Tuesday, March 10, 2009

GFGR Part 3: Trees and Shrubs

The suspense builds, and everyone can't wait to see the AFTER picture. So, to avoid disappointment later, let me tell you now: It's not too impressive --YET. I bought exclusively 1 gallon (or smaller) plants, which is cheaper and more sustainable (gas for transportation). After a month of rain, the sun has just come out, so nothing much is blooming YET. The front garden looks tidy and pleasant, but will really be abundant and impressive next spring.
However, I really want to catalog the plants, the design process, and the choices I made for all the many visitors that will surely arrive for the Going Native Garden Tour, only 5 weeks away.
As we go through the plant, we'll look at the questions I asked myself for each plant I decided to use:
  • How big will it get?
  • Is it drought tolerant (I want the irrigation off in 3 years)?
  • Is it right for the shade/sun location I'm choosing?
  • Does it need good or perfect drainage?
  • Is it fragrant?
  • Is the color of foilage and blossoms pleasant?
  • Is it evergreen? (Not everything needs to be, but in CA, we expect some green in winter)
  • How long does it bloom?
  • Will it attract birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds?
As I go through the plants in the next few posts, I'll answer those questions for each plant. This can be boooring, unless you're into plants or in the middle of a design yourself. I hope Country Mouse will lighten things up with some alternating posts with great pictures and witty discourse (pressure is on, cmouse ;->).

The following picture (and you can see I'm not Garden Chick) has the trees and shrubs in the plan colored and lettered. The taller shrubs are in the back, allowing a view from the street (at the bottom of the plan).

Two trees came with the house and are not native. Both are dark brown circles labeled with L in the lower left quadrant. The left-most L is a Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle) with attractive blossoms and stunning fall color. The East Bay MUD book lists it as drought tolerant. The second is a Liquidambar, a city tree and has very good fall color, a nice size, and fruit pods beloved by birds. The city told me it can get by without summer water. So, to keep a place for the birds to hide and roost, and to reduce the carnage, I kept both.
I also planted two new trees (brown circles):
C -- Cercis occidentalis (California redbud) has delightful pink/red flowers, nice foilage, and interesting seedpods beloved by birds. It grows slowly and requires good to perfect drainage, so I planted it right at the edge of the streambed. I have a picture of one in this post but hope to prune mine as a small tree of 6-7 feet.
M -- Arbutus menziesii (Madrone) is the one tree every visitor to California notices in the forest. It has reddish bark that peels, and I like its open structure. Hard to grow in gardens, it requires very good drainage. I had a mound built for it and keep my fingers crossed. Here's a picture from Wikipedia.

On to the shrubs.

H (yellow) -- Heteromeles arbutifolia 'Davis Gold' is a Toyon with golden berries. Toyon are ubiquitous in our area, beloved by birds, and evergreen. Toyons have a pleasing structure and are drought tolerant. I bought a 5-gallon Heteromeles to speed things up, its 1-gallon little brother I planted in the back garden is taking its time growing up. You can see Davis Gold still needs staking. (Note to self: Remove twisty before taking photo next time.)

CT (dark blue) and Ct (purple) are two Ceanothus (California wild lilac). When you hike in this part of California in spring, you see ceanothus everywhere, large or smaller flower clusters ranging from dark blue over purple to white.
Always humming with happy insects. A little fragrant. Evergreen and very drought tolerant. In fact, if you water Ceanothus too much, they will live a short life or just die on the spot. I picked a few taller Ceanothus Tilden Park, which grow 5-6 x 5-6 feet and tolerate shade (and have to, until summer). And I picked a shorter Ceanothus thysifolius "Skylark". Skylark is doing well in my back garden (though the photo is from Wikipedia) and grows to 2-3 feet high and 4-6 feet wide.

A (light blue circle) -- Arctostaphylos densiflorus 'Howard McMinn' is a staple in both private gardens and corporate plantings. This manzanita has a beautiful structure, white flower clusters in the spring, and is beloved by bees and other insects. I'm thinking I should have started with 2 gallon or 5 gallon plants for that one, my babies don't look happy and haven't grown much. But they're still alive, so we'll see what happens.

L (purple cicle) -- Lepechinia fragrans (Pitcher sage) is not a sage at all but does have a nice minty fragrance and lilac blossoms. It tolerates shade, is drought tolerant and evergreen, and can get rangy and tall. I haven't had one in my garden, but the fragrance so near the front door seemed a winner. Hummingbirds like it too.

4 comments:

Daffodil Planter said...

I like your choices! Be advised, my redbud is about 12 feet tall and won't quit. I had planted a sunny garden at its edge and in just one year the redbud got wider and turned it into a shade garden.

Country Mouse said...

Daffodil - I wish I had your luck. My little redbuds are about 3 years old and 2 feet tall. They must not like the soil I guess, or need more sun.

Shirley "EdenMaker" said...

I like your decision to use native plants. I have some of my favorites on your list- manzanita and ceonothus are 2 of them. Looking forward to seeing after photos.
Shirley

queerbychoice said...

I don't think redbud can be all that picky about drainage, since it's surviving in my yard. Granted, the redbud is planted in one of the higher areas where there isn't actually standing water, but I'm sure the drainage can't be described as particularly great anywhere in my yard.

Good luck with your plants! You're doing a lot better than me, especially with the buckwheats. I've tried over and over to grow Eriogonum fasciculatum, and it always dies within a month after I plant it.