Star thistle is one of the worst of all western weeds.
The empire of plants is expansionist, and certainly colonial. Immigrant plants are designed by nature to be incredibly self sustaining through droughts, floods, and wildfires in their place of nativity, and beyond. They must be able to survive Earth-shattering asteroids and volcanoes without becoming extinct. The most competitive immigrants are from droughty climates where it takes […]
This ponytail palm at the San Diego Zoo demonstrates how graceful they become.
Many believe Dr. Seuss’ Truffula Tree was inspired by a curious cypress in a San Diego park. But maybe this isn’t true at all. Maybe it’s San Diego’s epic ponytail palms that were the real inspiration for the Lorax story. These are botanically known as Beaucarnea (“beautiful flesh” in Latin), a name that refers […]
The calabash or bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) has been valued worldwide since ancient times and believed to be one of the oldest plant introductions into the Americas. Early botanical research has long attributed the origins of American bottle gourds to Africa, believing specimens floated across the Atlantic to reach the New World, though some studies tell a different story. Regardless of their path of arrival, […]
Over time, evergreen shrubs provide enough protection to add perennials to spaces around the heathers.
The Pacific Coast becomes a cold, damp and windy world, sandwiched between Pacific Palisades and redwood forested hills along Highway 1 in Mendocino, California. The windswept tableland is brutal for most plants but grasses. Native Monterrey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) trees are capable of standing up to the wind, too. Many century-old cypress […]
Just imagine if you could grow a drought-tolerant plant that may actually reduce fly populations. One group of South African succulents, carrion flowers (Stapelia spp.), does just that. Unique carrion flowers have evolved very exotic starfish-like blossoms that kill the most ubiquitous insect in Africa: the fly. But death does not come until these insects have first pollinated the blooms. Prey are always prevalent […]
Gravel can make architectural plants stand out like sculpture. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)
Nowhere are water-needy lawns disappearing as fast as in arid southern California and the American Southwest. This is the proving ground for a lot of alternatives to traditional turfgrass. A big problem is always the front yard, where your property value is rooted in curb appeal. What you do there will have a […]
Dense and colorful, Aloe juvenna (foreground) makes a great rockery subject or potted specimen.
While we ogle big fancy aloes blooming in frost-free gardens, their sensitivity to cold winters limits their cultivation elsewhere. The plants in the same genus as Aloe vera, the popular Arabian species used for skin care, rarely survive the winters of sub-tropical zones. For everyone who cannot grow succulents outdoors year round, […]
Pots of fine-textured Cape rushes define each tier of The Huntington’s California Garden. (Image care of The Huntington)
Do you need a big accent container plant for patio or garden that asks for little water? In California, designs resulting from water cutbacks are changing the way we look at potted plants. Now they are a bigger part of the landscape, nestled in the planting or set at crucial spots to please the eye. These […]
This garden features the best drought-resistant, low-fuel-volume flowers for firescapes. (Maureen Gilmer)
You can fight fires with flowers. When landscaping around high-fire-hazard homes, the key is to think about minimizing fire fuel volume, or the amount of burnable material plants provide to oncoming fire. For example, a pine tree has a huge fuel mass, but a sage plant, with it’s lovely lavender-blue flowers, has negligible fuel mass.
String of pearls is delicate yet tough, low maintenance and incredibly rewarding.
They are living jewelry no woman can resist, the most coveted house plant, string of pearls. This tender succulent is feminine looking, delicate yet tough, low maintenance and incredibly rewarding. There are two species that can transform traditional or modern spaces, indoors or out. Hang them like living necklaces to bring awe to your home.
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