Out with the Old - In with the New

Traditionally, gardeners in California (and especially garden bloggers) sing the praise of the beautiful toyon (Heteromeles Arbutifolius) during the holiday season. Hollywood supposedly got its name from the hills covered with something that looked like holly but was actually toyon. 

When I go hiking, I often come across healthy, beautiful specimens covered in red berries. We even chose toyon as our native plant of the month in 2009 - and at that time I was still hopeful that my little espaliered toyon would grow up as a focal point against the west facing fence to look a little bit like this.

Alas, it was not to be. No red berries in 2010 and 2011, and in 2012, two (berries, not clusters of berries). Instead, we looked at this all summer.

The pruning and espaliering had actually worked quite well, but I must admit that the sickly grey-green leaves were not attractive. When I talked to a gardening friend about it, she started to laugh "Well, it's a member of a rose family. When it's happy, it looks great, but it sounds like it's not happy in the spot where you have it."

I gave it 2 more months, maybe the rains would make a difference? Then, a few days before the end of the year, I decided to cut my losses. I'm not done digging out the roots, but I've put most of my unhappy plant into the city garden waste, where the high temperatures at the composting facilities will make short work of the pathogens that are  troubling my treasure.

What's next? Who knows - right now, I'm thinking of planting a Malocathamnus jonesii, a mallow from San Louis Obispo that was part of my loot during the native plant exchange in early December. But no matter what I do, I know I'll enjoy a fresh start in the New Year.

Happy Gardening, friends!


Jason said…
How sad for you. I hope you have better luck this year. Those berries are beautiful, and I bet the birds love them.
Gardening is often about editing, that's part of the fun. I've read that Toyon can be very persnickety. I only have the one at the moment, just two years old, and no fruit set yet, but the leaves look healthy, and it's growing well up on a slope in lean soil. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it will do well. I had planned to plant more of it, but the cyanide it produces is toxic to goats. Fortunately, my plant is inside a fenced area. Looking forward to seeing what you replace this plant with!
Country Mouse said…
Isn't it great when you finally make a decision and take action? I like that feeling. Our wild toyon on the north side of the ridge gets sooty mold (ants, aphids, honeydew, sooty mold). On the south slope - none. But not a lot of berries. Along our road I see some healthy specimens and here and there those intense berries - but not as much as you might think. My conundrum is whether to coppice the large toyon that are growing close to the house. I'm thinking I might just try that. Maybe leave a few hummingbird perches though - they do like to bask in the morning sun on the straggly high-up twigs. Good luck with your new choice!