What's that plant?

Last Sunday, after a very fruitful trip to Native Revival Nursery (more about that later) I went to the local Summerwinds Nursery in search for a few things Native Revival hadn't carried. The Summerwinds Nursery has a nice native plant section with healthy plants from Summerwinds Nurseries, though their selection isn't very big.

I was lucky to find exactly what I was looking for, an upright native Mahonia. Strangely enough, the plant, which was labeled as Mahonia aquifolium 'Skylark' was supposed to grow only to 3 feet (so the label said). I needed a plant that grew to about 5 feet. I went home, and the Suncrest Nurseries website assured me that, just like all upright Mahonias, this one would grow to about 5 feet.

Reassured, I returned to the nursery, put 3 Mahonias in my cart, and walked toward the register.


"What's that plant?" a woman stopped me. "A Mahonia," I replied. "It's in the California Natives section. They have a few more." Excited, the woman walked in the direction I was pointing. The same thing happened at the register. Two people wanted to know what the plant was, and I explained.

I left happy and somewhat puzzled. Yes, I can believe that everyone likes Mahonia, with its green foilage and yellow blossoms in the spring and interesting fall color and blue berries in the fall. But it seemed noone had seen the plant before. Do people still stay away from the California Native section just because they're sure they won't like natives? Is the myth of dried sticks and brown grasses still alive?

I'll never know, but I'm very happy with my purchase, and hope they'll enjoy my garden, grow to 5 feet and give me flowers and berries for the birds.

Comments

Rosey Pollen said…
Those dang labels. who can trust them? Glad you got the right ones.
Rosey
Laura Z said…
Congrats on the native plant converts! I think you're right about people thinking natives are brown sticks, and prickly cactus. We gotta keep getting the word out.
Laura
Christine said…
Sounds like you successfully re-branded the Mahonia by taking it out of that cursed native section and into the "I want what she has" area! Way to spread the word!
Brad B said…
I'm a big fan of mahonia. Don't like planting it because the leaves usually poke me a fair bit, but once in the ground, it's a beautiful plant all year. May they grow to exactly 5 feet.
Barbara said…
Skylark barberry is a favorite of mine as well. I have 2 in my garden and they are still pretty small but the ones at Rancho do indeed get to be 5 ft. tall. They get even wider there too, though they can be controlled by cutting stems to the ground - kind of like Nandina.

Having been responsible for writing the labels for the Rancho plant sales I understand how errors are made. I once labeled a plant as getting 12 inches tall when it actually get 12 feet tall. Mistakes happen, no matter how careful we are.
susie said…
I love mahonias....I have a spot where I am planning some Mahonia 'Golden Abundance'...if I can find it....
Wild Flora said…
I miss being able to grow Mahonias! (That's what moving from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast will get you.) I remember them as especially useful because they were just about the only shrubs that were evergreen in the Seattle area, where I used to live. Thanks for helping to promote them. (I love what Christine said about moving them out of the natives enclave and into "I want what she has.")