Landscaping and Gardening Services in Pismo Beach and SLO County
264 Irish Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
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15 Feb 2017

Hollyleaf Cherry

Hollyleaf Cherry, sometimes referred to as Evergreen Cherry, is a popular plant because of its beauty and its sweet-tasting cherries. It can grow up to 30 feet tall and is called both a shrub and a tree. It typically averages out at around 14 feet when used in landscaping. Its height and dense foliage make it a good choice for privacy hedges.

Appearance and Cherries

It’s easy to mistake Hollyleaf Cherry for Holly. They both have glossy green leaves with sharp points on the edges. True Holly’s berries are bright red, smaller than the fruit of the Evergreen Cherry and grow in tight clusters. This plant’s cherries hang like grape clusters, and the fruit isn’t densely packed together.

The flowers of both plants are creamy white and similar in size. This shrub’s small flowers have frilly-edged petals and pale yellow, Daisy-like centers. They have a discernible, pleasant fragrance. This plant is a year-round beauty. The flowers start to bloom in March and drape the shrub in white petals. In fall, the red cherries will brighten up your garden, and the leaves keep their true green color all year.

The cherries are edible. Take care to remove the single large seed before eating a cherry. They can be toxic. You may like to leave the cherries for birds and small wildlife.

Planting Requirements

Hollyleaf Cherry grows wild in the desert and coastal chaparral. It requires full sun. Plant it on slopes to create a windbreak and slow soil erosion. A good companion plant for this shrub is Coffee Berry. Landscapers recommend planting them together when creating a privacy hedge because Coffee Berry grows at a faster rate. You may need to thin seedlings when the plants are established.

Soil for this shrub should be well-draining. Speak to your landscaper about adding richer soil at the time of planting.

Adult plants need monthly watering during summer. New plants may need weekly water.

Wildlife

Like Coffee Berry, this shrub provides food for a variety of popular birds. Small animals also eat the cherries. Hollyleaf Cherry provides important winter shelter for birds. It’s not of interest to deer.

This is a host plant for the caterpillars of the pale swallowtail butterfly. Its flowers attract other butterflies as well as bees.

Landscaping

In addition to using this plant as a privacy hedge, you can plant it close to your house and have it pruned twice a year to keep it at a standard hedge size. Young trees are available for homeowners who want to establish a windbreak. Birders may want to add two or three plants to their gardens. Whatever your planned use, this plant will be visually pleasing all year.

Things to Remember:

  • This large shrub will grow into a tree without pruning
  • The berries are edible after the pit is removed
  • Birds and butterflies rely on this plant for food and shelter

Don’t be intimidated by Hollyleaf Cherry’s size. We’ll help you care for it. Contact us today for all your drought-tolerant landscaping needs.

25 Jan 2017

Coffee Berry

Coffee Berry, also called California Coffeeberry and California Buckthorn, is amedium to tall flowering shrub. The berries that give the plant its name appear in midsummer. Although not a member of the Coffea genus, this plant’s seeds can be used to make a beverage similar in taste to Chicory.

History

Multiple Native American tribes relied on Coffee Berry for food and for medicinal purposes. The berries are edible fresh and dried. Native Americans used both the leaves and bark to treat skin irritations. While Native Americans were experienced in using the bark to treat digestive problems, we advise against ingesting it due to the possibility of stomach upset.

Some cooks make jam from the berries. Get advice from a plant expert to make sure the berries are ripe before you eat them, and never eat any berries unless you’re certain of the plant’s identity. Be aware that this plant’s fruits have pits.

Height and Appearance

Height estimates for this shrub range from three feet to 12 feet depending on the type of soil, the amount of sunlight it receives and where you plant it. Its width can match its height. Pruning must be done at the correct time of year to avoid damaging the plant. Consult a landscaper before pruning.

The Coffee Berry shrub has dark red branches and long, slender leaves of true green edged with scarlet. The white flowers are star shaped, just 1/8 of an inch in diameter and have a light green center. The flowers appear as masses of yellow-green buds. The buds can appear as early as March and bloom through June.

The berries are larger than the flowers, about 1/2 of an inch in diameter. You may see red, yellow and purplish-black berries side by side. The berries are green at first and ripen alongside the blooms. This evergreen shrub will add vibrant color to your drought-tolerant garden during winter.

Planting Requirements

Coffee Berry is found in all wild areas of California. It grows well in close proximity to wooded areas but tolerates sandy soil. Part shade is fine. Established plants require twice monthly watering during drought conditions. New plants may need watering as often as once per week. Irrigation should be discussed with your landscaper.

Pollinators and Wildlife

This shrub’s tiny flowers are irresistible to native bees and to butterflies. If you’re a birder, you’ll love watching colorful songbirds feeding on the shrub’s berries. If you want
to bring more birds to your garden, this is the plant for you.

In the Garden

Many gardeners use this tall shrub as a background plant for smaller shrubs. It’s stunning when used to edge a driveway and allowed to grow to its full height. That won’t take long because this is a fast-growing shrub.

Things to Remember:

  • This shrub gets as tall as a small tree
  • New plants need regular water
  • The berries are a favorite of many popular bird species

Planting time isn’t far away. Contact us today if you want to add Coffee Berry to your garden.

11 Jan 2017

California Aster

California Aster, also called Common Sand Aster or Sandaster, is a member of the Daisy family. Its blooms range from white to cornflower blue to lavender. It is endangered and should be considered for every drought tolerant garden.

Hillside Habitats

California Aster is picky about its habitat. It grows best on rocky hillsides or slopes. It’s a great choice for a rock garden or a hardscape. A landscaper can build a suitable sloping area in your yard if your property is flat. This will create visual interest and allow you to create a terraced garden with plants and flowers at different heights.

If you have a hillside property, this flower is perfect for you. If necessary, we can add a rocky soil mixture to your existing soil to make a better environment for this Aster.

Native and Endangered

California Aster is classified as a rare plant. Its habitat has been decimated by construction, especially road construction. Adding this plant to your drought tolerant garden will help keep it recover. It requires a bit more care than the average drought resistant flower, but it’s worth it to preserve the plant, add beauty to your garden and attract pollinators.

Caring for This Endangered Plant

• Soil: While this plant can grow in sand and clay, it’s healthiest and looks its best when planted in rocky soil.
• Water: You may read that this plant needs twice-monthly summer water. We do not recommend summer water. Too much water causes leaf loss and poor bloom production. This flower grows best on hillsides due to the excellent soil drainage.
• Pruning: This plant should be cut back after the seeds drop. We recommend deadheading during the summer to fall blooming season to encourage new flower growth.
• Scientific name: The correct scientific name of this plant is Corethrogyne filaginifolia. This Aster is often confused with Aster chilensis because both are called by the common name California Aster. Care requirements for each plant differ, so make sure you know which one you have.

In Your Garden

This is a tall plant (up to three feet) that can have weak stems. It’s best to give it some type of support. That support can come from other, stronger plants, stakes or boulders in your rock garden.

A healthy plant will have pale blue and deep lavender flowers on the same stem. You can see its resemblance to other plants in the Daisy family in its prominent yellow center. Petals are long, slender and curl back as the flower starts to go to seed. The leaves are long, pointed and true green, growing in pairs up the stem.

Birds, butterflies and insects are dependent on this flower, making it all the more important to cultivate this plant.

Things to Remember:
• This is an endangered plant in need of new habitats
• Rocky soil is a necessity for healthy plants
• Consult your landscaper regarding summer water

Successfully cultivating an endangered plant requires the assistance of an experienced landscaper. Contact us to become a protector of the California Aster.

 

28 Dec 2016

California Buttercup

California Buttercup grows tall in woodlands and the chaparral. Blossoms can have over twenty petals. It’s as charming as its tiny relatives and brings areas of bright color to your garden from early spring to late summer.

Habitats

California Buttercup ranges from California to Oregon. It grows on the islands off the Pacific Northwest coast up to British Columbia. It’s found at the coast, in forests and in the Sierra Nevadas. Its main habitats are open meadows and hillsides.

Traditions

There are a few traditions associated with this flower. The most familiar is the childhood game of holding a Buttercup beneath someone’s chin. If the skin glows yellow, the person is supposed to be especially fond of butter. An interesting folk belief in Ireland is that rubbing the petals on cows on the first day of May encourages milk production.

Size and Appearance

This plant consists of multiple flowers with stems several inches long on a central stem that can grow to a height of three feet. The flowers have a pale green center, perfect yellow stamens and glossy petals with a silky feel.

The blooms are about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. While not spectacular alone, the flowers on their central stem resemble dazzling yellow bouquets. They are lovely in small vases on nightstands and windowsills.

The grass-green foliage grows low on the stem. The leaves are soft and slender with multiple points.

In the Garden

California Buttercup is a fast-growing perennial. It doesn’t require much more care than cutting back overgrowth to encourage fuller flowers next season. Pruning any plant or tree must be done at the right time of year to avoid damaging the plant.

Meadow flowers like Buttercup should be planted with their wild neighbors. Companion plants often benefit each other by drawing nutrients from the other plants’ roots, attracting pollinators or simply providing a physical support for weak stems. This variety of Buttercup has a strong stem and can be the background plant for other flowers.

Companion plants for California Buttercup are Blue-Eyed Grass and Wooly Blue-Curls. The cornflower and lavender shades make a perfect color combination with Buttercup’s sunny yellow petals.

Sun, Water and Soil

Most drought resistant plants are picky about soil. This plant is not. It grows well in almost any soil, in full sun and partial shade and doesn’t require summer water.

Wildlife

The yellow flowers are very attractive to native California bees. This plant should be part of every bee, butterfly and bird garden. It’s important to consult your landscaper before cutting back the plant in the fall. Cutting back the plant too soon will interrupt the natural process of seeds drying, falling and reseeding.

Things to Remember:
• Don’t cut back this plant too early in the year
• Use this plant as a backdrop for shorter, less sturdy flowers
• This plant attracts native bees

California Buttercup is a great plant to use when starting a drought tolerant garden. Contact us today to get your plants in time for spring.

15 Dec 2016

Kotolo Milkweed

kotolo-milkweed-500

 

Kotolo Milkweed is also called Indian Milkweed and Woollypod Milkweed. Milkweed is necessary for monarch butterflies in all stages of growth. This plant is a tall perennial with clusters of bluish-white and pale lavender flowers. It will bring beauty and butterflies to your drought-resistant garden.

Habitat

Kotolo Milkweed is native to California, growing in the chaparral, meadows and woodland clearings. It needs full sun but isn’t picky about soil. It can grow in rocky soil, sandy soil and clay.

Home to the Monarch

Plant Milkweed to help the declining monarch butterfly population. It hosts the monarch from birth through the caterpillar stage and then feeds the adult butterfly.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on Milkweed plants. The caterpillars eat the foliage, so holes in the leaves are to be expected. Using pesticides or other chemicals will be counterproductive.

Monarch caterpillars live on the plant and spin their cocoons there. You can expect to see three generations of adult monarchs from about the end of April through July.

Destruction of Milkweed habitats is one of the factors involved in the decreasing numbers of monarchs. If you’re planting a bird and butterfly garden, Kotolo Milkweed should be at the top of your list.

In the Garden

Kotolo Milkweed is toxic to humans and household pets. It’s not a flower for cut bouquets. Take particular care to keep children and pets away from the hairy pods that develop after the plant’s flowering season.

Milkweed’s flowers attract hummingbirds as well as butterflies. It grows to a height of about three feet, making it perfect to plant directly around the birdbath. Butterflies require water as well as nectar. You can then put shorter flowering plants around the Milkweed and edge it with pebbles or even small boulders to create a barrier.

This variety often grows close to pines in the wild, so you can plant it close to them as long as it gets sun. It’s also found near oaks and growing alongside Sagebrush.

Water and Temperatures

Water this plant twice a month during the summer, preferably at the base to avoid damage to monarch cocoons.

Milkweed is very tolerant of temperatures below freezing.

Things to Remember:
• Milkweed is the host plant of monarch butterflies
• It requires full sun
• This plant is toxic to humans and pets

Due to Kotolo Milkweed’s unique characteristics, it’s best to work with a landscaper when deciding where to place it. Contact us today to start designing your butterfly garden.

30 Nov 2016

Laurel Sumac

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Laurel Sumac is an evergreen shrub with shiny, true green leaves highlighted with red. Some leaves are entirely red. The foliage has a citrusy fragrance. The white flowers smell like apples. After blooming season, the plant produces masses of green berries that turn red. It provides year-round color and interest for your drought-tolerant garden.

Name and History

Laurel Sumac is actually a member of the Cashew family. The name comes from the resemblance of the leaves to the leaves of Bay Laurel.

The Chumash tribe had several uses for this plant. They ate the berries when other food was scarce. We strongly recommend against eating any Sumac berries because some varieties are toxic. They made the berries into a tea to treat mouth sores. When dried and prepared, the leaves have antiseptic properties. The Chumash used the leaves to treat rashes caused by other plants. This is a native California plant with a rich history.

Growing Conditions

If an area gets too cold for oranges to grow, it’s too cold for Laurel Sumac. In the wild, this shrub grows along the southern coast and is an integral element of the chaparral. When planted in the proper environment, it’s one of our heartiest native plants. It’s one of the first shrubs to grow back after a fire.

Like most drought-resistant shrubs, this one grows best in sandy or rocky soil with good drainage. It requires almost no summer water. Plant it in full sun.

Flowering Season

In appropriate conditions, this shrub flowers from January through June. The berries appear in late summer and are ripe by autumn. Berries not eaten by wildlife turn black in winter and drop off the plant.

Wildlife

Laurel Sumac is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. Bees and butterflies feed on the flowers. Birds love the red berries. It’s a large shrub, growing from 10 to 15 feet tall in the wild. Because it’s an evergreen with heavy foliage, it provides excellent winter shelter for birds and small wildlife.

Companion Plants

This is a parasitic plant. It needs to grow close to California Sagebrush, other varieties of Sage or Ceanothus. Its roots draw essential nutrients from these companion plants.

Things to remember:
• Don’t plant in areas where temps fall below freezing
• It needs companion plants
• This large shrub is colorful all year

Laurel Sumac is popular because of its year-round color and benefits to wildlife. Contact us today to learn about using it in your garden next year.

16 Nov 2016

California Peony

California Peony

 

The California peony has such an exotic appeal that it’s become a subject for decorative embroidery. We can be proud because it’s one of our native California beauties. It has a luscious look with its deep red to black petals and profusion of thick yellow stamens. If you want a flower that’s drought tolerant and sure to start conversations, plant California peony.

A True Californian

California peony grows only in southwestern California. It likes dry areas, the chaparral, slopes and sage scrub on the coast. It also grows in forest underbrush. Summer water can cause root rot, so it’s a good choice if you live in a drought-prone area.

Melancholy Beauty

The blooms are heavy and tend to droop when the stem reaches full height of just over two feet tall. The dramatically colored flowers are dotted amidst thick stands of foliage. Each plant has up to 30 stems, nearly all leaves, with two or three flowers in different stages of maturity. The blooms are about the width of two fingers.

Each flower has six to a dozen petals. The petals are thick, bright red at the top and darkening to purplish-black. The California peony is quite exotic and stands out from every other drought tolerant flower in the garden.

The Essentials

Cultivating California peony often requires the efforts of pro. The plant is demanding regarding water and drainage. It can tolerate almost no summer water and must have soil with excellent drainage. It likes loam and clay.

California peony grows best when facing north. It’s a good plant for the sloping area on your property and can survive well on the edges of your property because it’s not of interest to deer.

Early Bloomer

For the earliest spots of color in your yard, plant California peony. It blooms January through March. The flowers die off when other spring plants start to bloom.

A Worthwhile Challenge

Part of the allure of the California peony is the challenge of nurturing it to its peak growth. It’s an unusual jewel in the midst of common drought resistant plants. Flower lovers find them so beautiful that they travel to see them in the wild during their prime blooming time. California peonies in bloom are worthy of showing off to your friends.

The seed heads are also attractive after the petals fall. After blooming and going to seed, California peony dies off entirely until next spring. Finding it in bloom is as exciting to lovers of rare plants as a sighting of an infrequently seen bird to a birder.

To bring out the best in California peony, it’s essential to work with a landscaper specializing in gardening. The extra effort is worth it to see this singular beauty flourishing in your garden. Contact us if you find California peony intriguing.

Things to Remember:
• No summer water
• Soil must have excellent drainage
• California peony is one of our earliest bloomers
• It’s exotic and requires care to cultivate

Evergreen Landscaping would love to help you turn your garden dreams into a reality. Contact us for a free consultation.

 

01 Nov 2016

Purple Owl’s Clover

Purple owls clover

 

Few things are more beautiful than a field of purple owl’s clover. It’s found in the chaparral and along the coast. It can grow up to 18 inches tall. It’s the perfect plant for creating colorful drama in your drought tolerant garden.

Early Garden Color

Purple owl’s clover’s blooming season runs March through May. It’s an annual in the Indian paintbrush family. It brings welcome color in shades of true purple to magenta. The base of the petals can be burgundy. The combination of colors and the way that the petals spread out do make the plant resemble a paintbrush.

Purple owl’s clover grows in clumps of about a dozen flowers. Each stem is covered with long, slender leaves. The plant is technically a shrub. It’s fast growing, so you won’t have to wait long to enjoy its showy beauty. It grows so thickly that the seedlings may require thinning.

Sun and Soil

This flowering shrub loves sun, especially morning sun, but it can grow in areas that get partial sun. For maximum flowers and height, keep to sunny areas.

Purple owl’s clover tolerates most soils as long as it’s in an area with good drainage. It likes rocky soil, sandy soil and clay. Plant it in different areas of your yard for maximum visual effect.

Water

Established plants require little water. It’s important that purple owl’s clover is watered lightly but enough to soak the soil after planting. Your landscaper will also make sure that the planting area is correctly prepared. Correct planting and initial watering will help ensure that purple owl’s clover grows well and is hardy.

Companion Plants

Purple owl’s clover is a semi-parasitic plant, growing with “companion plants” like California peony in the wild. The clover’s roots reach out for the roots of nearby plants to obtain nutrients during drought. For best results and a natural looking garden, plant purple owl’s clover with wildflowers it grows alongside in nature.

Lupine is another companion plant to purple owl’s clover. Planting it, California peony and purple owl’s clover together will give you a gorgeous “meadow” of true blue, saffron yellow and pinkish purple.

A Butterfly Meadow in Your Yard

It’s best to pick a large, sunny area on your property where purple owl’s clover and its companion plants can flourish. The clover is of special importance to the Bay checkerspot butterfly, an endangered species. Bees also seek it out. By making a space on your property for purple owl’s clover, you help pollinators find food and places to lay their eggs.

The borders of your property, along fences and on rocky slopes are good areas for purple owl’s clover.

Purple owl’s clover should be planted in mid-fall, no later than the end of October, so call us today to ensure a beautiful spring garden.

Things to Remember:
• Purple owl’s clover starts blooming in early spring
• It requires careful planting
• It attracts endangered butterflies
• It’s low water and low maintenance

If you need help with creating a beautiful landscaping for your home, contact us today at (805) 773-5395

19 Oct 2016

Elegant Clarkia

Elegant Clarkia

Elegant clarkia is a great addition to your drought-tolerant California garden. It’s also known as “Farewell-To-Spring” because its flowers start to bloom when spring flowers fade. The blooms are in the purple family, range from amethyst to magenta and are a delight to the eyes.

Jewel Tones in Your Garden

Clarkia produces a rainbow of purple flowers from late spring until the end of June. Up close, individual plants almost resemble gladioli. From a distance, a hedge of clarkias is a mass of every shade of purple. Some flowers are even blushing shades of pink.

If you have lavender in your drought-resistant garden, clarkia is a good complementary choice. Clarkia adds bright pops of color that enhance lavender’s dusty grayish shade of purple.

A Standout Beauty

Clarkia is a great choice for hedges or lining walkways or fences. Elegant clarkia grows to over three feet in height. Unlike some of the taller flowering plants, clarkia stands up well with no assistance. One dramatic way to utilize it in your garden is to create a defined bed of nothing but clarkia.

A winding path lined with clarkia is a pleasant way for your guests to find their way to your door or patio. Many people plant clarkia around their birdbaths. The large flowers are attractive to all pollinators, especially hummingbirds. The one-inch deep blooms make it easy for hummingbirds to reach the nectar. We recommend clarkia to clients specifically interested in creating bird and butterfly gardens.

You can also bring the beauty of clarkia into your home. It’s one of the best flowers to cut and, when placed in a simple tall vase, looks like it came straight from the florist.

Water and Sun Requirements

Elegant clarkia is a fast grower and tolerates full sun or partial shade. Partial shade is advisable since the wild plant grows in woodlands under pines and oaks. Clarkia grows best in soil that is a mixture of sand and clay.

Clarkia is one of the easiest drought-tolerant plants you can select for your garden. Its water requirement is so low that we advise no water during the summer.

Caring for Clarkia

Clarkia will produce many seedlings. Don’t thin out seedlings. Clarkia produces the most abundant blooms as part of a stand of many plants. Weeding isn’t necessary.

Clarkia can be planted in fall or after the last frost in areas prone to cold winters. Contact us today so that you can have clarkia in your garden next spring.

Things to Remember:
• Clarkia needs very little water
• It attracts hummingbirds and bees
• It requires no special care

26 Sep 2016

Greenbark Ceanothus

Greenbark Ceanothus

Greenbark ceanothus is a shrub that produces fragrant white to blue flowers. It’s found along the coast and is part of California’s chaparral. Other names for the shrub are redheart and red-heart mountain lilac.

A Hardy Shrub for Your Garden

The green bark of this ceanothus contributed to its most commonly known name. The wood is red, hence the shrub’s other fanciful names.

Ceanothus spinosus blooms between January and the end of June. Extensive pruning won’t harm it and may be necessary to prevent it from growing out of control and becoming straggly. Ceanothus spinosus can be cut back to a short trunk and still regrow.

Shaping Your Ceanothus Spinosus

The greenbark ceanothus is a drought-tolerant shrub that requires the attention of a professional landscaper to look its best. In the wild, it often grows to be 20 feet tall. You can allow your shrub to grow to the height of a small tree and still enjoy clusters of blue or white flowers dripping from the branches. With expert pruning at the right time of year, you can have a bushy shrub thick with flowers.

Temperature Tolerance and Placement

A north-facing, sloping area on your property is the ideal place for ceanothus spinosus. It grows best in cool temperatures but can’t tolerate cold below five degrees Fahrenheit.

This ceanothus grows in rocky soil in the wild and is a great choice if you’re trying to control soil erosion on your cliff-side property. Natural soil is a must for a healthy plant.

Water and Feeding

It’s important that you don’t water your ceanothus spinosus during the summer. Keeping the environment natural increases the shrub’s lifetime. Introducing artificial elements like plant food or fertilizer can weaken this ceanothus, rendering it unable to survive in the face of natural disturbances.

Wildfire Considerations

Ceanothus spinosus presents a low danger of flammability. Removing dead or dying branches from older trees further reduces the danger of flammability.

Importance to Wildlife

Ground fowl like quail often shelter under ceanothus spinosus, and other birds and small wildlife use it for protection from winter winds. Deer may nibble on the evergreen foliage but aren’t significantly bothersome.

The flowers of greenbark ceanothus are of vital importance to native bees. Planting this shrub improves the environment by providing food for pollinators and preventing soil erosion.

Ceanothus spinosus may sound like a complicated plant, but its only requirements are the correct soil and growing environment and professional pruning. If you’d like to learn more about it and why it may be the perfect plant for your coastal property, contact us.

Things to Remember:
• Ceanothus spinosus requires yearly pruning
• Natural soil is a requirement for the health of the shrub
• This shrub is important to native bees and to control soil erosion