Small landscape trees... more for effect than shade.
linearis, Desert Willow.
This one is kind of a cheat. I wanted to make this
list locally native. This is actually not native in Los Angeles
county but it is in Riverside County, so close by. . I love this
tree. It is fast growing but needs no water after it is
Water it more, though, and it will grow faster. It has an elegant
and dainty little orchid-like flowers that attract hummingbirds.
flowers through most of the summer and the flowers have a delicate
fragrance. Place it next to a high-use summer area like an
outdoor entertaining area or a patio. Full sun and more heat means
glauca, Blue Manzanita
a small tree, or large
shrub if you don't prune it up, that has bold, beautiful structure.
The luster of the reddish brown bark contrasts strikingly with the
blue-silver foliage. White flowers appear in winter when nectar
sources are few and far between. Great for hummingbirds. Looks
all year. Slower growing than the other two options. Full sun to
arboreus Tree Lilac
This fast growing evergreen tree
has pretty, light blue flowers in spring. Not a large canopy, more
columnar in form. This is a good one for hiding a window from the
street. A central, more upright plant for the front yard. Full
Screening and privacy hedge plants
Blue' White Bark California Lilac
Ceanothus leucodermis is the wild species
that grows around Los Angeles. However, it is hard to find in
cultivation and is harder to grow in the landscape. This cultivar,
'L.T. Blue' is a lot less prone to death. It has white bark and
looking green, glossy leaves. Flowers are light blue and fragrant.
this Ceanothus as a fast screen or to break up a long wall or
Plant 5 feet apart for a screen. Full sun.
betuloides Mountain Mahogany
This one is good if you need some screening but don't have a lot
of width available. It can get tall, 12 ft or more, but can pretty
easily be kept 3 or 4 feet wide. So, it's great for those narrow
spaces, like between neighboring driveways or along narrow
along the side of the house. Plant every 3 feet for a nice dense
hedge. Plant in part shade to full sun.
arbutifolia,Toyon or Rhus
ovata, Sugar Bush; these two are both fatter choices.
be 6 or 8 feet wide. So they are great if you have a lot of space
need to cover a lot of ground but probably not as good for small
yards. More bang for your buck, but only if you have the space.
for birds. Of the two, Toyon can tolerate more shade. Both will
work in full sun.
Taller shrubs for specimens or
indecorum, White Chaparral Currant or Ribes
malvaceum, Pink Chaparral currant
These guys are
very similar. Both are attractive dryland currant species. They
don't appreciate a lot of water. They have pretty flowers in
The R. indecorum is white, and the R. malvaceum is pink. They also
have very interesting-smelling leaves, sort of foresty.
These are good for hummingbirds in the winter and berry eating
like California thrasher, in the summer. R. indecorum can take
shade. Both favor a little afternoon shade. Don't get these
with R. sanguineum glutinosum, which is commonly available in pink
white. That currant grows in creeks naturally and needs a lot more
water than these two species.
fasciculatus, Bush mallow
upright shrub with silver-gray, soft foliage and pink flowers.
in full sun but tucked behind other plants.
californica, Bush Sunflower or Helianthus
gracilentus, Slender Sunflower
Encelia is the more evergreen of the two. But I think
Helianthus is a little prettier when it is flowering. Neither of
these looks supper tidy all the time so don't use a ton of them in
your front yard. A patch of 3 is nice though mixed in with sages
fasciculatum foliolosum, California Buckwheat
The baby's breath of
your landscape arrangement. This guy has white flowers that then
chocolate in the fall. It makes a great filler. Full sun.
leucophylla, Purple Sage
'Salvia Pozo Blue'
lanatum, Woolly Blue Curls
I would pick one or the other of these in your landscape. As
of them in a small yard might be a bit cluttered. Salvia
is the locally native species but I listed the 'Pozo Blue' hybrid
because we introduced it and I really like it. It can tolerate a
of different conditions. It has an extended flowering period, and
has darker-colored flowers. The birds and butterflies seem to like
too. But if you want to stay local, go with a cultivar like S.
leucophylla 'Point Sal'.
The Woolly Blue Curls is a stunning plant and locally native.
However, it is more finicky. If you can get it to work it is
but a lot of people have trouble with it. Be careful not to over
water it. Just give it enough to get it established and don't
it in the summer, especially if you have heavy soil. It has large
purple flower spikes and will flower repeatedly in the spring and
summer if you dead-head-it. Full sun for both.
apiana, White sage
White sage has a great fragrance and white foliage. This looks
contrasted with the woolly blue curls.
Colorful plants for along pathways or fronting high
visual areas or just for patches of low color. Use alternately on
another side of the path to the front door. Perfect symmetrical
rows look too contrived. Do six staggered on the right side of the
then 6 staggered on the left and then six back on the right again
etc. Change the size of these groups based on the length and size
the path,so they are to scale. So, for a short, small entry walk
only 3 per group.
cana 'Hollywood Flame' California Fuchsia
A great late
summer flower, good for hummingbirds. Cut back to a few inches
above the ground in the winter when it dies back. Great for summer
color. full sun to part shade.
The locally native species is P. heterophyllus but it is
harder to find and more finicky than BOP. I also like Margarita
because it is our most popular introduction. It is even being
in Europe now. It can take more irrigation than the wild species,
is almost as drought tolerant. Margarita BOP has a much longer
flowering period than the wild type and it is more tidy and
Some landscapers like to mix Zauschneria and Penstemon together. I
think it is too jarring. Sort of like eating ice cream and cookies
together. The wild species seems to take a little afternoon shade
okay but both flower better in the sun.
confertiflorum Golden Yarrow (the worst common name
ever. This is NOT yarrow)
I think this guy works well with either the
Zauschneria or the Penstemon, if you want to mix things up. This
little compact perennial is extremely drought tolerant and is a
insect nectary. Full sun
Taller showy flowers for spots of
color or use in mass for an English garden effect; plant in clumps
3, 5 or 9 etc.
centranthifolius, Scarlet Bugler and or P.
Showy Penstemon is more tolerant of wet clay than the Penstemon centranthifolius. If you
are a chronic waterer
and have heavy soil pick P. spectabilis. If you have well draining
or don't plan to water, you can use Scarlet Bugler.
Clump with boulders
aurantiacus, Yellow Sticky Monkey flower
rutilus Red Santa Susana Monkey flower.
These aren't just pick-your-favorite-color plants. There are
nuances to these two guys. The yellow Sticky Monkey tolerates
clay soil better and coastal climates well. The red prefers more
drained soil and likes some heat. Both can take a little shade but
prefer sun. Plant them on the east face of a rock for maximum
flowering and plant happiness. Trim back in the fall for a tidier
plant in the spring
Most low plants fry in
LA. Most low plants have adapted their short stature to deal with
salt spray or high winds along coastal bluffs or to handle snow at
high elevations. So low and creeping usually means the plants came
from area with high humidity and precipitation. Not LA., although I
guess sometimes the humidity fits the bill. So without water they
usually look ratty and brown or just shrivel up and die. There are
few native exceptions that seem to work okay.
, Hayes iva.
Iva doesn't do anything but be green. Good for the weed slope
house that you can't really see most of the time but is a weed
you don't want the neighbors to keep staring at. Throw in some
blue or buckwheat to add some pizazz if you are doing a large
Gracias, Creeping sage
This low silver sage covers 8 by 8 ft areas. Use
in front of taller shrubs and break up with patches of Penstemon or
rock outcroppings with monkey flowers. Use to create continuity
tie your landscape together.
I want to also include in here my pet peeves for southern
California. Arctostaphlyos edmundsii or uva-ursi. These guys grow
the wild in areas of double or triple the rainfall of LA. Don't
me wrong, I love both of them. They are beautiful but “drought
tolerant' or “California native” doesn't mean appropriate for any
location in California. I'll have to rant on about that in another blog.
you use these guys, expect to water a lot more. High humidity or
fog can go
along way with low rainfall but inland LA is not a good place for
northern California coastal plants.
Part/full shade plants for under oaks or the north side of the
house, fence etc.
Taller back drop plants or specimens
fragrans, Wallace's Pitcher Plant.
Fragrant foliage and large fat purple flowers.
speciosum, Fuchsia-Flowering Gooseberry
deep red fuchsia flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds. Dark
green leaves are a lovely addition to a shade garden, this plant
go deciduous when the soil gets dry. So don't pull it out in
when you think it died. Just wait for the first rain when leaves
reemerge. This guy is really thorny so don't plant it near a path
some place that needs maintenance. Although in some areas of LA it
is great for under the windows. He he he...
viburnifolium, Catalina Perfume.
spathacea, Hummingbird Sage
place the Salvia in front of the taller Ribes.
Plant in mass for
albus laevigatus, Snow berry
Plant in mass. Beautiful lacy green leaves in summer and
with white berries in winter.
a splash of yellow?
carpesioides Canyon Sunflower
Stick a few in the corner for color.
grass-like meadow things
People like to create a meadow with
these guys. Not my favorite idea as this isn't the Sierras.
We have weedy cow pastures in California or denuded hills of
mustard and oats...not really something I would want to emulate,
but if you must. These three species do occur together in the
wild. The meadow is the place that will look like a weed patch off
season. It will be as pretty as it will be ugly. A small patch
looks pretty cool. Throw in some annual wildflowers to
make a really stunning show.
bellum, Blue-Eyed Grass
(Nassella) pulchra, Purple Needle Grass
Place these bird magnets in a back corner of the yard where
you can see them from the the kitchen window or patio. So
can enjoy watching who comes to dine!
nevinii, Nevin's Barberry
but evergreen and attractive; yellow flowers and red berries that
brings the birds in droves in the summer. .
mexicana, Mexican elderberry
Summer deciduous if dry. Fragrant flowers and berries for birds in