Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Fantasy Garden 2.0

It's been three months since my original "Fantasy Garden" post, and I've been researching more plants during that time, so I feel like posting my newer, longer list of plants I'm most interested in growing. This is not a list of all the plants that I intend to consider growing, but rather a list of my very favorites that I've come across descriptions of so far. This entry will probably be of interest mostly only to people who either really love looking at pictures of plants (all the links I provided below are to Google image searches) or who live near me or in climates similar to mine. I'm in USDA Zone 9A, with a little over 20 inches of rain per year, virtually all of which is in the winter. Theoretically I'm in the Foothill Woodland region of the California Floristic Province, but it seems like most of the plants that can survive on as little rain as we get here are actually plants from the Chaparral regions. I'm choosing only plants that are extremely tolerant of heat and drought.

I'm also restricting myself exclusively to evergreen plants in this list. It's not that I'd never want to grow any deciduous plant ever, but I would like a majority of my plants to look very much alive all year round, so my list of my very favorites is restricted to evergreens. And except for the small yellow flowers on most of the trees I chose, I've restricted my list to plants with bluish purple flowers, reddish orange flowers, or white flowers. I've long been drawn to color schemes that combine the three secondary colors (purple, orange, and green), and white never clashes with anything, so I included that too.

Since all the new homes around here have homeowner's associations and I very much don't want one of those, I'll probably end up in an old home that already has well-established trees. But if I have some room to add trees of my own, I'd like a digger pine (native to Sacramento!), a big-cone douglas fir, a coast live oak, and an incense cedar.

For large shrubs, I'd like a Ramona lilac or Santa Barbara mountain lilac. I also like the slightly shorter but equally purple showy beardtongue, silver bush lupine, and yerba santa; the orange-flowered native Pine Hill flannelbush and berry rue (which blooms from November through March!); the white-flowered native silk tassel bush and Carmel Valley bush mallow; and the native San Luis Obispo sedge.

For smaller native plants, I like the purple-flowered butterfly mint bush, mountain blue curls, and multi-flowered snapdragon; the red or orange desert mallow and evergreen currant; the white-flowered island alum root (which not only looks beautiful, but grows in full shade!) and San Miguel savory; and coffee fern and blue fescue (though that last one is actually a hybrid of a California native and two non-California U.S. natives). I also like the non-native purple lavender and Perez's sea lavender (both from Europe), and the red-orange red hot pokers (from South Africa). And I'd like some purple muhly grass, although it's only semi-evergreen and native to Texas.

For very short native groundcover plants, I like the purple-flowered centennial lilac, Hearst's California lilac, and creeping sage; the white-flowered yucca; and some Cape Mendocino reed grass. Among plants native to the United States but not to California, I like purple ornamental catmint and red and yellow blanket flower. From other continents, I like purple woolly thyme (from Europe), George's iris (from Europe), and silver speedwell (from Europe).

I'm still frustrated with the difficulty of finding non-invasive, drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant yet also mildly frost-tolerant, evergreen vines that appeal to me, but I have a few ideas now. I'm leaning toward the non-native purple or red passionflowers (from South America), violet trumpet vine (also from South America, and supposedly not as aggressive as its other-colored cousins), and white evergreen clematis (from China). California does have a native morning glory vine and a native clematis that could grow here without me watering them, but the former looks ugly to me even when at its best, and both of them are deciduous.
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