This hardy fountain grass is in full summer bloom, releasing pollen in the breeze. (Photo by Maureen Gilmer)
Over the past year, California has experienced drought, wildfires, floods, mudslides, and extreme cold. The rest of the Southwest has seen the same crazy extremes and has experienced high-damage potential within a short time span. Everyone will have some rethinking to do, whether making structural repairs or just […]
(Image by Maureen Gilmer)
The price of neglecting to water your bonsai in midsummer even for a day will have to be paid in a withered plant. You might as well plough the field and forget the seed as commit such negligence. –Norio Kobayashi, Japan 1951
The little-known secret of true Japanese bonsai trees is that they are watered every day. Not a single sunrise passes without […]
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 hardcore […]
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, […]
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