Back in the mid 1970’s, in my teens, I got caught up the houseplant craze, and that is where my love of horticulture began. Actually, it became an obsession, as at one point I had collected anywhere from 100 to 150 houseplants and starts—crowding every space possible in my small bedroom. I was not the only one, as the novelty of new and exciting tropicals was embraced in every home and garden magazine for decorative purposes.
We are entering camellia season here in the Napa Valley. You may have noticed the swollen flower buds of these gorgeous glossy evergreen shrubs and trees. Soon we will be showered with a floriferous show put on by Camellia sasanquas followed by Camellia japonicas later in winter. Camellias are widely grown for their stunning cool season blooms, but serve as excellent evergreen screens, informal hedges, at the back of a mixed border or in containers.
Cactus and succulents are the ultimate water-wise and drought-tolerant plants for the landscape, with the added bonus of being easy care and low maintenance. Once established, cactus have an amazing ability to go without water for an extended period of time. Succulents can also survive without constant watering.
This striking plant is native to the southwest corner of Australia, a Mediterranean climate region with hot dry summers and mild winters, much like our own. The foliage is green and strap like forming a clump whose size can vary depending on the cultivar -from A. flavidus which can attain 3 to 4 foot clumps to A. rufus which usually stays under 2 feet .
This bloom heavy tender perennial from Chile is a fine choice for the summer-dry garden. Featuring bright magenta, poppy shaped blooms on limber 2ft stems poised delicately above succulent blue-gray toned foliage, this plant makes a tidy mound. Roughly 1ft high by by 3 to 4 ft wide at maturity. Flower production starts in spring and continues until fall.
This perennial grass of African origin forms a tidy clump 2ft high and 3ft wide that provides movement and textural contrast for your garden. It works well as both as a single focal point or planted in drifts or groups if space allows. The foliage is an agreeable glossy green with discreet suggestions of burgundy . The red toned fuzzy flower plumes are particularly alluring if sited where they can be viewed backlit by the morning or evening sun.
Westringia is an evergreen shrub that comes to us from Australia, where it grows in exposed locations on coastal cliffs. Mature size can be variable, depending on the cultivar grown, garden location and irrigation practices. Hybrid varieties such as ‘Blue Gem and ‘Sorrento Coast’ tend to stay a bit more compact. Having said that, even the species takes well to light shearing to maintain size and shape. Sizes range from 3-6 ft tall to 5 to 10ft wide.