for color bowls, baskets and showy borders. Hardiness varies. South Africa.
fruticans ‘Innocence’: White flowers with a yellow central spot appear in abundance through the spring and summer. Plants are typically taller than wide, growing to 12" tall a somewhat lesser spread. Hardy to 15F.
fruticans ‘Innocence Compact’: Similar to ‘Innocence’, but growing only to 8 or 10" tall. Hardy to 15F.
‘Blue Bird’: Perhaps our most popular Nemesia, ‘Blue Bird’ possesses a compact, semi-trailing habit, and numerous, long-lasting blue-purple blossoms marked by a central yellow spot. These heat tolerant perennials grow to 12" with an equal spread. Hardy to 15F.
Catnip or Catmint. Members of the mint family, these summer-flowering perennials are vigorous, spreading and well adapted to California gardens. Fully hardy, they are best used in full sun, and moist but well-drained soils. Useful as groundcovers or in herbaceous border plantings, many have aromatic foliage that attracts cats, hence, the common names. Most are hardy to at least 10F. Eurasia, North Africa, mountains of tropical Africa.
x faassenii: Sterile garden hybrid (N. racemosa x N. nepetella) that forms a soft, gray-green mound to 2’ high. Abundant, lavender-blue flowers appear in loose spikes from late spring until summer above the aromatic foliage. Shear off dead spikes to achieve repeat blooming and to maintain a compact form. Plants spread up to 3’ to form a large, gray-green mat. Hardy to below 0F.
faassenii ‘Blue Wonder’: A compact selection 12-14" high with long-lasting blue flowers.
faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’: To 2’ high with gray felted leaves, scented foliage and blue flowers throughout the summer. Hardier and tougher than the species, with a bolder presence.
grandiflora ‘Dawn to Dusk’: An open, mounding selection with pink flowers surrounded by a smoky violet calyx. Plants bloom from June to September and grow to 30" tall with an equal spread. Hardy to 0F.
racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’: Spreading form to 2’ across holding deep lavender-blue flowers from May to September and maintaining a clean appearance throughout the season. Cut plants back in August for repeat blooming in fall. Hardy to 0F.