Plant of the Month

Smokey Coast Rosemary
Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3-6 ft. tall x 4-5 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Australia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 20°F

This compact, neat shrub is a favorite of landscape professionals because of its low maintenance needs, drought tolerance, versatility, and the beautiful contrast of its foliage with green-leaved companion plants.

Smokey Coast Rosemary is a rugged Australian native with dainty evergreen leaves covered in soft white hair that makes the whole plant appear “smokey”. Its dark green leaves are edged in creamy white margins, creating attractive foliage year-round. Small, two-lipped white flowers tinged in purple can appear almost any time of year, but are most prolific in spring. Landscape professionals commonly use this outstanding plant because it is fast-growing, versatile, strong, drought-tolerant, and resilient.  This compact shrub retains a neat, globe shape without pruning, and lends itself to low borders or hedges, as well as mass plantings, accents among green-leaved companions, and for erosion control. Beautiful in butterfly and Mediterranean gardens.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for May

Hemerocallis varieties

  • Plant Form: Perennial herb
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 1-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Asia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to – 20°F

Daylilies may be common world-wide, but they give an impressive mix of uncommon benefits to gardeners. Their reliable flowering and lush foliage might fool you into thinking they need to be pampered, but they are cold hardy, heat tolerant, drought tolerant, low maintenance, tolerate almost any soil, provide erosion control, and perform beautifully even through hot, dry summers. Put these beauties to work for you in borders, perennial beds, pots, on slopes, or as groundcovers.

Daylilies are one of the most adaptable flowering plants in the world, with over 80,000 varieties, and more being developed every year. Sometimes discounted because they are so common world-wide, they have good reason to be embraced by so many gardeners. Besides their beauty, Daylilies are cold hardy, heat tolerant, drought tolerant, low maintenance, and happy in almost any soil, providing dependable color and lush foliage in even the hottest, driest summers. Their thick, tuberous roots not only sustain them through drought, they provide excellent erosion control by holding soil in place, even on steep slopes. Daylilies make great container plants, meeting all three goals in pots as “thrillers, spillers, and fillers” all at once with their lush, cascading foliage and tall wands of flowers. Use a mix of varieties to extend the bloom season. These versatile plants work well in shrub borders, pots, perennial beds, on slopes, as groundcovers, and in butterfly and hummingbird gardens.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for April

Greek Sage
Salvia fruticosa

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 3-3.5 ft. tall x 3-5 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, very light shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – Aug)
    (Sept – Nov)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region,
    North Africa, Canary Islands
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15 – 20°F

Greek Sage gives in so many ways, and requires so little in return. It is a treasured culinary herb that is used like Garden Sage due to its aroma and flavor, but is more subtle. It tolerates poor soils, drought, frost, and heat, resists browsing by deer and rabbits, and attracts hummingbirds. Add to all this its beautiful, long-blooming, blue flower spikes, and you have a true garden winner.

Greek Sage is as beautiful as it is useful, from its aromatic leaves to its tall spikes of striking blue flowers. No pampering is needed, because this heat-tolerant plant prefers poor soils to fertile ones, is drought-tolerant, and is fairly cold hardy. As long as the soil is well-drained and the plant gets lots of sun, Greek Sage will thrive. Maintenance is simple: a hard prune in early spring for shape, and a light prune after flowering in summer to encourage a denser bush and tease out another flush of flowering (trim at the base of the flower stalk to the next pair of new buds). Despite its similar appearance to Garden Sage, it grows taller and is prized for its distinctive aroma and flavor, considered more subtle. Greek Sage actually contributes between 50-95% of all dried culinary sage sold in the US. Besides its long history of medicinal uses, this sage is valued in borders, beds, pots, flower-cutting gardens, herb and hummingbird gardens, and Mediterranean or rock gardens.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for March

Red Valerian
Jupiter’s Beard
Centranthus ruber

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 1-2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, light shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – Aug), Fall
    (Sept – Nov)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region,
    North Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F

The lush nature of Red Valerian will fool you with it contrasting assets: drought-tolerance, frost-tolerance, minimal water needs, resistance to rabbits and deer, and tolerance of poor soils. This tough, fast-growing sub-shrub is long blooming, attracts butterflies, has fragrant flowers and foliage, is useful for erosion control, and makes great cut-flower bouquets. Why isn’t it in your yard?

Red Valerian, also known as Jupiter’s Beard, is a moderately fast-growing, erect sub-shrub that is not fussy about its growing conditions.  Showy, rose-red flowers appear continuously from late spring through summer and even into fall. The cultivar ‘coccineus’ is especially long-blooming. This tough, drought-tolerant plant tolerates poor soils and thrives with minimal water and care once established. Reasons to love this woody-based, evergreen perennial include its resistance to rabbits and deer, fragrant flowers and foliage, its almost nonstop blooming, its attraction for butterflies, its use for cut flowers, and erosion control because it can naturalize when happy on a site. Its brilliant flowers are small but profuse. Provide deep but infrequent watering, but don’t overwater established plants. Cut plants back in mid-spring. Valued in cottage gardens, over stone walls, on slopes or banks to prevent erosion, in borders, or as a colorful groundcover.  Good for cut flower bouquets.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for February

Lace Aloe
Torch Plant
Aloe aristata

  • Plant Form: Succulent
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 0.8-1 ft. tall x 1-2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, light shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (May), Summer (June – Aug)
  • Native to: South Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Looking for a unique succulent to accent your cactus or succulent garden, rock garden, or patio pots? Here is an interesting option that is also extremely drought tolerant, long living, low maintenance, and attractive to hummingbirds when in flower. It looks like an artist got involved in the patterns on the leaves, which contrast nicely with the foliage of companion plants.

Lace Aloe is a dwarf succulent species perfect for edging, ground covers, or in pots. It only asks for well-draining soil and not too much water, especially in hot summers, needing watering only 2 to 4 times a month. Reduce watering in cool winter months. Fleshy leaves retain water and allow this plant to easily survive drought. Its succulent leaves are covered in small, white tubercles organized in lines, which contrast nicely with the foliage of other succulents. Long, tubular coral flowers form on tall stalks every year in late spring and summer, attracting hummingbirds. This easy-to-grow aloe can live 50 to 100 years if maintained properly. Lace Aloe can be easily propagated by separating offsets with their roots in early summer. Lace Aloe is beautiful in succulent and cactus gardens, dry borders, rock gardens, living walls, hummingbird gardens, fire-wise gardens, and in well-draining pots as a great patio plant.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for January

Fouquieria splendens


  • Plant Form: Deciduous succulent shrub
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 8-20 ft. tall x 5-10 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, reflected sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – Aug)
  • Native to: Southern California, southwest US, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0-10°F

Do you need a striking accent plant for your yard, or a living sculptural shape to light up at night against a wall for interesting shadows? Ocotillo is waiting for your discovery. This extremely water-wise, drought-tolerant California native plant produces orange-red flowers that hummingbirds and orioles can’t resist…and that will make your yard pop with vibrant color from spring to summer.

Ocotillo is an iconic symbol of the southwest that forms a vase-shaped shrub with up to 100 wand-like, thorny stems that radiate from the crown. Small, oval, fleshy leaves appear after rain, persisting for weeks or even months, then fall off during drought. Bright orange-red, tubular flowers form on the tips of each cane that attract hummingbirds and orioles in late spring and early summer. While bare-root plants are available from nurseries, potted plants are more reliable (always check for legal tags and permits). Water newly-planted ocotillos frequently by lightly spraying the canes from top to bottom during summer months. No added water is needed once established, but leaves can be retained by watering twice a month over the summer. Ocotillo is stunning as an accent, especially when lit up in front of a wall, or for interesting vertical structure as a specimen, in beds and borders, hummingbird and bird gardens, or as an impenetrable hedge.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for December