Regular readers of this blog might remember that as part of our energy efficiency upgrade, we had to ask our neighbor for permission to remove the boxwood hedge between our properties because PG&E had to put a new line right where the hedge was. Our neighbor graciously agreed to have us remove the hedge, and also to have me suggest some plants. Of course I suggested a selection of California natives, and we eventually agreed on a combination of 3 species. A few months ago, when PG&E was finally done, I had my landscape contractor use some of the dirt he had to remove to stabilize the urbanite pathway to build a berm. Most natives love good drainage, and I wanted to give my babies the best chance. So, what did I choose?
Two Rhamnus californica (California coffeeberry), shown here with some deer grass and yellow San Bruno aster in the background. Rhamnus does well in both sun and shade, and I planted the two closer to the house in the shadier part of the hedge strip.
Between the two coffeeberries I planted one Arctostaphylos 'Sentinel' manzanita, and I planted two more on the sunny side of the second coffeeberry. Sentinel is one of the rare manzanitas that prefers to be taller than wide (or at least not much wider). I'm looking forward to the blossoms in early spring and the graceful dark branches look great.
Closest to the street are two Arctostaphylos 'Sunset'. This species grows wide and possibly not quite as high and I hope it will bloom a little later than 'Sentinel', though the favored most sunny location might put them in sync.
All three species should grow to 5-6 feet in height, and I'm hoping for a foot of growth per rainy season. To help them get established, I asked my irrigation contractor to put a temporary drip on both sides of the bushes. I can attach a hose every 10 days or so and deep water to encourage good root development.
I finished each plant with golden gravel because bark mulch can result in fungus infection especially on manzanita. Besides, I'm interested in trying the mulch-less approach on my side strip to offer the bees some bare ground. An interesting experiment.
For now, I'm hoping my mini-hedge will make it through the summer in one piece and hope to see something approaching a hedge in the spring of 2013. At that point, I can remove the temporary irrigation. But even before that, I'm hoping for coffeeberries in a few months and beautiful manzanita blossoms and berries next spring.