Taciveria 'Victor Reitor'    incredible flowers    rosette   this mild mannered, very simple, classy green rosette with burgundy tipped leaves turns into a bouquet of big pink starry flowers! Dark pink buds open to light pink flowers on strong, short stalks in summer. An uncommon gem, it is a cross between Echeveria and Tacitus bellus. Stays low, forming a clump under 12". Great in a container where it can be brought in during winter and moved to prominent place when in bloom. Sun or part shade, well drained soil, water spring through fall, much less in winter if possible. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 9/2011 

Tagetes lemmonii    MEXICAN BUSH MARIGOLD, COPPER CANYON     closeup    habit    famous for its absolutely spectacular display of deep golden yellow flowers that absolutely cover the plant from late summer or early fall through late spring. This grows as a shrubby evergreen perennial, to 4-5’ tall, 6-8’ wide at maturity. The strongly fragrant, wispy foliage is completely covered by the dense terminal sprays heaviest under short day conditions, but can bloom lightly through summer, especially in cool areas. Attracts clouds of butterflies. Damaged below 25°F, but will come back quickly from the roots from temps as low as 20°F. At least half sun, average to little watering. Northern Mexico, southern Arizona. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 7/2017

This plant looks great when planted with anything dark purple, especially Tibouchina (if both are planted in part sun, or the sun/shade siting difference can be reconciled) Salvia leucantha ‘Midnight,’ or Verbenas ‘Homestead’ or ‘Tapien Blue Violet.’ It also looks good next to blue flowering shrubs and groundcovers, especially Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Benenden Blue,’ which in addition to matching for color also matches for bloom initiation, both being short day bloomers. Foliage plants such as Calocephalus brownii, Helichrysum petiolatum or H. petiolatum ‘Limelight’ help compliment the color, as do blue-grey plants with strong architectural shapes such as Agave weberii, A. colorata, Yucca rostrata or Y. whipplei. For a real interesting combination, try situating it near Berberis thunbergii varieties, which will offer dark purple foliage for a short time when the Tagetes comes into bloom, then change to lurid pink, orange, red, and salmon tones with the onset of cool temperatures and decreasing daylength. rev 11/2011

'Compacta'    young Huntington specimen, 2004   closer   all the goodness of the regular sized version, starting with a spectacular, heavy show of deep golden yellow flowers absolutely covering the plant starting in late summer, plus strong marigold fragrance, wispy texture, and drought tolerance, but all on less than half the plant. The flowers initiate faster the shorter the days, so the show runs mostly from late summer through late spring, but light bloom can even occur in summer. This form grows as a recumbent shrublet to about 2' tall by 3-4' wide, filling in with age. It will be cut to the ground by frost below about 25F. This is one of the best plants you can site in your garden for butterflies and beneficial predators/parasitoids. It is by far the best form if you intend to use it in container, or you can't give it the 6' tall by 10' wide spot the regular form can monopolize. Mostly sun, little watering once established. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 9. rev 11/2011

'Gold Medal'   flowers    variously thrown into T. lucida (Mexican Tarragon), or T. patula (French Marigold), ignore those ignorami and rest assured this is a lower, much better compact version of T. lemmonii. It closely resembles 'Compacta' but is certainly cleaned up, likely missing some low-grade, latent virus or viroid that probably makes 'Compacta' stay even lower, at the cost of some vegetative and bloom vigor,  and flower size. Same sharpy scented foliage, same flower size and intense gold color, same facultative-short-day-plus-maybe-some-chill initiation (absolutely solid, massed bloom starting about October and lasting right through until early summer). To 24-30" tall, 4-5' wide, full sun, little watering required when established. Usually cut to the ground at 25-28F, resprouting from the roots down to 20F, maybe lower. rev 7/2017

Teucrium   GERMANDERS   a cosmopolitan genus containing a few hundred species of herbaceous and woody perennials and woody shrubs, mostly native to Mediterranean-climate regions. Their flowers are distinguished by their lack of upper petals. Many are valuable sources of pollen for beneficial insects. rev 6/2017

chamaedryas    WALL GERMANDER    young plant    another    flowers    a spreading, trailing or mounding, semiwoody, evergreen perennial with small, dark green leaves and a long show of small, rose pink flowers strung along the upper sections of the new stems. Grows to 18" tall, 3’ wide, spreading larger by rooting in stems if allowed. The showy, rose pink, sage-like flowers are small but produced in mass from late winter through early summer, transforming plants into mounds of color, usually humming frantically with bees. This is a very valuable source of pollen for honeybees and other beneficials. Overall this is an excellent, durable, tough, resilient, reasonably fast semi-woody perennial or groundcover that works well even in tough commercial situations. It can withstand some physical damage (occasional customer foot traffic, shopping carts), can tolerate most pre-emergents, is almost always thick and dense enough to exclude weeds, is relatively formal in appearance with its glossy green leaves, blooms for a respectable amount of time, seems resistant to many of the root pathogens affecting touchier Mediterraneans, and is forgiving of a range of soil types. It can be used as a solid groundcover, even on a large scale. It also has the most wonderful trait of being highly gopher resistant when established, almost completely so if any irrigation is applied away from the crown and at the periphery of the foliage line on mature plants. It is happiest best in full sun with good drainage and infrequent watering, but will tolerate half-shade, especially if grown drier, and can survive on little or not summer watering in most of the cooler, populated areas of California. Frost hardy to USDA zone 5. Mediterranean region, Asia Minor. Labiatae/Lamiaceae. rev 6/2017

ackermanii   flowers and leaves  a low growing alpine shrublet with bright, silvery, soft leaves and clusters of purple flowers in late spring and early summer. This is much like T. cossonii majoricum but even more silver in appearance. As with most Teucriums, bees find them irresistible.Besides obvious garden applications, this is a choice groundcover for under plants in containers, growing only 4-6" tall and spilling down 12-18". Full sun or some shade, average watering, good drainage. Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24/USDA 7. rev 5/2011

cossonii majoricum    closeup    a prostrate perennial to about 2’ wide. Bears narrow, grey tomentose leaves to 1" long. Tiny rose pink flowers appear in rounded terminal clusters from late spring until fall, massed they give off the pleasant scent of purple jelly beans. Sun, little or no summer watering, good drainage. rev 6/2005

fruticans ‘Azurea’    BUSH GERMANDER    closeup    habit    young bush, mixed Mediterranean landscape   occasionally clipped   an upright to rounded evergreen shrub to 6’ tall, 8’ wide, with grey green leaves, white/woolly underneath and on the stems. This is the true dark blue flower form, which is hard to find. The heavy show of flowers appears along the branches in spring, with occasional bloom the rest of the year. The overall effect is of a large, silvery shrub in the landscape, though this special form is quite showy and noticeable in bloom. Sun, little or no summer watering. Hardy to around 10°F. rev 3/2010

‘Compacta’    flowers  stiffly upright, compact, to 3’ tall and wide. Flowers are darker blue, close to ‘Azurea’ but not quite as deep. The habit is narrower and more vertical than seen in the regular form, or ‘Azurea,’ and it has shorter leaf internodes. rev 1/2017

scorodonia 'Crispum'   primary feature   a fast, easy to use foliage perennial for drier shade or full sun. It grows to about 18" tall by a couple of feet across and combines well with other plants in containers, baskets, or borders. The chartreuse to lime green color really catches your eye and lends itself to any color. The flowers are buff yellow and are held in upright stalks in summer. This is hardy enough to be grown in Europe and Portland so I would guess Sunset Zones 6-9, 14-17, 21-24/ USDA 8. rev 3/2

Thamnochortus    a genus of rush-like plants from South Africa. Restionaceae.

insignis    THATCHING REED    at UCSC    male, Strybing    female flowers    young male flowers    an evergreen, clumping grass-like plant to about 7' tall and wide, with typical jointed stems and showy flower/seed heads. Overall, it is very similar to  Chondropetalum tectorum, but stiffer. The flower/seed heads are an attractive reddish color, with male and female flowers on separate plants. Juvenile foliage is feathery and low, mature stems are smooth and upright. Prefers average to well-drained soils, and also makes a striking container subject. Drought tolerant, being native to alkaline coastal areas with a Mediterranean rainfall pattern. The only commercially used Restio, it is harvested for thatching. Probably hardy to 15-20°F or lower. rev 11/2012

Thunbergia alata    BLACK EYED SUSAN VINE    closeup    nice plant    fast evergreen to root hardy deciduous vine with coarse dark green leaves and characteristic winged petioles. Bright true orange flowers (usually) have dark centers (usually). About as root hardy as  T. gibsonii/gregorii, it is a faster grower but the tops are probably a little more frost tender, making it a deciduous vine in colder areas. It deserves to be more widely used in Northern California and shed its reputation as an obligate annual. For sun (will tolerate considerable heat), average watering, and relatively frost protected locations. Acanthaceae. Africa. rev 7/2004

African Sunset    closeup    a seed strain, with flowers emerging light apricot and aging to deep coral orange red, with dark eyes. Stunning! rev 7/2004
'Arizona Dark Red'  BLACK EYED SUSAN VINE  peer into my eyes!  new flowers are velvety, dark red and age to dark salmon and they always have that wonderful, defining black eye. rev 7/2013 
Charles Star   flowers     iridescent golden yellow, dark center. rev 7/2004
Lemon Star
   closeup    bright lemon yellow, black center. rev 7/2004
'Raspberry Smoothie'    luscious flowers   all the cheerful little dark eyed flowers of the Black Eyed Susan vine only this one has shades of purple to light pink. Climbs or scrambles quickly to 6-8' or more and can be grown as a vine, groundcover, or hanging basket subject. Sun, part shade, average watering. Annual outside of USDA zone 10/Sunset 23-24.
'Sunny Susy Orange'     watch out, the color may damage your eyes   dazzling, little orange flowers with a dark eye come on a twining vine that can scramble up a fence, hang from a basket, or cover the ground. Each one is a smile and wink! How could one not want this cheerful plant in their sight every day? Grows fast and easy, sun or part shade. rev 5/2013-Suzy Brooks 

Thymus   THYME  all thymes are excellent plants for your garden. Besides their ornamental qualities they are some of the best for supporting beneficial insects such as hover (serfid) flies, which produce voracious worm-like predatory young, and various miniscule parasitoid wasp species, which lay eggs in their particular target species and use them as incubators for their young. Thinks Alien, and I mean the first,, best movie. Both these groups feast on the nectar found in the tiny Thyme flowers. All need at least half sun, average or better drainage, and modest to little summer watering. All Sunset zones/USDA 5. Labiatae/Lamiaceae. rev 5/2014

x citriodorus    LEMON THYME    flowers & foliage    a creeping evergreen perennial with neat, tight, bright lime green foliage edged with bright gold. Gives off a strong lemony scent when crushed. Small clusters of tiny pink flowers are seen in late spring. rev 5/2014

‘Archer’s Gold’    planting    chartreuse foliage flecked with a few golden leaves. Tighter, lower than the common ‘Aurea.’ rev 6/2005
‘Doone Valley’    small plant    green leaves with a heavy showing of golden speckled foliage. Also tighter and lower than ‘Aurea.’ rev 5/2014
'Dot Wells'  leaves very, very close   an upright grower with small, green leaves and pink flowers grown for its uses in the kitchen and ability to grown in hot, dry places. About 8-12" tall and wide. Nice in herb or vegetable gardens, pink flowers attracting butterflies and bees. rev 5/2014-Suzy Brooks 
'Lime'     Woodrow St.    leaves very, very close    tiny, chartreuse leaves make a low mound of spreading color and fragrance. Great between stepping stones, spilling out of pots, or just a groundcover softening the edges of rocks or cement. Pinkish lavender flowers in the summer attract bees and butterflies. Fresh leaves are pungent. Plant in a well-drained soil in sun, accepts average to little watering. rev 5/2014-Suzy Brooks 

'Foxley'    foliage closeup   if you've ever had trouble with thymes drying up from poor drainage or too much water, I've found this one very forgiving and a lot more vigorous. Big (as far as thyme leaves go), dark green, glossy leaves, spotted with creamy white on red stems, it is certainly a 'dishy' specimen and is also useful in the kitchen. Pink flowers in summer, 6-8" tall, twice as wide, lovely in containers or the herb garden. rev 5/2014-Suzy Brooks 

pseudolanuginosus  WOOLY THYME  with flowers  teeny and tiny and oh so fuzzy are these greenish grey leaves! Less than an inch tall and spreading. Cascades over stone walls or pot edges, fills in between stepping stones. Pink flowers in summer will bring the bees and butterflies. Give it a sunny spot with well-drained soil and average to little watering once established. Not one for use in the kitchen. Sunset zones 2-24/USDA 5. rev 6/2014-Suzy Brooks 

serpyllum 'Pink Chintz'   tiny, pink and grey green   tiny, grey green leaves creep along, filling spaces between stepping stones or crawling over rocks or the edge of a pot. Pretty pink equally small flowers in early summer. Takes some traffic as groundcover, for sun or part shade. Likes well-drained soil, little watering once established. All Sunset zones/USDA 5. rev 6/2014 

Thysanolaena maxima    TIGER GRASS    at my house    tropical leaves   loose flower spike    I've always liked this plant, in fact it is one of my favorites, but I used to think it was too tropical for Northern California. Then I discovered it is raised as far north as South Carolina, and that it just goes deciduous with hard frost, and I watched it show minimal damage from a true 25F freeze. In fact, it has survived repeated 15°F frosts back East as a deciduous perennial, resprouting vigorously in spring. It is a very bold, large textured grass of striking appearance, with a dramatic bamboo-like habit of jointed culms to 6' tall, and broad, lush leaves to about 3" across and over 12" long. Its foliage can be almost as large as that of Indocalamus tesselatus, the largest leaved bamboo. You get the same look but taller, and with an evergreen to deciduous clumping plant instead of a hyperenergetic, aggressive runner. Plus it has nicer stems, powdery white new culms. In warmer, hotter, more humid areas (tropics, Gulf Coast) it can get closer to 10' tall. Leaf and plant size increase readily with heat, humidity, watering, and fertilizing in all areas. Flower spikes are very sparse, loosely constructed and not ornamental, they appear in late spring. Use it for its luxuriant, semiweeping leaves, and jungle-like presence, with other foliage or subtropical plants, or even as a very striking, large container plant. Its leaves are used to wrap cooked rice. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/ USDA zone 8. Southeast Asia. rev 2/2010

Tiarella   evergreen to deciduous perennials related to Heuchera, with a very soft, natural, woodsy look. Part to mostly shade, rich, moist, humusy soils, average watering. rev 5/2013

'Dark Star'  FOAMFLOWER  foliage  maple shaped leaves with dark starry centers and spikes of white flowers in spring have a pretty woodland look when used as a groundcover in dappled shade. Takes no foot traffic but is a lovely foil for small bulbs in spring, hiding the fading leaves. About 8-10" tall and clumping. Evergreen. Likes regular watering. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24/USDA 5. rev 4/2013-Suzy Brooks 

'Heronswood Mist'   finely speckled foliage   a pretty little woodland flower for shade or morning sun, related to Coral Bells (Heuchera). Green and white speckled leaves pick up pink color in the cool of spring and fall. A dependable rebloomer, it likes rich, moist soil and adds some light texture to dark azalea or wide hosta leaves. Foliage grows to 6," forming a clump, and flowers add 6-8". Won't tolerate poor drainage or winter wet feet. All Sunset zones/USDA 4. rev 6/2011-Suzy Brooks

'Pacific Crest' PP23591 -----  shiny, deeply cut, dark green leaves with a reddish brown centers trail along the ground or spill from hanging baskets and over the sides of pots. Sprays of white flowers top them in spring. Only 4" tall, it spreads out 2-3' wide. Morning sun or all shade, it likes regular watering. All Sunset zones/USDA 4. rev 2/2014-Suzy Brooks 

'Running Tapestry'
  fine texture   another of the woodsy, fine-textured Eastern native perennial species, it spreads nicely at a moderate pace by slender above-ground stolons. You grow it for the nicely patterned leaves, plus you get a good flower show in spring. Needs at least moderate summer watering, and in Western gardens spread will be limited by irrigation. To 12" tall. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24/USDA zone 4.
rev 4/2013 

Tibouchina urvilleana    PRINCESS FLOWER    closeup    habit    more flowers    extra bonus    easily the best of the genus, at least as far as California is concerned. The biggest, darkest purple, longest blooming, most easily grown species. Grows as a reliably showy, tender subtropical shrub or small tree, to 10’ tall and wide. Very attractive, heavily veined, densely tomentose dark green leaves grow to 4" long and old leaves color chrome orange and yellow. Branched terminal clusters of rich royal purple flowers to 4" across appear sporadically in waves throughout the year, depending on watering and fertilizing, heaviest summer through late winter or early spring. There are always new species and varieties of Tibouchina cropping up or being reintroduced, such as T. heteromala, T. semidecandra, and T. granulosa. All so far have shown much more restricted flowering periods and more frost sensitivity as well as either smaller flowers or less attractive color. The search for the best Princess Flower starts and ends right here, as T. urvilleana reigns supreme! Best in part shade with regular watering, but can take substantial drought when established. Good in containers if reliably watered. Damaged below 28°F but has survived temperatures around 20°F, resprouting from roots. Brazil. Melastomataceae. rev 5/2013

'Peace Baby'     wow! it's really white!   I'm losing the 'Hippie Dippie Tibbie' prefix because these have also been sold abroad under a 'Fantasy Flowers' trademark. Plus genus plus five names jus' don' fit! What this is is a compact Princess Flower with a new color and a wild name. Wonderfully textured green leaves and maroon buds like usual, but this one is covered with big white flowers most of the season and only grows 2-3' tall, 18-24" wide. Just right for containers. We'll see if it initiates under a broad range of our local conditions like the so-far-unbeatable T. urvilleana. We've always been disappointed in the past by new species or selections that bloom just once in California, always August-Sept. Sun or part shade, regular watering. USDA 9/Sunset zones 16-24. rev 8/2014 

Tolmeia menziesii 'Taff's Gold'  speckled foliage   you've probably seen this native plant during hikes in the spring, growing near running water in foothill environments. This version is splashed with creamy yellow. Likes all the conditions the green foliaged version does, including moist soil and bright, indirect light. An easy houseplant, just don't forget to water it. About 12" tall and 15" wide. New plants are produced on the leaf. Sunset zones 3, 4-9, 20-24/USDA 7. California. Saxifragaceae. rev 5/2011

Trachelospermum asiaticum   ASIAN JASMINE  similar to the familiar Star Jasmine (T. jasminoides) but with longer internodes, narrower and more pointed leaves, marginally greyer green, with more purplish or rosy highlights and lighter veins. The similarly-scented flowers are pale pastel yellow to creamy white, with deeper, yellowish centers, and appear in summer. It is generally more adaptable to groundcover applications than Star Jasmine, and used less as a vine, as it tends to send non-twining, long-internode, juvenile stems sideways first, often vigorously, before it decides to climb. Eventually stems will twine as they mature, but it is almost always at least a little slower and more spreading overall than its cousin. Some of the dwarf or variegated collector's selections can be quite compact and very slow moving. This species was given an Award of Garden Merit by the RHS. USDA zone 7/Sunset 5-24. Apocynaceae. Korea, Japan. rev 10/2015

'All Gold'  GOLDEN ASIATIC JASMINE    shy flowers    heavenly fragrant summer flowers of pale golden yellow try to hide against the tiny, shiny, warm golden foliage. Young stems are fuzzy and warm golden bronze.You'll usually see this as a compact, dense groundcover but mature, flowering stems are more inclined to reach upwards. This is a great color/texture/fragrance element for patio or entry containers, alone or in combo. Sun or part shade.  rev 10/2015

'Kiifu Chirimen'   up close   ultra-tiny leaves, wonderful golden green against twining coral to burgundy stems, are the distinguishing feature of this unique variety. Makes a wonderful color/texture foliage item, groundcover, container plant or use your imagination!. Full sun to almost full shade (leaves turn greener), very drought tolerant when established, frost hardy to the teens or lower. USDA zone 8/Sunset 5-24. rev 10/2015

'Summer Sunset'  leaves  originally known as 'Torafu.' This is a mostly mounding variety that features outrageous yellow new growth becoming hot orange. Colors intensify under cold weather to orange and red. It is reasonably fast for a highly variegated plant, and looks great against darker backgrounds. Full sun to almost all shade, very drought tolerant when established, frost hardy to the teens or lower. USDA zone 7/Sunset 5-24/. rev 10/2015

'Susan'   new plus old     mature leaf color a moderately vigorous form, quite a good grower actually considering it's variegated. Close to 'Wide Leaf' but differs slightly in coloration and pattern: smaller leaves are edged and sometimes splashed with creamy white, but don't show the marbled veins of 'Wide Leaf.' Also new growth is not reddish, but clear, warm, light yellow against a reddish stem. USDA zone 7/Sunset 5-24/. rev 3/2016  

'Wide Leaf'   new growth, strongest color     nice shade container, Portland     broad, green to grey green leaves are edged, veined and marbled in cream to white. New leaves emerge hot coral, then age from salmon through pale yellow to creamy white. Older leaves can show purplish tones as they age. Generally slow, very choice, and a great combination of colors that looks good in against any background or with any other plant. Really good as a container plant, being tough and not needing constant attention. Full sun to almost full, dark shade, very drought tolerant when established. USDA zone 7/Sunset 5-24/. rev 10/2015

jasminoides    STAR JASMINE    flowers    as a clipped vine/shrub    another    foliage effects, winter   a well known evergreen groundcover and vine, and still one of my favorite plants, in spite of its heavy use, because of its wonderful. tropical fragrance, dark, dark green, glossy leaves, complete sterility (no seeds!) and adaptability of planting position and application. It can be used as a fence or trellis cover, groundcover, or for its flower show or fragrance, and is especially effective used near a window, doorway or entry. It can be used in a container and even makes an outstanding, long lived bonsai. Gnarly old stumps of patriarch landscape plants that are being torn out and are on their way to the dump can be very effective for such use, since it seems tolerant of extreme root disturbance. It flowers heavily in mid spring then lightly until late summer, and grows rapidly under long day conditions. It is best in hot summer climates but tolerates coastal conditions as well except it is slower. It is one of several plants whose dried flowers are used to flavor Jasmine Tea. Clip any time after its main spring bloom, up to frost, to shape or control. Sun or mostly shade. Sunset zones 8-24. China.rev 10/2015

Trachycarpus    WINDMILL PALMS    fan palms from Continental to tropical climates, usually medium scale and of moderate growth rate. The most commonly seen species is