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Desert Gold Poppy: Create a Superbloom in Your Backyard

Desert poppies stay low on windy hilltops.
In the wave of Superbloom in California, a rare wildflower is making a massive appearance.  Desert gold poppy (Eschscholzia glyptosperma) is a smaller cousin of the famous California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) because it grows only in the desert. Virtually every aspect of the plant is dwarfed, a natural mechanism for greater efficiency in a very harsh, dry climate.
This year […]

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California Wild Lilac for Western Gardens

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus is the most commonly cultivated species of California wild lilac. (Image by Kousvet)
It is difficult to think of another plant genus that has the diversity of violet-blue flowers as Ceanothus.  There are several species available to gardeners, but the most cultivated is Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10). Most are native to California and are sometimes referred to as California wild lilac, but […]

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12 Plants Deer Would Rather Not Eat


While it is true that starving deer will eat just about anything, it is also true that in times of plenty they have definite preferences. They’ll seek out their favorites–daylilies, hostas, lilies, liriope, and yew–and ignore the rest.
If you garden in deer country, avoid endless frustration by growing plants deer would rather not eat. Be sure to plant them in sites best for their […]

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Garden Shrines: Dedicate Your Own Hallowed Ground


The pagans of Europe were the first to establish the notion of hallowed ground, an outdoor place set apart as holy.  Druid priests designated the very oldest oak in the ancient forest as an oracle, particularly when spring was close by. The priest would listen to the voices of the spirits in the gurgling of the spring and the whispers of the oak leaves, which […]

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The Best Garden Mulches and Decorative Covers

Garden stone is a longterm cover that must be applied correctly from the start.
Mulches define a garden’s character. Organic options give landscapes different looks, and all break down to help feed the soil. Others have more permanency. Either way, organic and decorative garden top dressings add beauty and distinction to plantings. Some take outdoor spaces to new visual heights, while others are simply functional in their […]

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Western Riparian Trees for Wet Soils

Trees that naturally grow by waterways or riversides make good landscape trees for wet ground.
Do you have moist ground in your yard but want trees for the site? For a gardener with wet or damp soil, finding a tree that will thrive in such conditions can be challenging. When browsing through a garden center and reading the cultural requirement for many of the plants, probably one […]

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Transformative Grasses: Anchoring Gardens and Soils

 
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 […]

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Feeding Common Winter Songbirds Naturally


A flurry of wings. A shower of seeds. Bird feeders are lively places in the winter months, and their presence is important. Natural food sources are rarer because fields and forests have been replaced by buildings and lawns, so feeders help fill a food void. But, if you have a sizable yard, you may also consider planting for birds. Many cold-season plants for winter songbirds […]

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Western Invasive Plants: Battling Ultimate Survivors

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 […]

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Dwarf Conifers for All-Season Beauty

A dwarf white spruce shows off its winter cones.
Dwarf conifers are often overlooked as both landscape or container plants.  In recent years there have been many new cultivars of dwarf conifers that have been developed to be super compact and slow growing. These make superb garden specimens that will shine all year long, especially in the winter months.
Dwarf Conifers Defined
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