Where can I see wildflowers?

The exceptional rains that have fallen over the fall and winter months are enticing colorful fields of wildflowers out for a spectacular spring showing. We were blessed with much-welcomed rain in southern California not just this past winter, but  in the fall, and those earlier rains produce our best wildflower shows. Please be mindful of trampling these delicate treasures; you can cut their life short and destroy the production of seeds for future years’ displays by crushing them under your feet while you enjoy them. […]

Plant of the Month – December

Holly-leaf Redberry Rhamnus ilicifolia Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub Water Use: Very Low Mature Size: 3-9 ft. tall and wide Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June) Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Baja California (500 – 6,600 feet elevation) Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F  Holly-leaf Redberry is a handsome, mounding, evergreen shrub with dark-green, glossy, holly-like leaves. Tiny yellowish flowers are inconspicuous, but female flowers produce bright red berries relished by birds and small mammals. Male and female flowers […]

Plant of the Month – March

Beavertail Cactus Opuntia basilaris   Plant Form: Cactus Water Use: Extremely Low Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 3-6 ft. wide Exposure: Full Sun Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June) Native to: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Mexico (below 7000 feet) Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F Beavertail Cactus has flattened pads that truly resemble their namesake. This slow-growing California native from both the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts is dotted with clusters of tiny spines called glochids, which are set into dimples across […]

Plant of the Month – February

Goldeneye Bahiopsis parishii (Viguiera deltoidea parishii)   Plant Form: Semi-deciduous Shrub Water Use: Very Low Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall and wide Exposure: Full Sun Bloom Time: Spring (Feb-May), Summer (June), Fall (Sept-Oct) Native to: Southwestern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, northern Mexico (below 5000 feet) Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F Goldeneye is blanketed with bright, golden flowers on long stalks, contrasting nicely with its dark-green leaves — which feel like a cat’s tongue due to their stiff hairs. A moderately fast-growing, winter-deciduous […]

Plant of the Month – May

Firecracker Penstemon, Eaton’s Firecracker, Scarlet Bugler Penstemon eatonii Plant Form: Evergreen perennial Water Use: Low Mature Size: 2 feet tall and wide (flower stalks 2-4 feet tall) Exposure: Full sun Bloom Time: Late winter – spring (Feb – June) Native to: S. California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F Firecracker Penstemon is irresistible to hummingbirds due to its nectar-filled, brilliant, scarlet flowers. It is among the first to bloom in spring, providing an early-season nectar source for hummingbirds. […]

Mushrooms to the Rescue!

Native desert plants are faced with a big dilemma: how to gather nutrients and moisture from soils that are practically devoid of either. To the rescue are fascinating, symbiotic root partners: fungal relatives of truffles, attached to plants’ roots by thread-like hyphae called mycelium. These living, microscopic fungal partners, or mycorrhizal fungi (literally “fungus root”), attach to plant roots and spread outward like a three-dimensional net, expanding the surface area and absorption capability of the plant’s root system by magnitudes, […]