Lantana hybrids    evergreen subtropical shrubs , mounding to scandent, with umbels of flowers in a range of colors. Grow in sun to part shade, they require little or no summer watering when established. Our trade forms all seem completely daylength neutral for flower initiation, and thus are one of the few plants that truly can “bloom all year," dependent of course on adequate conditions of temperature, light, water etc. Yet they also seem to be facultative short day responding to some degree since they often more heavily into bloom by early October, just like more summer-inhibited FSD responders like Tagetes lemmonii, Salvia leucantha and others. Lantanas are usually at least burned back on top by any hard freeze but I am continually surprised seeing them growing in highly exposed situations in areas I would consider too cold for them to survive, such as the Central Valley. They seem to be root hardy to around 25-20F, perhaps USDA zone 9b? Tropical America. Verbenaceae. rev 10/2017

'Cosmic Firestorm' PP25,955   WARNING! DO NOT CLICK HERE if you have back, neck or heart problems, if you are pregnant, or are prone to hysteria, neuralgia, nervous fits, mezmerization or hilarity, . . .        very closeup      more hypnosis       see what I mean?    a scintillating variegated sport Manuel found in one of our blocks of 'Radiation Improved', this eye-popping beauty is an ultra-stable, manically variegated form that puts the intense, red and orange-red flowers against the perfect foliage background. It is  downright hypnotizing really, when plants grow large enough to present a broad blanket of flowers and foliage. Need a container plant, say against a dark background of foliage, or wall, or fence, or need to light up that boring corner spot? It's the BIGGEST no-brainer in the history of man-kind! To 2-3' by 4-5', probably. The mature red flowers become very deep under cool winter conditions, and leaves pick up purplish tones. rev 2/2018 MBN INTRODUCTION-2015

my personal struggle   sometimes I'd wander into that casita and get stuck there, staring at the dazzling leaves and flowers in a quasi-catatonic trance. The office would finally track me down and drag me out. A little smelling salts and I'd be good as new! Well, except for the cumulative brain damage of course, from repetitive exposure, because I'd developed this irresistible urge, and kept going back in there, and going back, and going back  .  .  .  They eventually tried to put a limit on me, and said I wasn't allowed to spend more than ten minutes a day in the Cosmic Firestorms!!!!  Which was .  .  .  I mean .  .  .  give me a break. First of all who made anyone the Big Boss of me, and second of all I actually did better afterwards, because I was much more relaxed, and got so much more work done. If I spent just two hours staring at "The Cosmics" (as I'm fond of calling them, because they are) I'd work twice as hard for three hours. Do the math - who came out ahead? In the end I compromised and agreed to spend only one hour a day. But eventually I burned out the pleasure center in my brain, indicating 'Cosmic Firestorm' acts much like the drug Ecstasy. And so now most of the compulsion is gone, sadly, but happily not the pleasure.]

montevidensis (sellowiana)    closeup    habit    more habit    with callas   our common trailing purple lantana, growing to 2’ tall and up to 10’ wide or more. I've seen this plant recover quickly from an honeset 20°F freeze. Needs very little summer watering when established, none in many cooler, coastal locations. rev 10/2017

'Lord Brooks' PP25920   on left, compared to regular form    Lord Brooks left, Lady Brooks middle, regular on right   one day I said to our Jeff Brooks "Jeff, we have 3000 purple lantanas, go find me a sport that's more blue." The next day he brought me one that was darker purple instead. As I recall he said "Yes master I hear and obey!" And that is exactly how you find new varieties. This is about twice as dark as the regular form, but you might only notice if they've been grown together in the same conditions (temperature, media, fertilizer etc.). This is just mo' betta! Same conditions. rev 11/2017  MBN INTRODUCTION-2017

white    same growth habit and parameters as the regular species, but with a profuse show of clean, white flowers. rev 12/2017

'Little Lucky' series   an ultra compact line, just 12-24" tall and wide. rev 11/2017

Hot Pink   golden yellow, aging to brilliant rose then dark magenta pink. rev 11/2017
Lemon Cream   medium lemon yellow, aging to a bright creamy white.  rev 11/2017
Pot of Gold   intense, deep gold, on the verge of entering the realm of orange. rev 11/2017
Orange   deep golden yellow aging to pale red orange. rev 11/2017
Red   golden orange maturing to intense red orange.  rev 11/2017
'Skittles' (not currently in production)  red against slate green  grey green leaves have a creamy white edge with dark red, yellow, and orange flowers scattered in. Semi-trailing habit, 15" tall and spreading 2-3'. Nowhere near as nice as our own, electrifying and spectacular 'Cosmic Firestorm,' which is dazzling enough to make your eyeballs jitter around in their sockets, but this is a new look, with its own quiet, very humble charm. Hang it up, use it as a groundcover, or let it spill from containers. Sun, little watering needed once established, attracts bees and butterflies. USDA 8. rev 7/2017

Laurus nobilis    BAY, GRECIAN LAUREL    tree   a large, usually narrow evergreen shrub or tree to 15-25’ tall and wide. A must for anyone who barbecues, where handfuls of green foliage can (strike that - must!) be placed on the fire to properly fumigate the chickens and ribs. A few of those, some allspice leaves, some rosemary, then stand by with a baseball bat to fend off the neighbors, 'cause they're going to trying to break into the backyard like packs of wild dogs! I guess you could charge admission. Sun or mostly shade, little or no watering, frost hardy. Excellent as a clipped hedge, or a small, neat tree. Also outstanding as a container plant, tolerating erratic or inadequate watering quite well. Mediterranean. Lauraceae. rev 10/2015

Lavandula evergreen shrubs native to the Mediterranean region and montane areas of Europe. Most are highly drought tolerant when established. Labiatae/Lamiaceae. rev 11/2014

x allardi 'Meerlo' PP25276     close up    against other lavenders  a new variegated selection, very vigorous, a great grower, and rewarded for its excellence by being named to the Sunset Western Garden Collection. The soft, finely hairy green leaves are edged with clear ivory to creamy white, and the variegation pattern really stands out. At about 24-30" tall and wide when grown, it makes a terrific hedge, border to a veggie or herb garden, or container subject just for its foliage alone. Ours haven't bloomed yet, but this artificial species cross ("Lavandula x your name here"!) seems very close to L. 'Goodwin Creek,' and so should bear similar tall, narrow pikes of purple flowers beginning in late spring or early summer. These should also attract the same motley crew of the "bountiful B's" - bees, beneficials and butterflies. (And how 'bout those "big M's," evening pollinating moths (Sphinx/Hawk, others) and midges (beneficial), or the "Humongous H's," hover flies,  and, well, you get the idea.) The leaves have a spicy fragrance most like Spanish lavender. This is probably most correctly assigned to L. heterophylla, which refers to hybrids between L. Sun to part shade, good to average drainage, little watering once established. USDA zone 9b/Sunset 8-9, 12-24. rev 6/2015  

angustifolia    ENGLISH LAVENDER    flowers close up    row    compact evergreen shrub to 2’ tall, 5-6’ wide bears narrow, tomentose grey leaves and tall, thin spikes of light purple flowers in summer. Sun, good drainage, little or no summer watering. Excellent in perennial gardens or mixed with Mediterranean style plantings. This variety has the strongest sweet lavender fragrance, although the L. x intermedia types produce greater quantities of oil. Very seasonal bloom, and often doesn't flower heavily until established. We are raising a robust, rounded selection done from cuttings. The wild types seen in most natural populations seem to more resemble Munstead, with tighter growth and terete foliage. Sun, good drainage. Little watering once established. Sunset zones 4-24/USDA 5. Southern Europe. Labiatae/Lamiaceae. rev 7/2011

Hidcote    flowers    blooming plant    cruciform foliage    a seed strain, and has been for many years, with cutting-propagated crops from better seedlings sold under this name as well. (Is there a single, true, vetted, actually-really-original-clonally-propagated plant left on this earth? And ditto for 'Munstead.') This is a superior landscape or garden variety,  with very compact growth to 1-2’ tall, 3' or a little more wide. This has more or less the darkest purple buds and flowers of any pure L. angustifolia variety, with flowering hitting peak usually in late May for us. It makes a good cut flower for windowsill jars and similar, but total height of flowers and stem is usually about 12". Fragrance after cutting is moderate, and fades away in a few days. rev 6/2016

Munstead    masses of flowers    habit    cruciform foliage    to 1’ tall, 2' across, very tight, with medium purple flowers. Tends to have very grey-white, cruciform foliage and spread wider than tall. This one is slow and needs good drainage, maybe a little better than the others. 7/2016

'SuperBlue'   PP24929   summer flowers   aa dwarf variety of English lavender, to about 10-12" tall and wide. This is looking like an outstanding new variety so far, being very free flowering with its deep violet blue flowers, from spring until fall, against typical grey green foliage. This form reportedly takes heat and humidity well. Besides providing color in the perennial border or dry, Mediterranean landscape, you can use it as a fresh or dried cut flower. Small, nectar-rich flowers are a superb food source for honeybees, native bees, beneficials, butterflies (and after dark, moths) as well as a host of pollinating insects. Full or mostly full sun, average to well-drained soil, moderate to very infrequent summer watering. USDA zone 4/Sunset 1-24. rev 7/2015 

x chaytoriae 'Silver Sands'    purple against silver   resulting from crossing English (L. angustifolia) and Wooly types (L. lanata), this silvery foliage and dark purple flowers make a great, waterwise hedge around the herb, veggie, or flower garden, about 20" tall and wide. Sun, good drainage. Prune back by one third after blooming for tidy, dense foliage. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. rev 8/2014 

dentata candicans  GREY FRENCH LAVENDER   garden habit    nice commercial planting    a useful Mediterranean shrub for color, texture, and durability, getting about 30" tall by 4-5' wide, eventually spreading to act as a serviceable groundcover for large areas. This blooms for a really long time and makes a very nice container plant also. It has light purple "flags" at the top of each flower spike, and the leaf edges are cut. At least half sun, good drainage, very little summer watering when established. This isn't new strictly speaking, but it has been at least 15 years since we've offered it so it is almost as good as new! Cold hardy to about 15F. Sunset zones 8-9, 12-24/USDA zone 9. rev 9/2012

‘Goodwin Creek’    closeup    Lighthouse Point    soft, densely woolly grey green leaves have coarsely serrate margins near the tips and rolled margins. Grows with a very lush, compact habit and doesn't seem to suffer from any dieback problems. Produces small, very dark purple flowers on tall, thin stalks in spring and summer. Reported to be a hybrid of  L. dentata and L. lanata, this is an excellent, reliable form. This very noteworthy development is grown mostly for its foliage but is quite distinctive when in bloom. A must for any grey foliage lover.

x intermedia    LAVANDIN    an adaptable hybrid, of  L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. Separated from the "English" lavenders by their always at least somewhat branched flower stalks, slightly later flowering, and recurrent bloom until fall. The original strains were selected for heavy production of lavender oil. Later cultivars were selected for showiness. Along with L. dentata and the L. stoechas varieties, they are probably the most impressively showy  lavenders. rev 6/2005

‘du Provence’    flowering plants in our nursery to 3’ tall, 4-5’ wide, with heavy production of flower stalks to 4’ borne over a long season. A great variety, vigorous, reliable, relatively large, fragrant, and very showy. The most commonly encountered L. intermedia variety. rev 10/2009
'Gros Blu'  late season bloom  another in a string of recent, very excellent lavendin hybrids, this particular selection focused on very long spikes bearing very dark blue flowers, on very long flower-stems that separate well above the extremely compact, dense, grey-white foliage. Typical tough lavendin constitution, tolerating full sun, dry soils, and requiring virtually no care. rev 10/2016
‘Grosso’    flowering plants in our nursery    closeup    compact growth with thick spikes of dark purple buds and purple flowers.  rev 12/2010
‘Twickel Purple’    flower spikes    almost identical to ‘Grosso,’ but slightly lower and the flower and buds are slightly redder, appearing dark violet purple. Excellent fragrance. Considered by some to be a variety of L. angustifolia. rev 12/2010
‘White’    flowers    the best white lavender, for vigor, clean color, and habit. Quite showy when in bloom. It is also a good foliage plant, with felty, grey white foliage closely set on a compact but vigorous shrub to 2' tall by 4' or so across. rev 8/2005

latifolia   SWEET LAVENDER   first flower stalks  long, slender, diagnostically branched spikes hold intensely fragrant, medium purple flowers in summer. This is a large, relatively open grower, the flower stalks spreading apart as they mature and extend. It has a much greener overall look in the landscape than any of the other highly fragrant types. It's strongest attributes are its strong, intense, true lavender smell and considerable heat and rot resistance, especially with summer irrigation, compared to pure English types or the L. intermedia hybrids ('Du Provence,' 'Grosso,' etc.). The latter are of course crosses between this and English Lavender (L. angustifolia), and they offer most of this one's fragrance and a little of its durability. If you want a plant with real Naked and Afraid-level survivability, choose this one! It also has by far the longest bloom season, from late spring through fall, plus it has that true lavender aroma. What a great low border hedge this might make. Just prune it back by one third after blooming, give average to very little watering once established, and make the bees and everyone else very happy. Sun, still best with at least average drainage and mineral soils over clays or highly amended planting sites. USDA zone 5/Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24. rev 8/2018

multifida 'Dark Flower Form'  FERNLEAF LAVENDER   closeup   we found this improved form at a wonderful retail nursery, Baker's Acres near Columbus, Ohio. It has improved color intensity, flowering in a very dark purple blue. Like the other forms of this species it has delicate, finely cut, ferny foliage, reaches 2' tall by 2-3' wide, and displays its narrow flower clusters well above the leaves on tall spikes. Sun, good drainage, little summer watering when established. USDA zone 8 (deciduous), evergreen if frost free. rev 3/2017

stoechas   SPANISH LAVENDER   an evergreen, woody species with green to grey foliage and usually tiny flowers on cone-like clusters held above the foliage. It is almost always sold as an improved, cutting-grown selection when sold in California. The usual improvement is that the normally tiny apical bracts seen in the wilder forms are much larger and more conspicuous in the selections. Those showy purple bracts in their many iterations make this it one of the truly great Mediterranean garden perennials and one of the very best lavenders, and saying either is a huge compliment. The combination of purple on (usually) grey foliage, combined with compact habit, and almost continuous flowering make it a plant your eye will be drawn toward any time you enter the garden. It also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, and bees whether those are a problem or a joy. Personally I like the buzzing and activity, and bees collecting honey are generally too busy and sated on sugar to bother anyone. We in the trade almost take this plant for granted but few plants give their gardening owners as much pleasure. It is absolutely stunning when used  en masse. It looks good next to practically anything but looks especially nice against coral or dark leaved phormiums and large grasses like Stipa gigantea. I have usually seen it less than 30-36" high but it often spreads to over 5'. Like all lavenders it likes its drainage to be good but it will easily tolerate less than perfect conditions. It doesn't seem picky about soil type. It can tolerate almost no summer watering in most parts of the state but in the hotter regions it will tend to curl up and look rather dried out and dead, like some our native sages, after a few months without at least occasional irrigation. Facultative Long Day flower initiation, it is usually in bloom by mid-February to early March and will hold the last flowers until late fall. Considered frost hardy for all of California except the higher half of the Sierra Nevada and the colder parts of the northeastern corner. USDA zone 7/Sunset zones 5-24. rev 5/2016

'Anouk' series  compact and dense, they are more disease resistant and cold hardy, selected for surviving the miserable, cold, wet winters of coastal Northern Europe, which are much like those of California's wet years (remember those?? remember building a warm, comforting fire in your fireplace and curling up in front to read while blustery winter storm gusts beat against the windows? remember?). They  bloom freely, reach about 14-18" tall, gophers should mostly not bother them and they will need little watering once established. The series started with the still-incomparable 'Silver Anouk,' which was found as a sport on the original green 'Anouk.' Now here are some more! rev 7/2015

'Anouk Deep Rose'     deep, deep, deep rosy purple      well, deep purple anyway, maybe with a little rose thrown in, maybe. A great, really strong color, yet another in this superb line from Ball, and so far holding up extremely well under our admitedly-cooler-than-normal temps yet also more-intense-than-normal light levels. A strong rebloomer, grows to 14-16" tall, 12-14" wide. rev 7/2015 
'Anouk Supreme'  intense purple   grey-green leaves, compact, dark purple flowers, to about 14-18" tall.  rev 5/2015 
'Anouk White'     white and blue   bright white bracts are beacons that catch your eye from far away, then up close you see the tiny, deep blue flowers along the actual flower stalk. Nice combo! rev 5/2015  
'Anouk Double'    intense, very dark purple   double the bracts on top, compact green foliage. rev 5/2015  
'Silver Anouk' PP 20,068    deep purple flowers      April, Los Gatos, 3 years old    dry landscape, full fall-spring shade    compact, blooming young plant      stems bending from weight of flowers    silvery-white foliage    I mean silvery-white!!    backlit   I love this plant. First of all it is ungodly tough, and has survived several of my own landscape plantings with just one or two waterings right after planting then nothing until next season's rain - in full sun! (I DO NOT recommend that!) This is most valuable as a spectacular silver-white foliage plant, but it can be show-stopping when its deep purple flowers are at their peak. This was found as a branch sport within a block of the significantly greener 'Anouk.' It has more disease resistance, more flowers, and just a great foliage and flower presentation. I really like this plant and find ways to site it in landscapes whenever possible. Late summer drought and heat reduces flower output but it becomes a striking silvery white presence in the garden. About 2-3'" tall and wide, eventually wider, especially after those heavy-blooming stems arch over from the weight of the rain or dewdrop on the flowers, claiming as much as 5-6' of space, unpruned. This form has a shorter bloom period than almost every other L. stoechas variety, and is about two weeks later in coming into bloom, usually starting in early to mid March. Hardy to USDA zone 6, incredibly! rev 6/2017

‘Dedication’    closeup    garden    thinner foliage and thinner, bluer, more numerous bracts that are very tall and wavy. The bracts tend to display with a little more angle than the strictly vertical presentation seen in most other cultivars. This is one of the very best varieties, with bluer tone and very conspicuous color agains very grey foliage, and it really lights up when it is in full bloom with light coming from behind it. rev 3/2013 

‘Otto Quast’    closeup    more close up    simple container    mature    Mills Garden    Mills Garden, backlit    the most commonly seen selection, with especially large, showy light purple bracts. Also known as L. stoechas pedunculata. It is not clonal in the trade but represents a range of similar strains. Some of these selections are sold uner their own, separate names. rev 3/2013

'Ghostly Princess'  flowers   silvery foliage hyperspace-jump effect   foliage is almost as silvery as the sublime and extremely tough 'Silver Anouk,' but with pale, ghostly lavender pink flowers. This is turning out to be a very popular variety! rev 10/2018 

'Voodoo' PP 25739  big ears    Hans and crew on Tie Dye Friday     one of the finest Spanish Lavenders on the market! It is like 'Dedication' but with larger, broader and very dark purple "rabbit ears" bracts. As with all Spanish lavenders the intensity and even shade of color varies with temperature, being darker and bluer under cool conditions. To about 2' tall and a little wider. rev 5/2016  MBN INTRODUCTION-2012

Lemmaphyllum microphyllum   BEAN FERN  tiny green carpet   this charming treasure, a slowly creeping miniature, forms a 1" high mat on tree fern trunks, rocks, old logs, the outer walls or wood shingles of your forest home, anywhere it can creep and have light and moisture. Most easily for you (and us!) in cool, coastal areas it grows happily in the finest grade of fir bark sold, commonly known as Cymbidium bark. Inland use more peat mos,s and some perlite. Scrambles around on the trunks of container plants, greenhouse benches, moist, humusy areas in your garden. Also great for terraria, or as a house or indoor/outdoor plant in cooler, shadier spots. Water it regularly but lightly, and intermittently, and let it dry a little in between. Hardy to 20-25F, USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 14-17, 21-24. Eastern Asia. Polypodiaceae. rev 5/2015

Lemon Grass  (Cymbopogon spp.)   two forms, both tender subtropical to tropical species, are commonly grown and can be used interchangeably. Harvest whole culms at any time of year. Southeast Asia. Protect from frost. Poaceae/Graminae. rev 10/2017

Eastern Lemon Grass (C. flexuosusleaves  native to mainland Southeast Asia, less commonly seen than Western Lemon Grass. Can be raised from seed or division. rev 5/2018
Western Lemon Grass (C. citratusleaves  widely distributed from southern Asia through the island chains of Southeast Asia. Slightly more popular than Eastern, must be raised from culm divisions. rev 5/2018

Leonotis leonurus    LION’S TAIL, WILD DAGGA    closeup    with cactus & green Victorian    why you use a grape stake fence    bright orange, curved, tubular flowers appear in whorled clusters borne on tall spikes in summer and fall. All Leonotis spp. are great for attracting hummingbirds. When in bloom spikes on happy, established shrubs can reach to over 6’ tall, can spread to over 6-7' wide in a good site. Best cut back (if needed) in late summer for most of California, it appears to initiate flower buds on mature growth with chill and/or shorter days. A somewhat tender subtropical soft-wooded shrub which is well-adapted to California's mild, very dry Mediterranean climate. Foliage is damaged below 28°F but it can survive much lower, sprouting from the roots. When well established it can often survive on minimal summer watering, even in most of our hotter areas. In those colder areas cut back in late winter to remove any freeze damage or to shape. Bloom should occur by late spring or if not then later in fall. Sun to part shade, infrequent summer watering. USDA zone. South Africa. Labiatae/Lamiaceae. rev 5/2018

menthifolia 'Savannah Sunset'     flower cluster   tubular, fuzzy orange flowers appear in tall, upright, whorled clusters. Small scalloped leaves are strongly fragrant. To 5-6' tall when in bloom, summer and fall. Sun, little watering required once established, deer resistant. USDA zone 8/Sunset 8-24. rev 7/2015 

Leptinella   a genus of low, creeping perennials, with small, rounded cushion-like clusters of flowers, lacking rays. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 6/2015

potentillina   BRASS BUTTONS   with rock  a very low, 2" tall, usually evergreen spreader with Potentilla-like leaves (ferny). Tiny yellow flowers appear in tight, round, rayless, cushiony, composite clusters, held above the foliage, in spring and summer. Easy to grow in sun or part shade and most soils with average watering. Lynn Jackson reports that in his Santa Cruz landscape installations he has seen it go completely top-deciduous with summer drought, then recover completely to a lush carpet with the first fall rains. This is a great choice for use between stepping stones, in small rock-nook vignettes, or as a larger scale groundcover. It's petite size makes it useful for railroad gardens or other miniature displays. USDA 4/Sunset all zones. rev 6/2015 

squalida BRASS BUTTONS    small scale   ferny green and brown leaves with rayless daisy flowers in summer. Feel-good-on-the-feet lawn substitute, between stepping stones, or groundcover in a container, it's low, easy, and wants regular watering. Just inches tall and spreading, likes nice soil but can adapt to less. From New Zealand. All Sunset zones/USDA 4 but deciduous below about 20F. Also classified as a Cotula. New Zealand. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 3/2013-Suzy Brooks  

'Platt's Black'   BRASS BUTTONS stompables   an extra low, coppery black matting plant that you can use to fill bare spots or as a backdrop for lighter, taller subjects. It also makes a surprisingly good large container plant,eventually  formng a cascading dome of distinctive foliage. Grows by very tight underground stolons. Color is blackest in full, direct sunlight. It can look very striking filling in against the right color rocks. rev 3/2013 

Leptocarpus (Apodasmia) similis   JOINTED WIRE GRASS, OI OI   UC Berkeley Botanic Garden entrance     male flower detail    joint detail   a New Zealand native Restiorelative, with other species in Australia and Chile. Spreading forming spreading clumps of grey green, jointed stems to 30-36" tall. It prefers average to almost inundated conditions to establish but is quite drought tolerant when established, and highly water-stress tolerant as a container plant. It also tolerates high salinity. Plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants), ours are all males from division. Full to at least half sun, average to very open drainage, regular watering to establish. Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24/USDA zone 8. Restionaceae. rev 6/2013  

Leptospermum    sprawling groundcovers, shrubs and trees, native to Australia and New Zealand. Many Australian Leptospermums will tolerate considerable water in winter, with some growing in saturated soils. For both the Australian and New Zealand Leptospermum species, retail advice to the consumer should include plenty of watering until plants are well established. Myrtaceae.

‘Dark Shadows’    flowers    small tree    a seedling of a seedling of an Australian variety (or hybrid) called ‘Copper Spray,’ renamed by Jeff Brooks during Phase I of his Production Manager career with us. This fast, broad, spreading shrub-thing reaches 15' tall by 20' across and can quickly be headed into a tree, most dramatically when left in its natural, multistemmed condition. Rather large leaves (for a Leptospermum, that is) are shiny, soft-textured and flushed dark burgundy maroon wherever they encounter direct sunlight. Creamy white single flowers to 3/4" across initiate on mature wood under long-day conditions and provide a nice show when they open in early summer. This thing is big, and fast. In full sun it is the darkest-foliaged Lepto that we know of, and makes an outstanding background or centerpiece specimen. Its long sprays of foliage move easily in a breeze, and the trailing branches create an overall luxuriant look. Sun (for color), drought tolerant, damaged at 25°F and very, very unhappy at 20°F. rev 1/2017

scoparium    NEW ZEALAND TEA TREE    don't do this    native grove recreated at the Edward Landels Garden, UCSC    all our brightly colored selections here in California derive from New Zealand. There are also Australian forms and selections of this species. They are hardier, always white, and so far not yet available in this country. Tea Trees need at least half a day of sun and ample watering upon planting. They need very little to no irrigation when established but will look better with at least a little. They are hardy down to about 20F, below which they are almost always killed due to a complete lack of live buds on older wood. The crown and bases of the older roots alone can also be killed at or near ground level if the soil freezes hard across the trunk. Tea Tree branches cut in full bloom last well and are available commercially, especially the double flowering forms, which are more resistant to shattering. rev 1/2017

‘Apple Blossom’    closeup    double light pink flowers, often flushing all at once. Fast growth with a relatively vertical habit when young, eventually spreading. The foliage turns dark when exposed to cold weather. Often blooms very early and stays in flower over a long season.
'Burgundy Queen'    closeup    bush    double dark red flowers against dark burgundy foliage. Fast, vertical growth to 10-12’.
‘Crimson Glory’    closeup    very large, double darkest red flowers against burgundy foliage. Compact rounded growth to 4-6’ tall and wide.
‘Gaiety Girl’    closeup    in full bloom    double medium pink flowers against green foliage. To 8-10’, upright then spreading.
‘Helene Strybing’    closeup    clipped    medium-sized single pink flowers with a dark eye. Fast, somewhat open growth to 12-15’.
‘Pink Pearl’
   closeup    pink buds open to double white flowers. Essentially all white when in full bloom. Relatively vertical growth to 8-10’.
‘Red Ensign’    closeup    single dark red flowers with a dark eye, to 1/2" across. Dark green foliage, with very red new growth, on a rounded plant to 8-10’.
‘Ruby Glow’    closeup    why you plant it    clipped    double light rosy red flowers. Foliage is green, with slight burgundy tinge in cold weather. Upright to rounded habit.

Leucadendron    that's “leuca,” not “leuco.” Shrubs and trees related to Banksia and Grevillea, all from South Africa. They are mostly grown for their colored bracts, which subtend cone-like flower clusters, usually in winter, but they are also quite valuable for their mostly neat, durable, often rich green or reddish tinged summer foliage and neat, almost formal habits. Some are used for silvery or silky foliage effects and willowy or wispy habits. Most like good drainage, moderate frost, and infrequent summer watering, but there are exceptions to each. They are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. All can be used for cut "flowers," or have attractive, decorative cones and some are used for their cut green foliage as well. They make very forgiving and underrated container plants, able to take much more drought stress than most plants without damage. They are essentially fire adapted chaparral plants, and thus are relatively short lived, tending to last 10-15 years before declining, splitting at the base, blowing over, or just plain turning up their toes and going brown. That's okay; they are fast, bloom easily, free up a lot of room when they are gone, and you probably wanted to experiment with something else there by now anyway. Proteaceae. rev 1/2006

argenteum  SILVER TREE   mature male specimens, UCSC Arboretum     female flowers     ripe female seed pods     seed pod closeup     ready for travel!    one of the most striking and dramatic statement plants you can grow in Mediterranean climates. The highly reflective, silvery foliage looks great against any background, including blue sky as you can see in the images. Plants are either male or female, and only male plants are at all showy when in bloom, producing a modestly white colored bract which reflexes slightly. Female seed pods can be over 4" tall, and are quite ornamental, looking much like pine cones when dried (and you can buy them that way). When the pods dry out the ripe seeds are pulled out by a slender filament attached to a wonderful miniature "parachute," and drift away on the wind. This legendary but somewhat (just somewhat!) demanding plant, makes a great focal point or repeating, anchor-theme planting subject for landscapes. Here's what you need:  little or no frost below 25-27 F, at least on a yearly basis,  with ultimate lows above approx. 23F. You also need a relatively cool summer, average to good drainage in an average to mineral soil, little or no mid to late-summer watering when established, and freedom from strong fertilizers, phosphate in particular.USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 16-17, 21-24. rev 12/2015 

discolor ‘Pom Pom’    incredible flowers    full grown bush, UCSC Arboretum    from above    against the sky    wonderful foliage    this is one of my favorite plants, certainly my favorite Leucadendron. A moderate grower to 6' or so, distinguished by oval leaves with a steely blue to grey green color and often purplish tones to the edges or even the entire terminal leaves during cool weather. The subtending cone bracts turn almost blonde white in spring and open widely to reveal the cone-like cluster of minute, hot red and yellow male flowers within. This is a very showy species with good cold hardiness that must have acid soils, good drainage, preferably sandy or mineral soils, and careful summer watering. It needs some irrigation but it should not receive too much, nor receive it too frequently, nor should it completely dry out under very hot, dry conditions. It will tolerate frost down to around 20°F so should be good into the Central Valley and surrounding foothills if you can manage the summer watering. This may be the best selection of the species, though probably a little harder to grow than most. It is well worth special attention. Like all the Leucadendrons, it is a first rate cut flower but this is also probably the showiest of them all. Male form, SD initiation. rev 9/2014

'Ebony' PP23258   foliage and bract colors   a branch sport of 'Safari Sunset,' with deep burgundy-black new growth and dark burgundy red and black bracts when blooming. Leaves are shiny black-red their first year, becoming a greener black in their second season. Best against bright green plants or lighter colored walls and fences. Makes a fabulous cut flower, of course! Same specs and paramaters as 'Safari Sunset,' and also female, of course. rev 6/2018

galpinii    HAIRLESS SANDVELD CONEBUSH, SILVER BALLS    cones    distinctive foliage   to 6-8' tall, with robust vertical stems that bear fine grey green leaves held in a characteristic propeller twist near the ends of the branches. Silky round female cones appear in late spring and summer. This primarily a foliage plant, unlike most other members of this genus which, while nice for leaves alone, are primarily grown for their showy bracts. This species is more subtle but very noticeable in the landscape and quite attractive. Its cones are still quite attractive as a cut flower. Likes its drainage to be at least average. Female. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24. rev 2/2014 

‘Jester’    new foliage    at Chris Chaney's    open bracts, SF Zoo   more color    also known as ‘Safari Sunshine,’ this plant has been around a while and we admittedly resisted raising it back when variegated plants were considered oddities. But with the new emphasis on foliage effects now we like it. It is a carnival-striped affair, green broadly edged creamy white to buff yellow, and tinting to coral pink, especially in cool or cold weather and especially towards the tips. When flowering (fall through spring) the bracts turn deep red then blond. Growth is slower than most and compact, to maybe 3-4' in a reasonable amount of time. Female form, sport of ‘Safari Sunset,' and sometimes referred to as 'Safari Sunshine.'  Female, as is its sport-parent. rev 1/2019

laxum  BREDASDORP CONEBUSH    very close     more flowers     a very light textured shrub to 4-6' tall and wide, bearing sprays of small male flowers in winter and early spring. New growth is especially fine, feathery and tinted maroon, mature leaves are deep green. This species is native to wetter habitats so while it only needs moderate watering it will always need some to make it through a California summer. Sun to part shade, average drainage needs, hardy to about 25F. USDA zone 9/Sunset 9, 16-17, 21-24. rev 3/2016

linifolium   female cones    happy plant in Manuel's garden   a very nice, well behaved, neat shrub to 4-5' tall and wide, with clean, needle-like foliage and small, silvery, rounded cones on the female plants we are growing. This is rather forgiving of soil and care, and frost tolerant to below 25F. While it doesn't offer showy bract color of it is very attractive in its own way and will fit in well in almost any Mediterranean landscape. Use it for its attractive, very fine foliage and texture, its compact, uniform growth and its very interesting seed heads. Female. Sunset zones 8-9, 13, 14-24/USDA zone 9. rev 2/2014 

'Little Bit'  first flowers    a hybrid seedling with L. salignum as the known female parent. Presumably L. discolor 'Pom Pon' was the pollen donor, from the unusual and highly attractive bract/flower colors. Small (probably not more than 3' tall), bushy, small textured, very showy yet demure when flowering, 'Little Bit' is quite attractive but a bit tempermental and demanding, as princesses can be, and she will require very good drainage. She requires full sun as well. (Male flowers - so he requires full sun!) Predicting Sunset zones 15-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. rev 2/2014   MBN INTRODUCTION-2013

meridianum ‘More Silver’    incredible juvenile foliage    flower heads    again   this is an outstanding variety of the species, selected for its reflective billows of very soft textured, extremely silvery foliage. It gets about 4-5' tall with age (slowly!), spreading to about twice it's height, but can be kept smaller with post-bloom pruning. It bears small yellow male cones, inside petite, bright golden yellow bracts, scattered over the top of the plant in mid-spring. Stems are coral red and contrast nicely with the leaves. A high value form/foliage plant, this one needs good drainage and at least half a day of direct sun. For best results grow it in mineral soils in full sun with a minimum of watering and temperatures not below 25F, it's tolerant of high pH. USDA zone 9, Sunset zones probably 8-9, 16-24. Male form. rev 8/2018 

‘Pisa’    flowering     full grown shrub, UCSC Arboretum    cones    Mills Garden    another closeup   female. A L. coniferum x floridum cross, being a wispy, fast, narrow grower with rather willowy, very silver foliage and yellowish bracts surrounding small, cone-like female flower clusters in spring. To about 6' tall by 3-5' across. This one needs good drainage and relatively frost free climates. Excellent to cut for foliage as well as for its nice female cones. rev 2/2014 

'Red Gem'    backlit    wonderful flowers      ruddy, fuzzy new leaves     juvenile foliage    a very nice variety for dark red foliage color and also for its brilliant coral red flower bracts which age to light salmon-blond, sometimes almost ivory white. This is close to 'Safari Sunset' overall but is considered by some experienced growers to be superior, being a little slower but smaller (approx. 4-6', vs. 7-12' or more for 'SS') and with a better, more compact habit. Leaves are noticeably brighter green, both juvenile and adult foliage, and there is much less bronzy color than seen in it's sister, on both juvenile and mature foliage. One reliable characteristic separating the two is that this variety sports small, dense clusters of very short, soft, silvery hairs at the very point of each leaf tip (both when juvenile or mature), almost resembling a spine. In 'SS' those are completely absent except for a very few on perhaps 2-3 of the innermost, fully mature flower bracts. This is another female selection, with a long season of color and forming persistent and useful ornamental cones. Hardy to close to 20F. Sun to part shade, tolerates wet soils in winter but needs demands drier summer conditions, outstanding as a container plant. A superb cut flower of course! USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24. rev 2/2019

'Reverse Polarity'  our own find, a reverse-sport of 'Jester,' with a subtler center-variegation pattern replacing the stark white leaf-margins of it's parent. Paradoxically the lighter leaf centers actually become deep red at peak bloom while the edges become light red and eventually glowing strawberry blond. The effect is really noticeable up close, which is why the new introduction really shines when in flower, and especially as as cut flower. Overall the color is a little warmer and brighter than either the original 'Safari Sunset' or its first known sport-offspring 'Jester.' Juvenile foliage can emerge mostly green, with just a few streaks of gold, mature leaves become increasingly colored, especially as plants age and with restricted fertilizing. Plan on it reaching 7-12' tall and wide unpruned, depending on age and growing conditions, roughly the same as its two sisters. This should finally be available (in modest quantities) later this year (2019). MBN INTRODUCTION-2017   *New for 2019!* 

‘Rising Sun’    closeup, best color bloom    what you want    late spring UCSC Arboretum    closeup, late spring     summer, against the sky    a L. laureolum x salignum hybrid, to about 6' by 6', with a somewhat open, upright growth habit. Very close to its sister hybrid ‘Safari Sunset’ but a pinker, more strawberry red, with a paler center, contrasting red stems, and reportedly more resistant to pathogens. Winter bloom. Excellent vigor, relatively easy to grow. Male. rev 2/2014 

'Safari Goldstrike'  blooming in late December a rather large-foliaged, lush, cut flower variety that bears ivory white flower heads and bracts, aging to deep golden yellow, against dark green leaves and attractive burgundy red stems. The bract edges and tips become tinged and flushed with orange and peachy sunset shades, and the narrow bract edge continues to darken until it is almost deep red. To about 6' tall and wide, growing with a dense, mostly upright habit and clean green foliage. Female form. Demands good drainage and not very much frost. Male. rev 2/2014 

‘Safari Sunset’    UCSC Arboretum, full size    another plant, UCSC    flowers closeup    one of the very very best, producing large, blazing coral red to fiery red chalice-shaped bracts with deep strawberry blonde centers at full maturity. Individual bracts are quite wide, enhancing the overall show of color. This  L. laureolum x salignum hybrid reaches a moderately open 7-12'by about as wide at full maturity, depending on site, care and whether pruned or harvested for its top-quality cut flowers and foliage filler. Established plants can initiate and come into full color 2-3 times per year depending on climate, reliably so in any moderate-summer-temperature locations. Flower initiation occurs on mature, seasonally-ripened stems which experience a modest amount of chill (~50-55F) under daylight conditions. This selection can be frustratingly variable between juvenile-phase and mature/flowering foliage, it's easy to think you have a different variety. New juvenile growth is relatively narrow, notably silky and a sombre dark green to dull bronzy or maroon green. Mature (blooming-age) foliage is much brighter green, with brighter red tips and is held on much redder stems. This is a relatively cold hardy, forgiving, durable and easy to grow variety with moderate to excellent vigor. Female. rev 2/2019

salignum    this species is rather variable in texture and appearance, ranging from ground covers through moderately large upright shrubs. The usual color in the wild is yellow though most forms used in horticultural are reds. It is one of the more adaptable species. Frost hardy to at least 25°F, and probably much less, so figure it will do well in Sunset zones 8-9, 16-24 or USDA zone 9. It should be tried by adventurous gardeners in Sunset zones 6-7, maybe USDA zone 8 or even 8b. Makes a great, forgiving container plant. rev 2/2014 

'Blush'  young bracts   mature bracts   a female variety originally selected for cut flower, featuring compact growth, rounded flower/bract heads, and deep, dark red color aging to strawberry blond to ivory. Fine textured foliage, upright growth to perhaps 3'. Male flowers. Very, very nice! rev rev 2/2014

'Ceres 2'   why you grow it   typical middle aged plant   full blown maturity   favorite view    particularly nice blond and strawberry pink flower bracts, unusually strong and nice color for a female plant. It's similar to 'Summer Red' but has larger, lighter, warmer-colored bracts and is faster, taller and wider than the very similar but ultra-compact 'Blush.' In most Leucadendrons the male bract displays are usually brighter than females but at the cost of a shorter period of color. Female flower heads and bracts usually need more time to develop (more mass-density in that cone!) but also stay in color longer. In addition, in our experience in production as well as in the ground L. salignum males are rather picky about drainage and watering, females are much more forgiving and longer-lived. This UCSC Arboretum variety, one of four 'Ceres' seedlings they planted out, is I think easily the best of the lot. It makes a very good container plant for at least a few years, tolerating wide fluctuations in soil moisture levels without complaint and responding well to pruning. Of course it is a superior cut flower, one of the best. To about 6' tall and wide, unpruned. Typical growing conditions, full to mostly full sun, at least average drainage, mostly fall-spring watering but with enough summer watering to get it through in hot areas. Irrigate away from the crown if at all possible, and little or no fertilizing is usually called for beyond iron or trace element treatments. rev 2/2019

‘Chief’    best color    another picture, in bloom    willowy growth    reddish foliage    a fast, moderately dense, upright shrub or even small tree with pruning, to about 6-8' tall and wide, with a whippy or willowy habit. Leaves are quite narrow, dark green to bright green, to 2" long, and each has a dark red tip. The stems are bright to dark red and contrast nicely with the clean foliage, especially in late winter when the older leaves are lighter in color. The brilliant yellow stamens of the small male flower heads are subtended by small, very showy dark red outer bracts and very thin, bright citron yellow to blonde colored inner bracts, which color in winter and last until early spring. Sometimes the inner bracts even show a red zone at the center, for a nice bicolor effect. When colored up the flowers and bracts form a wonderfully showy canopy on the outside of the bush and almost look like clusters of minute Eryngium flowers. The new growth emerges dark maroon red, and is almost as showy as the bracts, contrasting quite strongly against the green foliage as it does. This species can be cut back very hard if needed for size or renewal reasons, even to the ground if called for, resprouting well from dormant buds on old wood or from its persistent, fire-resistant rootstock. However it should be cut back after bloom (spring) but no later than midsummer or you risk cutting off the mature growth which will bloom the following winter. It is an outstanding cut flower/foliage form that is commercially produced. This is a very adaptable variety, probably the easiest one to grow of all, and this species is the mostly widely distributed of the genus. Likes full or mostly full sun, at least average drainage, and occasional summer watering. Male selection. rev rev 2/2014 

‘Golden Tip’    blooming    in nature L. salignum is almost always yellow, and the pink and red forms are unusual. In horticulture the situation is reversed. This is another variety much like 'Summer Red,' named for the elegant shape and color of its terminal bracts, which range from light blonde through golden yellow, sometimes with a few strawberry tints showing at the bract edges with age. To about 3' tall and 5' wide, narrow of petal and bract and graceful of growth and habit. The foliage is rather blue grey and offsets the blooms and burgundy stems quite nicely. Winter bloom. Male form. rev 2/2014 

'Red Tulip'   juvenile branches   one of several seedling forms we grow that were originally selected by local cut flower grower Mike Astone, who produces many Proteaceous items. Mike pulled many of our currently offered selections either for discrete variations in bloom initiation timing or for their different and attractive flower form. This one features typical red bracts with somewhat larger bases and narrow clasping tips, grows to the typical 5' tall by 7' or so across, and initiates faster with shorter days. Once stems are mature, cool temperatures (around 50-55°F) can reduce or remove the daylength requirement, as with many other Mediterranean plants. 'Red Tulip' is closest to 'Summer Red,' with similar growth parameters and identical cultural prefences. Tolerates frost to around 25F, survives occasional lower freezes. rev 8/2014 

‘Summer Red’    winter flowers    new growth    fall-spring flowering like the rest but with attractive red new growth in late spring and summer. It has a delicate, quite graceful habit and presentation, narrow leaves, and bears narrow, tulip-like terminal bracts which color to a deep strawberry coral red with paler interiors beginning in early fall and lasting into spring. To about 4' by 6', slightly and pleasantly open, fine textured, with elegant terminal bracts. Female form. rev rev 2/2014 

‘Winter Red’    prime bloom, UCSC Arboretum    closeup, best color    typical size and habit    another plant    new growth    winter juvenile growth color    a fine textured but compact plant to 3-4' tall by 6' across or more, with rather graceful red bracts, broadly tulip-like, coloring up to intense garnet to rich violet red, with cream and strawberry tone,s in early winter, lasting six to seven months until well into spring. When in full bloom the entire outer visible surface of the plant turns dark red. Female form. The foliage is nicely colored even when not budded, with calico-like bright green new growth contrasting with deep purple red expanded leaves and purplish tinged older foliage, especially under cool conditions. Female selection. rev 2/2014 

‘Silvan Red’    UCSC Arboretum, mature plant    closeup    another hybrid of L. laureolum x salignum, and sister cross of ‘Safari Sunset,’ reportedly more resistant to pathogens. Grows to 7' tall by 6' or so wide with a rather open habit, and blooms from fall through late spring with bright red to deep garnet bracts on very long stems that are outstanding for cutting. The bracts and upper leaves turn from green to a smoky, silvery red as they mature. Then the pale centers show when the bracts open slightly as they age. The summer leaves are dark green but most of the foliage takes on wine dark tones in cool weather. Likes full sun to part shade with at least average drainage. rev 2/2014

'Wilson's Wonder'  best color    biggest plant I know of    flowers closeup    why you want it    nursery new growth    rsery new growth    (L. salignum x laureolum) listed as synonymous with ‘Bell’s Sunrise.’ This is a very popular and often commented on selection that makes a heavy show of moderately large, well opened, bright blond yellow to creamy white bracts, with nice bright yellow, cone-like flower clusters in the center. The mature bracts are often edged and flushed with strawberry coral from cool weather, in winter and early spring. Male form. Reddish stems provide nice additional contrast at any season. Foliage is hard, medium size, bright green, and quite neat. To about 3-4' tall, 5-6' wide, though I know of one unpruned 10 year old specimen in Santa Cruz (Eastside) that is 7-8' tall by a whole bunch across and is looking like it will die or fall apart in another couple of years, as is all Leucadendrons' wont. It is spectacular right now when it blooms, though, a real traffic stopper. This selection needs good drainage. A relatively hardy variety, often seen listed to Sunset zone 5, 8-9, 14-24/USDA zone 8. Male flowers. rev 2/2014

Leucospermum   PINCUSHION   evergreen shrubs closely related to Protea, native to South Africa. Most varieties are spring flowering (obligate short-day flower initiation) and thrive with moderate winter temperatures, generous winter rainfall, warm, relatively dry summers, average to good drainage and in most areas infrequent (but some!) to little or no summer watering. Flowers are excellent for cutting on almost all, often lasting weeks. Recent hybrids and selections are easier and less demanding than older introductions, but none should be considered highly forgiving. rev 5/2016

'Brandi'   just starting    almost   fully open   actually Royal Hawaiian 'Brandi,' a University of Hawaii release. Features narrow, lush, felty, grey green juvenile foliage, then greener mature leaves, and light orange pincushion flowers in late winter and spring on stems up to 30" long, for the ultimate in cut flower performance. Plants grow to 4-5' tall with age, about 6-7' across or more. rev 7/2017

'California Sunshine'     a compact, dense grower with narrow leaves, to about 4' tall and  6' across. Light golden yellow flowers have red-tipped stamens, blooms age to an overall glowing golden orange. A good landscape/garden form, doesn't reach or fall open and is easy to prune to shape (after winter bloom is finished!). Typical conditions: full sun, little or no summer irrigation, good drainage. Pretty good in containers, for a few years at least. rev 3/2017

cordifolium 'Yellow Bird'   pure yellow flowers    UCSC Arboretum  a heavy blooming landscape and cut flower variety, to about 3-5' tall and 6-8' across at full maturity, uncontained. Stems tend to be attractively long and snaky when plants are young and happy, with light green, somewhat silvery leaves, but its form becomes denser and more compact with age and any shaping. This is a mostly-forgiving, trade-vetted form that has given us minimal problems in production and survives as well in gardens as any of the other "A" list varieties. Sun, etc. etc.  rev 3/2017 

cuneiforme (yellow)  Santa Cruz City Hall   closeup   massed bloom   small, rich yellow flowers are very heavily produced on this lower, more spreading variety. New leaves emerge covered with whitish fuzz, mature leaves are light green. Primary bloom occurs in winter but buds initiate on new, mature growth exposed to some amount of chill (around 55F or less, plus light), so plants can rebloom in summer or fall if growing in very cool, near-coastal environments. This is a dense, happy grower for us, more adaptable and easier than many others. Possibly our best overall yellow! rev 8/2016

'Goldie'  golden yellow   upright flowers are a deep, rich yellow, eventually golden in color with orange stigma tips. Moderately narrow dark green leaves have a distinctive tip. Can reach an eventual 4-6' tall and 6-8' wide, with a moderately open, upright habit, denser with pruning. This is most likely a form of straight L. cuneiforme and not a hybrid, but opinions vary. Forms an interesting lignotuber with age. rev 3/2017 

pattersonii 'Brothers'   closeup   those loooooong stems   large, well-formed, striking, glowing orange to orange red pincushion flowers light up the tip of every branch in later winter and early spring. Leaves are soft, wide and light green, branches are noticeably long and outstanding for cut flower use, reflecting its origin. Bloom is heavy, and spectacular. Flowers seem to form almost entirely from short-day initiation, which means "clippers-off" from about mid-July or early August or you may be removing buds which won't have time to regrow for spring bloom. Once blooming flowering can last into late spring to early summer though. Full sun, good drainage, little or no summer watering, can withstand substantial winter inundation as long as it dries down later. Loses buds when temps drop much below freezing, but those mature branches can bud again for a full wave of later-than normal flowering. Buds are damaged and leaf burn starts somewhere around 30-28F, it will probably tolerate to around 25 before substantial branch-bark damage occurs. USDA zone 9/Sunset 9, 16-17, 21-24. rev 3/2018

'Rainbow'    April bloom    light apricot-peach colored styles with similar anther segments, bright red orange on the very tip of the stigma. Narrow leaves have three or four reddish, coarse, rounded terminal teeth, plant habit is moderately dense, to 3-5' tall and 6-7' across. A good grower and reliable, trouble-free variety for us so far. This and the varieties below all like average to good drainage, though all will take very wet, perched conditions in winter as long as the soils aren't anoxic, and the plants dry out for most of summer. All will survive winter temps down to about 25F, though formed flower buds won't survive much below 30F. Subsequent buds can mature and open later in winter and early spring if the freeze is early enough, and later maturing flower buds can even open off-season (summer or early fall). This is common in cooler years along the immediate coast, if plants experience around 55F or lower during at least part of the daylight hours. rev 8/2016

'Spider'     UCSC Arboretum    hummingbird's-eye view    flower color change    young, pale salmon flowers mature to a shiny, ribbony red. Nicely complimentary foliage is silky grey green, silvery even, with light at the right angle. Moderately fast to 6' tall, upright habit, full, dense, even. A good, tough survivor (for a pincushion!). Good drainage, etc. rev 3/2017 

'Sunrise'   spring flowers    low, bushy, compact habit, broad green leaves, excellent production of bright orange red flowers in late winter and spring. This is a great variety for landscape and garden use, and serves well as a cut flower. Sun to a little shade, average to good drainage, infrequent summer watering. Site in a west-facing exposure in areas that experience a hard freeze to minimize damage to buds forming during winter. rev 4/2016

'Tango'   UCSC Arboretum, April   closeup of those amazing flowers    just before opening    almost there!   fully mature  an open, spreading shrub to 4-5' tall by 7-8' across at maturity. Rather narrow, dark green leaves form a backdrop for rather vertically-swept flowers, made of intense orange styles backed by silky, deep, intense red anther segments. A really good variety for anywhere this genus can be used. rev 8/2016

'Veldfire'  closeup   rich golden yellow stigmas are backed by silky apricot to red orange anther segments. Broad, dark green leaves are coarsely toothed, with 5-6 terminal, red tips. Dense, upright, spreading, to about 4-6' tall and wide. Very reliable for us here at MBN. rev 8/2016

Lewisia hybrids  BITTERROOT, CLIFF MAIDS  Molly's plant  succulent, rosette-forming, evergreen (most species) perennials that grow as a compact crown of ornamental leaves, forming multiple heads with age if happy. They produce a stunning display of iridescent, silky flowers ranging in color from white through pink, red, orange, and all the sunset tones and bicolor combinations you can imagine. These flowers are produced on branched sprays that usually extend above the foliage. Attractive leaves can look like Echeveria or Sempervivum and seedlings vary widely. These plants are at their best in open, mineral soils, especially in containers, in full to half sunlight and with regular watering. Feed as needed. Plants bloom best after a winter rest. Saxifragaceae. Western North America. rev 2/2010

Little Peach   a very cute little perennial with soft peachy colors of yellow, gold, and orange. About 6" tall and wide, it could go with your succulents in a gravel topped pot (to keep the crown dry). Big spring bloom and another in the fall. Evergreen, with succulent leaves of dark green, this little gem will take sun or part shade and water when dry. Sunset zones 1-7, 14-24/USDA 6. rev 3/2012-Suzy Brooks

Little Plum   beginning bloom  note the lack of single quotes around the varietal name. This is a seed strain, a very good and uniform seed strain, but not a genetically identical clone. Apparently a hybrid of L. longipetala and the more familiar L. cotyledon, it is distinguished by large (to 1" across)  flowers held just outside the leaft tips that open yellow orange and age to deep plum pink. While the flower stalks do produce multiple buds, only one opens at at time. The effect when it first starts blooming is that of a circle of flowers surrounding the rosette, later in the season it becomes a dome of color. Crowns get to about 4-5" across. This was derived from a garden seedling found in Scotland, where it obviously survived long, wet winters. The result is a more domesticated Lewisia, less spectacular than some of the L. cotyledon hybrids with their tall, branched flower stalks but quite beatufiful and more persistent, especially when grown in the ground. Still, give it the best, sharpest drainage you can provide. Like any Lewisia it can go for years in a container. Sunset zones 1-7, 14-17, 21-24 / USDA 4-9. Saxifragaceae. rev 2/2010

Sunset strain    Molly's young plant    Filoli's old plant    branched sprays of iridescent flowers ranging from white through salmon, orange, pink, rose and almost red offer amazingly bright color in containers, rock gardens, rock walls, and even strawberry pots. Likes at least half sun, excellent drainage, and a mulch of gravel. Succulent, leathery, evergreen rosettes form multiple heads and grow to about 4" tall by up to a foot across on very mature specimens. Needs some winter vernalization. We've sold this in the past but it has been a few years. Sunset zones 1-7, 14-17/USDA 5. rev 11/2011

Libertia peregrinans    SAND IRIS    closeup of backlit foliage    growing at UC Santa Cruz    half-shade, sandy soil,  raised bed    at its best!    flowers  a creeping sedge-like or grass-like plant grown for its unusual and showy foliage. Vertical, thin but very tough bright orange and olive green leaves to 12- 18" tall cluster tightly, and spread slowly by underground runners to form small patches of the highly colored foliage. Small white flowers appear in spring on stalks about as tall as the leaves and are classy and nice. Sun (for best color) to mostly shade, average to frequent watering, seems to like a grainy or mineral soil. This can be difficult to get really happy, but mineral soils, access to at least some water throughout the growing season and some relief from extreme heat/sun seem to be necessary. Under favored conditions (shadier than I thought it would like, very sandy soil, in an irrigated raised bed) I have seen it perform well (almost 2' tall!) as a large scale, weed-excluding groundcover. It makes a striking solitary container subject, and is extremely useful as an element in a mixed planting as well. Hardy to below 20°F. New Zealand. Iridaceae. rev 1/2013

'Goldfinger' PPAF  leaf detail  leaves are a more luminous gold, with orange tones. 8/2008

ixioides 'Taupo Sunset'  MIKOIKOI, NEW ZEALAND IRIS   young container plant  a smoky, bronze-taupe foliaged selection of this grass-like, clumping iris relative. Grows to about 16" tall, bears small white flowers in spring on spidery stalks above and within the foliage. Sun to part shade, average to infrequent watering, perfers mineral soils to those high in humus. Hardy to USDA zone 7/Sunset 5-9, 14-24. rev 10/2015 

Ligularia    some plants in this genus (like the L. tussilaginea, below) are split off by some authors into another genus, Farfugium. However that name makes me think of Fahrvergnügen, and thenceforth Funkengrüven. Because of that, and also because we like big family gatherings around here, we keep them all in good ol' familiar Ligularia. As a group these are all frost hardy, deciduous to evergreen perennials, spreading slowly from clumps. Most are grown primarily for their amazing leaves, which tend to be rounded or kidney-shaped, large, dramatic leaves, but some have more rewarding flowers. Most trade foliage forms are marked with colors or have special shapes, such as crested edges. Flowers are yellow, either in sprays or tall spikes, and appear in fall. These are nice and can be quite showy. Most can be devastated by snails and will need protection. I have had good success with Sluggo snail bait, as well as a ring of Deadline around the plant or even the entier area where they are grown. A large tic tac toe pattern striped throughout the garden works well also, if replenished monthly. By using such a system you can successfully raise together snail-prone plants such as these (and Hostas, Kaempferias, etc.). They all make great container plants as well as garden perennials and should really be used where they will be highlighted in the garden. For sun to shade, depending on the variety and how much you want to water, with rich, moist soil and regular watering. All are highly prone to gophers in my experience. Sun (lots o' water) or shade (considerably more forgiving, and markedly so when fully established), average drainage requirements, very frost hardy. Deciduous or evergreen, depending on how cold your winter is. This species is evergreen for me in Santa Cruz, Sunset zone 17. Sunset zones 6-9, 12-24/USDA 7. Compositae/Asteraceae. China, Japan. rev 7/2017

'Last Dance'   a new hybrid, name refers to the late blooming time. In October- Novernber branched stems hold up yellow daisies above the large, leathery, dark green leaves. Grows 18-22" tall and forms a clump about 2' wide. A wonderful foliage plant for containers or a spot of morning sun, bright shade, with average to regular watering. Sunset zones 6-9, 14-24. rev 7/2017 (not currently in production)

tussilaginea varieties:  

'Argentea' ('Variegata')    why you plant it    flowers    the legendary, highly sought after and hard to propagate foliage plant, with shiny leaves to 12" across, marked radially in white and pale jade green. Looks awesome against dark rock wall backgrounds or with almost any other leaf texture and color. Looks awesome in a container.  rev 8/2008
   habit     leaves    yellow spots on shiny green leaves, to 2' tall and 3' across. rev 12/2002
‘Crested Leopard’    foliage    yellow spots on shiny green leaves that have a heavily crested margin. Wild. To 2' tall, 3' wide. rev 12/2002
‘Crispatum’    why you plant it    shade leaf    hard, fuzzy grey sun leaves    a reason to plant it in shade    shade perennial containers    edges of the leaves are heavily frilled and crested, leaves themselves can reach almost 8" in size and plants can get over 2' across with age. Simply spectacular against any wall or with any foliage. The fuzzy, silvery jade green leaves have an olive tint. Rare. rev 7/2004
‘Gigantea’    why you plant it    huge glossy leaves    giant, glossy green, kidney-shaped leaves, to 12" across and with a convex shape, stand on up to 3' tall petioles. One of the most dramatic foliage perennials, rare, highly sought after, and until now essentially unavailable in retail outlets. We are happy to finally provide this outstanding plant to nurseries for customers to enjoy. It likes the same conditions as the other varieties. However I have seen one very large backyard planting in Saratoga which looked largely untended, thriving in stony, unirrigated soil under fruit trees, leading me to believe its robust nature leads it to be deeper rooted than the others and hence quite a bit more drought tolerant. Still, best and most stunning in part sun to shade with average watering. rev 8/2008
'Shishi Boton'     big ball o' brains   looks like a nice, big, tight ball of grey green brains. The leaves are very finely tomentose, and when young the edges are wonderfully edged and highlighted in even more realistic coral pink. This is a nice slow-to-divide  form we picked up from Sean Hogan at Cistus Nursery in Portland. Fun but easy to grow, when young it is easily confused with 'Crispata,' and we have found yes it sometimes reverts back to that form, but infrequently. Large, showy yellow daisy flowers typical of this species appear in short sprays close to the foliage during short days. A fun and easy to grow foliage plant for sun or part shade, superb in containers of course like all its sister varieties, with just average to modest summer watering required plus your usual robust snail precautions. To about 18" tall and spreading slowly as a tight clump to 18-24" wide. rev 7/2013 

Linum perenne 'Appar'  BLUE FLAX     flowers   a usually evergreen perennial, growing as a clump of upright stems with small, narrow, grey green leaves. Lots of blue flowers are produced from spring and into summer. Full sun, to 2' tall and wide, average to infrequent watering. Can self sow   In the language of flowers Flax means 'I feel your kindness.' USDA zone 5/Sunset 2-24. Europe. Linaceae. rev 7/2015 

Liriope muscari    BIG BLUE LILY TURF    commercial planting    clumping to running evergreen grass-like perennials for shade or part shade. Bears spikes of white to dark purple flowers in summer. Average to little watering when established, frost hardy. China, Japan. Liliaceae.

‘Silvery Sunproof’    blooming     leaves to 1/2" wide are striped with creamy yellow, flowers are lavender. Tolerates full sun, with lightest color there, but best in part shade, at least inland. This is a clumper and slow spreader. rev 2/2017

Livistona a genus of fan palms ranging from tropical to temperate. These are more tropical in appearance than the familiar Washingtonias, and the trunks are naturally clean. Many are at their best when juvenile and the fronds provide fantastic foliage effects at eye level. Palmae/Atrecaceae. rev 9/2009

decipiens    RIBBON PALM, WEEPING FOUNTAIN PALM    nice plant    a highly distinctive and easy to grow medium sized palm that should be much more widely planted. The genus in general is rarely encountered in California and this species in particular has much to recommend it. It is readily distinguished by the rather glossy, weeping leaflets, even on the new growth which give it a very lush, tropical, dramatic, almost sinister appearance. The fronds move gracefully in the wind and if you can, site it to make use of this feature. It grows at a respectable rate, perhaps 6-12" inches a year in height, in full sun with regular watering and feeding. With age it can reach 30-40' across and 8-12' across. It is resistant to The Yellows, even under cooler conditions, and will take frost to about 20F. Flower clusters are much shorter than on its more common (but still uncommon) sister, L. chinensis, staying close to the trunk. Australia. Like almost all palms it does well in containers too. In the ground it will tolerate very wet soils. rev 10/2007 

Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’    closeup    habit    full-size plant    evergreen perennial forms a low, sprawling mound to 6" tall with a heavy show of small, deep blue flowers displayed against dark green leaves in spring. Sun, good drainage, average to little summer watering. Hardy enough for almost all of California. Older plants often get twisted trunks with attractive, stringy bark. Mediterranean. Boraginaceae.

Lobelia laxiflora     hummingbird magnet   native to Arizona and Mexico, this drought tolerant perennial has narrow, dark green leaves and bears its flowers, long tubes of rosy red and yellow, from spring and into fall. It spreads by underground runners and will grow quickly with regular watering but slows down with little summer water. About 2-3' tall, a treat for hummingbirds. Sun or part shade. USDA 8. rev 5/2015-Suzy Brooks 

Lomandra a genus of sedge-like or grass-like plants, native to Australia. Many forms have been in horticulture for years, but recent selections have greatly increase their horticultural application. These new and improved forms are more compact and/or less messy than the older, less domesticated forms. A very strong feature of this group is its great application for grass-like form and effects in landscapes while being substantially less attractive to rodents such as gophers, voles and mice, which can ravage grass-heavy landscapes, especially when used en masse. Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia. Asparagaceae, formerly Xanthorrheaceae. rev 2/2016

confertifolia 'Seascape' PP20010  Spring Trials     long,very fine, blue grey leaves arch gracefully to the ground on this grassy perennial. Easy and adaptable, it grows 18"' tall and 2-3' wide. This can be a shrub, a lawn substitute, a groundcover, or a container subject. It produces yellow flowers in summer that become quite strongly fragrant as the sun goes down, and it tolerates heat and drought. The leaves are long enough cascade over the edge of a tall, narrow pot, or down a rock wall, making it a very dramatic focal point subject. USDA zone 8/Sunset 7-9, 12-24/. rev 4/2014 

filiformis 'Goldfield Blue'  young foliage detail   this grassy perennial holds its blue coloring all year long. A foot or two tall and wide, it can be used singly or even better as a massed groundcover. A good choice that can go from sun to shade and requires low maintenance and little watering. Enjoy it in Sunset zones 7-9, 13-24/USDA 8. rev 1/2013-Suzy Brooks

fluviatilis 'Shara'  MAT RUSH   nursery plants  a very fine-leaved species that grows into an airy clump about 18" tall and wide. The grey green to distinctly bluish-hued leaves are mostly vertical near the base, becoming relaxed and wispy towards the ends. Native to the eastern coast of Australia. Flower spikes are more exposed and showy than in most other species. USDA zone 9, maybe zone 8? rev 10/2018 

longifolia   BASKET GRASS, SPIKY-HEADED MAT RUSH     a highly variable species, ranging along Australia's entire East Coast, from the very most northern pointy tip, the miserably miasmic, marginally habital Cape York Peninsula wilderness, all the way down to Tasmanias cool, wet, windy Southern Ranges. See notes regarding reduced rodent damage in landscapes, under the section for the genus above. rev 7/2015

blue green form     mature foliage   younger, greener juvenile leaves    nice, broad, green juvenile foliage becoming much more blue grey as it matures. To about 24" tall by 2-3' across. This is either 'Blue Poles' or L. filiformis 'Goldfields Blue.' Bought the plugs in, the grower is clueless about ID. We grew both once, small trial crops. Until we know which we'll sell it under this name.  rev 1/2019

'Breeze' PP 15420   Strybing Arboretum   Strybing - shade   Branciforte Dr., Santa Cruz   this is a bright green, grass-like plant found across Australia that is widely soil and climate tolerant. To about 2' tall and 3' across, it forms dense clumps and can be used massed. It is drought tolerant but will withstand garden watering without problems, to the extent that it is even seeing wide use in Florida. This is a form selected to be nicer than the average, rather humble wild specimen. Sun to part shade, frost hardy to around 20-15F. Zones 7-9, 13-24/USDA zone 9. rev 10/2009

'Lime Tough'  gallon containers   formerly 'Lime Tuff,' even more formerly 'Bushland Green.' Reportedly this selection recently scored the highest drought-tolerance score of any plant, not just grasses and perennials, in a carefully documented trial in Davis, California. This is very similar to its very popular sister 'Breeze,' but with brighter green, broader leaves and a noticeably more upright habit. Evergreen, low maintenance, tidy, neat. This will look much like one of the large evergreen native sedges being used now (Carex) but is generally tidier and more formal looking, and clumps as opposed to spreading by running stolons. Use in place of shrubs in the landscape, as a no-walk substitute for lawns, or just enjoy it as a solitary container specimen. One to two feet tall, upright habit. Sunset zones 7-9, 13-24/USDA 8. rev 10/2018

'Platinum Beauty' PP25962   Manuel's nice container plant   Sunset display, Spring Trials  foliage detail   a Sunset Program plant, this is a really nice, distinctive, cleanly variegated selection that grows really well and always looks sharp. To about 2' tall, 3' across, same requirements and growing conditions as for 'Breeze' or 'Lime Tough.' This form reportedly often shows better full-sun performance than all-green varieties in ultra-hot summer areas such as the Central Valley and eastern LA basin, with better establishment rates and appearance under very dry conditions. rev 11/2018 

hystrix 'Tropic Belle' PPAF  nursery plants  a low growing, large textured form, with glossy bright green leaves to about 1/2" across. This is smaller than the wild form of the species, with most of the foliage mass below 2', spreading to about 2' wide. This form is also greener. Spikes of spiky whitish flowers are not showy.  This will need some summer watering but is still very drought resistant when established. 10/2008

Lonicera hildebrandiana  (not currently in production)  GIANT BURMESE HONEYSUCKLE    garden    wonderful flowers    most tropical of honeysuckles, with glossy, 4-6" long leaves and large, tubular, rich yellow orange flowers to 6" long. Fragrant, usually blooms spring through fall. Damaged below 25°F but has survived 20°F. Sun to part shade, average to little watering. Burma.

japonica ‘Halliana’    HALL’S HONEYSUCKLE    closeup    on a wall    another    deciduous to semievergreen vine well known for fragrant flowers which emerge white, then age to light yellow. Can bloom for most of the year in favorable climates. Sun to part shade, average to little summer watering, frost hardy. Eastern Asia.

Lophomyrtus a genus of shrubs native to New Zealand, sometimes classified as simply Myrtus. Similar in look and application to Pittosporum. Myrtaceae. rev 7/2010

x ralphii 'Little Star'  leaves   very cute little leaves colored green, cream, and pink. Bears fragrant white flowers in summer. Small, only 18-24" tall and wide. Makes a dandy little hedge or container subject. Adds something new to flower arrangements. Sun or part shade. Regular water. Zones 16-24/USDA zone 9.  rev 7/2010

Luma apiculata  CHILEAN MYRTLE, CHILEAN BLUEBERRY, ARRAYÁN, TEMU   fragrant flowers    tweaky trunks, Los Arrayanes National Park, Argentina    nice small tree, Santa Cruz, Circles neighborhood    nice droughty landscape shrub   luscious fruit     Don Genesey's commercial landscape, Live Oak    young trunk bark   here's a blast from the past, a plant whose time came, then went, and now has come back again. An evergreen tree to 60’ in its native Chile, usually seen in California as an evergreen shrub to 10-15’. Growth is fast when young, narrow and vertical if unsheared. In full sun it grows slowly into a tree, reaching altitude more quickly and showing more leg I mean bark when stretching up towards light in an open-forest-type situation or simulation. Grow it for its lustrous dark green leaves, its fuzzy orangey brown trunks, it's clouds of fragrant white summer (mostly) flowers or its heavy crops of often quite good blueberry-like fruit. Site it in sun with at least intermittent irrigation, it's best with deep, infrequent but regular watering. In at least part shade it is easier, and generally nicer looking, and can be grown much drier. Clip it into a hedge or and leave it's naturally open, artistically spreading shape alone, your choice. Survived 20°F in containers here in 1990 with only soft new tip growth damaged, so it's probably good to USDA zone 8. USDA zone 9. Chile, Argentina. Mytraceae. rev 1/2018 *"New" for 2018!

Lychnis arkwrightii 'Scarlet O'Hara'  PP#25460P2  (not currently in production)   in-your-eye red   a more robust, more reliably perennial form of this hybrid species (L. chalcedonica x L. haageana), supposedly the brightest and most eye-poppingly red variant yet. Its strong constitution enables it to tolerates miserable northern Dutch conditions that are even colder, wetter and drizzlier than those of the Northern California coastline. Dark foliage nicely backs up that red, which can be so intense in full sun it is difficult to focus your eyeballs on the flowers. A very compact grower to 10-12" tall by 8-10" across. Full to half sun (inland), average soils and watering. USDA zone 4. Caryophyllaceae. rev 7/2016