Falkia repens    clean leaves and white flowers   a low, evergreen, creeping perennial from the winter rainfall (Mediterranean-climate) region of South Africa, that grows as a cushiony mat of cute, rounded, Dichondra-like leaves. The penny-sized white flowers are blushed pink, and look just like the morning glories to which they are related. Takes sun or shade, wet or seasonally inundated/summer dry soils. So far they like average sun, average soil and average water. This fast grower might be a low or medium-traffic lawn substitute. USDA zone 7/ Sunset zones 8-9, 12-24. Convolvulaceae. South Africa. rev 10/2014 

Fargesia   clumping bamboos of small to medium size, often with soft textured foliage and attractive culms. Many do well in cool summer climates, and  with at least a little shade, even along the coast. Graminae/Poaceae.  rev 12/2009 

apicirubens RED TIPPED FARGESIA  foliage  formerly sold as F. dracocephala, a larger, closely related species. this is a very cold hardy clumping bamboo with dense, dark green foliage that has the typically pendant, angular Fargesia/Borinda look. It is distinctive in being a very hardy, very small, evergreen clumping species. It usually seems to reach just 6-10' by most reports, usually with arching to semiweeping growth. Plants in 5g cans in our nursery struggle to reach 6' in height. It forms dense stands of 1/4" thick culms and makes a good screen if you trim up the sideways-arching branches. Supposedly it is more sun tolerant than most species of Fargesia but that probably won't get you very far if you don't have adequate humidity. Reportedly hardy to -15F, but not good in dry, hot zones without copious watering. It makes a good screening container plant. Sunset zones 4-9, 14-17, 22-24/USDA zone 6. rev 12/2009

denudata   5 gallon crop   a fine-textured, arching fountain of rich green foliage to 10' or so max, with dense culms and a tightly clumping habit. It is heat tolerant but also tolerates cold to -10F, meaning it could even be grown in many areas of the Sierra Nevadas. This is a great "good neighbor" variety with bright golden yellow new culms and that great green color, which holds through winter. Due to stock plant label confusion our first crops went out as F. robusta 'Pingwu,' a slightly shorter grower with larger leaves. rev 7/2019

nitida  CHINESE FOUNTAIN BAMBOO  former Strybing specimen   dense blue-white stems   part shade, Blue Bamboo Nursery   closeup, Blue Bamboo Nursery specimen  a usually very narrow but sometimes eventually spreading clumping species, compact, fine-textured and extremely cold hardy. Seedlings vary somewhat and new selections arise every time they flower - which happened here a few short years ago. This shouldn't happen for another 110 years or so, but that was recently enough that new varieties haven't made their way around the trade yet. The large specimens in the images linked above no longer exist as far as I'm aware, all having died after flowering, as did our then-current crops. The very fine culms have a white coating, which lasts several years, and are probably this plant's best feature. The fine, delicate foliage and narrow habit are also often highly desirable. Less useful for most of California is its extreme cold-hardiness - it's been grown successfully in New Hampshire with protection. This plant could survive Lake Tahoe winters, probably without damage most winters. It needs cool summers though and doesn't do well in many parts of the Central Valley and Southern California. To about 10-15' tall by about half that wide, full-part sun, good soil, moderate watering. This is one of the species Giant Pandas rely on for food. China. USDA zone 5. rev 4/2019

'Jiuzhaigau'    young shoots   a wonderful, new, impressively cold hardy (-20F) new species. It is a very narrow, fine-textured, dense clumper, with very thin, very dense new culms attractively coated with a powdery white bloom. The culms emerge red-black then slowly age to maroon the second  year, then slowly become rich yellow with increasing age. The stems grow vertically for a year or two then gently arch partly over. With the right amount of sun, at maturity the dainty blue green, horizontal leaves show wonderfully against glowing, purplish-maroon stems. A natural featured as a medium size specimen or featured in a container, but can be used as a relatively dense hedge as well. Grows to 10-12' tall in full (cool coastal only!) or part sun, average to rich, well-prepared soils and moderate to very infrequent watering. Tony Avent at Plant Delights states this is their most heat tolerant form of this species. USDA zone 5. China. rev 7/2016

"Rufa" ("Green Panda")  nice 5g, typical form   large, lush leaves   bluish reverse   brilliant stems     a very nice, very compact variety with notably large, lush foliage for a moderate-size grower. The deep green to olive green leaves reach 3-4" long and are clustered in dense whorls on reddish twigs then splay gracefully in a flat cluster from the tips of the culms, like a ballerina's fingers. The blades often stand at a rakish horizontal angle relative to the more vertical stem, looking especially nice in any light breeze when they all orient in the same direction and almost the same angle. This selection will reliably stay below 10' with almost no pruning needed, and can easily be kept 6' or even lower if desired. It will retain branches to the ground with adedquate light, if desired, or display those striking yellow culms if cleaned up, with color best when lit directly by sunlit. It is impressively cold hardy to boot, surviving to USDA zone 5. Prefers cooler Northern California, and higher foothill/mountain climates, dislikes Central Valley/SoCal temps and low humidity. rev 5/2019 *New for 2019!*

Fatshedera lizei  lush green foliage  depending on how it is trained and pruned, this glossy leaved shrub can also be a vine or a  groundcover. Plain and simple but easy to grow in part sun or shade with average watering. To 4-8' tall and wide, it's a wonderful  choice for containers. Sunset zones 4-10, 12-24/USDA 7. rev 2/2014-Suzy Brooks 

'Annemieke'   splashed leaves   another look   a scandent shrub, made desirable by its wonderfully variegated foliage, featuring soft jade green and chartreuse irregularly marbled in the center of the leaves. The leaves can get to 10" across and are nicely glossy and ivy-shaped. A hybrid of Fatsia japonica and Hedera helix, it scrambles yet doesn't cling. If you want it can cover ground. Does very well in a container and can make a spectacular specimen, and also does well in dark as well as dry shade. Also known as 'Media-Picta' and 'Aureo Maculata.' Sunset zones 5-9, 13-24/USDA zone 8. Araliaceae. rev 9/2010

'Variegata'  pretty leaves  leaves edged in creamy white can be a shrub, vine, or groundcover. Train or prune while stems are still green.  About 4-6' tall and up to twice as wide. Great in containers, part sun or full shade, average watering. Can also be used as a houseplant, especially outside of Sunset zones 4-10, 12-24/USDA 7. rev 7/2012-Suzy Brooks 

Fatsia japonica     foliage    this evergreen foliage plant to 10' by about 6' across (20' with great age, and perfect conditions)  provides dramatic foliage displays, especially effective against walled backgrounds or as a "canvass" background for other plants with distinctive or colored foliage. It makes a very durable, forgiving container plant and has a well-deserved reputation for holding up extremely well in difficult commercial applications, such as northern exposure with long overhangs, against grocery store walls where it endures daily shopping cart scuffing, etc. Sun to full, dark shade, drought tolerant when established. Growth will be slow and minimal under the darkest, driest conditions. Tolerates sandy, open soils through rather heavy clay, but won't take stagnant, boggy, "sour" conditions. USDA zone 7/Sunset 4-9, 13-24. Araliaceae, the genus is monotypic (means this is the only species!). Japan. rev 2/2015 

'Spider's Web'    finely variegated leaves    a really nice collector's form of variegation, easily recognized by the frenetic, finely detailed white lining that edges, spots, and streaks the leaves under high-light conditions. Evergreen, and slow to get going, with a mostly-columnar habit when young. Smaller and much slower than regular green seedlings, reaching perhaps 4-5' tall and a couple of feet wide in a reasonable amount of time, then clustering and spreading its crown of leaves and branches slowly. See comments on shade tolerant for the species, above. Under very dark conditions the variegation will be minimal to completely lacking. Just as drought tolerant when established as the parent species when established, tolerating average down to very infrequent watering. It is also just as tolerant of container culture, and will make a wonderful, featured, bragging-rights specimen for your patio, porch or entryway. You will definitely see this one brighten a moderately shady spot! Try it as a houseplant too, again with at least some sun to preserve that variegation. Burns in full, hottest sun in warmest areas (Southern California, Central Valley, or anywhere with reflected light). USDA 7/Sunset 4-9, 13-24rev 2/2015

'Variegata'    nice mature plant, Westlake    foliage close up    Blue Bamboo Nursery   cut foliage at Hortifair  a very nicely variegated form to 10' or more, with somewhat greyer leaves and margins splashed irregularly with warm, easy-to-use creamy white. For shade to very little sun,  relatively drought tolerant when established. USDA zone 7/Sunset 4-9, 13-24. rev 2/2015 

Faucaria tigrina  TIGER JAWS  at UCSC Arboretum    flowers   a Lithops relative that has triangular leaves with soft, fine teeth along the edges. It is relatively easy to grow for a "living stone," and blooms easily with large, very fine-textured, yellow iceplant-type flowers displayed singly in succession between the two jaws. Sun, sharp drainage, at its best in a small pot, as part of a larger pot landscape, or among rocks. It has some hardiness, and will probably take frost to around 25F, maybe lower. It will survive a reasonable number of years outside in succulent/rock garden landscapes if grown in mineral soils in Central California but eventually an El Niño year will do it in. They clump and increase in size nicely. Easy as a house or back porch container plant. Mesembryanthae/Aizoaceae. rev 4/2010

Feijoa  see Guava, Pineapple

Felicia amelloides 'Variegata'  VARIEGATED BLUE MARGUERITE   flowers against leaves  an almost-everblooming evergreen perennial for sun to part shade. The blue flowers really stand out against the creamy-variegated leaves. Normal watering needs, usually seen as a container plant. To 15-18" tall and spreading to 2-3', spilling over walls, out of pots,. etc. Annual outside of USDA zone 9/Sunset 8-9, 14-24. South Africa. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 7/2015-Suzy Brooks 

Ferocactus covellei  SONORAN BARREL CACTUS (not currently  dreaming living in Caprock Canyons State Park in Texas when he grows up   from the deserts of Arizona and Mexico, comes this barrel cactus with red spines and heavy ridges. Spines are large and thick and not too scary.  In nature, it grows 6-8' or more and not very quickly. Flowers will come on a mature plant, maroon, orange, or yellow, on the top. Likes sun and water during the growing season and a dry winter. Nice container plant. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. Cactaceae. rev 4/2012-Suzy Brooks 

  clumping, spreading (but non-running) perennial grasses ranging from inches to feet high. Most of the useful varieties  sold in California are moderately to very drought tolerant. Can be used singly or massed as groundcovers. Classification and nomenclature is mostly a confusing mess, with many of our trade cultivars being variously listed among trade, scientific publications and horticultural references as belonging to F. ovina, F. cinerea or F. idahoensis. rev 7/2017

   at UCSC Arboretum    one of our nicest native grasses. Grows as an upright grey green clump of foliage to about 2' tall. Leaves are about 1/4" wide. Rather open flower/seed heads follow in summer. Tough, adaptable, drought tolerant. Definitely doesn't like poor drainage, though. Sun to part shade. Graminae/Poaceae.

'Phil's Silver'  majestic silvery clump  a cultivar found on the coast in Sonoma county, it is periphally named after Phil Silvers, a very funny guy from 1950's who apparently went on to become the Dalai Lama. It has stiff, grey green blades, a little purple at the base, and forms a majestic clump about 3' tall and wide. Flower stalks are seen in spring. Takes sun near the coast and some shade as you go inland. Little to average watering and well drained soil. Sunset zones 4-9, 14-24/USDA 7. rev 10/2011

cinerea   BLUE FESCUE   a European species, native to southeastern France and northern Italy. Seems to sweep up many blue to grey forms being offered these days. USDA zone 5/Sunset all zones. rev 7/2017

'Beyond Blue'  PP23307   color    the best blue fescue yet? Powdery blue blades hold that color through summer's heat and drought without browning out. Makes a soft halo of silvery blue in the garden or spilling from containers. About 9-12" tall, 18" wide. Sun or part shade. Little watering once established but wouldn't mind moist soil with good drainage. rev 10/2014-Suzy Brooks

‘Elijah Blue’    growing with Carex flagellifera    toupe-like planting    a dwarf, very glaucous variety, with almost white foliage. This seems to be the smallest variety out there among the blue fescues, and is best maintained as a small scale accent plant. The problem with allowing it to get large is that while it spreads out with time, it never gets any taller, so it just looks like a giant blue pancake. rev 7/2004

idahoensis   IDAHOE FESCUE, BLUE BUNCHGRASS   a clumping perennial species native to relatively drier hilly or forested habitats, ranging from British Columbia and Sasketchewan south to New Mexico and California. rev 7/2017
‘Siskiyou Blue’    long blue hair    this is a wonderful variety, probably the best of the Blue Fescues, with long, lush, blue blades reaching well over a foot in length and often laying horizontally to form broad blue masses of foliage. I think this would make a decent hanging basket. It is probably the bluest variety overall and therefore definitely my favorite. A neighbor up the street has it used simply but very effectively in front of a trellis of the dark green leaves of Star Jasmine and below the deep burgundy foliage of Berberis thunbergii ‘Crimson Pygmy.’ With the bright green lawn bordering the planting it looks colorful all year. Jeff Brooks says it did well in the northern Central Valley, with beautiful blue, arching flower stalks, very satisfying. rev 2/2010

'Stanislaus River'  dewy foliage   a compact selection, to about 12-14" tall and wide, distinguished by its very fine textured blue green leaves. Sun or part shade, infrequent to very little summer watering. rev 7/2017

'Stony Creek'  leaf color   this is a Del Norte County selection of this species, meaning it is more adapted to our unusualultra-long California summers, the longest and most variably rainless of all the various Mediterranean climate regions. It is not quite as blue as 'Siskyou Blue,' but makes up for it in toughness and durability. Sun (coast) to some shade (likes it in scorching summer areas) with infrequent to just occasional summer watering. It will survive all but the most desert-like zones without any watering at all but it will look very dormant under those conditions. To 30" in flower. Sunset zones 5-9, 12-24/USDA zone 8, probably 7. rev 7/2017
'Tomales Bay' BUNCHGRASS   fine, blue foliage   a California native grass and a very nice blue one too! Small and dense, under a foot tall, it will grow in sun or part shade. This is a good choice for lawn substitutes and meadows, blending easily with other natives or drier growing perennials. Easy to edge a path, fill a small area as groundcover, dot about in the garden, and lovely in containers. Some watering in the summer to look its best. Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24/USDA 9. rev 7/2011-Suzy Brooks
punctoria  HEDGEHOG GRASS   young clump   this is a very blue, very stiff, hard species you grow because you want it to be blue, stay small (under 8" tall and wide), and not die out in the middle. The leaves are quite firm and stiff, and have a sharp tip. They aren't as dangerous or troublesome as Australian Needlegrass, but they do need a little respect. This subject has a strong following in the PNW because of its resistance to wet weather and the previously mentioned tendency to not die out in the center with age. The older leaves will turn straw colored in fall and eventually drop out, but otherwise it survives with little or no care in well drained, preferably mineral soils.  Grow it in full to mostly full sun, give it little or regular summer watering. It can be mass planted for a very effective ground cover. Asia Minor. Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24, USDA 5. rev 2/2010 (not currently in production)

rubra 'Patrick's Point'  fine blades  coming from 'Patrick's Point' near Agate Beach on the coast of Northern California, this is a fine bladed, clumping blue grey grass that spreads moderately quickly underground and makes a wonderful meadow grass or groundcover. About 6-12" tall and can be mowed. Does like some water in the summer, sun, or part shade in hot areas. USDA 5/Sunset zones 1-10, 14-24. rev 2/2019

Ficus (ornamentals)   mostly tropical to subtropical trees and vines, with a few hardier temperate or Mediterranean outliers. Valued for foliage and habit because flowers are almost always inconspicuous to almost unnoticeable. Evergreen tree types are all experimental north of Santa Barbara although a few old patriarchs have survived our epic record freezes (with heavy damage) if they are in especially favored situations. Moraceae. rev 1/2013

pumila    CREEPING FIG    mature foliage    juvenile foliage texture    pattern    pattern    slow to moderate evergreen vine with dark green, oval leaves. Juvenile growth is characterized by small, thin leaves (to 1") with close internodes. Mature foliage is much larger (to 3"), somewhat glossy, much tougher, and with longer internodes. Foliage color will bleach out to yellow or almost white in full sunlight, especially in hot areas, but foliage rarely burns. Clings by adhesive roots, and can be problematic on some walls or structures because of this. It can also be quite useful for binding loose rock walls, etc. Best in at least part shade, little summer watering in most areas. Small fruits are usually not noticed. Eastern Asia, Japan.

'Variegated'   juvenile foliage leaves cleanly margined with ivory white. Very slow. Watch for reversions! When maintained this is a real gem of a container or small-area subject, but don't plan on being able to use it to cover large areas as the reversions are obnoxiously persistent. I don't think I've ever seen mature foliage on this form. rev 1/2013

Fig,  edible    COMMON FIG  perhaps the oldest cultivated fruit, they are a symbol of abundance and sweetness. Figs can be grown in containers or in the ground. Gophers like figs, boy do they like them, very, very much, so use a gopher cage when planting.  Site them in your warmest, sunniest location and they can fruit just about anywhere in California. Sunset zones 4-9, 12-24/USDA 7. rev 11/2013

are delicious all by themselves or gussied up with blue cheese, then wrapped in prosciutto, skewered, and grilled. They are free of sodium, fat, and cholesterol, and a terrific source of fiber. They're also outrageously expensive at the store. There is no reason not to grow your own except simple laziness, or ignorance. Since you are reading this list clearly you are neither. Full ripeness in figs only occurs in the very last day or two before fruit fall, when the neck suddenly relaxes and the fruit droop down sharply (and the the fruit suddenly fill with sugar). This therefore means they can't be picked at proper ripeness if they need time for transport to market or harder skins to resist handling. Properly ripe figs have to be bought right from the edge of a farmer's field or be picked from your own tree. Period.

Almost all figs sold in the trade today are what is known as "common figs," meaning they set sterile fruit all by their lonely selves and don't need a pollinating insect or another variety nearby.  Commercially grown "Smyrna-type" figs (whoa, can't use "Smyrna," it's a protected provenance moniker, like "Roquefort," or "Champagne"), also imprted as "Kalamata" figs (also a protected name!), are grown and marketed here as "Calimyrna," (also a protected name!). They are even better than these common figs, with a richer, nuttier flavor that comes from their tiny, fertile seeds. But all those varieties have to go through a complicated pollination cycle involving a special wasp its special alternate host. A third type, "San Pedro" figs, can do both types of crops if the pollinating wasps and the required alternate host plant are both present, but if no pollination can occur they will just bear the typical sterile fruit we are all most familiar with. Almost all of us will only ever have personal experience with common figs.

Four of the varieties below performed extremely well in a 2012 evaluation - in containers even! - right here in our cold, miserable, wind tunnel location. This wasn't a definitive test, as such old coastal stalwarts as 'Osborne Prolific' and 'White Genoa' weren't available to trial. But the superachievers, 'Violeta de Bordeaux' (already in production), 'Blue Celeste,' 'Bourjassote Grise,' and 'Flanders' (coming soon!) ripened their first "crop of the year" (versus an overwintered, spring to early summer ripening breba crop) even before ubiquitous but usually lackluster 'Brown Turkey.' Most importantly all had substantially superior density, sweetness and flavor as well. Performance was in the order just listed, with 'Violeta' coming in first. All four should be considered to be at or near the top of the list in cool-summer areas and of course anywhere warmer as well. The others, below as already in our catalog, are best sited  in warm to hot summer climates. rev 11/2013

'Adriatic'  STRAWBERRY FIG    leaf and fruit   from Italy, an old variety with greenish white skin and a sweet pink interior. Not a good variety for cooler, coastal climates, needs to be at least one mountain range inland. rev 5/2018

'Blackjack'    ripe fruit   a black fig, with light strawberry interiior, very much like Brown Turkey in production characteristics as well as flavor and quality, in our experience. rev 5/2018

'Blue Celeste'    get in line!   drooping neck = ripe!  heavy bearing, with pale, blue black skin with a whitish surface bloom and pink amber flesh. Very sweet, almost seedless fruit were medium size and reportedly dry nicely. This can have an overwintered spring breba crop in hot areas but it will fail in cool springs and always near the North or Central Coast. rev 11/2013

'Bourjassotte Grise'   almost ripe!   from Burjasot, Spain. A large "grey" fig, light green then maturing to light brown with a whitish surface bloom, light salmon orange, when ripe it's sweet, dry, dense and concentrated. Fall crops only, but reliable, even in containers here at our cold nursery. A real surprise winner. rev 5/2018

'Bourjasotte Panachee'    fruit on the stem   also known here in the U.S. as 'Tiger Fig,' or 'Panache,' this is a very sweet, somewhat smaller fig easily recognized by its obvious green and yellow stripes. The invaluable and inestimable C. Todd Kennedy of CRFG fame states it is clearly a sport of 'Bourjasotte Blanche' as he has watched it sport back to that parent variety. The flesh  is bright pink to deep red and very sweet at full maturity. As far as I can tell it ripens only one crop per year, in fall. In many years it has failed to ripen at all in containers here at our cool, foggy, windy nursery location but Lance Reiners states it matures every year in his also-cool Westside Santa Cruz backyard. Juvenile stems and branches of this variety can also show stripes, ditto the leaves occasionally. This variety can be quite prone to obnoxious insects seeking sugar inside the ripe fruit, crawling in through the end-pores (ostioles). USDA zone 7/Sunset 4-9, 12-24. rev 5/2018

‘Brown Turkey’
 fruit   dark purple brown fruit, reddish interior, good for coastal or inland areas. A reasonably good eating variety for cool areas just because it will reliably ripen. It isn't as sweet and rich as many others, but it can still be good when fully ripe and most importantly, it is really dependable where more difficult varieties fail. Also it reliably produces twice a year, even in very cool-summer areas. rev 5/2018

'Col de Dame Noir'
    deep red inside, blackish green outside, this intriguing variety has a slightly more acidic, fruity flavor than most, almost a berry-like essence. It has never ripened for us here at our nursery, but it wants to, once a year in fall.
Big, fast. rev 5/2018

'Desert King'   almost ripe!  an improved 'Kadota' type, with large, sweet green fruit with a deep strawberry colored interior. Very sweet, rich, dense, moderately dry. A good choice for inland or warm coastal areas but has never ripened fruit here at our very cool nursery. Almost, but not quite. rev 11/2013

'Excel'    ready to enjoy!   this is a Kadota-type, "white" fig that features improved resistance to skin-splitting. It has also been honored with a place on our very short, informal list of good cool-area varieties, a combination of recommendations by the storied Idell Weydemeyer and by C. Todd Kennedy of CRFG (and now with his own fabulous online catalog and store, The Arboreum Company). This UC Riverside hybrid effort has light green, almost tan skin at maturity, amber flesh, very, very sweet flavor (or what's the point?) and heavy crops in summer. It can be used in any fashion (dried, fresh, etc.) but is primarily a fresh home variety. Bears breba crops in warmish locations, but none for use here at the nursery. USDA zone 7/Sunset zones 5-24. rev 5/2018

'Flanders'   neck droops = truly ripe!    here's a very productive fig, purple skin striped with white specks, that has sweet, rich, amber colored flesh that dries well. This is one of our "cool summer champs" (see intro to figs, above) if you are in a less-than-hellfire summer-heat area, which just happens to be where most of the population lives in California. Areas of moderate summer heat have fewer good choices when it comes to picking rich, sweet figs that ripen before fall, and this is one of them! rev 5/2018

'Ischia'    why you grow it     really close on that fabulous color   luscious, sweet, dark raspberry red interiors with typical rich, jam-like flavor and consistency. Light to deep green exterior when mature. Late ripening for us here but will produce and ripen reliably in cool areas. rev 7/2017
'Italian 320'
   ripe and ready to eat!!   maturing fruit    young fruit, purple on green   one of a numbered series collected in Rome in the 1980's by the inestimable Todd Kennedy, a key figure in CRFG (California Rare Fruit Growers) history and lore. The full series can be tasted at Prusch Park in San Jose, right below the huge, futuristic, R. Crumb-like flyover junction of I-280/680 and 101. This form was described by Patrick Shafer as essentially being dark purple with a red interior, medium size, medium ostiole, and "good to excellent flavor." Tell us what you think!
rev 10/2015

'Janice'     sooooooo sweet!     ripening   another 'Kadota' improvement, in fact a direct branch sport of that variety. This one hangs its hat on its almost seedless, very smooth-textured interior, and having a smaller, more insect and fungus resistant ostiole (fruit end-pore). Skins are greenish white, fruit are about the same size as 'Kadota,' moderately short and about as wide as tall, interiors are almost white when approaching maturity and go to golden amber when fully ripe. They have very sweet flavor but from my experience I think 'Kadota' is sweeter, if and when it ripens in your climate. 'Janice' ripens marginally faster and better in cool conditions. rev 10/2015

   leaves and fruit    perfectly ripe   sectioned   a "white" fig (very pale green to blond) of very high quality if you have the summer heat to ripen it, or even if you don't as long as you are patient. It is at its best in inland valleys or at least away from the immediate coast. The skin can be quite leathery, the interior is tan to pinkish and gooey. This variety is quite popular because the, flavor is excellent and very sweet, but doesn't have too much of that grassy, fresh-fig flavor. When fully ripe the fruit will droop at the neck, lighten in color, and exude clear droplets of pure sweetness from the distal end. In addition to blooming in late spring on new, green wood and producing fruit which ripen in fall like other varieties, this is one of the types which also bears a “breba” crop, which means it sets fruit in fall which pause their development until spring, then resume ripening and are ready in late spring or early summer. However if you don't have sufficient heat in those seasons then those fruits will languish and eventually abort. I have never failed to ripen a September-October crop in a moderately warm zone 17 but I do believe if you are on the bitter, outer Western edge of a wind-blown, foggy, drizzly, miserable, bone-chilling zone 17 you may not be able to ripen this variety. rev 1/2013

   fruit  dark purple brown to purple black fruit, reddish interior, with an excellent, rich flavor. Will ripen (late!) in warmer coastal gardens many years if given a good, wind protected, heat accumulating situation, but overall this one is much more reliable away from the immediate coast and of much better quality. This is the last variety to try in your backyard orchard if you are in cold-summer location as trees often to usually fail to ripen fruit there. rev 1/2013

'Sequoia' PP20038
  our first fruit, sectioned    another, a little younger     bent neck  =  ready to eat, and not before!    a promising new and essentially still unknown release from UC Davis. This is as close as you can get to true Smyrna-type fig flavor ('Calimyrna') without caprification (pollination by the special wasps  -  it's very complicated). Looked good, smelled good, and tasted very, very good, very much like my fallback favorite 'Kadota.' Developed from 'Calimyrna' itself for the commercial fresh-eating market, this one is also fine for home drying except fruits will darken, limiting commercial application. 'Sequoia' is a "white" fig, showing pale yellow-green skin at maturity, with strawberry to amber flesh and a somewhat flattened shape. In taste comparisons it bested the other four primary fresh varieties, 'Brown Turkey,' 'Mission,' 'Kadota' and 'Sierra,' and was close to the continued reigning king 'Calimyrna' itself while yielding two to three times as much fruit per acre. 'Sequoia' brings other superior characteristics as well::

    -  a light to medium breba crop (overwintered fruit that ripen very early) of very good size/quality - 'Sierra' ' and 'Brown Turkey' bear few or none, 'Calimyrna' bears none.
    -  its primary summer crop doesn't decline in size late in the season - 'Mission' and 'Kadota' do reduce later, and Smyrna-types only set fruit once, in early summer.
    -  its end pore is quite small, limiting insect access and mold from moisture - 'Brown Turkey' and 'Kadota' can be susceptible.
     - grows as a vigorous but compact tree - 'Sierra' is quite large.

I had a long talk with the breeder and creator of this variety, Jim Doyle of UC Davis, and learned more about figs from him in that single phone call than everything else accumulated previously. Fig breeding is a long, difficult, process (like I said before - it's very complicated!) "I don't believe I've ever met or even talked to another fig breeder," I told him. "I didn't even know figs were being actively bred, I thought most were just found." "Well, there's not a lot of fig breeders in the world," he admitted, "but there's still a few of us!" (So did you know that wild, seedling figs are common throughout California, including caprifigs, common figs, Smyrna-type figs and San Pedros? Even in Northern California? Did you know that the special pollinating wasp needed for "caprification" of true, fertile Smyrna-type figs is widespread here because of this? Did you know that that mosaic virus is endemic and ubiquitous in California, and in a practical sense unpreventable, due to broad distribution of it's specific vector, a microscopic mite that blows around in the wind? It's always nice to stumble upon such a fountain of information and knowledge.)

'Sequoia' would probably be the most famous and important commercial and home garden fig in California if only the original commercial field trial had used normal, cutting-propagated plants. Instead, plugs which were "hyperjuvenilized during the tissue culture propagation process, and thus behaved like seedlings, taking many years to mature and start bearing. That single mistake saddled 'Sequoia' with it's current bad rap among commercial growers as being vert slow to come into bearing, and so it's been a secret waiting to be discovered ever since. I can assure you, as the unfortunate wretch burdened by the heavy, dreadful task of personally taste-testing all the incredibly sweet fruit produced by our own stock plants, that it bears heavy crops of absolutely wonderful fruit, and just as quickly as any other cutting-grown variety. And it has proven itself as being good here in our cool, coastal conditions. As far as I know Monterey Bay Nursery is still the only licensed vendor of what is probably the best common fig variety available. Propagation, transfer for propagation, and export of this plant is PROHIBITED. rev 5/2018

'Panache' - see 'Bourjasotte Panachee'

'Violette de Bordeaux'   plentiful harvest!   also known as 'Figue de Bordeaux,' 'Violette,' 'Negronne,' 'Angelique Black/Noire,' 'Petite Figue Violette,' 'Albicougris,' 'Figuo Aubiquon,' 'Petite Aubique,' 'Figue Poire,' and a few others. That's what happens when you get to be over 300 years old. This is a small black variety with a red interior, and is probably the best fig for Californians if you had to pick only one for all areas. You can tell a lot by trying to ripen a fig in a small container in a cool, foggy, drizzly, grey-summer climate, and this was easily the clear winner out of our 20 new varieties we trialed over the past couple of years. In our grow-off this variety bore precociously, heavily (almost too heavily), earliest (breba, ahead of 'Brown Turkey'!), and had a flavor and sweetness intensity equal to 'Mission' at its best. It bears so quickly and continuously that it effectively dwarfs the tree considerably when grown in a container, making it a natural for your porch or patio. In fact we have to strip young fruit from our production container plants to make them grow else they don't size up. The only knock on this variety is that the fruit are definitely small, about half the size of a standard 'Brown Turkey.' This amazing selection easily came in first in quality, quantity and earliness in our in-house grow-off. It is reported to fruit well and be of good quality in climates as diverse as Fresno, Riverside, Fremont (Niles), Washington D.C., England ("very prolific"), Portland, Oregon and Paris, with two crops in warm seasons in the latter two locations. Breba (early) crops have been inconsistent here, ripening some years but not others. Slow and dwarfish in containers, fast, vigorous and big in the ground. rev 5/2018

Fragaria chiloensis 'Aulon'  WOOD STRAWBERRY   at UCSC   huge flowers   a very nice Northern California selection from Brett Hall that has tough, very shiny, vert dark green leaves against red runners, and huge, creamy white flowers to about an inch and a half across. This clone apparently forms almost exclusively male flowers, we are on the lookout for a female variant or similar counterpart because the species does bear tasty fruits. Runs quickly, tolerates sun along the coast or more shade inland, and needs little summer watering. This is a very nice native that deserves wide distribution and should have a nice niche in today's water-aware garden schemes. Sunset zones 5-9, 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 8. Rosaceae. rev 2/2010

Fremontodendron ‘California Glory’    FLANNEL BUSH    Mission Hill    closeup    large, fast California native shrub to 15-20’ tall and wide, though often to only half that size. Bears 3-lobed, grainy leaves to 3" across, sweetly scented with a resinous fragrance much like that of Rainbow Popsicles, most evident on warm spring days. Masses of open, well displayed, bright yellow to yellow orange flowers to almost 4" across appear in spring and early summer. Hybrid varieties will bloom as long as they are pushing new growth. With a deep water supply, this can extend the bloom season into early summer, and plants can repeat bloom in fall. This variety seems almost indistinguishable from the next two, but has been in the trade longer and so is better known. It is definitely harder to propagate than either ‘Pacific Sunset’ or ‘San Gabriel’. Sun to part shade, little or no summer watering when established. Needs good drainage. Makes an excellent large espalier for a dry situation. Keep the grainy fuzz ("flannel") away from sensitive areas such as face, neck, or eyes. Malvaceae these days, formerly Sterculiaceae.rev 5/2018

‘Ken Taylor’    closeup    habit    to 3-4’ tall, 6-12’ wide, with a horizontal to semipendant habit. Leaves are somewhat more grey green, flowers hang horizontally to pendantly and thus show their orange backs more than other hybrids. The flowers are also smaller by about an inch. A selection of, or hybrid involving  F. decumbens.
‘Pacific Sunset’    closeup    same parentage as ‘California Glory’ and ‘San Gabriel.’ Flowers are faintly oranger, supposedly larger.
‘San Gabriel’    flowers    very closeup    flowers like ‘California Glory,’ leaves are slightly more lobed.

Fuchsias    tender evergreen shrubs or scrambling vines, well known for their beautiful flowers. The majority of our varieties are sold as staked, including trailers, since they are much easier to merchandise at the retail level. Varieties range in growth from narrow upright growers, scandent vine-like shrubs, compact bushes, or trailing to mounding creepers. There are even some flat groundcover species available from specialists ( F. procumbens, for example). The genus is native to South America. Onagraceae. rev 9/2003

     Culture for Fuchsias is usually going to include mostly shade to part sun unless you are along the immediate coast, where they can take mostly sun at the expense of somewhat redder, sparser foliage. Flowering tends to be heavier the more light they have, but any direct sunlight can result in scorching and bleaching on the hottest days. Soil or container mixes should be rich, freely draining, and heavy on humus or organic material. They are going to need regular to copious watering. None would be considered drought tolerant except in the mildest of cool summer, near-coastal plantings. They are going to respond well to soluble fertilizers applied monthly or even semimonthly, and should be cut back (if needed) as they begin to break growth in spring.

     They are wonderful for attracting hummingbirds, but those, along with bees, can also spread the almost microscopic Fuchsia Mite, so they are a mixed blessing. Overall Fuchsia Mite has been a much less severe problem recently, and speculation is that they are now being fed upon by a predatory mite, though I haven't seen anything to confirm this.

Angel Earrings very compact, petite, heat tolerant series, quite little, that are superb for small containers, combinations, etc. They stay cute. Everything is small scale. rev 1/2011
Cascading PP 10,378  elegant bells    very cute flowers of dark pink and purple. Only 10-14" tall and trailing over the sides of pots or hanging baskets. rev 5/2011-SB
'Dainty'   flower  single red, long purple corolla. rev 1/2011
'Double Red'   flowers  double, but not double red, just a bicolor with red sepals and petite double white petals. rev 1/2011
'Mauve'   flowers   pale pink sepals, pale lavender petals, and striking red anthers emerging from the tube. rev 1/2011
'Preciosa'  flowers   like 'Mauve,' but a slightly bluer shade of lavender. Pink sepals, rose anthers. rev 1/2011
'Snowfire'  plant at Pack Trials   flower closeup single light pnk flowers slowly age to blush, against red sepals. rev 4/2011
'White'   flowers  actually very, very pale pink sepals and petals, with darker pink veins and carmine anthers. rev 1/2011
‘Blue Eyes    closeup    trailing. Flowers very double, deep violet blue, with broad, red sepals. Heat tolerant! rev 4/2013
'Dollar Princess'    closeup    smaller, globose buds, light red, open to reveal chunky, double dark purple petals. Flowers only reach 1 1/2 to 2" across. Spreading rounded to semitrailing growth. rev 5/2005
'Enstone' (magellanica)  tiny gem set in gold   pretty leaves of light green and pale yellow back a tiny white and pink jewel of a flower. A bright soft foliage plant for the garden to about  a foot and a half tall, then spilling over edges of pots and walls. rev 9/2013-Suzy Brooks 
'Flying Scotsman'     huge   HUGE flowers of marbled pink and white trail over the sides of pots and window boxes. Or train it up a support, any way, the hummingbirds will thank you. Morning sun or bright shade. Regular watering and feeding. rev 2/2014-Suzy Brooks 
‘Firecracker’ PP    foliage closeup    flower clusters    a variegated form of ‘Gartenmeister Bonstadt,’ this one bears very attractive cream-margined leaves with lighter jade green zones. Typical pendant red flowers.
'General Monk'   flower   like real ballerinas with uplifted dark rose arms, layered skirts of purple, and little legs with shoes, all in these double  flowers. A bushy plant about 2' tall and wide, good choice for hanging baskets or tall pots. rev 3/2014
'Galfrey Lye'   hanging    we sold this last year but somehow it didn't make it into the catalog. Tthese long, slender flowers of white and red violet come on a plant that is gall mite resistant! Grows to 3' tall and is, of course, a treat for the hummingbirds. Part shade to full sun, regular watering. rev 2/2014-Suzy Brooks
‘Jingle Bells’    flowers    upright or trailing variety. Bears double white flowers with red sepals. 
'Madeleine Sweeney'   flowers   medium sized, double flowers with rosy pink sepals and dark lavender petals on an upright plant. A treat for hummingbirds. rev 3/2014-Suzy Brooks 
'Megan'  what it does  this is an amazing little dynamo I picked up from Skip Antonelli at the old Antonelli's Begonia Gardens in Capitola many years ago. I've never seen anyone else offer it except them and us. It is an atypical hybrid, forming an intriguingly tight dome of closely set dark green leaves. Sprinkled all over the outside are upright to horizontally facing flowers of perky deep coral pink sepals and intense rose magenta petals. The young buds are pleasantly highlighted with pale shading towards the tips. I am very partial to pendant flowers on fuchsias but this is so low and tight there is nowhere for a flower to hang. As far as I can tell its flower initiation is either daylength neutral (truly "blooms all the time") or initiates with very short daylengths, because it is the only older-generation variety we grow that has flowers all the time. (Some of the new developments are supposed to be daylength-neutral.) With great age this cutie might get as much as a foot tall, but I doubt it. It definitely wants to spread more out than up, and very slowly at that. I see it as more like 6-8" high but 12-16" across before you cut it back to freshen the stems. This is the ultimate small container fuchsia, would be an extremely useful combo element, and would be a great breeder except it seems to be sterile from my experience. rev 4/2012
'Miss California'   pretty in pink   pretty in pink is right! Slender, white petals and long, graceful, light pink sepals add a graceful elegance to the garden or containers. Heat tolerant. rev 3/2014
'Royal Mosaic'   full blown glory  extra large flowers are amazing, with colorful marbling. They are handful, literally! The cream, pink, and violet double flowers are terrific viewed from below in baskets, and your hummingbirds will thank you. rev 5/2014
‘Swingtime’    closeup    upright or trailing variety. Double ivory white flowers with bright red sepals.
'Tuaska Gold'    flowers and leaves   a stunning foliage plant by itself, but also displays the same pretty, single rose pink flowers with white sepals of  'Tuaska.' The wonderul all-golden leaves practically lay flat, making it so good at cascading over pot edges. Nice in its own hanging pot or even better in combination with anything dark, with heucheras, or grasses, or use your imagination! rev 10/2011 MBN INTRODUCTION-2011 
   closeup    upright or trailing variety. Full double, dark purple flowers with red sepals.
'Winston Churchill'  a beauty  this one has been around for more than 50 years, so it must be good! Dark pink and lavender purple, double flowers in profusion all summer and into fall. The upright habit lends itself to training as a standard and will get those hummingbirds farther up from the scheming kittens hiding underneath. rev 5/2012-Suzy Brooks 

Furcraea  Agave-like plants from the Americas. Some are gigantic and spiny, others are much easier to live around. Agavaceae. rev 8/2008

foetida    CUBA HEMP, MAURITIUS HEMP    large container plant    an evergreeen, agave-like plant to 4-5' tall by 12' across, with leaves to 6-8' when happy (warm and partly shaded with regular watering), with leaves that are softer, greener and more watery than an Agave, and unarmed. It is subtropical in origin and will start to show disfiguring damage below 25F. Use it when you want an Agave or Yucca form but don't want spines or teeth. It sends up a central stalk to about 25' when it blooms, which it will do after a few years, but the flowers are greenish and not particularly showy. A 25' spike can't be ignored, however, and it is dramatic due to its sheer size. In addition the flowers are highly fragrant. The plant is monocarpic, and will die after flowering, but bulblets on the flower spike will grow into new plants. For sun (coast) to part shade (hot inland) and infrequent to average watering. Very good in containers, of course. The leaf fibers are used in making bags, cloth, and twine. Sunset zones 8-9 (with protection), 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. Northern South America. Agavaceae. rev 10/2005

'Mediopicta'    container    Wow! Hotel del Coronado   Sea World   an amazing variegated form, producing a broad (9" wide) ivory white leaf with a narrow green margin when at its best. Leaves can also be green striped white. Something like a variegated Phormium on andro and creatine. One of the most striking of all variegated plants, but needs protection from hard frost. rev 1/2010