Plant of the Month: Carpenteria Californica

Some plants are photo-shy, and even on the third try I've had trouble with one of my favorites, Carpenteria Californica. So I ask your forgiveness if the pictures don't quite do justice to the beauty of the plant itself.

The Western Horticultural Society has this to say:" The white blossom with its boss of rich yellow stamens look like a single rose. The well groomed evergreen foliage is a plus in all seasons. Carpenteria belongs to the hydrangeacea family and is the sole species in the genus. It is native to the foothills of Fresno and Madera Counties, where it grows along the edges of seasonal creeks."

In my garden, I've tried Carpenteria in two places. In the front, where it's sunny, she almost perished, even with some extra water. I finally dug her out and nursed her in a pot for a bit until she looked respectable enough to be given to a friend, who had just the spot. In the back, where it's shady, she grows along the fence and is over 8 feet tall, getting taller every year in an effort to catch more sun.

Blooms start in mid-April, this time we had some blossoms for the garden tour, and go on for about 8 weeks. After that, my dear Carpenteria looks a little spent, but if I snip off the spent flowers and usually some dried-up leaves, she looks respectable for the rest of the year with nice green leaves even with little water.

And soon enough, after the rains in winter, the buds appear again and I look forward to another spectacular show.


lostlandscape said…
I like that you didn't give up on the plant and gave it a second chance in what turned out to be a space to its liking. I guess I lucked out on a good spot the first go-round, a place that gets a little more shade than sun. I agree that it's a good plant of the month selection.
Country Mouse said…
What a gorgeous plant. Las Pilitas says it grows in "sun to shade" but sounds like it really prefers shade. I'm surprised to read there that deer aren't particularly fond of it. Maybe it would like the shady spot at the back of my Dad's cottage, near the spigot. I'll put her on my Fall planting list for sure.
I personally find white plants very hard to photograph, especially in the sun. Last year I took many photos, on many days, and I still couldn't get a great shot of my white Japanese anemone!!
Michelle said…
That is very pretty. If it is deer tolerant then I might have a spot where it might be happy. Someday I'm going to get more natives going in my garden.
ryan said…
Carpenteria's are really nice if you pull of the old leaves after flowering. I've read that they are more widely planted in England than in California.
donna said…
Reading your blog has sparked an interest for me....educating myself a bit more on the native plants where I live. You mention the Carpenteria being native to the foothills of Fresno and Madera Counties. I've never thought of plants be native to a specific area like a county....I was thinking more like state or region. I better get busy reading.