Ringing in the New

Arctostaphylos pajaroensis, just starting to bloom.

Today is the lunar New Year, and, after a long time away from the garden, I was so happy to step out and see my different manzanitas (Arctostaphylos) ringing in the New.

Arctostaphylos is an amazingly versatile species, from groundcover to small tree. Together with our native currants, it's the early bloomer in the garden, some species start in December, though most bloom in late winter.

Arctostaphylos pajaroensis in the front garden, about 3 feet high.

Because I don't live close to wild areas, I've planted many different species in my garden.

  • A. pajaroensis, quite possibly my favorite manzanita with pink blossoms, grey leaves, and copper-colored leaf tips. Can become 8 ft tall, but grows slowly.
  • A. 'St. Helena', a beautiful large shrub with fairly big grey leaves. I'm hoping to grow it 6-8 feet tall against a wall of the house. Just starting to bloom. 
Arctostaphylos S. Helena
Here's hoping that St. Helena will grow a foot or two this year!
  • A. 'Howard McMinn' a commonly planted variety that is tolerant of difficult conditions grows in a fairly shady part of the front garden and will be 4-5 ft tall.
  • A. 'Sentinel', with attractive dark green leave and a vase shape is similar to Howard McMinn. I used in in my hedge I'm a little worried it won't fill in enough, but let's wait and see. 
  • A. hookeri 'Woodside', a bright green low shrub / high ground cover that tolerates some shade. 
  • A. 'Emerald Carpet', a reliable ground cover that can over 5x5 feet, though some die-back is common. 
As I'm composing my list I realize that I've stuck to the tried and true - though I also have to admit that a few not-so-common manzanita, most noticeably those that prefer sandy soil, did not make it in my garden. Maybe it wasn't me selecting the plants, maybe it was the plants selecting me!.

Regardless, it seems like a wonderful way to ring in the New Year, to hold some hope for the garden. Yes, it's been dry, but maybe it will all work out.  Meanwhile, the first bees and even the hummingbirds gather around and celebrate with me, knowing that spring is not so far away.

A. parjaroensis and bumble bee - this photo is from last year, and from a little later in the year.


Jason said…
This is a genus you can't find in my area,but looks alike a great bunch of plants.
ryan said…
That's a good collection. They may not be obscure, but they're all really nice.
I added an A. pajaroensis to the garden last year. It only took me two years to find a decent nursery specimen. However, a couple of weeks ago I thrilled to see it blooming, even though it's so small. It seems to bloom a little earlier here, even before Dr. Hurd. I'm still experimenting with Manzanita here. Our location isn't ideal for them, but if these continue to do well, I'd love to add more, and they do provide very good winter food for the bees (although I haven't, yet, seen a bee on ours!)