California bay laurel, California bay or Oregon myrtle. Aromatic, evergreen shrub or tree, growing to 75’ tall and over 100’ wide in the wild. Ascending branches with rounded crown up to 60’. In gardens it tends to grow more slowly, reaching 20-25’ tall and wide and is often multi-trunked. Thick oblong deep yellow-green leaves are glossy, 2-5” long with pointed tips, and are intensely aromatic when crushed, causing nausea and headaches in some people. Tiny yellowish flowers provide a yellow cast in spring and are followed by inedible, olive-like fruits that turn purple. Give full sun or partial shade. Grows best and fastest in deep, fertile, well-drained soil with regular water, but tolerates other conditions, including aridity. Has a very neat appearance, making a good screen, background plant, tall hedge, patio tree or street tree. Leaves may be used for seasoning in cooking. Exceedingly tolerant of shade throughout its life. Same family as the tree that furnished the “classical” victory wreath. Hardy to 10F. Western North America particularly Oregon to San Diego.
Vaccinium ovatum ‘Wunderlich’
Evergreen huckleberry or California huckleberry. A vigorous, large-leafed selection of a common native shrub selected by Suzanne Schettler. Leaves are leathery, oval, lustrous dark green to 1” with bronze toned new growth. Small white, bell-shaped flowers appear from March to May on closely branched stems. Black berries form in the fall and are useful in pies, jams, jellies and syrups. Dense habit to 8’ but it can easily be trimmed into a hedge or grown in containers. Moderate to occasional water. Hardy to 10F. Western North America.
Inside-out flower. Evergreen perennial to 2’ tall forms broad, lacy, carpets from spreading rhizomes. Graceful, slender and fern-like, it is fully deciduous in cold-winter areas. Features medium green, shallowly lobed leaflets held on wiry stems. Flowers are small and white, carried abundantly in clusters. Plant in light to medium shade in reasonably well-drained soil with moderate to regular water. Useful as groundcover in partial shade, a woodland garden or shaded rock garden. Hardy to 10F. Oregon to Central California.
Mullein. Large genus consisting of perennials, biennials and shrubs noted for their basal rosettes of foliage topped by striking spikes of flowers in summer. Leaves can be glossy or velvety. The following selections do best in full sun with moderate water. All require well-drained soil. Hardiness varies. Europe, temperate Asia.
‘Jackie’: Dwarf mullein. Forms basal rosettes of foliage that produce 30” spikes of pale salmon to apricot-colored blossoms. Blooms continuously from late spring to early summer, and if deadheaded, again in fall. Durable and tough, it will flourish in difficult garden situations provided it has good drainage and full sun. Short-lived, but can be easily propagated by root cuttings or division. Hardy to 0F. Garden origin.
‘Raspberry Ripple’: A promising new cultivar believed to have been a seedling from Verbascum blattaria, this June and July flowering perennial bears a multitude of creamy pink flowers each marked by a raspberry colored central splotch. Plants reach 18-24” in flower.
Vervain. Common name derived from Celtic words fer, to remove, and faen, meaning stone. Once used as a treatment for bladder stones. The following are fast growing perennial herbs grown for their heads of brilliantly colored flowers. These are generally low-growing mounds of fine, divided foliage that are useful in bedding, borders, containers, along driveways, on dry banks and walls where they can display color all summer. Give full sun with good air circulation and moderate to occasional water once established. Hardiness varies. Tropical and subtropical America.
lilacina ‘De la Mina’: Recent introduction from the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, selected on Cedros Island by Carol Bornstein. Plants form a tidy, handsome mound to 3’ high with an equal spread. Deeply cut leaves are mid-green and held densely on the stems. Dark purple flowers on 8” stems form above the foliage most of the year in coastal California. Useful for dry borders and especially effective mixed with native Salvias. Plants have demonstrated surprising tolerance of heavy soils in a four-year old test planting. Attractive to butterflies. Hardy to 20F. Baja California.
bonariensis (syn. V. patagonica): Purple top. Angled stems rise wand-like from basal foliage to as much as 5’ and are topped with clusters of bright purple flowers. Good choice for the dry garden with full sun or light shade and best kept out of strong winds. Plants reseed freely in favorable sites. Hardy to 15F. South America.
Speedwell. Bushy to mat-forming herbs grown for their small, but abundant flowers of lavender, pink and intense blues, in spring and summer. If flowers are picked, the corolla soon falls, hence the common name of ‘speedwell’, meaning ‘good-bye.’ Require full sun, regular water and well-drained soils. Useful in sunny borders and rock gardens. Hardiness varies. North temperate regions, particularly Europe and Turkey.
alionii ‘Blue Pixie’: Mat-forming selection to 8” tall with a wider spread, it bears deep blue flowers on upright spikes from June to July. The leathery dark green foliage hugs the ground in compact rosettes making it an ideal rock garden or edging plant. Hardy to 0F. Southwestern Europe.
peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue: Cultivar selected in the former Soviet Georgia by Ray Lancaster. Mounding perennial to 6” high and spreading slowly on procumbent stems. Young foliage tinted red-bronze turning to rich green as season progresses. Intense blue flowers with a white eye cover the stems in early spring and again in fall. We have used it successfully in moderate shade as a small-scale woodland groundcover. Full sun or part shade with moderate water. Hardy to 5F. Soviet Georgia.
‘Sunny Border Blue’: Grows upright to 18” high and features lovely blue flowers with a long bloom season in midsummer.
‘Waterperry’: Charming prostrate perennial with small blue-green leaves held on creeping stems. Pale blue flowers form along the stems in spring and early summer. Full sun along the coast, shade elsewhere. Regular water. Hardy to 10F. Garden origin.
Violet, Viola or Pansy. Variable group of perennials, often treated as annuals. Cheery flowers provide colorful displays winter and spring in mild regions, and spring through summer in cooler regions. Tolerate full sun on coast and some shade inland. Good in most soils with regular watering. Useful in borders, edgings, containers, and as massed groundcovers in association with spring-flowering bulbs. Hardiness varies. Temperate zones, particularly north temperate and Andes.
labradorica: Labrador violet. A tiny violet growing to 3” high with roundish 1” leaves tinged purple. Small lavender-blue flowers form most heavily in spring with occasional flowers most of the year in our garden. Spreads aggressively by runners and is useful as a small scale groundcover in shade or for filler between stepping stones or paving blocks. Hardy to 0F. Northern United States, Greenland, Canada.
odorata ‘Queen Charlotte’: Sweet Violet, Garden violet or English violet. Dark green heart-shaped leaves and fragrant flowers, violet, rose or white. Hardy to 10 F. Southern and Western Europe.
odorata ‘Royal Robe’: Sweet violet. Long-stemmed variety growing to 8” high with 1” dark purple, fragrant blossoms in spring and fall. Dark green, heart-shaped leaves are toothed on the margins and the tufted, long runners root at the joints. An old favorite for full sun or light shade with moderate water. Hardy to below 0F. Europe.
‘Etain’: Short-lived perennial with scented 2” flowers colored with a creamy face and edged with narrow soft purple borders and don’t forget the tiny orange eye. These cheerful colors are held on 4” stems most of the year in our garden and act as a strong winter anti-depressant! Full sun or light shade with regular water. Hardy to 10F. Garden origin.
‘Rebecca’: Similar to ‘Etain’ but with slightly smaller flowers that are marbled white and lavender and bear somewhat ruffled petals. Plants are also much more strongly scented.
Chaste tree. Adaptable small tree or large shrub to 15’ with a graceful fountain-shaped structure. Winter deciduous and bountiful in its attributes, with attractive cork-like winter bark, fragrant lavender-blue flowers in summer, soothing gray-green foliage, and a graceful habit throughout the year. Flowers resemble Buddleias or lilacs, with 6” racemes held at branch tips. A durable plant for full sun and hot, dry climates with moderate to occasional water. Hardy to 0F. Western Asia and Southern Europe.
Vitis ‘Roger’s Red’
Wild grape. Fast growing, deciduous vine climbing to 25’ with support. Large leaves open apple green turning to mid-green through summer and finally a bright crimson in autumn. Fall coloring is reliable in even cool coastal climates. Effective, climbing up a tree or over a wall or fence. The summer flowers are yellow-green and fragrant, followed by small, insignificant clusters of purple grapes. Best in full sun to partial shade with rich, moisture-retentive soils. Moderate water. Hardy to 0F.
Group of finely textured, evergreen shrubs from Australia grown for their form and soft colors. Useful in full sun and dry, frost-free conditions. Suitable for backgrounds, banks, screens and coastal areas. Wind tolerant. They are reported to resist deer predation. Moderate to occasional water. Hardy to 25F. Australia.
fruticosa ‘Morning Light’: An evergreen shrub with spreading, rounded growth to 3’ tall and wide. Cream and green variegated leaves offer a distinctive color to contrast with dark green shrubs. The white flowers are not particularly showy, plants are more commonly grown for the rich variegated foliage. Sun to part shade and moderate to occasional water.
fruticosa ‘Wynyabbie Gem’: Forms a mounding shrub to 4’ tall and 5’ across, featuring small linear leaves that are distinctly pointed, gray-green above and pale below. Lavender flowers borne throughout the year in coastal California. Handsome shrub that maintains a durable, dense habit and shape. Full sun or light shade with moderate to occasional water.
rosmariniformis: Dense mound to 5’ tall with gray-green leaves and a white lower surface. Small white flowers bloom throughout the year in milder climates and through spring in colder areas. Durable shrub for full sun, needing good drainage, with only occasional water when established.
‘Mia’s Wonder’: Evergreen shrub 24-30” tall and spreading to 3’ across with small gray-green leaves and white to palest pink flowers held over a long season from spring into fall. Selected by Mia McCarville at Cedros Gardens in Southern California. Hardy to 20F. Garden origin.
Grass tree. Long-lived woody shrub reaching 12’ that resembles a narrow-leafed bunch grass when young, then slowly develops a stout trunk that is nearly black. Leaves are 4’ long and older plants bear candle-like flower stalks to 6’ tall, covered with small white flowers. A unique slow-growing shrub for full sun or light shade and well-drained soil. Prefers dry, loose, sandy soil, tolerates heat and drought, and needs infrequent water once established. Useful in containers, on banks or hillsides, or as a specimen. Hardy to 20F. Australia.
Our Lord’s candle. Dense, evergreen cluster of rigid, gray-green basal leaves to 2’ long, often shorter. Forms a tight basal rosette 4-5’ in diameter. Leaf tips are needle sharp so exercise caution when placing in the garden. Single flower stalk 6-14’ tall, develops on mature plants from mid-spring to summer, covered in showy, creamy white flowers. Plants die after blooming but young plants commonly develop from offsets. Adapted to heat, aridity and drought. Requires full sun and well-drained soils with periodic deep watering. Useful in containers, rock gardens and as specimens if placed out of harm’s way. Hardy to 10F. Southern California mountains, California coast and Baja California.
Fairy lily or Rain lily. Bulbous perennial with rush-like leaves and funnel-shaped flowers in varying colors, appearing singly on hollow stems in late summer or early fall and often year round. In the wild, flowers often appear after the rain, hence the common name rain lily. Grow in sun or light shade in most soils with regular water when flowering, and protect from excessive winter wetness. Hardy to 20F. Americas.
candida: Forms large clumps of glossy leaves to 12” long with crocus-like, glossy flowers 2” long in late summer and fall. Flowers are pure white outside, tinged rose inside, carried singly on stems as long as leaves. Plant in sun or light shade and most soils with moderate watering. A short summer drought will promote heavier blooming. Hardy to 20F. Argentina and Uruguay.
grandiflora: Rose-pink flowers, resembling small amaryllis, form on 8” stems from summer to early fall in our garden. Bright green, 12” leaves rise from a red tinged basal clump. Fully winter deciduous. Hardy to 20F. Mexico.