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Abelia 'Francis Mason'    foliage  with flowers    compact, dense, spreading evergreen shrub to about 4' tall by 5-6' wide, it is one of the better golden foliaged plants available. The warm, almost-but-not-quite-orange tone looks great against dark backgrounds. Give it at least some direct sunlight or it is inclined to fade to chartreuse. Pink flowers are an added bonus. Caprifoliaceae. USDA zone 7, Sunset zones 4-24. rev 1/2017

Abutilon hybrids  FLOWERING MAPLE  big shrubs    small, vining shade garden plants   evergreen shrubs, some to only 3' or even prostrate, others to 15' tall and wide. They are loved for their wonderful colors, but probably their best and most useful feature after their fabulous continuous flowering season (truly daylength-neutral initiation) is the fact that those ever-present flowers and heavy nectar production make them absolutely irresistible to hummingbirds, all year. Also they are irresistible to children, and adults like me, who also like nectar and are prone to ripping the flowers apart to get at it. They will generally tolerate frost to 25°F or lower with little or no damage. Most just go deciduous to temperatures as low as 20°F, but a few are branch-hardy to USDA zone 7 and won't even lose twigs at 15°-10°F. They like full sun or require some shade, depending on variety, exposure and microclimate. Most will take more than half a day of sun and will need little or no summer watering in coastal areas, but lean towards more shade and water in hotter, drier climates. Some, such as 'Moonbeam' and 'Victory,' are excellent for containers or hanging baskets. Most of them make excellent espaliers subjects, especially all of the megapotamicum varieties and hybrids. Malvaceae. rev 1/2017

'Alpha Centauri'   flower  a large, pure white flower with almost no yellow tones, well displayed. Another superior white seedling of the old standard white trade form (see 'Canopus,' below). Modest size and vigor, to about 3-5' tall and wide. Properly 'Rigel Kentauri,' this G2 spectrum star, almost identical to the sun in color and brightness. It is the "A component" of  three tightly grouped objects which make up what we see as the single object "Alpha Centauri," the third brightest apparent "star" in our sky. It can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere. MBN INTRODUCTION-2008  rev 1/2017
'Ann Red'  closeup   open bells, in a deep, very shiny red. Moderate size. rev 1/2017
'Apricot'  closeup    the importance of background   mixed garden placement     cool weather    flared, pendant, soft apricot colored flowers with reddish sepals, the flower petals becoming lighter in full sunlight or aging to dark, "Hawaiian Punch red" in cool weather. A thinner-textured flower, on a plant of moderate vigor, it grows moderately openly to about 3-6' tall and wide. Certainly this has at least some A. megapotamicum in the parentage, from the copious production of its smaller flowers and attractively long, narrow, almost uncut, dark green leaves. rev 1/2017
'Canopus'   flowers   this was our first seedling do-over, derived from the old, trade-standard white. It lacks the unwanted, impure, pink petal discoloration seen in its parent, which shows up most noticeably on older flowers under strong sunlight. This is also much more resistant to Abutilon Mozaic Virus (produces a mosaic-break "iron deficiency" pattern on the foliage, plus reduced vigor) which is completely endemic in the trade, and was the primary reason for doing our seedling reselections in the first place. This medium-sized flower is close to the parent, but is a sharper, brighter and cleaner white. It also boasts higher vigor and flower production but is still just a moderate-sized grower. To about 4-5' tall by 3-4' wide. Its stellar namesake is a  -.72 magnitude F0 (yellow-white) spectral-type thermonuclear furnace located in the constellation Carina, about 100 light years from Earth, with an intrinsic luminosity of about 30 times that of the sun. The second brightest star in the sky, after Sirius, it is visible in the Southern Hemisphere. MBN INTRODUCTION-2008 rev 3/2017
'Capella'   flowers   small, very profuse, perky medium yellow flowers and fine-textured, somewhat felty green leaves. Rather upright growing, to about 6-8' unpruned by 4-6' wide. The third brightest apparent star in the Northern sky, after Arcturus and Vega, and the sixth brightest star overall. Capella is actually a double-binary system. The brighter binary pair are both G-type stars (like our sun) but are each substantially larger, 11 and 8 times our sun's diameter. The second pair are both much cooler and smaller, being type M red dwarfs.  MBN INTRODUCTION-2008 rev 1/2017
'Cardinal'  closeup   a glossy red flowers, with large, ornamental, dark green foliage. Compact growth to 3-5' tall and wide. rev 1/2017
‘Challo’  closeup   a very attractive and interesting flower shape, in a glowing, deep golden yellow with a rather broad dark maroon eye. Unusual, inflated flowers constrict at the waist, then the petals, which are often pleated and ruffled, flare widely to reveal a long dark style bearing contrasting bright yellow stamens. They buds emerge from round, pleated, sculpted, dark, silky, maroon-colored pods, which remain to become contrasting sepals of the open flowers. Dark, sultry stems make for even more contrast and interest. But hold on, that's not all! Moderate plant size is combined with good vigor, and the heavy flower display creates a great flower/leaf ratio. Now how much would you pay? But wait - there's more! In addition you get fuzzy, bug resistant leaves (!!!) on a plant of somewhat vining, easily trainable habit, to just 4-5' tall. That's right all that delivered in an attractive, weatherproof, waterproof, sunproof growing container already perforated for water drainage. MBN INTRODUCTION-2005
rev 1/2017
'Chiffon'   flowers   light lemon chiffon, that is. A fast growing, upright variety to perhaps 6-8' at maturity (unpruned), bearing clear, bright yellow flowers from  yellowish bracts. Leaves are very dark green, branches, stems and flower stems are both dark burgundy, and flowers contrast well with all. rev 1/2017   MBN INTRODUCTION-2015
'Coral Earrings'   
bells  
a branch sport of our own yellow 'Capella,' with rich, coral pink flowers and medium green leaves, upright and vigorous, to 8' tall. A playground for hummingbirds. To about 6-8' unpruned, by 4-6' wide. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2010 
‘Cristina’  flower  a very heavy producer of medium size, glowing, glossy, red orange flowers. The ruffly, fluted, oval petals are highlighted with darker red veins and edged with a fine, light line. The darker, maroon calyx and stems add contrast and interest. A dense, upright, grower to about 4-6' tall, unpruned, forgiving and easy to shape if you do attack it with clippers. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2004
‘Frieda’  flowers    downtown Santa Cruz   why I like it so much   pendant, partially flared flowers have ruffly, bright yellow petals with orange veins. Long, deeply cut, maple shaped leaves are dark green with olive and bronze tones and are closely carried on burgundy stems. Robust growth to about 6' tall and wide under the best conditions, taller if trained, and pushed, and in shade. This one really cranks out the flowers, with dense, tiered displays on branches that hang over from the weight of the load. The flower color contrasts nicely with the dark foliage and stems. A five-star hummingbird attractor and overall showy plant. Named for Frieda Dixon, mother of originator Jon Dixon of Half Moon Bay. rev 1/2017
‘Fruit Punch’  flower  just about that color, a rich, shiny red with a touch of watermelon, maybe just a shade more orange, and size = large. Upright spreading growth to at least 10', eventually, and without cutting back, and medium size flowers. This variety has the immensely endearing quality of being exceptionally resistant to whiteflies, possibly due to the heavy coating of minute fuzz, especially on the undersides of the 6" leaves. This is a large-textured plant overall. MBN INTRODUCTION-2005  rev 1/2017
‘Harvest Moon’  closeup  large, flared, silvery, pastel apricot flowers age to pale melon. A branch sport of ‘Moonchimes,’ our own find. Petals are very round and often doubled, and can flare to almost horizontal on the pendant flowers. Compact, spreading growth to usually under 3' tall and wide, dense and well branched. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-1998
'Hot Pink'  flowers  clear, hot rose pink flowers, a vigorous upright habit, broad, shallowly lobed leaves, and burgundy stems. To 6-10' unrestrained, with narrow habit. rev 1/2017. MBN INTRODUCTION-2006
‘Ines’ (A. megapotamicum)  flowers  light yellow flowers to 2" across darken to rich yellow with age and display wonderfully against the contrasting dusky maroon red sepals and stamens. Good vigor, typical meg-type vining habit, with long, dark green leaves and dark stems. Just 3-6' tall unless encouraged higher. This is a very good, showy, high-contrast variety. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2005
‘Jerry’s Red Wax’  closeup  large, heavy textured, dark red flowers reach 3" across and hold their color well in sunlight. A fast, boldly upright grower to at least 6', with gentle and appropriate behavior modification, probably 15' or more unpruned. Leaves are very large, dark green, to 10" long and 8" across. Dramatic for foliage and outline as well as for flowers, and with nice, dark, burgundy stems too! rev 1/2017
'Lemon' (A. megapotamicum)  flowers  light, almost pastel yellow flowers against moderately dark leaves. The petal color darkens to rich yellow with age, and eventually picks up rosy tints before falling. It has narrow but very long, dark green leaves, dark stems, a light, somewhat open texture, and an open, vining habit to 4-6'. And - it's fuzzy! Grow this one for the heavy display of perky little contrasting light flowers against its darker background elements. MBN INTRODUCTION-2005 rev 1/2017
'Mango Cheesecake'   flowers    light gold flowers with petals shaded orange, from light orange to burgundy sepals. Leaves are very dark green and form a good background for the lighter color. A medium-height grower, to perhaps 3-5' unpruned. Sun to part shade, expect frost damage below about 25F, ultimate hardiness unknown. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2015
'Mardi Gras' (A. pictum)  flowers and foliage   a very vigorous form, with large leaves splashed boldly with gold, and much more humble, narrow, light orange flowers, but well produced. To 10' by 10' when happy, or easily kept smaller with pruning. Dramatic, large scale. Also known as A. pictum 'Aureomaculatum.' rev 1/2017
'Maui Punch'   flowers   more punch than even 'Hawaiian Punch.' Not just pink, not just   orange, but pink and orange all at the same time! It's incredible! The flowers can be held almost horizontally, flower stems tend towards a nicely contrasting maroon, and the large leaves are very dark green. This more vigorous growing variety will probably easily get 6-8' unpruned. A branch sport off our own 'Watermelon Candy.' MBN INTRODUCTION-2011 rev 1/2017
'Mobile Cream'  closeup  a seedling from a cross involving 'Mobile Pink' on one side, it resembles that variety, with pendant flowers flaring open  widely. The flowers are creamy white against light, ruddy, maroon sepals. Moderately dark leaves have maroon veins and are held on very dark stems. An upright grower but still probably not getting taller than 3' without training. Leaves are felty beneath, hooray! rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2005
‘Mobile Pink’  closeup  a lower, more spreading grower to 4’ or less. Flowers are an attractive light salmon pink, with reddish sepals. Flowers are held pendantly and petals flare widely to horizontal. A compact and extremely showy selection with slightly greyer, felty foliage that is noticeably less plagued by all pests, including snails and slugs. This is a five-star variety. Its only drawback is its heavy seed capsule production, but even those are interesting. To 5-6'. rev 1/2017
‘Moonbeam’  flower  a big, fast grower with small, dainty, pale lemon yellow flowers appearing on this upright variety of intermediate texture. It is narrow in habit, somewhat open, to 6-10' tall by 6-7' wide, and leaves are a lighter green. This plant brings a tall, yellow green presence to the garden. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2005
‘Moonchimes’  closeup    habit   a very compact variety to probably only 2' tall and wide. Bears a heavy show of light, clear pastel yellow flowers. A dense grower and vigorous, continuous bloomer. One of the best for containers.  rev 1/2017
‘Nabob’  closeup   large, very dark maroon red flowers. A fast, vigorous, robust shrub, growing 8-10', with large, very dark green leaves and a strong central leader. rev 1/2017
‘Neon Rose’  flowers  a hybrid between two of our pinks, this is a large, fast upright grower, probably to about 8-10' unrestrained but easily kept much smaller. The leaves are moderately large, slightly cut, and have enough fuzz under the leaves to be a bug-resistant type. Pendant, bell shaped, hot neon pink flowers are partially flared and feature a dark violet eye and dark red stamens, sepals are a contrasting bright yellow green.  rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2005
‘Orange Hot Lava’ (A. megapotamicum)  closeup  another hybrid seedling involving A. megapotamicum ‘Red,’ with small, sometimes fluted orange flowers that flare slightly, and a very conspicuous outer network of very fine red veins. Sepals are a complimentary light maroon. Long, heart shaped, very dark green leaves have a pronounced drip tip. A nice bushy grower to about 4-5', semivining, and a heavy bloomer, with a high flower/leaf ration. The dark stems add to the total, hypnotizing effect. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2005
‘Pablo’s Tangelo’  closeup   found by Pablo Perez, our Abutilon specialist-grower at the time, this selection produces clouds of perky little light clear orange flowers with petals flushed deeper towards the base, rounded in shape and flaring out widely open with age. Each flower is held well away from the plant at a semipendant angle on thin, wiry peduncles to 6" long - clouds of blossoms seem to be floating in midair. Sepals are light reddish-tan, and it has nice, dark, heart shaped to moderately lobed leaves and blackish stems. Grows as a vigorous, well-branched, semivining to freestanding plant to 4-7'. This is one of the fuzzy-leaf types that whiteflies don't much like. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2002
‘Paisley’ (A. megapotamicum)  flowers   a highly variegated form, with small, narrow, pointed leaves irregularly splashed and flecked with bright yellow. Small, round, very ornamental ,dark coral red buds open to light apricot yellow flowers, pinched at the waist, which then fade to deep coral peach with age. Sepals are dark, rich coral red, the peduncle (flower-stem) is extremely thin and wiry and disappears against the foliage, for that "floating in midair" look. Grows rather vigorously with a vining, open, upright habit, to about 3-5' on its own but scrambling airily higher if it can find support. rev 1/2017
'Pink' (A. megapotamicum)   closeup    habit   a lighter textured plant, but fast and pretty vigorous. Rich coral pink flowers age to deeper rose, with darker maroon-rose calyces. Arching, naturally open, semivining growth reaches about 4-5' on its own in a reasonable amount of time, unless trellised and encouraged higher. Provides a heavy flower display. rev 1/2017
‘Pink Parasol’   closeup   color in sun   plum rose petals flare widely, large flowers can be over 3" across. Plant is vigorous, chunky and upright, with a strong leader and compact dark green foliage. Height should be 3-5' without modification. Flowers are held well out from the stem and face slightly upright from horizontal, displaying their showy orange stamens. Petals are rounded, ruffled, and often doubled. rev 1/2017
'Procyon'  flowers   flowers emerge almost pastel yellow but age to almost pure white. Another superior white seedling generated in our constant search for the perfect white Abutilon. About 4-5'. This is one of the "dog stars," higher in the sky and further west than Sirius, in Canis Minor. This is classified as a yellow-white spectral object (F5), it is about 11 light years from earth and is about 1.4 times as massive as our sun. MBN INTRODUCTION-2008 rev 1/2017
'Red' (A. megapotamicum)   closeup   bright, shiny, lacquer orange red flowers with darker red veins open from quite ornamental, dark, velvety, almost black, pod-like flower buds. The plant will grow up to 10’ if supported, with an open, semivining habit and long internodes. As a freestanding shrub expect it to arch over beyond 4-5'. Leaves are medium to light green with nice dark maroon veins. Reported to survive well as a deciduous shrub in Portland, Oregon, and to have survived frosts below 15°F without damage to stems. If you are going to experiment with Abutilons in colder climates, start here with this and the megapotamicums and their hybrids. rev 10/2011
‘Rosalie’
  closeup   a big, fast, well branched plant to 6-10' unrestrained, with moderate vigor, very dark stems, and large dark green leaves. Medium to large sized clear pink flowers have a somewhat lavender tint and darker veins and are more less globe shaped, with pink tinted sepals. The most vigorous of the pink types. rev 10/2011
‘Savitzii’   foliage detail    at Kelly's Bakery    rare, humble flowers   a small, dense to vining shrub to 3-5’ tall, more with any support. Unusual foliage is creamy white with a splash of green in the center. One of the true mysteries of the plant world is how this plant manages to grow as vigorously as it does with almost no green foliage. Proportionally smaller pendant flowers are narrow and bright orange but rarely seen. Easy to use in almost any foliage planting, container or otherwise. rev 10/2011
‘Souvenir de Bonn’  flowers & foliage    humble garden specimen   large dark green leaves are boldly edged with ivory. Humble flowers are light coral orange with light red veins and a magenta blush, and are very narrow, barely opening. They stand well away from the foliage on long peduncles. Even the sepals are variegated, with a narrow, yellowish margin to each long, pointed segment. A fast, open grower to at least 10’ or more if not cut back, but can be maintained much lower with minimal pruning. A striking focal point specimen, good in full sun, at least along the coast. rev 10/2011
‘Strybing Red’    closeup    a smaller, shrubby variety obtained from Strybing Arboretum, this variety bears medium size flowers of a bright, intense, shiny red, heavily produced. The interesting thing about this variety is that it has double the usual number of flowers per leaf node, four as opposed to two. Leaves are dark green with a hint of olive, felty and bug resistant, stems are dark. Moderate vigor means it is easily contained and easy to deal with in the garden. Fills in very nicely and needs little shaping, reaches 4-7'. A nice grower, this is a high flower/leaf ratio variety. rev 10/2011
‘Sunset’ (A. megapotamicum)  closeup    nice garden plant    with A. meg 'Red,' side garden    another closeup   a nice repeating combination of red and yellow. This looks like nothing more than the old “species” form of A. megapotamicum that was in the trade for years. In case we are wrong though, we will still use this name. The pendant flowers are held on long, wiry peduncles. Bright red sepals clasp narrow, tubular, flowers with constricted waist. The petals are a brilliant deep yellow, aging to apricot before falling. The central column is red with numerous yellow stamens. It can extend out of the petals about 1/2", for an overall flower length of about 1 1/2". Growth is light-textured, upright to spreading and scandent in habit, to 6-10'. This variety is excellent as a staked, trellised, or hanging basket subject.  rev 10/2011
'Talini's Pink'   flowers  a moderately fast, upright grower, with strong, clear pink flowers, fading to white in the centers and with a big cluster of showy yellow stamens. Flower stems are robust and display the new flowers almost horizontally at first, then they droop gracefully as they mature. Sepals are light chartreuse, big, soft leaves are almost oval with maple-like leaflets. A seedling found at Talini's Nursery. rev 1/2017 MBN INTRODUCTION-2008
‘Tangerine’  flowers   glossy, clear orange flowers, with noticeable yellow stamens, contrast nicely with stark, bright lime yellow sepals and broad, smooth, glossy light green leaves to 6". A good branching habit on a large, upright, vigorous, rather open plant to probably 6-8' if not cut back once in a while. rev 10/2011 MBN INTRODUCTION-2004
'Tiger Eye'   flower   wild red veins with golden yellow petal color in between. Red stamens, green calyx, large flowers, large, boldly cut shiny green leaves, strong, rather vertical habit to 6-8'. A winner! rev 10/2011 
‘Thompsonii’ (pictum)   closeup of flowers & foliage    habit  a shorter, narrower grower, to perhaps 3-4’ tall by 2-3’ wide, with yellow speckled foliage and light orange flowers. Good vigor but a much smaller grower than most varieties. rev 10/2011
'Tropic Rose'  flower  large, luminous, glowing rose pink. Good flower production. To 6-7' MBN INTRODUCTION-2009  rev 10/2011
'Twister'  closeup  nice pod buds  this is mostly megapotamicum, a very heavy bloomer with small, glossy, dark orange red flowers with darker red veins. The pendant flowers are sometimes partially flared, with petals that often twist around on one edge to reveal the brighter interior color, and hence the name. But others open almost completely flat so that their petals are horizontal. A fast, vining grower with thin stems and long, dark green leaves, to 4-7' and stretching longer if it has something to lay on.. rev 10/2011 MBN INTRODUCTION-2005
'Victor Reiter'  flowers  a very large tangerine orange flower, with a lighter center and light yellow green calyces. Compact and heavy blooming. Flowers reach over 2" across. To about 4-6' tall, 3-4' wide. rev 10/20109 
'Victorian Lady'
 flower  fully double, light pink flowers. Lighter bloom production, larger, more open habit to 6-10'. rev 10/2011 
‘Victory’ (A. megapotamicum)  closeup  essentially horizontal growth unless trained to vine upright, with small, narrow, partially cut, closely produced leaves on dark stems. Small, narrow waisted flowers are yellow with light sepals and red columns against dark coral red sepals. An outstanding basket or container variety of considerable bloom vigor. Despite its almost naturally horizontal habit, this variety makes an excellent small upright shrub if staked and just an outstanding standard (tree form) with a little direction. A real favorite of hummingbirds.  rev 10/2011
'Watermelon Candy'  flowers  a vigorous upright grower of small texture and compact habit, with oval dark green leaves and very dark stems. The slightly flared flowers are a dark watermelon pink, have dark sepals, and are very heavily produced all along the branches. This variety has a high flower/leaf value. To 4-6'. MBN INTRODUCTION-2005 rev 10/2011

Acacia baileyana purpurea  COOTAMUNDRA WATTLE (but no one calls it that in California)  closeup  another closeup  habit  one of the showiest acacias for California gardens. Usually grows to 15’ tall, with a compact, dense habit, and is one of the first plants to flower, blooming heavily in late winter. Soft textured leaves are blue grey, often with deep purple red on the new growth. Very drought tolerant, hardy to around 15°F with damage. Southeastern Australia. Leguminosae/Fabaceae. This species will almost never reseed itself except on very sandy soils in areas with mild, moist winters.

     The real Acacia baileyana should not be confused with the properly hated, larger weedy species which can be found running wild throughout the Central California coast(closeup). Those plants have been placed variously into A. mearnsii, A. decurrens mollis or A. dealbata. In fact, if you watch separate stands carefully, you will usually notice that they some are actually flowering at different times of the year. What we think of as “that weedy acacia” probably refers to a complex of species. Due to the lack of grazing insects and animals, lack of diseases, and considerably higher soil fertilities here, the distinguishing growth characteristics are different here compared to Australia. Accurate separation of these species by physical characteristics will be difficult. rev 3/2007

cognata 'Cousin Itt' PPAF   shiny, lush foliage     established landscape plant at Ball Tagawa    focal point container   a very compact seedling selection of what is normally a small Australian evergreen Australian tree, this only seems to reach about 30" tall. It is probably at its best as a container subject, but it can also be used as a (short) focal point in a small scale landscape if pruned back occasionally. It can also become a low, large scale groundcover, but it is slow to spread and will need at least moderate watering, even under cool condtions. The shiny dark green foliage is best with pruning to keep it renewed, as fully mature foliage is less lustrous. Flowers probably won't be seen on this variety, but they are small yellow balls held in pairs at the leaf nodes. This will yellow quickly in soils with high pH, so a dose of sulfur around the edge of the hole on planting will help with that in almost all California soils. Also known in Australia as 'Mini Cog.' Sun to more than half shade, average watering in containers but less so in the ground, light feeding and only with fertilizers low or lacking in phosphate. Frost hardy to around 25F, when it starts to lose branches, but it likely will survive at least 5F more cold. Sunset zones 8-9, 15-24/USDA zone 8. rev 6/2014

Acalypha wilkesiana 'Bronze Pink'  COPPER PLANT, COPPERLEAF   combo container   a soft tropical shrub used during the warm season for its spectacular foliage color. This selection has lots of bright magenta pink coloration. Fastest under warm temperature, high humidity and full sun, but give it part sun here with our lower humidity or leaves may scorch. Best as a patio plant or indoor/outdoor item, plants will die if roots go below 50F, normal for almost all of California. Flowers are small, fuzzy, not showy. Normal watering needs. In tropical climates this can reach 8-10' with an 8' spread, here if you get it half that big you'll be in the newspapers. Euphorbiaceae. Fiji, Pacific Islands. rev 5/2017 *New for 2017!*

'Tiki Cloak'  all colors  green, bronze, red and maroon, all on the same plant, at the same time. Same size/culture as above. rev 5/2017

Acanthus mollis ‘Oak Leaf’  flowers  flower closeup  Craftsman landscape habit  Victorian landscape planting  a summer-deciduous perennial usually grown for foliage that also bears showy flower stalks to 4’ tall in late spring. Part sun to shade, little or no summer watering when established, frost hardy. For evergreen foliage, flower stalks need to be removed before blooming and plants will need some summer water. Makes a dramatic container plant. Mediterranean. Acanthaceae. rev 3/2007

'Tasmanian Angel'      emerging fall foliage   mature leaf color   flowers   from above   a study in frantic white/green variegation, this selection really lights up against a dark background. The pink flowers are a complete surprise, and are sparingly produced mostly in summer. Much slower than the regular green form just from lack of chlorophyll, it is also easier to manage it in the garden compared to its vigorous original source. Needs mostly shade or very diffuse direct light else the white leaf tissue burns. Quite drought tolerant when established. We've sold this before in very small lots, and it was never properly introduced nor added to our catalog before now. *New for 2017!*

Acer palmatum  JAPANESE MAPLE, MOUNTAIN MAPLE  new growth  clipped into a small tree  shrub form  classic siting, Strybing Arboretum  fall color detail  a wonderful small to medium size tree loved by all for its striking grassy green bark and upright, fine textured, compact to willowy spreading form. It can take considerable shade, and is one of the best small trees for narrow alleyways or wall plantings. The bark and leaves contrast well with walls, whether leafing out in spring, in full summer foliage, or turning color in fall. They do well in very large or small containers, and look good in wide range of colors or materials. They only ask for not too much heat (especially reflected) and regular watering. Its winter form is interesting, and it combines well with either formal commercial architectural designs or informal, woodsy plantings. It has so many attractive facets they are hard to list. Have you ever noticed how beautiful it is in a spring rain when the droplets are hung like silver pearls from the swollen burgundy buds? Its easy motion in breezes and fine leaf and branch texture add light/shadow interest to walls and paved surfaces. Have you noticed how nice the color is on the newly unfolded leaves and flowers? It is just exquisite in a wet fall, when the rain makes all its bright colors light up. 

It can be grown in full sun if it is supplied with plenty of high quality water, where its form will be compact, rounded, regular, and a little chunky. Nevertheless, its very fine textured foliage gives it a soft, almost mossy look. It is probably at its best in either part sun or mostly shade where its branches tend to be long, willowy, and with little taper. It really enjoys a cool, moist root run. It will take full shade as long as it has bright, reflected light or at least an open view of the sky. Tree ferns make wonderful companion plants. Famously good for bonsai, although you had better thicken the trunk in the ground or a large container because trunk girth enlargement essentially stops once it is planted in a small container. Frost hardy. Korea, China, Japan. Aceraceae.

atropurpureum  RED LEAF JAPANESE MAPLE  young plant  leaves  nice tree at Strybing Arboretum  similar to the regular green form, but these seedlings have reddish purple foliage in spring when new leaves emerge. Color is best in at least part sun, can be retained until mid summer on best seedlings. In shade expect the foliage to be mostly green. Usually these plants offer stronger fall color than green seedlings. rev 1/2013

'Bloodgood'   handsome young tree   dark red foliage. Famous for not greening in summer, which red seedlings tend to do. Reliably deep orange red fall color. rev 1/2013

'Emperor'  foliage detail   the best of the dark red leaf forms? Very dark foliage never greens and turns reliably dark orange red color in fall. Smaller texture than 'Bloodgood.' rev 1/2013

'Sango Kaku'  CORAL BARK JAPANESE MAPLE  bark color   intense glowing coral red bark on new growth makes quite a display in fall and winter. Fall color from typical green leaves is bright yellow and contrasts perfectly with the bark. Mature bark is grey, so this variety responds better than most to being pruned for forcing new branches. rev 1/2013
Achillea evergreen to deciduous perennials, all very frost hardy. Useful for cutting, in mixed boarders or even as small scale groundcovers. All are very good as nectar sources for beneficial predatory and parsitoid insects, like hover flies, tiny wasps, etc. And butterflies love them too. Compositae/Asteraceae. All Sunset zones, USDA zone 3. rev 6/2011

'Anthea'   flowers   a more compact and lighter colored version of 'Moonshine.' Foliage is somewhat greyer, growth is somewhat more compact. rev 1/2013

'Apricot Delight'  flowers   opens coral rose, ages to apricot then eventually cameo pink. Green foliage with just a hint of grey. Long day initiation, flowers April through October. rev 1/2013

'Coronation Gold'  flowers   fast, tall (to 36"), green leaves and deep golden yellow flowers starting in late April. Repeats lower if cut back but still best in back of everything else. Great dried or fresh as a cut flower. Full sun. rev 1/2013

'Desert Eve Red' PP2233    deep red flowers    ferny, fragrant foliage forms a compact plant, with large clusters of brick red flowers in spring and, if deadheaded, continuing into fall. Attracts a plethora of beneficial bugs, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden. Easy to grow, low maintenance, low water user, and makes a great cut flower, fresh or dried. rev 5/2015

'Laura'    red, red, red!    this is a compact A. millefolium selection, to 15" tall and clumping. The flowers are non-fading, intense, clear bright red with a white eye. A wonderful addition to summer bouquets or dried in winter ones. Attracts bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects. Sun, little watering once established. All Sunset zones/USDA 5. rev 5/2013-Suzy Brooks

'Little Moonshine'   fall flowers   same intense golden yellow flowers, clusters are a little smaller, plants are only going to reach 12" tall even under full, long-day, summer-stretch conditions. Definitely the one for the very front, and most container applications. USDA zone 4/Sunset all zones. rev 11/2016  *New for 2017!*

'Moondust' PP25838   flowers   pastel yellow flowers, beginning in spring and continuing into fall. Like a more compact version of 'Anthea,' or A. aegyptiaca v. taygetae, with similar grey-green leaves. Sun, average soils, somewhat drought tolerant when established. USDA zone 3/Sunset all zones. rev 6/2016 

‘Moonshine’  flowers  habit  a semievergreen to deciduous perennial, showing a wonderful combination of fuzzy grey green foliage and bright, intense, clear yellow flowers in flat clusters to 30" high. Primary bloom is early spring through fall but it likely shows cumulative long day initiation and can bloom through mild winters if cut back in fall. Best in full sun with average to little summer watering when established and all are frost hardy. Good for cutting. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 8/2006

'Paprika'   flowers   deep, true red flowers with dusty yellow stamens, held in big, flat panicles to about 2' tall, with grey green, ferny foliage. This is great for borders mixed with traditional perennials and does double duty cut and displayed in a vase. Flower time is spring through fall (if cut back). Mix it with penstemons, the larger salvias, coreopsis, and of course other yarrows like 'Moonshine,' etc. rev 6/2011

'Red Velvet'  YARROW  flowers  silvery green foliage with dark, true red flowers that attract butterflies and beneficial insects. An easy perennial for sun and heat. Suitable for herb gardens and vegetable gardens, and wherever pollinators are wanted. A nice cut flower used fresh or dried. To about 2-3' tall and wide, clumping bigger and better each year. Average to little watering. All Sunset zones/USDA 3. rev 5/2011 

'Terra Cotta' flowers  this is starts pale gold, warms to peachy orange, and finishes warm, tawny coral red. To about 2', grey green foliage. rev 1/2011 

Acoelorrhaphe wrightii  EVERGLADES PALM, SILVER SAW PALM, PAUROTIS PALM   graceful Huntington specimen    another at the Huntington  we are trying this palm out because I have admired a nice specimen in an Eastside Santa Cruz yard, and if it can be grown there it can be grown throughout the Bay Area, most of the Central Valley, and all points south outside of the desert. It forms a compact crown of spiky yet graceful, somewhat elongated light silvery green to grey green fan fronds, each only about 2-3'" in diameter, on long, elegant petioles and on long, thin trunks, reaching 10-15' after many years. As the trunks get taller the silvery leaf undersides become better displayed. Old leaves must be cut off, but the petiole bases remain as thatching. It clusters quickly, and will form a nice, elegant clump with age. This has tolerated cool summers and frost to 20F, though it would most like to grow in Florida. The more sun, heat, water and fertilizer you give it, the faster it will grow. It is useful as an easy to take care of foliage plant that won't outgrow its spot or container. Sun, has some drought tolerance but prefers at least intermittent watering, and will take standing water, needs feeding/trace elements in cool soils. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA zone 9. Native to Florida, the Caribbean and Central America. Palmae/Arecaceae. rev 11/2010 

Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’  habit  the rare all-green form of this dwarf, clumping sedge-like plant, it is usually seen as one of its variegated forms, below. It grows as a small, spreading rosette with narrow green leaves to 6" tall. Slow growing and compact, it can tolerate rather dry soils but always needs at least some regular watering, and will accept very wet conditions to the point of extended inundation. Excellent in containers or as bonsai accompaniments, and this species and its varieties can even be used in aquaria (I know, 'cause  I did it!Just wash the soil off the roots and shove it down in the gravel. Worst that can happen is it dies, but I think you'll find it won't.). Frost hardy. Southeast Asia, Japan. Araceae. rev 12/2013 

'Golden Lion'  with sand balls  this is a simple all-gold sport I selected out of A. gramineus 'Ogon.' Its function in life is to provide a short fountain of narrow, soft, luminous, golden, arching, grass-like blades that grow in neat fans. Easy to blend with other plants, in pots, in the shade garden, and by water features. Or use it in dry steam beds and similar creations to suggest water when none really exists. To about 10-12" tall and slowly spreading. Easy to grow, not demanding at all. Morning sun, or mostly shade, average watering, but will grow in wet soils. Sunset zones 3-10, 14-24/USDA 6. rev 11/2011 MBN INTRODUCTION-2011  
'Masamune'  DWARF FLAG  a clean white and green statement  an upright, but soft evergreen grass with variegated leaves of green and creamy white. A natural for pond edges, beautiful with rocks, and a fine container subject, 6-8" tall and slowly forming a clump. Part to full shade, average to lots of watering. Sunset zones 3-10, 14-24/USDA 6. rev 12/2013-Suzy Brook
‘Ogon’  habit  well known and commonly seen, recognized by a golden yellow stripe along each edge. Slow growing, compact. rev 12/2013 
‘Variegatus’  at Strybing Arboretum  creamy white leaf margins, probably the most commonly seen variety. rev 12/2013

Actinidia  see Kiwi Fruit.

Adenanthos sericeus sericeus  habit    at Santa Cruz City Hall    very subtle flowers  Grevillea relatives, this genus is a group of evergreen shrubs grown mostly for their attractive foliage and habits. Some, like this form, are used commercially and by gardeners for cut foliage. This species has very fine, feathery, silvery, soft textured foliage and an upright habit to 6-8' or more if well sited. The tips of the branches are often tipped pink. We are growing what we believe to be a form originally sourced from Portland, which survived their lightweight freezes (heavy for us) but no their epic Arctic Blasts (unimaginable for us). Grow it in full to half sun with at least average drainage and infrequent to little summer watering when established. It needs little or no fertilizer beyond occasional iron treatments in affected soils. This is one seriously tough and forgiving container plant, and can tolerate soils becoming essentially completely dry. Western Australia. Proteaceae. rev 9/2010

Adenium obesum (seedlings)     Jakarta container specimens    a compact succulent shrub related to Plumeria, this species is what you would create if you put Mandevilla flowers onto a dwarf shrub with a picturesque, fantastically swollen base. These seedlings will eventually produce large, trumpet shaped flowers to about 2-3" across in dark red, pink, stripes, white, with white throats, or picotees, you name it. They will also form the wonderful, coveted swollen bases very quickly compared to TC forms, which have known, uniform flower color in their favor. But most of the satisfaction comes from that incredible trunk, and seedlings are therefore the quickest route to happiness. Bloom time is essentially all the time it is growing, which is as long as the plant is warm, watered, occasionally fertilized, and is mature enough to form flowering wood. It should dry between waterings, and the real Achilles' Heel is that is really, really, really doesn't like the cold, wet soils (below 50F) typical of California winters. The way to grow this successfully outside the subtropics is as a patio plant you later move inside to a bright spot, or as greenhouse/sun window specimen. It needs a frost protected, mostly dry winter rest period, during which it will be leafless. We originally started growing this as a wild, carefree experiment, since I knew nothing about the plant. Seeing it on our availability list Kathy Echols of Danville mentioned that she has it as a container plant at her house and it absolutely blooms its head off, just covered, for about ten months of the year in return for very little care. Full to mostly full, hot sun. Wait until leaves begin to grow in spring before resuming watering (the plant will let you know when). Outside in Sunset zones 23, 24/USDA 10, but as a container plant anywhere. Be advised this plant's sap is highly toxic, especially in concentrated form, enough so that sap dried onto arrow heads is used in hunting by native East African hunters. East Africa, Madagascar. Apocynaceae. rev 11/2011 

'Evelyn Marie'  DESERT ROSE  flower  bears an almost continuous show of tubular, brilliant rose pink flowers over a very long period during the warm season. It eventually forms a compact shrublet to a foot or two tall as a container plant and reward you with an unbelievable display of flowers. Outside in frost free, relatively dry winter, hot summer climates it can even reach 4-5' tall but I've never seen one that big in California except in the desert greenhouse at a botanic garden. They are even used for bonsai, where you are guaranteed a swollen trunk. Supposedly highly rot prone we have lost very few so far in our production blocks. Full, hot sun, careful watering, moderate regular feeding, good drainage, no frost. rev 11/2011 

Adiantum  MAIDENHAIR AND FIVE FINGER FERNS  evergreen to deciduous ferns of relatively small stature. Many will tolerate full sunlight based on water availability; some can take full direct summer sun as long as they are constantly saturated. Native species are usually found on limestone seeps.  Adiantum species can usually be given a complete cutting back in late winter as the new fronds just start to push if they don't go naturally deciduous by themselves. The only plants that won't be renewed by this treatment will be plants that are struggling. Those should not be cut at all. All are excellent in containers. Some can be kept  standing in a shallow dish of water. Polypodiaceae. rev 4/2005   

capillus-veneris  SOUTHERN MAIDENHAIR FERN  a rather short, evergreen fern of very light, airy texture that appreciates at least three quarters shade, a relatively constant source of water, and moderate temperature levels. It is probably the shortest and most compact of the Maidenhair Ferns that are commonly sold. This is also one of the easiest Maidenhairs to grow, forming dense colonies of very dark green leaves by sending out short underground stolons. It has the vigor to fill beds or planters and exclude weeds. It can take a freeze due to its stoloniferous nature, but don't expect it to survive in cold winter areas. Worldwide in distribution, in tropical and temperate regions. The race found growing in the wild in California often occurs on limestone or dolomite seeps. Distinguished from our other native species, A. jordanii, by its pinnae (leaflets), which are cut and irregularly margined in A. capillus-veneris versus rounded with smooth margins in A. jordanii. rev 9/2016

caudatum
 TRAILING MAIDENHAIR  young plants with new growth  a tropical to subtropical species that grows as a small, horizontal or arching plant, low, with dainty, light green, monopodal fronds flushed a light coral pink when young. This makes a great container or house plant, or can be used outdoors in protected situations. I don't yet know about its frost hardiness or whether it will come back from the roots. I first saw this in Europe and I know American gardeners will find applications for it - it is too cute to resist. It likes neutral to alkaline conditions, average Maidenhair conditions (shade, wet, etc.) and is notable for being able to root in at the frond tips. To just about 16" tall by 2' across, but of course running and spreading. Evergreen under mild conditions, deciduous with frost, but resprouting from roots from as cold as 7F. USDA zone 7-8/Sunset zone 8. Old World tropics and subtropics, Southeast Asia. rev 8/2014 

hispidulum  ROSY FIVE-FINGERED FERN  nice container   closeup of fronds  this subtropical equivalent of our native Five-Fingered Fern has smaller, narrower, much more compact fronds which emerge a shiny rose pink. Part sun to shade, serious to average watering, considered relatively frost hardy. Reported to be very adaptable. Asia, Southwest Pacific, Australia. rev 9/2011

‘Rosy Maid’  fronds  tighter, more compact fronds with smaller, slightly ruffly segments. New growth is brighter rose pink. rev 9/2011

'Mairisii'   MAIRIS' HARDY MAIDENHAIR FERN   close    Santa Cruz Pacific Garden Mall    a worthwhile variety, being sterile and thus providing more vigor and forming denser rhizomes than many other hardy maidenhair ferns. It is very frost hardy, but deciduous with any cold. The late, very great Barbara Hoshizaki, our current best standard for fern references, states this is a hybrid of A. capillus-veneris, the Southern Maidenhair, possibly an Eastern US strain, with probably A. aethiopicum, that arose in the 1800s at Mairis & Co. Nursery in England. Clumps slowly grow to 18" tall, displaying that beautiful, lacy, airy foliage. This is a great companion for cyclamen in an autumn container, and is one of the better varieties for shade landscape use in challenging, abused (i.e. commericial) situations. Regular but intermittent waterings, rich, moist, organic but well drained soil(=peat moss! yes! loves it!) . Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24/USDA 7. rev 9/2016 

pedatum (aleuticum?)  FIVE-FINGERED FERN  Marty Wiseman's Paradise Park garden    reverse   fronds  I love this plant! It is my favorite California native. This beautiful fern bears delicate, layered fronds in a finger-like display. Several closely related selections are found in the trade, usually more compact and lush than most of our wild, native populations. Most of what we have been getting actually appears to be the strain, variety, subspecies, ecotype, or as it is most commonly regarded now, separate species which is our own California native, known as  A. aleuticum. These have much longer, narrower "fingers" a taller, more robust habit than the true A. pedatum, but the easiest separation is that the fronds on A. aleuticum develop with a mostly dichotomous branching pattern. The single fingers of A. pedatum derive sequentially in one direction from a curved main stipe (leaf-stem). USDA link here.  This also means ours will almost always have an even number of fingers! Both species are deciduous in winter, and very cold hardy. In addition, one of our plug sources seems to have been sourced their stock plants from a population native to serpentine, or similar soils. Those forms can have extremely long, backward-curving pinnae that have an exquisite Venetian blind, with shingled foliage, each plant slightly different. North America, Northern India, Japan. rev 2/2010

'Imbricatum'  many plants   closeup   this is appears to be all aleuticum, with a more dominant central leaflet and symmetrical, forked frond configuration. Nicely nested fronds make for a denser, lusher appearing plant. rev 2/2010  

raddianum  DELTA MAIDENHAIR FERN  foliage  open, tall, airy fronds bear rounded to very delta-shaped pinnae (leaflets). Another very easy species. Great in containers, and probably the best variety for the garden. This species and its varieties will tolerate infrequent watering if kept from direct sun. Grow in frost-protected outdoor sites in zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA 9 or as a house/greenhouse plant. Central and South America, West Indies. rev 7/2015

'Blondie' GOLDEN BLOND MAIDENHAIR FERN  golden frond   an all-gold sport I found many years ago in a block of 'Cuneatum,' this produces beautiful, warm golden yellow fronds, sometimes breaking to yellow with green streaks. It seems to be an inherently unstable chimera, and in spite of repeated, careful reselection for many years every plant seems determined to eventually sport something back to green stripes or more. It has dribbled out to a handful of botanic garden yearly sales, but never actually sold. Full shade (turns white and/or burns with more than a little direct sunlight) with regular but periodic watering, use peat moss in the soil mix to keep things easy, stick to liquid or organic fertilizers, both no more than half strength. Should be frost hardy like the parent species to USDA zone 9/Sunset 8-9, 14-24. rev 7/2015   MBN INTRODUCTION-2015
'Cuneatum'
  fronds closeup  habit  like the typical "regular" form of A. raddianum, but more compact and spreading. This can make dense, tight colonies, thick enough to exclude weeds even, as the plants fill in with maturity. It seems tough enough to survive better in commercial situations better than perhaps any other Maidenhair species or variety. It also seems to tolerate less-than-perfect soils, watering and water quality quite well. Leaflets tend to curl down a bit, color is usually very dark green. Tolerates moderate amounts of direct sunlight. rev 7/2015
‘Fragrantissimum’  a relatively vigorous, typical form with moderately open fronds. Segments are cut. rev 2/2010
‘Fritz Luth’  foliage  dense, compact variety, more cold hardy. rev 7/2015
'Microphyllum'  nice crop   extremely minute, leaflets make for new fronds that almost look like mist. The leaflets expand to be simply "tiny" when mature. Distinctive and different, one of my favorites. rev 7/2015
'Monocolor'    broad leaflets   a very compact grower, with bright lime green new growth. Leaflets are nested and stacked neatly, shingled against those below. A fine variety for small containers. Probably not more than 12-16" high, at least any time soon. rev 5/2017  *New for 2017!* 
‘Ocean Spray’  foliage  overlapping micromini leaflets, tinier even than 'Microphyllum,' are usually a lighter golden green in color than other forms. Habit is very upright, ultra compact. rev 7/2015
‘Pacific Maid’
  foliage  fronds are compact, with very large, lacy pinnae. Another more cold hardy form. rev 7/2015

tracyi     our first crop     a foliage comparison   anevergreen, naturally-occurring, California native hybrid fern. This sterile Maidenhair-Five Finger hybrid, forming a dense mounds of fronds, bears broad leaflets on horizontal to slightly arching stems. The frond outline-shape is narrowly triangular but with a very broad base.  While rare in nature, this cross can spontaneously occur anywhere its two parents grow together, and the images show how they can be separated. Since both Maidenhair Fern (A. jordanii) and Five Finger Fern (A. aleuticum, or A. pedatum ssp. aleuticum) mostly overlap in range, many cool, moist, ferny glades have potential specimens. Keep your eye out anywhere in California except in the deserts and up on the Modoc Plateau. To about 12" tall, a little wider, but expect variation. Needs at least regular but intermittent watering else it will defoliate and eventually die. It will tolerate having its toes constantly in water, if it's fresh and clean, but not sour and stagnant. Grows best in full to almost full shade, use more mineral potting soils if kept wet, use more organic material (peat moss is best!) if growing under regular ferny conditions. USDA zone 7 (lower?)/Sunset zones 4-24. rev 9/2016 *New for 2017!* 

venustum  HIMALAYAN MAIDENHAIR  frond   grow this because you want a dense, mounding carpet of lush, beautiful, frost-hardy Maidenhair foliage but also want easy culture. Unlike the A. raddianum cultivars, which vary in their outdoor dependability, this is known to take cold to well below 0F, though it will be deciduous past the twenties. Forms the typical, stunningly beautiful fountain of airy leaflets, but is distinguished by the longer, more regularly triangular shaped fronds that are closely arranged. Typical Maidenhair conditions, easy to establish, plus becomes even more durable and vigorous after a year or two. Himalayas. Sunset zones 2-9, 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 6. rev 7/2015 

Adromischus cristatus  CRINKLE LEAF PLANT   close   this is essentially a small, light green, plump-leaved Crassula, with vertically held, crinkly-edged leaves, and humble flowers and flower spikes that greatly resemble those of Haworthia (though they're very unrelated). You've seen this easy selection in most flats of assorted succulents, but most of the other species are unknown outside collector circles. They can be cryptically colored and/or have unusual shapes, and often greatly resemble many other close or very distant succulent genera such as Euphorbia, the aforementioned Haworthia, Lithops, Kalanchoe, Gasteria, and Senecio. All those more fantastic forms are more difficult, some very much so. This form is all green as opposed to some of those, and is very forgiving. It seems to need at least part shade to do best, and will tolerate very low-sunlight conditions. This makes it a better than average houseplant, of course. Slow, to just a few inches high and across, typical open soil mix with good drainage, water when dry, hold off in winter if possible but this species is most forgiving and can even survive in the ground in Southern California. To 25-30F but only if kept very dry. Crassulacea. South Africa. Sunset zones 1-24/USDA 6. rev 4/2013 

Aeonium
usually pronounced "eee - oh - neee- um."  Mostly rosette-forming succulents mostly native to the Canary Islands and the west coast of North Africa. Grown for exquisite form and often very showy flowers, usually yellow. Tender to frost. Crassulaceae. rev 1/2010  

arboreum TREE AEONIUM   this is probably the most commonly encountered species, growing as an open, short shrub to 3' that bears large, neat, round rosettes of foliage on thick branches. Spring flowering is spectacular, when tall stalks of small, bright yellow, starry flowers form massive heads above the mature branches. ts only limitations are on extended cold, wet rains (rots) or temperatures below 25-30F (turns into thick, black liquid). Morocco. rev 1/2010

'Atropurpureum'  close   awesome flower spike, Cabrillo   rosette   this named form is actually a composite variety, with several to many similar strains lumped under this designation. Many are actually hybrids. Not green, but not as dark as 'Zwartkop.' rev 1/2010

'Cyclops' 
 green eye   flowers, Cabrillo College   sister of 'Voodoo,' spawn of 'Zwartkop' and A. undulatum, fertilization event by Jack Catlin. Its status relative to atropurpureum appears to be deeply confused in the trade but our 'Cyclops' seems to have a cleaner green eye and more defined black outer border. Compared to the well known 'Zwartkop' it is much more robust, taller, and more branched. It bears a spectacular flower spike of yellow blossoms. My wife has a plant over 4' tall in my back yard. rev 4/2010

'Jolly Green'   nice seaside planting   creamy white flowers   a densely clustering form with heads of leaves that remain cupped, growing tightly enough to exclude weeds and forming mats to 4-5' across . Under cold conditions the outer leaves become tinted ochre and orange red. Pale yellow to creamy white flowers have a contrasting green eye, and are produced in winter. Protect from hard freezes. Zones 16-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. rev 4/2011

 'Sunburst'   wild coloration   juvenile and mature foliage   young plant   to 2', large scale, a variegated form that can be confusing because it can show juvenile or mature foliage on the same plant. Quite striking, and especially dramatic in a blue pot. I haven't seen it flower but it should be yellow like most other proper Aeoniums. rev 8/2010

'Velour'
   green-eyed maroon beauty   lush dark rosettes with green centers, growing and branching to 2-3' tall. A centerpiece for container mixed plantings, or try blending in with low water use perennials. This is a cool weather grower that doesn't need much summer watering. USDA 9. rev 4/2016-Suzy Brooks

'Zwartkop'
 young plant   Molly's container   Southern California landscape Dutch, "black head." One of the most striking of succulents, growing as a tall, often branched cluster of thick stems to about 3' tall,  topped by large rosettes of burgundy to black foliage. Mature plants show smaller, darker foliage. Spectacular yellow flower clusters make a wild statement against the very dark background leaves. This foliage plant presents well by itself in a landscape or container (especially a colored container), or can be very effectively used against backgrounds ranging from adobe walls to blue leaved succulents. rev 4/2010

'Ballerina'  soft leaves  waxy, slightly sticky, and smelling piney, like a cabin in the woods, this little rosette has long green and white leaves and forms a nice rounded mound. Cool season grower, it starts to smile with fall weather. Branching, to about a foot tall and twice as wide, give it some sun or bright shade, not too much water in the summer, and protect from cold outside Sunset zones 15-17, 20-24/USDA 9.  rev 10/2012-Suzy Brooks

canariense var. virgineum  rosette   this one makes a mound of rosettes, with soft, velvety, pale green to very green leaves. rosettes. Flowers are typical light citron yellow in somewhat loose conical clusters. Sun to part shade, very good drainage, not frost hardy.  All zones containers, outside zones 9, 17, 21-24.USDA zone 10. rev 3/2013

canariense hybrid    greenhouse-grown 6" production specimen    an attractive blend of soft green and soft bronze, typical big, floppy leaves, semi-shrub/tree habit. Greener than 'Cyclops,' bronzer and less cup-shaped than the species. Flowers should be yellow-green, in winter, but I don't have an image - yet! Yes frost tender, yes it can rot and fall over in cold, wet soils. It persists! Sun to half sun, good to average drainage, easy. rev 10/2015

'Cornish Tribute'    closeup    after an English beer. A very compact mound of small individual rosettes, each bearing narrow, light green inner  leaves, and all leaves ornamented with wonderful, finely hairy leaf margins.The outer leaves and tips of inner leaves turn a bright coppery red, approaching but not quite reaching dark ruby, aging to burgundy. At times of strong drought or cold the dense, dome-shaped clumps can be mostly red with green highlights for the centers of the individual rosettes. Mostly summer dormant, meaning it doesn't grow and can shed leaves, recovering with fall rains. We haven't seen it flower yet. Sun to part shade (especially inland), good drainage, infrequent watering, assume it will melt away with hard freezes. USDA zone 9a/Sunset 9, 16-17, 21-24. rev 11/2015

decorum  mature clump  this is a very compact, tight, attractive species with dense rosettes of light jade green leaves, often with a pinkish edge in cool weather. It grows to about 12-18" tall by 2' across and does really well above retaining walls, on mounds, or other raised areas. It makes a very sastisfying container plant. It is a shy bloomer but produces a short, open , terminal spike of light buff pink flowers in late winter to early spring. This has almost no freeze tolerance but it will come back from the base if frozen down. rev 4/2010

domesticum 'Variegatum'    jade green and cream   a very pretty, petite, branching succulent, forming rosettes of jade to olive green, streaked and brushed with white variegation. A synonym for it is Aichryson. Suitable windowsill plant, staying under 6" tall, or for well-drained garden spots and containers. Yellow starry flowers in summer. Offer some shade in summer in hot areas. Protect from cold and frost outside Sunset zones 22-24/USDA 10. rev 1/2012-Suzy Brooks

haworthii 'Pinwheel'  grey green foliage  nice clump   a tight, mounding to low, somewhat open shrubby form, with grey green leaves edged in burgundy. Clusters and branches freely. rev 8/2010

'Kiwi'   some idea of growth habit   close   smaller scale, rosettes to about 4" across or less, tricolored. New growth is blushed whitish at the outer edges, tinting rose salmon in cool weather. Leaves mature to green. Forms short branched shrublets. At its best in containers or among rocks as a complement or contrast to other leaf colors and growth habits. Charming. rev 1/2010

leucoblepharum  foliage color   big clump at Cabrillo  formerly "de Cabrillo, know this as a heavily clustering, thin leaved, mat or dome forming type, with dusty green leaves that are tinted deep copper to burgundy the outside whorls. There is an attractive maroon stripe in the center of the older leaves. It is very similar to 'Jolly Green,' but is slightly coarser and of a different color. It bears  bloom yet but it probably bears light greenish flowers similar to those of 'Jolly Green.' rev 2/2012

simsii     tight, clustering habit    bright green, toothed leaves make tidy rosettes, branching and spreading, under a foot tall, and making a nice groundcover under other succulents or perennials. In spring, flat flower clusters shoot out from the sides, not the middle, and are pale yellow with red stems. Since the rosettes don't die after flowering, it's very neat appearing all year. A cool season grower, having a summer dormancy period and so it will tighten up if not watered. Easy to maintain in sun or part shade, little watering, and good drainage. Great in pots too. Sunset zones 15-17, 20-24/USDA 9. rev 2/2012-Suzy Brooks

spathulatum cruentum    nice plant   native to the pine forests of the Canary Islands, this branching succulent is grown for its many rosettes and the bright yellow flowers on red stems that come in the spring. It is a cool season grower beginning in the fall, but will take summer water if the soil is well drained. Useful combined with other succulents and in containers. Picks up reddish tones in the full sun and will take shade too. Can grow to 20" or more. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 10. rev 2/2012-Suzy Brooks

Agapanthus  LILY OF THE NILE  clumping evergreen or deciduous bulbs with rounded to campanulate flower clusters atop tall stems. All evergreen Agapanthus varieties are at least deciduous with hard frost and can be badly damaged if it gets cold enough. If you expect to be USDA zone 8b/Sunset zone 7 or colder, use the deciduous varieties, which can go a couple of zones lower. Don't forget that all Agapanthus are dearly loved by hummingbirds. The darker blue clones are especially valuable in hotter Central Valley and Southern California climates, where hotter, 100°F-plus temperatures badly bleach the lighter blue seedling flowers by late summer. The genus is native to South Africa. Amaryllidaceae. rev 9/03

'Blue Medusa' PP 20,839  nursery plants  a sport or mutant discovered within our block of regular 'Storm Cloud,' this grows with rather prostrate leaves, intriguing, snaky, curving flower stems, buds that look like snake heads, and foliage that appears greyer than the original type. Total overall height has been below 2' on plants in the nursery. The overall effect is quite serpentine, between the twisted, low foliage and the cobra-like buds. The flowers are the same beautiful dark blue as 'Storm Cloud.' rev 1/2012  MBN INTRODUCTION-2008
‘Frederick Street Park’ TM   blooming nursery plants  the best improved Peter Pan type we have found yet, with very compact growth, shorter, more robust stalks, and darker blue, more heavily textured flowers than seen on other plants sold as ‘Peter Pan.’ Foliage is dark green, stalks are reliably compact. Facultative long day, so it can bloom in winter or very early spring as well as during the usual summer period. Evergreen. rev 5/2005 MBN INTRODUCTION-2000
'Hush'   deep purple   deeper purple    first crop   deep, almost black purple. Flowers are produced on very short stalks on top of compact foliage. The whole package finishes under 16" tall. Bloom time is late summer. Facultatively deciduous, normally evergreen. A seedling of a 'Storm Cloud' seedling. Sunset zones 7-9, 14-24/USDA 9. rev 9/2010 MBN INTRODUCTION-2010
'Little White Bird' TM  flowering plants   this is a variegated seedling of 'Storm Cloud' we received from Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation when they closed their growing grounds and distributed their plant materials. They have subsequently elected to release this form without royalty or variety protection. It is an intermediate height form, to maybe 2' tall, with flower stalks to 3'. Flower heads are reasonably large and the blossoms themselves are white, appearing in summer. This is almost a white 'Tinkerbell.' As for the name, 'The Little White Bird' was the name of a book written in 1902 by J.M. Barrie which included several chapters that were later expanded and derived to form the children's book Peter Pan. We are using this name on the suggestion of our sales rep Shelby E. Hall. There you go, Shelby! Zones 6-9, 12-24.  rev 11/2009 MBN INTRODUCTION-2010
‘Midnight Blue’  closeup  shady garden  deciduous, hardy, with dark blue flowers of exceptional form, flaring fully open in full, round clusters. Flower petioles and bases are tinted burgundy. Attractive, narrow foliage. This one has bloomed in early spring as well as in midsummer, even though it goes deciduous. rev 8/2002
‘New Blue’  flowers  the notable feature of this variety is its very large flower size, to over 3" across. In addition, each flower displays a central blue stripe against lighter blue edges, sometimes with a defining dark marginal stripe on each side as well. Many other varieties also have this feature, which can be seen if you look closely, but in 'New Blue' it is obvious and distinctive because of the unusual flower size.The only drawback is that the flower clusters don't have that high a bud count. Evergreen to semideciduous, based on how much cold it gets, and frost hardy, with rich, medium blue flowers of intermediate height. Often blooms in mid to late summer, though I have seen waves of bloom in early spring as well, and it can continue to bloom until fall. Foliage is notably thin and grassy, habit is quite compact. rev 8/2006
‘Peter Pan’  flowers  planting  massed bloom  similar to Dwarf White, but shorter, to 18-24", with deep blue flowers. Evergreen. Cumulative long day, can bloom in winter in addition to summer. rev 8/2002
'Prunetucky Summer'   June flowers   a transitional release from our intensive breeding program, looking for the perfect dwarf, dark blue, long-flowering, evergreen Agapanthus. This is an intermediate-size grower, to 30" or so in the ground, and will begin flowering sometime between April and June, depending on the spring, then repeating. Sun to mostly shade (yes! it's true!), average soil/drainage, little summer watering required when established, but some irrigation will go a long way, and gophers usually don't seem to bother them. rev 6/2016
'Purple Storm' TM  mass   individual   a seedling selection of Storm Cloud, this is rich, medium lavender purple in color. It is lower growing (to about 30"), early flowering (facultative long day), more evergreen than its parent, and definitely pure purple as opposed to dark blue purple in color. Probably zones 5-9, 12-24, USDA 7. rev 7/2010 MBN INTRODUCTION-2010
'Sapphire Storm' TM  flowering in April  our own seedling selection of 'Storm Cloud,' one of only three or four out of many thousands we have trialed, this plant is shorter than its parent, very dark blue instead of blue purple, more evergreen, and faster blooming (facultative long day). It can bloom any time 'Peter Pan' does, meaning often lightly in Dec-Jan, or any point in between then and mid-spring. It really puts on a show! rev 6/2010 MBN INTRODUCTION-2010
'Snowball'   flowers  a very compact yet vigorous form, under 20" tall, maybe lower, that bears almost pure white flowers that don't set seed.. This is the cleanest white I have found so far (no yellow in the bud, or in the base of the flower), with good petal and flower conformation, a very compact habit, and a great flower production. rev 1/2012
‘Storm Cloud’  closeup  a seedling of ‘Mood Indigo.’ Bears very wide, round tipped strap-like leaves with a glossy sheen, to 2’ long. Stalks of dark purple blue flowers appear in summer, reach 4’ tall. A vigorous grower and bloomer, and makes and excellent cut flower. Only about as winter hardy as other evergreen Agapanthus, so damaged below 20°F. Introduced by Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation. Probably our most popular variety. rev 8/2002  
‘Tinker Bell’  closeup  young planting  variegated evergreen leaves, medium blue flowers. A slower grower. Mostly summer bloom, and then not very heavily. rev 7/2004

Agastache  HYSSOP, HUMMINGBIRD BUSH  closely relatived to Salvia. Flowers can be relatively large, long and tubular or shorter and in smaller, more condense clusters. Some are very tough and drought tolerant, others like more traditional irrigated conditions. All have minty foliage, most have fragrant flowers, all attract hummingbirds, butterflies, pollinators and a wide variety of important benefifials. Some have medicinal or culinary uses. Initiation can be long day or facultative long day. Labiatae/Lamiaceae. from the Northern Hemisphere. rev 7/2016

'Red Fortune' PP11816   flowers   larger flowers and overall size than the others, this patented Hummingbird Bush gives you, the bees, and the butterflies a 36" mound of fresh minty foliage and fluffy, soft red flowers till cold weather sets in. Sun or part shade. Average water. Sunset zones 4-24/USDA 7. rev 10/2010

rugosa 'Golden Jubilee'    KOREAN MINT, HUMMINGBIRD MINT, GIANT HYSSOP  glowing leaves, intense flowers   a really nice, useful, golden-leaved form of a showy, underused perennial. Bears its small, fragrant, rosy violet flowers in short,dense, brushy terminal clusters, from late spring to mid fall. Besides being showy those flowers are prolific nectar factories. You'll see a continuous stream of interesting pollinators and butterflies, and even more importantly a wide variety of greatly benificial insects such as tiny parasitoid wasps, midges and hover flies. Startimg late afternoon and through the night you'll see moths, including the amazing, hummingird-like Hawk or Sphinx Moths. Since all watching made you hungry, cut some leaves for your Korean Pancakes! Grow this more compact form  (2-3' tall, vs. 4-5') in full sun to part shade, most soils, average to stretched-out watering, in most soils. Deciduous (cold) to semideciduous (California), cut back in winter. Appears to be obligate long day initiation. USDA zone 5. Eastern and Southeastern Asia. rev 7/2016

Agave  familiar, tough, leathery to hard, usually spiny, cactus-like plants that are actually more closely related to Yuccas. They mostly like dry conditions at some point during the year but many of the more tropical species can take considerable moisture as long as temperatures are not too low. All make good container plants but some will need very large containers indeed at full maturity. Give them all very good drainage and grow them with the understanding that some will be intolerant of extended, cold, wet winters. The familiar dramatic blue Century Plant belongs here. Agavaceae. rev 3/2010

Recipes  I like how in plant catalogs they give recipes for the various plants they sell, like for tomato sauce from heirloom tomatoes, or for home garden beans and basil sauteed in virgin olive oil. You know what I mean. So to make sure you don't miss out with our catalog, here's a couple of Agave recipes I got from our workers:

Chivo (young goat) in Agave leaves   Cut off the leaves of one large Agave, such as A. americana, A. tatula, A. ferox, etc., and lay some of the leaves down together. Put a goat on top of the leaves lengthwise, then layer more leaves on top until it is totally encased in them. Note: the goat must be killed first. Don't try this with a live goat! Anyway, once you have the goat covered in leaves, make a small cut partway through the upper surface of a leaf right below the terminal spine and pull the attached strong fibers down until you have stripped them to the base. Cut them there, and use this "needle and thread" to sew/wrap the leaves together into tight bundle. When the package is nice and tight, dig a big pit. Big. Big!  Big enough for the goat in its leaves, and then some. Then get a big, big fire going and burn it down to a mountain of coals. Shovel some coals into the bottom of the pit, then place the goat in its blanket of leaves on top, and finish by shovelling more coals on top until you have big mountain of coals with a goat somewhere in the middle. Cook him, and keep cooking him. Cook him until the leaves turn black. Cook him a long time because the longer and slower you cook him the more tender he'll be. Cook him until he's all the way done. Enjoy!

Agua Mil (Sweet Water)  When a large Agave begins to flower, wait until the spike is a little above the leaves then cut the leaves off on one side, very close to the center, so you can get close to that emerging spike. Cut it off at the tops of the leaves. Dish out the center of that cut surface with a large, bowl-like scoop (raspa) until it is concave (bowl shaped). Save that top that was cut off to use as a cover and keep out the birds, rodents, and insects. Every day or two the sap will exude from that spike and form a pool of tasty liquid which can be drunk, tasting sweet and somewhat like fruit juice. In fact, with the top cut off, the plant will continue sending the sap until the base is exhausted and dies. If you wish, you can combine that sap with that of  many other magueys in a barrel, and let it ferment into a sweet-tart, fizzy alcoholic beverage that can be improved with onions, spicy chiles, orange juice, you name it, and served up as pulque, a form of Mexican/Indian sangria. Quality pulque is darned good. Cleanse the pallete with bread or bland tortillas between tastings.
americana 'Mediopicta Alba'   nothing like it!   one of my very favorite Agaves, just because of its clean color and smaller, more easily sitable habit. Nothing quite draws your eye like one of these beauties! Best against a simple background (fence, stucco wall, rocks) where it stands out cleanly and doesn't get lost. As a solitary container plant it induces peaceful contemplation. Pups usually don't appear until older. Sunset zones 7-9, 13-24/USDA zone 8. rev 1/2013

attenuata   why you grow it   nice stand at the Huntington   a soft-leaved, succulent, unarmed Agave.  This is loved for its wonderfully soft, rubbery leaves, complete lack of spines, powdery glaucous coating, and soft jade green color. It says "tropical desert" when used in a landscape, and I would say it is one of the best foliage plants ever invented. It is hard to find a spot where it doesn't look good. It really shines in part shade, where the leaves can extend to their full size and there is less risk of sunbleaching under the hottest conditions. This species also sends up a tremendous flower spike, to about 10-15' high, of creamy white flowers in spring, when mature enough, that is quite spectacular in its own right but too infrequently seen to beplanted for that feature alone. Hard freezes will damage the foliage but it usually renews itself reasonably quickly. Extended hard frosts below 25°F will often kill it completely though. Temperatures between that and freezing can disfigure it horribly to various degrees, sometimes permanently, so give it good protection in Northern California. You don't want to use this where it will be damaged every year. It is too ugly when recovering, and it is too painful to watch the plant suffer through the process. Have mercy. If you do want to use it in a colder climate just put it in a pot, where its succulent nature is highly forgiving of both root confinement as well as inadequate watering and you can move it around to use it to its best effect. To about 30" across and  tall when mature. Mexico. rev 3/2009

'Madame Walska'   hypnotizing  hese pale green leaves have a creamy white edge. Otherwise, regular A. attenuata features; soft, spineless leaves, bold, tropical foliage, and forms a clump 3-5' or more wide. Appreciates watering in the summer and shade from really hot sun. Sunset zones 13, 20-24/USDA 10.  rev 4/2014-Suzy Brooks

‘Nova’  color   Huntington planting   blooming at the Huntington  this form is noticeably bluer than the regular form of A. attenuata, and has a more noticeable whitish powdery coating on the leaf surface. The broad, smooth leaves are somewhat more buttressed on the underside, and they arch downward slightly, as opposed to the flat to upwardly cupped leaves of the regular form. This superior form is from Huntington Botanic Gardens, and large numbers of good specimens can be seen there. Even there it goes by several names, including ‘Huntington Blue,’ ‘Boutin’s Blue,' and "that blue thing." It needs at least average drainage, protection from frost, and at least half a day of sun. It is just great in containers, and is one of the better foliage plants in cultivation. The color looks good against contrasting foliage colors but also with Cistus purpureus, where it complements the pink flowers. rev 3/2009

'Ray of Light'    juvenile foliage    one of the new ultra-special TC varieties, grown for its bright white margins (of course no spines). Wonderful contrast and simple enough to put in a decorated pot. Grows in a clump up to 5' tall and wider but foliage color is much more striking and attractive when smaller and in juvenile phase, when leaves are less grey and contrast is higher. Keep it cut back if it starts to get too large, it will re-grow with young foliage again. Can take full sun near the coast but is always best with at least some shade to keep green background darker. rev 5/2013

'Raea's Gold'     top   side   soft, wide, spineless leaves are soft gold in full sun, more chartreuse with shade. Slowly grows and clumps to 3' tall and wide. Great for contrast in the landscape or grow in a movable container except for USDA 9a/Sunset 21-24rev 3/2015-Suzy Brooks 
'Blue Emperor'   blue leaves with a sharp black point grow into a symmetrical dome, 2' tall, 3' wide. Takes some cold (but we don't know how much!) and plenty of heat. Little watering once established. Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24/USDA 8. rev 12/2013-Suzy Brooks

'Blue Flame'   Quail Botanic Gardens, full sun    Huntington Botanic Gardens, some shade    Rogers Gardens, blooming    this is a Dave Verity hybrid of A. attenuata and A. shawiiintroduced by the Huntington Botanic Garden. It is a medium size grower, blue green in color, has flexible leaves, essentially lacks spines (has a single terminal spine which can be tipped, and minimal marginal dentition),  is adaptable to a range of soils, and takes frost to the low twenties. It absolutely nails the highly desirable target for a relatively small, spineless agave that can take some frost. The leaves are somewhat spatulate and have wonderful elongated tips, giving them a somewhat flame-like appearance. Of course this is invaluable in a container, especially if the container is near traffic. A 5-6' spike of dark burgundy maroon flowers appears in fall and winter when the plant is old enough. rev 1/2012

'Blue Glow'
  young plant   at Quail Botanic Gardens   this is a compact, rather hard form, to 2-3' tall and wide, with deep blue green leaves with a glaucous cast and a very symmetrical, even habit. Its leaves have a single terminal spine only. It is the result of crossing A. attenuata with A. ocahui (usually pronounced oh-ka-hooey). Its leaves are wider than A. ocahui but smaller than A. attenuata. Richard Ward from the Dry Garden decribes it as "gorgeous, immaculate, without a single bad leaf after ten years. [He's right!] It has perfect symmetry, people really notice it in the garden." You can see that in our picture from Quail. Somewhat limited supply. rev 1/2012

bovicornuta  COW HORN AGAVE    at the Huntington   I don't get the common name. Supposedly the central bud column looks like a cow's horn, but then they all do. Crazy, bright reddish brown margin teeth, dancing to the left and the right, add to the incredible leaf imprints left on the backs of the green  leaves of this midsized (really!) Agave. A solitary plant, but it does  occasionally produce a layer of pups underneath, and grows about 2 1/2-3' tall, 4-5' wide. Flowers are yellow green, on branched stalks to about 12'. The green leaves are widest in the middle and can be kept from turning yellowy green with summer water and some light shade. Very decorative in the garden, blending well with perennials, nice in groups, and suitable for containers. Takes sun or some shade, and grows best in well drained soil. Found in the pine and oak woodlands of Mexico, but strains vary in hardiness based on provenance. Protect from hard freezes (below 25F) outside Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 1/2012 (not currently in production)

bracteosa   dramatic      San Diego grown      mixed garden    a beautiful, moderately high altitude species that is highly useful, being spineless, rather small, frost hardy, spineless, and best of all, completely spineless. Most unarmed forms are very tender (A. attenuata, for example) but this is one of the only frost hardy forms (approx. 10-15F) safe enough for the kids or grandpa to fall over into. Leaf color ranges from blue grey to grey green, sometimes almost golden green, and flower stalks are of the narrow, densly flowering type (as opposed to being an open, reaching, branching form like that of the Century Plant). Often the new growth in the center forms stalked, plume-like structures that remind me very much of thehouseplant bromeliad Guzmania. Sun to mostly shade (much drier!), at least average drainage, excellent fodder if you have a gopher farm, and infrequent but some summer watering. To about 2' wide, 18" tall. Sunset zones probably 9, 3-13-24/USDA zone 9. This will take the frost of USDA zone 8 but probably not in wet areas like the PNW. rev 8/2013 (not currently in production)

"bracteosa" 'Mateo'    clean lines     reported to be a hybrid of A. bracteosa and A. lophantha, it is absolutely different from any straight A. bracteosa I've ever grown from seed. Having A. lophantha as one parent would certainly explain the pale yellow stripe down the center of the leaf. This variety is only economically viable at wholesale quantities when done from tissue culture, which can extend juvenility. So those graceful, spineless leaves are brittle when young, and hard to handle without  breaking. Get it home and in the ground, or site its container out of the way of traffic. Mature leaves, which usually start to appear within a year or two, are more leathery, typically Agave tough and forgiving. To about 18" tall, 2-3' wide, sun or part shade, well drained soil, little watering. USDA 8/Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24. rev 8/2014

celsii (mitis)   greyer form, Huntington Botanic Gardens   green form, UCSC (foreground)    flower detail    greener form, Strybing    again, blooming   this is a low, quite compact, unarmed species with bright green to grey green foliage. There is lots of confusion regarding the name, so much that the whole subject makes me tired, and I'm just not going to deal with it. This is one of the really good alternatives when you want the Century Plant look without the Century Plant problems, including massive size and dangrous spines. It is a valuable asset to have in your quiver if you are designing gardens that will have children, because you don't have to worry about them falling into it. The long, blackish tip of the leaf almostbecomes hard, and the leaves are often edged with a dark maroon line. Some individuals can develop fine teeth, some are extremely smooth, but  overall this species is toothless. It only grows to 24" tall and spreads slowly by clumping. The leaves are pliant and tend to be quite green when juvenile, but most will be at least somewhat greyish with age, and some become quite blue grey. Other strains remain bright green throughout their life. The large burgundy flower buds open to flowers ranging from deep chocolate burgundy to light greenish white, depending on age. All have showy yellow stamens. The flower show is actually quite good, for an Agave. The single, ubranched, narrowly columnar flower stalk is produced in early summer and reaches a height of 6-8'.  This species grows at a higher elevation and under moister conditions than the desert species and likes part shade in hot areas as well as light to regular summer watering. It is shade tolerant if kept a little drier. It will reportedly tolerate frost to well below 20F and can be grown in Sunset Zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA zone 9. Mexico. rev 1/2012  (not currently in production)

celsii (mitis) 'Nova'   small plant    a very pretty, easy-to-grow, and fast growing Agave with wide, silvery blue leaves. This isn't the pure, gentle A. mitis, which is functionally spineless, but a hybrid with cute but meaningful red teeth along the leaf edges and a similarly meaningful tip spine. This came from seed collected in the wild, with one parent being Agave mitis. Unfortunately both the true A. mitis as well as the completely soft, unarmed A. attenuata 'Nova' are going to be confused with this form under this name, so we might give it another name for separation. It flowers in 4-6 years with water, room, and fertilizer, producing a six foot spike of pale yellow flowers. Slow it down by containerizing it and/or being stingy with the feeding and watering. Faint banding is visible across the mature leaf, grows to about 2-3' tall and wide. Likes full to half sun, good drainage. Sunset zones 16-22/USDA 9. rev 10/2012 (not currently in production)

colorata   why you grow it   rosette   another   nice planting  the most awsomely righteous foliage plant ever invented. Stark, blinding, blue white in its best forms, beautiful white bands against grey green in other forms. Modestly sized, extremely tough, and highly ornamented with spines. It grows as a mostly solitary rosette to about 2' x 2', with enough pups to pass around but not enough to be obnoxious. The very broad leaves have intricate and ornate spination and are covered with a white powder. After enough years (ten?) it will produce a branched flower stalk to about 8-10' in late spring, bearing greenish white flowers, then bronzy seed heads. The main plant will die and be replaced by several root sprouts. Give this as much sun and heat as possible, stony, mineral soils (or grow in a containers), and not much water except in the hottest of climates. It should take frost below 20F without any problem but long, cold, wet periods may cause problems. I have grown this successfully in Santa Cruz where it sits in cold, wet, shaded soils for several months each winter and suffers through half to three fourths the day in cold, wet fog during summer. Being from Baja it shows tolerance for both cool, foggy summers and furnace-like heat. So far, so good. There are dramatic plantings at the Huntington Botanic Gardens, where my images were taken. Very limited supply this year. Mexico. rev 1/2012 (not currently in production)

'Cream Spike'    young rosette   just like a teapot, short and stout, but a teapot with dark, sharp, terminal spines. Grey-blue leaves with wide margins of creamy yellow make a rosette under 6" tall and a foot wide. Wonderful container subject for light shade or sun on the coast. Parent species is still being discussed by those who care. Protect from cold outside of USDA 9. rev 3/2015-Suzy Brooks 

cupreata
  young plant   a compact green species with wide, spatulate leaf blades and highly ornamental cinnamon brown marginal teeth. I have had this plant for a few years in a container at my home in Santa Cruz and I like it a lot. It stays small and always looks neat. The colors of leaf and spine go together well. Not spectacular, but very nice, attractively ornamental due to its broad leaves and nice spines, and easy to live with due to its small size and ease of siting. At least a little shade to mostly shade, needs very little to no watering in cool areas. Has survived 25F with no damage. rev 10/2012  (not currently in production)

filifera
ssp. schidigera   our white TC form   our TC plants were supposed to be 'Shira  Ito No Ohi,' a clearly variegated form, and ours clearly weren't variegated. This subspecies grows as a sharply symmetrical, small rosette of dark green leaves with creamy white chevrons on the leaf surfaces and adorned with those beautiful, white, curling filaments peeling from the edges that make this species so desirable in all its forms. To 12" tall and a bit wider, mostly solitary. Sun or part shade, some but not much watering when established. This is a better than average choice for containers just because of the conversation value of those fibers. It only has to be brought in from the cold temperatures outside of Sunset zones 7-9, 14-24/USDA 8. rev 1/2013  (not currently in production)

geminiflora    at the Huntington   this very popular species features long, very narrow, hard, wiry leaves that are dark green and resemble those of a Xanthorrhea, or Dasylirion longissimum. To about 18-24" tall, mature-phase leaves develop attractive white leaf margins and wispy, white  filaments which slowly shed from the leaf edges, curling back and remaining attached as they slowly erode. The plant forms a very even, symmetrical dome of those narrow leaves, free of spines except for a small one at each leaf terminal. Juvenile-phase foliage, which is what you will see in almost all plants smaller than an old 5g, is relatively shorter, rounded vs. triangular in cross section, somwhat glossy and relatively brittle, leading to some broken leaves in handling. Expect mature-phase leaves to develop within a 2-3 years from seed. USDA zone 9/Sunset 8-9, 14-24. rev 1/2012 

'Grey Puppy'  young plant   small, grey, clustering together, and with sharp teeth. This is a heavily pupping species of unknown identity that is found in the trade in California, close to A. parrasana. Its greatest attributes are its small size coupled with its clustering/pupping habit. This forms colonies to about 12-18" tall, spreading to a couple of feet across, of mostly triangular, very grey leaves tipped and edged with the usual sharp things, often edged in blackish tones. It makes a great small container or can be used crawling along cracks and seams in rocks or walls. I have only seen a picture of its relatively demure, branched flower stalk. Sun, very dry, the usual conditions. Good in pots because it doesn't get that big. Probably hardy to Sunset zones 6-24/USDA zone 8b at least. rev 11/2012 (not currently in production)

guadalajarana  MAGUEY CHATO  young nursery plant  this is a small scale Agave in the A. parryi group, with very blue to white leaves that are narrow at the base, widen considerably, then narrow abruptly to the tip. They are intricately margined with shiny spines, ranging in color from black to burnished red, usually with a yellow base, which leave beautiful patterns in white impressed on the backs of the leaves. The spine tubercles themselves are sometimes intricately branched, and complex. This is a first rate species all the way around. The hotter, sunnier, and drier the conditions the bluer the foliage will be. However the plants I have taken home to cool, foggy Santa Cruz have maintained their color just fine, even in part shade. Another very nice and quite distinctive characteristic of this species is that it is very rough on both sides of the leaf, feeling like coarse sandpaper. The result of this is that not only will the blue-white color be safe from handling, it doesn't get grazed off by snails! (I hate that). To just about 12" tall and 16-18" wide, it is very striking and quite distinctive. A rather gracile flower stalk arises after a few years and can get to about 10' tall, bearing typical chartreuse yellow flowers in candelabra-like clusters. It is usually solitary and monocarpic in nature but often clustering in cultivation, meaning it usually won't die after flowering. It has grown well at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek but Brian Kemble reports it receives some winter protection, so its ultimate hardiness is not well known. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA zone 9. rev 10/2012

'Leon'   GUADALAJARA AGAVE   nice color!  a selected form done from  tissue culture, being an especially nice blue color. This species is a wonderful, compact blue statement with a rough upper leaf surface that denies snails the joy of grazing lines into that wonderful blue color. This is a very good container plant. rev 3/2013  (not currently in production)

guiengola  at the Huntington   smaller plant  a tough plant, sometimes as big as a Century Plant (A. americana) scale, but mostly smaller, with smooth, sculpted, blue grey, grey green, or even grey white leaves that are broad and very thick. It has a single terminal spine on each leaf (which you can clip partiall off), and on some individuals light marginal teeth. Very old specimens in favored locations can get 6-7' tall and about 10' wide, but only eventually, and only in warm Southern locations. Otherwise you will probably know it as a 3-4' tall, 5-6' wide single specimen. It likes part shade in the hot climates. The smooth mature foliage makes you want to run your hands over it to enjoy the texture and coolness. Enjoy this for its wonderful, alien form and stark blue white leaf color. Use it in containers, or as a focal point plant. It looks great against dark volcanic rock. Below about 25F it runs the risk of being disfigured by frost, which will leave it with shrunken black tissue that will take most of the next growing season to cover up. If winter temperatures regularly visit the neighborhood of 25F you should choose another plant. If you only see those temps every few years you are fortunate to be able to grow this distinctive species. Sunset zones 8-9, 13-24/USDA zone 9. Mexico (Oaxaca). rev 9/2009  (not currently in production)

guiengola 'Creme Brulee'  VARIEGATED NICE CENTURY PLANT   soft and wide  very soft leaves, pliant small margin teeth, relaxed habit, how much nicer can you get? This TC form shows off wide creamy margins and grows slowly. A prolific pupper when young, as it matures it becomes less likely to form offsets. To 3-4' tall, 5-6' wide. Not very hardy, about like A. attenuata in my experience. USDA zone 9a/Sunset 17, 23-24 or in colder zones if well protected, or indoor/outdoor container. rev 6/2015 

havardiana  BIG BEND AGAVE  mature container plant  a compact, chunky, blue grey to grey green species, variable, to 2-3' tall and wide max. Almost looks like a cross between A. parryi and A. americana (Century Plant). Another option for those looking for striking blue-form agaves that won't take over. Very tough and very cold hardy. Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery near Portland states the main reason to covet and treasure this species is that it is absolutely the most rain/wet soil tolerant species for the Northwest or similar wet-winter climates. rev 9/2010 (not currently in production)

horrida ssp. horrida  seedlings  a picture is worth a thousand words, and incredibly I don't have one of this most distinctive and recognizable species. It grows as a low, wide rosette to about 18" tall and wide, comprised of fearsome, triangular green leaves, each glossy, dark green, to 3" wide, lined with hooked teeth and ttipped with a long, red brown, scaly terminal spine that matures to a straw or grey white color. These seedlings show moderate variation for spine color and length and a lttle variation in leaf color as well. The leaf backs show strong impressions on the backsides. This is yet another one you don't want to fall into, but being of smaller dimensions and also the fact that the spines point up not out it is a little easier to live with. It is great in containers because it invites close inspection, and is easier to keep out of the way. Always popular, but slow. Solitary, doesn't pup. It forms a narrow, unbranched, attractively scraggly flower stalk to about 10' tall after the appropriate amount of time, then its bodily form passes from this earth. Mexico. Hardy to about 20F, Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA zone 9. rev 3/2009  (not currently in production)

impressa Green Giant   regular form   this is a larger-than-normal form, reaching 4' or more in warm locations but likely not more than 3' in California with age. It has the most amazing, regular white lines creased into the leaves. There is a tip spine but no teeth along the edges. Frost hardy to about 25F and extremely drought tolerant but performs best with light or part-day shade. Good drainage of course. Excellent in containers, even close to humans if the tip spines are trimmed. Sunset zones 9,16-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9 or house/patio plant anywhere. Mexico. rev 7/2012  (not currently in production)

'Little Shark'    perfect form   green leaves, outlined in black like a coloring book, no margin teeth, and black tips has this new Agave from Rancho Soledad. Offspring of Agave macrocantha and A. victoriae-reginae. Perfect symmetry and under two feet tall, magic planted in groups, sized for the small garden or containers. Full sun or part shade, good drainage, little to average watering. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA 9. rev 3/2012-Suzy Brooks

marmorata  mature banded leaves   broad juvenile leaves   a small species, to about 3' tall by 4' wide,, but with very narrow, recurved leaves that are clearly distinguished by their unusual and wonderful alternating horizontal bands of blue white and grey green. The leathery leaves are also often twisted and narrower towards the base. Quite confusingly this is one of the most dimorphic species, with substantially different juvenile and mature foliage. Young leaves look much more like A. colorata and almost never show grey or banding. Sends up the usual mind-blowing 20' tall flower stalk of greenish yellow flowers when its time on earth is at an end, to be replaced by adventitious pups, also forming copious plantlets along the flower stalk. Our current form may actually be A. gigantensis due to several points of discrepency with the description of A. marmorata, especially in that its leaves aren't rough like those of A. guadalajarana. Hardy to around 25F. USDA zones 9 and up. rev 12/2011  (not currently in production)

montana  young plant  a robust, large scale species with deep green leaves and very conspicuous and beautiful white spine/tooth patterns impressed on both sides of the leaves. Spines are shiny reddish brown, the terminal ones tend to have distinctive slight wiggles. The leaves themselves are dark green, broadly triangular, whitish near the base. This will form a completely impenetrable sphere of potential pain. The reason you grow it is for the amazing leaf pattern and its considerable cold-wet-and-miserable tolerance. It is very rare, native to small areas of mixed forests in the high mountains in northern Mexico, and thus very tolerant of extensive snow and rain in winter. Reportedly hardy to 5F, this species should be fine even throughout most of the Sierras! Its flower stalk is rather robust and reddish tinged. Sunset zones 4-24, USDA zone 7 or even lower. rev 6/2012 (not currently in production)

nizandensis     dramatic leaf stripe  almost spineless, this tender, uncommon subtropical species is distinguished by its pale green, almost ivory white center stripe along the upper midrib of the leaf, which is flushed with deep burgundy-maroon. The long leaves are brittle during juvenile phase but toughen up with maturity. About 12-18" tall, maybe 2' wide, you can give it some sun but it really prefers to grow with substantial shade, and is an understory shrub in its native, seasonally-dry, tropical Oaxacan woodlands. Containers, patios and homes everywhere, outside plant it in USDA zone 9/Sunset 9, 15-17, 21-24, but only with the same full frost protection you'd give other sensitive species like A. attenuata. rev 6/2015  (not currently in production)

ovatifolia   OVAL LEAF AGAVE    Huntington Botanic Gardens     another     normally I'd clean it out, but  .  .  .     young plant, Cabrillo College     another youngish plant, Cabrillo College      even younger plants, our seedlings    very close spine/leaf impression detail    the second most righteously awesome foliage plant ever invented. It is a broad but usually rather low species with spectacular, wide, powdery blue white to white grey leaves, forming neat, clean rosettes with a rather stiff appearance, often with over fifty leaves. Apparently it almost never offsets. Juvenile foliage mostly resembles that of other Agaves, being thinner than adult phase, wavy and toothed, so if your young plant doesn't look like these pictures remember it needs a couple of years to show mature foliage. It has only been in cultivation for about ten years but excellent large specimens can be seen at several public gardens, especially in Southern California. I had always assumed it was tender, but it grows at from 3-6000' elevation in the mountains of Northern Mexico, and it can get extremely cold and rainy there when Arctic fronts penetrate the Central U.S. Growers in Texas report it having taken 5F or lower, and wet soils, without problems. It is related to A. parryi, A. parrasana and A. havardiana, all known to survive the worst conditions found in the PNW, so this shouldn't be surprising. However it is more spectaclar than any of those relatives. Give it full to partial sun, average drainage, and very little (but some) summer watering except in the fog belt where it can exist on rainfall alone. I am sorry but I just can't bring myself to call this by its recently bestowed trade common name, "Whale Tongue Agave." Sunset zones 6-24 / USDA zone 7a. rev 2/2014 (not currently in production)

parrasana   at the SF Garden Show   a smaller species to 18-24" across and tall, staying as a neat, perfect grey ball of foliage thing when young, then becoming a neat, perfect grey ball of death with age. This species fits with our motto "if it is going to have spines it had better be either a) small or b) spectactular." This is small. And well behaved. And quite nice but not spectacular. Use it in small places where you want the idea of a fountain-like, Century-plant-like, rosette-type expression without the problems that come with larger species. It will stay even smaller in a container. 'Grey Puppy' is probably an even smaller, clustering variant or seedling of this species. Sunset zones 5-24/USDA zone 8. Northern Mexico. rev 11/2012  (not currently in production)

'Globe'   species form    this form has far superior blue leaves, with fantastic bud imprints, compared to the species. Under two feet tall, and solitary, make this one manageable and movable in containers and a great accent in the garden. Sun, little watering once established. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. rev 6/2014

parryi  PARRY'S AGAVE, ARTICHOKE AGAVE  this is the low to medium-size, cactus-like thing you see around in gardens that forms an almost artichoke-like clump of horribly but beautifully spiny blue grey leaves. It makes a roughly spherical plant of from 1-2' tall by 1-' acdianthus_alwoodii_frosty_fire1.jpgross, depending on the individual genetics. It has seriously dangerous, shiny, terminal and marginal black spines, with the ones along the leaf margin being hooked to keep you from getting away once you are bleeding and helpless. It is of course grown specifically for its wonderful, shiny, vicious black spines as well as its wonderful blue green to grey white color, varying by seedling. This is a really bad plant to have in your yard if you have children unless it is completely inaccessible. It is also one of the most striking plants to use as an adjunct plant for rocks or garden art or architecture, or as a focal point subject, and thus is in high demand. It can get quite large and is one of the most perfectly amazing plants for clean, sculptured architectural form. Inspirational specimens can be seen scattered through the Huntington Botanical Gardens. It will slowly pup, not enough to become a problem like Century Plants can, just enough to hand out to your friends. I have also found it to be quite shade tolerant if I don't water it much in summer. It exists happily in Sunset zones 2b-3, 6-24, USDA zones 7-11. Southwest US, Mexico. rev 11/2011 (not currently in production)

ssp. couesii   flowering, Huntington   distinguished by leaves that are narrow at the base as well as the tip. The most gracile, slender species, though when flowering the stalks still reach the usual 12'. The smallest grower, to about 18-24" tall and wide, with a mostly vertical presentation. rev 11/2011 (not currently in production)

ssp. huachucensis   classic leaf shape, Strybing Arboretum   narrower leaves   clumping - Huntington   flowering - Huntington    this form is distinguished by leaves that are very wide at the base but narrow at the tip, and with a long, black terminal spine. Supposedly it gets larger also but all of the plants of this form I have seen in California have all been of shorter stature and always under knee to mid-thigh high. These seedlings vary slightly in color and clumpiness. Always interesting, very cold hardy (0F) and shade tolerant. It grows in mixed open forest/grassland in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico. rev 9/2010 (not currently in production)

ssp. parryi    architectural leaves    flowering, Huntington    Huntington succulent garden     the type form, distinguished by leaves of moderate width and moderately pointed leaf tips. This is the most commonly encountered form, the "artichoke agave" you see in gardens. To 2' tall, about 2' wide, usually quite blue grey to grey white, depending on soil, heat, and amount of sun. rev 11/2011 (not currently in production)

ssp. truncata  blunt leaf tips, wiggly spine    nice clump, Huntington    can't get enough Huntington!   distinguished by leaves that are wide both at the base and the tip (truncate, i.e. flattened), and also by a characteristic wiggle in the terminal spine. This is the rarest form of this species, and is often done from tissue culture or division since true-to-type seed is rarely available. Also with TC you can choose to do the very most righteous  forms. Its leaves are even rounder and wider and its presentation even more striking than that of the other wonderful A. parryi  varieties, though all have situations where each is more desirable. Treasure your pups! rev 11/2011

pedunculifera   young plants   a new subtropical species from Central Mexico we are trialing, with soft, very smooth grey green leaves that are completely lacking in spines. Hopefully some of these seedlings will offer some new feature different from its close analog, A. attenuata, in color, form, or habit. Use it just like you would its sister species. rev 7/2012 (not currently in production)

pelona 'Excalibur'   young spines forming     this usually forms a big, symmetrical ball of dark green spines, uniform due to its non-clumping nature, and grows in rocky, hilly, limestone habitats in the Sonoran Desert areas of Southern Arizona and northern Mexico. This form is unusual and is grown for its mostly vertical, "Witch's Fingers" form, with long, mostly vertical, clustering leaves that feature matching long, vertical, coppery colored spines. It will take about as much cold as the Sonoran Desert gets in winter, to around 20F, and of course likes its drainage sharp and perfect. It has a reputation for being slow and difficult in the ground, even in SoCal, so feature it in a container and that way you will trick people into thinking you are a good grower. To about 2' tall and wide. Sun to half shade, even more sometimes, occasional summer watering. Sunset zones 9, 13-24/USDA zone 9.  rev 8/2013 (not currently in production)
 

potatorum   spines   12" Square deco container  this species is distinguished by its compact, vertical, columnar growth, wonderful grey white to blue white leaf color, highly ornamental spinage, and forgiving nature (growing-wise, that is, you don't want to back into it!).  It will form a column-like pillar of leaves to perhaps 2' tall by 16" across.  Pick out the seedling you like, they are relatively variable. The depth and quality of the spine impressions on the leaf surfaces varies also. Adorably nasty terminal and marginal spines are deep burgundy brown, and contrast nicely with the blue and grey of the foliage. The leaves tend to have graceful constricted bases. Sun to half shade, good drainage, very infrequent watering when established. It will show frost damage to the foliage below 25F. rev 3/2009  (not currently in production)  

pygmae 'Dragon Toes'   little grey dragon   short and stout, rather like a teapot, everything you like in an Agave but in a petite size. Form, texture, easy care, and great bud imprints are all here in a less than 12" tall package. Nice to combine with other succulents in containers or to add to a small space in the garden. Appreciates some watering in the hot sun, less in part shade. Good draining soil. Another fine intro Heather, our friend Rancho Soledad. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 10. rev 3/2012-Suzy Brooks

salmiana Santa Cruz    prime of life    starting to flower    blooms    sorry end    cue "The Circle Song"   this is a tentative identification for seedlings from a plant I had in my yard for about 15 years. It is not the same as the standard, giant form of the species, if it is in fact correctly identified. My plant finally flowered and is now being dispersed through its progeny. I originally found it when we were throwing out a large number of interesting Agave seedlings we had received from Saratoga Horticultural Foundation, back in the mid Nineties. There was A. lophantha, weird, ultra compact A. parryi, Nolina nelsonii, Nolina 'La Siberica,' Yucca rostrata, all of that and more trucked down to the dump and heaved over the edge. (Hey! No one like them back then!) Somehow the whole lot was the result of a collecting trip by John Fairey and Carl Schoenfeld of Yucca Do Nursery in Texas to the Sierra Madre of Central Mexico. This plant was atypical and may represent a hybrid but also may just represent A. salmiana in one of its forms. That species is the closest I can come based on look and presumed origin. Compared to the familiar Century Plant it had very broad, much more steely blue green leaves (as opposed to grey green or blue grey), and the leaves were conspicuously broad at the midpoint. There were also differences in the terminal spine, conformation and other small details, and the leaves are rough when young like A. guadalajarana, but mostly I liked the plant for its unusual color, somewhat banded foliage, and nicely compact, mostly pup-free habit. It thrived for me in full sun then full shade and did just exactly what I wanted it to do - provide architectural shape and blue green color as a backdrop for other plants. The flower stalk reached 20' bearing typical yellow-chartreuse flowers then I took a pickaxe to it and it was no more. May it rest in peace! To 3' tall, 5-6' across. Probably Sunset zones 7-9, 13-24 / USDA zone 8a? rev 9/2010 (not currently in production)

sebastiana 'Silver Lining'  new plant   from tissue culture, this is a very silvery selection of the species. Beautiful spiral symmetry in the rosette, black tip and margins, green leaves with a powdery white coating, slowly growing to 3-4' tall and clumping. Sun, part shade, well drained soil, little watering once established. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 6/2012-Suzy Brooks  (not currently in production)

'Shark Skin'   chunky, velvety mature foliage    flowering    feels like smooth, shiny felt. The result of A. scabra (big, blue, like a Century Plant) by A. fernandii-regis (a.k.a.  A. victoria-reginae), this is actually a naturally occurring hybrid from near Saltillo, Mexico. It forms a small plant, with hard, narrow, short, stiff green leaves (and a strong white tooth pattern on the back of each). This variety is recognized by its unusual texture, courtesy of its A. scabra parent, and artistic white leaf-impression lines from A. f-r. It is compact, tough, and interesting. It is much smaller, lower, greyer and a little chunkier than Century Plant, also more shark-like. It has one nasty terminal leaf spine. Rare, new. rev 11/2007 

shawii   COASTAL AGAVE   at UCSC   at Tilden Park, courtesy Peter Shaw  chunky flower stalk   this is an imposing, semicolumnar rosette of dark green to grey green leaves of varying width, but always mostly narrow for an Agave, and with well over 100 leaves on a mature plant. It grows to about 3-4' tall by 3' across, with very attractive red brown spines that leave the usual amazing impressions and chalky white outlines on the leaves above and below. It will form a really impressive, robust, 15' tall flower stalk of chartreuse flowers after the appropriate interval. These stalks remain ornamental as long as they are standing, which can be for a couple of years after seed dispersal. This is mostly a plant of Baja California but barely ranges into Southern California in Coastal Scrub and nearby mountains. It has almost been extirpated from the state. I often wonder which plant, of all the plants on earth, I would least like to fall into. There are so many good choices, among them Silver Cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa) with its mist-like haze of infinitely thin and infinitely sharp, sheathed spines (I got myself completely immobilized, both hands and both feet impaled on a disjointed stem globule at Red Rock Canyon when I was about 10), Agave lechuguilla with its very narrow, lance-like leaves (supposed to be the most efficient species at killing you, when your horse bumps a spine, and rears, and throws you off) or this plant, which seems to combine the best aspects of the first two. I think I will settle the argument by saying it depends on what speed you fall into the plant, because then each again has its advantages and disadvantages. Use this Agave where it will make a statement - but you won't fall into it. It mixes well with other natives and never gets big enough to overwhelm things like Ceanothus or Arctostaphylos. This is one of the parents of the wonderful 'Blue Flame.' Sun to mostly shade, little or no summer watering. Good drainage. Should be frost hardy to Sunset zones 8-24, USDA 9. rev 3/2010 (not currently in production)

stricta rubra  HEDGEHOG AGAVE   Lake Merritt   a sea urchin of dark green leaves 2-3' tall and wide. much like A. geminiflora. It offers beautiful symmetry and a crisp texture. Outer leaves become deep burgundy red under hot, dry conditions. After sending out a 6' flower stalk in summer, it won't die, but will produce offsets to build up a colony. A striking container subject. Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24/USDA 7.  rev 1/2011 (not currently in production)

tenuifolia  WEEPING AGAVE   curvy leaves   a swirly and arching Agave from the forests of Mexico that likes some shade and regular water in the summer. Found in part shade growing in oak duff or on rocks. Only 12-15" tall, 18" wide, it will hang over a wall or the sides of a pot or just curl up on the ground. A fine textured groundcover, like Blue Star Creeper or a small Sedum, would be nice growing underneath. Limited availability of this trial crop. Sun near the coast, some shade inland. Will take a light frost. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 2/2011 (not currently in production)

tequilana 'Blue Star'  BLUE AGAVE, TEQUILA AGAVE   first crop, juvenile foliage    intermediate maturity foliage   this is a wonderful, spineless new strain, big, blue-white, with the same nice, powdery blue color as the regular Tequila Agave but easier to live around. It forms a dramatic rosette to about 4-5' tall by 6-8' across. The terminal spine is missing and the marginal teeth are greatly reduced. It grows with a stiff habit, and the leaves only get about 3-4" across. Chop the leaves back to the "pineapple" heart, roast it in an oven for a while, bury it in the ground, dig it up and distill the fermented mash and you can call it anything but "tequila" because that is a protected designation. Not much frost below 25F, though Brian Kemble of the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek says it is "at least hardy to the low 20's." At least one commercial grower near San Luis Obispo was completely wiped out in the January 2007 freeze. It will tolerate cool growing conditions but demands at least half a day of full, direct sunlight and good drainage. Sunset zones 16-17 (freeze protection), 21-24/USDA zone 9a. Mexico. rev 12/2010 (not currently in production)

titanota  CABEZA DE :LEON   awesome Rancho Soledad Nursery TC form, our current offering  an amazing, very cool, very blue-white, robust, wide-leaved species with a strongly architechtural, "sculpted" appearance, growing to about 2-3' in height. This particular strain is a very expensive,  very special, very blue TC  form, with even better than average color and overall presence. The mature foliage is bluer and with thinner leaves than what you will see on the largest containers we have for sale (6"), but be assured this is always going to grow into a true bragging rights specimen that will amaze and properly thrill anyone who views it.(There is also another form of this species, from a different population, with greener leaves but much wilder, more amazing, more ornamental spines. We will have those later from seed. ) Eventually your plant will form a narrow, condensed, 10' bloom stalk with creamy white flowers way up at the top, then die, forming a moderate number of offsets, certainly enough to repopulate its own existence. Sun to part shade, frost hardy to somewhere between 20-25F but I haven't had the special experience of personally killing it myself yet. Sunset zones 9, 15-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. rev 10/2011  (not currently in production)

tourmeyana   what it does   this is one of the very compact, distinctive, white-line-and-filaments gang. Short and sharp, dark green leaves display white filaments peeling down the sides. Rosettes stay under a foot tall and can form dense colonies. This is a very good single display subject for containers, and plants get better and better with age. It is rather easy outside with at least average drainage and no frost below about 20F. Will take summer water but prefers drier soil in winter, if possible. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. rev 6/2012 (not currently in production)

utahensis UTAH AGAVE, CLARK MOUNTAIN AGAVE   a slow, amazingly tough, cold hardy and drought tolerant dwarf species. All forms feature intense blue to grey-green leaves, but differ in plant size and spine details. Its three varieties are spread from the north rim of the Grand Canyon (v. kaibabensis, the largest) south and west through the adjacent high plateaus of Arizona and mountain-islands poking up above the desert bastins of southern Nevada and very adjacent California (v. nevadensis, v. eborispina). The last two are the forms we currently grow, both are real long-term specimens to treasure, and covet, and gloat over, and compare to your neighbors' inferior other succulent species. And they'll just get better and more interesting with age. All are essentially unavailable except through the very best, highest-echelon, highest quality specialty growers (like us!). They all need sun, good drainage and, well, that's about it! We have only a very limited supply of each of the following form. rev 7/2016.  (not currently in production)

v. eborispina   young plant spines   a mist of spines    my favorite variety, of probably my favorite species. Retires the award for spines, in what is usually a very small package. Which means yes, you can own one! It is native to mid-elevations along a short stretch of the California border, just opposite Las Vegas. Old specimens can look pretty wild. Images of amazing, tortured-by-Mother-Nature plants growing in-habitat are coming soon - I promise! (I'm going there, myself.) The blue to grey -green  leaves often become heavily zig-zagged under really hot, dry conditions, natural or otherwise, with outrageously long, spidery, eventually almost papery terminal spines, usually all pointing almost straight up. Flowering is slow and quite sporadic, as you might imagine, but when it does the stalk is quite impressive for such a small plant. It is only about an inch thick but reaches to over 10' tall, and bears a small cluster of greenish flowers, usually in May through June or July in the wild. We have only a very limited supply. USDA zone 7 (6?)/Sunset all zones. rev 7/2016

v. nevadensis     past-bloom Huntington plant    Succulent Society plant (note price!!!)    half-cut spent flower spike    this is the smallest and bluest of the three wild varieties, often maturing at less than a foot across. It is native to mountains immediately east, north and west of Las Vegas. It is also found in the Mescal and southern Nopah Ranges, just south of its sister v. eborispina, above. It has variably short, robust, black, often wavy terminal and marginal spines, elongating with age but never as long as in v. eborispina. USDA zone 7 (6?)/Sunset all zones. Very limited supply! rev 7/2016

victoria-regina (a.k.a. Huasteca Canyon)   QUEEN OF THE AGAVES    nice Huntington specimen, closeup     amazing flower spike, Huntington   top-down    young plant form    Capitola succulent garden landscape   this seed strain is the original type form of this species. which is one of the most sought after and favored plant species in the universe because of with its amazingly perfect spiral leaf pattern and dense, compact habit. It grows as a tight rosette of hard, triangular green leaves with white markings. Young plants are attractive in their own right, being relatively more open and featuring the shape of each individual leaf with its markings. With its smaller stature and mostly solitary nature, it's one of the best Agaves for use in containers, and offers a low-liability profile. It also is stunning in groups, or massed. Sun, some watering in summer for best appearance, takes dry shade well. USDA zone 8/Sunset 10, 12, 13. 15-17, 21-24/USDA 8. rev 1/2016

'King Ferdinand'  KING OF THE AGAVES   now that's what I'm talkin' about  a more robust selection. The King of the Agaves has a more open rosette with fewer, bolder, more kingly leaves than the Queen of the Agaves (A. victoria-reginae Huasteca Canyon). Mostly solitary but throwing some pups at a low rate, it's an excellent container subject, being exceptionally fetching when viewed from above. Small and compact, to not more than 18" tall and wide. Sometimes TC propagated, this crop was done from seed and should show interesting and useful variation.. Full to half sun, water when actively growing, takes cold better if kept on the dry side. Sunset zones 10, 12, 13, 15-17, 21-24/USDA 8. rev 11/2013

'Porcupine'     like this (Huntington), but rounder leaves, stronger white markings       selected for perfect symmetry in green with more boldly marked white lines, it looks like a formal decorative dahlia in the round.  Slow growing, eventually to 10-12" tall. Perfect for containers, or in a well-drained spot in sun or part shade. USDA 7/Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24.  rev 9/2014-Suzy Brooks

vilmoriniana  OCTOPUS AGAVE, AMOLE  UC Berkeley specimen  this is a wonderful species with a lot to recommend it. It is grey green to grey white in color, essentially unarmed, and can grow and look good anywhere from the low desert to Northern California. The leathery leves grow with a wonderful long, sinuous and gracefully meandering habit. Total height is onlyabout 4', spread to about 6' max (but open), until it sends up its single narrow flower spike to about 10'. It usually sets very little seeds and is propagated by bulbils pulled from the flower spike. It can be used close to traffic areas. This is what you put in your garden when  you want to incorporate the strong form and striking leaf color of an Agave but don't want the dangerous spines or massive size of something like a Century Plant. Sun to mostly shade, conservative watering, needs at least average drainage. Natural habitat is cliffs. It is slightly tender: Sunset zones 9, 16-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. Mexico. rev 1/2009 

weberi   at the Huntington   a kinder, gentler, softer, more ghostly and free form version of Century Plant (A. americana, among others), to about 4', with the typical terminal spine but only gentle margination teeth. The leaves are grey green to blue grey even grey white, but never as blue as true Century Plant. They have a nice powdery white coating, especially on the backside. They are narrow at the base and widen towards the midsection, giving it a very elegant and refined appearance. It often shows attractive horizontal zonings of green and whitish stripes. It can reach 5-6' tall and 6-8' wide, maybe more, and the leaves often show a somewhat tulip shaped habit. This is a staple plant of the Southwest xeriscape set but can actually be grown well quite far north in California, certainly through all the Central Valley and the northern Inland Valleys. It can even be grown quite close to the coast as long as drainage is good, you keep it from becoming overgrown with weeds during wet winters, and it gets full sun, especially in winter and especially around the crown. It gets rank in any shade except in desert environments. Flowers are typical greenish yellow jobbers on typical dramatic central vertical spikes, to 15' tall, after a few years of maturing. The blooming plant will die and basal pups will continue its legacy. It is rated as USDA zone 8 or 9, depending on your authority, so figure Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24 easily. It is reportedly hardy to at least the mid teens F. rev 7/2005 (not currently in production)

Agonis flexuosa ‘After Dark’  juvenile foliage color    Strybing Arboretum, mature foliage color   kept very dwarf   the species is a spreading, often windswept-looking shrub or small tree, to about 10-20' tall and about as wide, This intensely dark form is new and is only seen smaller so far. It is just stunning with its dark burgundy red to almost black juvenile summer foliage, with long narrow leaves of soft texture, to about 2" long, densely clothing its branches. Color is reddest on young plants or cut-back branches when emerging in spring, then darker the rest of the year. Mature foliage on older plants is a very dark, dull, black-green. Flowers are small, about 1/4" across, white, and line the branches in late spring or early summer, but I have yet to see them on any plants in the U.S. Use this against walls, as a hedge, as a central focal point specimen, or even in containers. It will grow in sun or part shade, with average soil and drainage requirements. It does best with at least some supplemental summer watering but can be grown along the coast with almost none. One very high profile reference lists this plant as dead to the ground at 25°F, but this is certainly incorrect as all the old plants in Santa Cruz retained most of their branches and canopy at 19°F in 1990. Nevertheless they don't much enjoy temperatures below freezing. The advantage of being frozen back is the increased production of the superior, more colorful juvenile foliage. But its use should be restricted to frost protected situations in Sunset zones 8-9, 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. Western Australia. Myrtaceae. rev 1/2010

'Burgundy'    new foliage emerges medium to brilliant purple-red then matures to green. Grows to typical Willowleaf Peppermint specs, say 15-25' tall by a little wider at  all stages. Best application is against a light background, or even better as a sheared hedge or focal point accent that is cut back often to encourage new growth. Sun, little summer watering when established, average to good drainage. Damaged by frost below about 25F but mature trees have survived close to 20F. Western Australia. rev 3/2017 *New for 2017!*

Ajuga ‘Catlin’s Giant’  blooming plant  nursery plants  a clumping to spreading evergreen perennial groundcover grown for its very large, luxuriant, somewhat glossy, heavy textured leaves to 7" long, 6" wide. The 12" tall stalks of dark blue flowers are quite showy, and appear heaviest in spring and fall with scattered bloom through summer. Leaves are more bronze-tinted in full sun. Labiatae/Apiaceae. rev 5/2010

'Black Scallop'  nursery plant  a much smaller, tighter, darker, glossier variety, with short stalks of medium blue flowers against almost black purple, shiny leaves. rev 5/2010 

‘Jungle Beauty’  blooming  large, lush, green foliage, similar to ‘Catlin’s Giant’ but even bigger and with foliage that doesn't get reddish or purplish tones. Flowers are blue, in spikes, in spring and then appear scattered until fall. A wonderful heirloom variety, harking back to the Golden Era of Bugleweeds, the 1960's. rev 5/2010

Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller' LADY'S MANTLE  what it does    flowers  this charming perennial's claim to fame is the way water beads up on the leaves!  Serrated, grey green leaves make way for chartreuse flowers in summer that are useful cut for vases fresh or allowed to dry. About 12" tall and wide for a part sun or bright shade spot with ordinary watering. Mixes well with dark green plants and woody mulch. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24/USDA 5. Southern Europe. Rosaceae. rev 2/2016 

Alocasia  ELEPHANT EAR  while not always massive, most species have large leaves in a heart or shield shape. The Alocasias are generally either warm growing or cool tolerant. The warm growers are pretty tropical and start to fall apart below 50°F, the cool tolerant ones will take temperatures near or below freezing, going deciduous around 45°F and resprouting when average daytime temperatures have come up to the sixties. Their main Achilles heel is rotting under extended cold, wet conditions. Some that appear tropical can actually take quite cold climates though, such as A. wentii, which has a glossy, hard leaf but has been grown in USDA zone 8 (roughly equivalent to Sunset zone 6-8). You just don't know until you try! In that spirit, we are trying everything we can get our hands on, willingly throwing out those that fail in order to discover those which stand a chance with California gardeners. Araceae.

     All can be raised as house plants, or patio plants overwintered indoors. Their amazing leaf colors and patterns make them real conversation pieces. And for form and symmetry they rival the palms. Most like half shade, but a few are regularly seen in full sun in the fog belt. Grow them in full sun to mostly shaded sites with rich, well drained soils and regular watering and relatively heavy feeding except during winter. They make excellent container plants. Reportedly corms of several species (especially A. macrorrhizos) are used for food but you'd better know what you are doing as far as preparation or you'll be singin' the blues when you get a mouth full of oxalic acid crystals. rev 3/2005

'Calidora'  leaves  flower   artsy   a hybrid between a California-sourced A. gageana (listed as supposedly hardy to USDA zone 7, or 10°F - hah!) and A. odora (listed as supposedly hardy to USDA zone 7b, or 2°F - hah!) is another of the fast, easy, green outdoor forms for use in Southern California as well as somewhat protected situations in Northern California. It has a large, somewhat glossy green leaf with slightly wavy margins. It does well outdoors under cool Central California coastal conditions, even during winter. It could also be tried as a deciduous perennial in much colder locations in the state or even Oregon and Washington, since its parents are supposedly hardy to very low temperatures. But its climatic limitations are likely to revolve more around rot in cold, wet rains so until we know more about where it really survives it is probably best not to recommend its use at this point beyond USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 8-9, 12-24. rev 4/2006 

gageana  leaf  this is one of the best cool growers and frost tolerant varieties, tolerating temperatures around 40°F for long periods of time without going dormant as well as growing vigorously under cool coastal conditions. It has typical heart shaped leaves to about 2' long, somewhat convex in shape, and a glossy green color. To about 5' by 5'. As far as I can tell, this species is probably most of what you see surviving in old yards around the San Francisco Bay area. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24. rev 7/2005

'Mayan Mask'  PP24391  classy black shine!  new leaves are dark and velvety with white veins with a burgundy underside and age to shiny green. 6-8" tall, a stunning accent in part sun. Good drainage, regular watering. USDA 9. rev 5/2016-Suzy Brooks 

odora  foliage  rounder leaves, held in the typical upright vertical fashion, but also relaxing to close to horizontal with age, are medium green, very glossy, and have a slightly undulate margin. They get about 30" long and wide in our area and the plants seem to get about 3-5' tall, with short, thick trunks. In more tropical climates plants get substantially larger. Overall this is a slightly smaller scale Alocasia, not as large as A. gageana or macrorrhizos. This is a fast, vigorous, easy species that features wonderful spathe-enclosed flower spike cones that are highly fragrant at night, smelling like papaya. It can be grown in protected areas of Northern California and I know of many plants which survived the 1990 freeze. It is tender enough that leaves will be lost below about 27°F, but all the plants I know of in the Monterey Bay Area survived the sobering 1990 freeze (20°F, or thereabouts) without protection. It is a relatively fast grower under cool conditions and possibly the best for wet winter survival. Sunset zones 16-17, 21-24/USDA zone 7b. Eastern and Southeast Asia. rev 3/2012

'Variegata'  awesome!  found within a block of our regular A. odora, I've also seen this same form in Java, so it must be a repeating sport. The clean, brightly variegated, shiny leaves get about 2' long on a plant that might get 3-4' tall, smaller than the all-green form. If it produces flowers they should be "odora," with the same nighttime papaya fragrance of the parent. Give it more frost protection than the standard form (slower to grow and recover) and a warm location in part sun with rich, moist soil. It is probably best in large containers, and always looks great against a dark wall or other background. Provide shelter in climates colder than Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24/USDA 8. rev 10/2012   

'Portora'  leaf  a hybrid of A. odora, which is similar to A. macrorrhizos, and A. portei, a deeply cut, spidery-leaved species, this is often listed as A. portidora. This has very broadly, coarsely toothed, glossy, dark green leaves with wavy margins, quite arrow shaped in outline and held vertically to slightly angled but never even relaxing to horizontal. Its veins are thick and ropy and quite attractive. It gets a short trunk to over 4" thick within a year of planting. To 6' tall, it is a robust, easy landscape form, hardy outdoors to Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/ USDA zone 8. Expect it to go to sleep if it gets extended temperatures below 45°F, and it is most reliable where it has some protection from incessant winter rains. It is a fast grower under cool conditions (for an Alocasia, that is). rev 1/2006

Aloe  African succulent shrubs and perennials, growing as rosettes of leathery to hard leaves. Some are small scale and stemless, others grow into 40' trees. Valued for their intriguing trunk and leaf form and beautiful flowers in spikes. One problem to watch for is Aloe mite, which can cause tumor-like growths on the plants and will lead to their eventual decline and death. We are aloe mite-free, but they do exist in many collections and care should be taken to isolate new plants from any source and prevent their establishment in your garden soil. Life is hell for aloe collectors that have Aloe mite. Liliaceae. rev 9/2009 

arborescens  sunset, West Cliff Drive   closeup   I tend to grumble about winter, about being cold, and having short days, and being cold, and having to worry about losing plants to killing freezes, and being cold, but one of the nice things about winter is the amazing display this plant makes all over town. Besides being one of the showiest, if not theshowiest plant of winter, this aloe is useful and different because of the clean blue green leaf that lacks spots, shows ornamental yellowish marginal spines, and displays impressed leaf patterns like an agave. The foliage effect makes it valuable even after it has stopped blooming. It flowers for about five months starting in November. It will grow large if you don't prune it after many years, but you might want that. It is killed down by any frost below about 25F but will show foliage damage sooner. While damaged by severe freezes this plant does thrive at UC Davis, which sees significantly colder winters occasionally than our coastal areas, so it does have some application to inland gardens and landscapes. Sun to mostly sun. Big specimens can reach over 7-8' tall by many feet across. Zones 9, 15-17, 21-24 / USDA zone 9a. rev 2/2012

arenicola   SAND ALOE    juvenile leaves, closeup  a species native to coastal sand dunes of a fog desert, its juvenile phase is recognized by rotund blue green leaves, with flimsy spines and white polka dots, held far apart on woody stems, as in the vining/scrambling A. ciliata (Climbing Aloe) or the wonderful A. striatula. This species sprawls out rudely (or artistically) in juvenile phase for a few years, to about 3' wide, then leaves become more compactly held, and finally it assumes its mature/flowering phase. Leaves become the much more typical, flat, triangular, closely-set type, and are held in the usual condensed rosettes. Flowers are yellow orange, in tall capitate heads, arching to pendant, and on stalks to 2-3' tall. With stress leaves of all phases can become quite deeply colored, from bright garnet red to a duller burgundy over green. The juvenile phase is more attractive, and easier to grow, as mature plants demand better drainage and more careful watering, plus grooming of the old, dead, retained leaves. But you never lose those polka dots! Sun to half shade, the very best drainage you can find if sited in the ground, extremely drought tolerant when established at the expense of appearance. USDA zone 9/Sunset 9, 15-17, 21-24. rev 11/2015

aristata    LACY ALOE     terminal leaf filaments    narrow flowers     actually, "Lacy Haworthia" would be more like it - genetically it is closer. The raised white bands on the backs of the leaves are a dead giveaway. A smal clumping species, it bears light peach-coral flowers in robust, branched spikes to 12-18" tall in summer. This is a variable species which ranges across different habitats, so it is adaptable and easy. Depending on the form it can be very frost hardy but depend on it taking 20F at least. The best feature is the long terminal filament on each leaf, though those long, tubular, arching flowers are quite showy as well. Got an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS, a rare honor. Mostly sun to full shade, prefers some summer watering. South Africa, Lesotho. Xanthorrhoeaceae. rev 9/2015 

banesii    Seaside Nursery's wonderful landscape    Gail's Santa Cruz specimen      Huntington patriarch     the most lusted after Aloe in California?? Who doesn't want specimens like those in the Huntington images? Who??  Whom?? Although essentially a greenhouse or Southern California variety, you can even try this in marginally cold areas if you can protect the trunk so winter damage is limited to small, outer branches. Gail Williamson has one in her garden in Santa Cruz that survived the all-time record 1990 freeze. This is an opportunity to get a manageable and affordable size of this amazing, dramatic plant that is usually only available as expensive large specimens. Called the Tree Aloe, or Dr. Suess Tree, this beautiful succulent has a smooth, grey green trunk and grows up to have an open, rounded, attractively gaunt crown of curving dark green leaves. In winter, it blooms with rosy pink flowers out on the tips. Quite the focal point in any garden. Likes full sun, good drainage, and of course little watering once established. If it's too cold where you live, put it in a big pot. Sunset zones 17 (protected, or just lucky!), 19-24/USDA 9a. rev 4/2013 

bellatula     foliage only, for now   a small, less than a foot tall, clumping aloe with thin leaves, brown in the sun on new foliage, greener in the shade and with age, both phases spotted white. This form bears tubular orange flowers, nodding on slender stalks above the leaves, from early fall through late spring  Plant in well-drained garden soil or in containers, water when the soil surface feels dry. USDA zone 9a/Sunset 16-24. Madagascar. rev 2/2016

white flower form      flowers against leaves    dark brownish green leaves with pale white spots are long and pointy, and leaves hav pink teeth on the margins. Rosettes stay under 12" tall. Usually species form has orange flowers, but these are dainty white. Clumping. Part sun, let dry between waterings, kep drier in winter. Indoor/outdoor, patio, or outdoors with frost protection in USDA 9/Sunset 9, 17, 21-24. rev 5/2015-Suzy Brooks 

'Blue Elf'   young blooming plants   clumpy, narrow leaves, small scale, pups well. Flower stalks are rather gracile, reach about 2' tall, and bear typical loose spikes of coral orange flowers, initiating under short days. The overall effect is rather vertical, and it can put on a good flower show. Below about 25F it starts to turn black and below 20F it will  depart this cruel earth. Above that those temps the leaves just pick up interesting purplish hues from the cold. This one is a tucker, nest it between rocks or other plants. It also makes a nice small container plant and combos up well. Or just surround it with clean gravel (good luck in the rain belt!) for a dramatic xeriscape presentation. Sunset zones 8-24/USDA zone 9. rev 10/2009 

'Blues'   production plant  possibly this is the same thing that is running around succulent collections under the name 'California,' but we're not sure. It looks very much like A. vera meets possibly A. spinosissima,  or perhaps A. humilis. It grows as an upright, compact plant, with leaves held more vertically than horizontally. The juvenile leaves are covered by a nice, fine, glacous coating, but mature leaves look closer to A. vera and are more grey-olive. We haven't seen flowers yet (and we should have - indicates hybrid??) so we won't speculate. Typical conditions, but I feel a tingling in The Force which tells me it will tolerate some frost. Great! rev 1/2015

'Blooming Topaz'
   hopeful young plant   with a leap of faith, picture this handsome grassy leaved aloe full of pinky orange flowers for months! Why not get more from low maintenance plants like succulents? Your hummingbirds will thank you and your garden will sparkle. The first of three colors, growing about 15" tall and getting bigger and better each year. Sun or part shade, does appreciate water in the summer, protect from hard frosts. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9.
rev 3/2013-Suzy Brooks 

brevifolia
   blue leaves   nice blooming patch, Huntington Botanic Gardens   here's a tidy clumper of chalky blue grey to blue green leaves with not too wicked white spines, that is perfect as a groundcover or growing in a shallow, low bowl. Tall unbranched stalks with long tubular orange flowers come in late spring. Stays under a foot tall and makes a dense clump. Good choice for small gardens. This will survive Central Valley winters. Sun or part shade, little watering once established. Sunset zones 8-9, 12-24/USDA 9. rev 12/2012-Suzy Brooks


ciliaris  
flowers   very close   one of fastest growing aloes, and slightly weird in that it is a vine instead of a freestanding plant. It is able to scramble up fences and shrubs, cover ground, or be trained on a support, growing 8-10' or more. It looks especially good going over rocks, open-structured shrubs or succulents, or best of all the large, swollen base of a palm tree. Dark green leaves have soft white teeth, and red flowers with green tips are produced in spring, or throughout the year in mild areas. Great for containers, nice houseplant. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 9. rev 5/2010

compressa v. paucituberculata   foliage growth pattern maturing with first spikes    flower cluster  only described in 1995, distinguished by the lack of bumps on the leaf undersides. Marginal teeth are white and relatively soft. Juvenile-phase leaves neatly stack vertically atop one another, but all our mature individuals begin to spiral once flowering begins in fall. Initiation seems to be facultative short-day (FSD). The tubular, light salmon pink flowers are striped darker orange, and are held in compact, rounded clusters on very long, tall, thin stalks. A nice surprise was the rather strong, sweet, spicy fragrance, very close to hyacinth. Sun to mostly shade, modest to very occasional watering. Best in pots in winter-rainfall areas, but you can try it in your very well-drained Fantasy Dream Aloe Garden if you're in USDA zone 9a/Sunset 9, 16-17, 21-24. Assume it will turn black if it gets any real freezing temps, but maybe we'll be surprised. Madagascar. rev 10/2015 

'Coral Edge'  coral edges    another plant    flowers   a pretty little tihing, a classic combination of grey and pink. The white leaf bumps color up but not as strongly as that nice coral margin. Flowers are small and deep coral red, are produced in summer. Stays small, 3-4," and clumps nicely. Beautiful in a small clay pot with a fine textured rock on the soil. Small enough for the windowsill or combining with other succulents in pots. Sun or part shade. Water when the plant is growing in spring and summer, less in winter. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. Available in quarts this week.  rev 1/2013 

'Cynthia Giddy'  flowering plant   flower closeup  medium size, with low leaves reaching to 16" and flower stalks to 3' when blooming. Bright green leaves have oblong streaks and become tinted bronzy orange when older. Deep coral orange flowers are produced in branched stalks heaviest from late winter through summer, though the Huntington says it can bloom all year, and we see flowers midsummer, especially after cool spells. rev 8/2010

'D. Worth'  flowers against leaves  a small grower, with green leaves banded with those typical white bumps, and typical tubular red flowers, in typical spikes. rev 2/2017 *New for 2017!*

deltoideodonta 'Sparkler'  starry night  wide, triangular leaves of dark green with white streaks of a short and sassy height of only 6" tall and slowly clumping. Soft white teeth along the edge. A beauty in a ceramic pot with small gravel on top. Part sun, water in spring and summer, much drier in winter. No cold or frost, bring in indoors outside of Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 9/2013-Suzy Brooks 

'Delta Lights'    leaves close    with flowers    underneath all those white dashes are dark green leaves that make for a very handsome rosette. And being a shy pupper, will make a great specimen, not being crowded with little plants. About 15-18" tall, 2' wide, it has reddish orange flowers in early summer. Sun or part shade. These are older plants that have been released from stock and are very good sized! Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9b. rev 6/2014

dorothea 'Crimson'    glowing red foliage   glossy, leathery, coppery orange-red leaves, with kinder, gentler spines I can't help but touch. A redder form of a usually greener (but still reddish, especially in cold/sun) species, which was awesome enough to begin with. Flowers are greenish yellow, not overwhelming, but interesting. Mature plants spread aout 12" tall by 18" wide. Sun to just part shade, typical succulent conditions. Protect from frost! rev 3/2017

dumetorum  CANDY CORN ALOE    compact grower   easy to grow clumper with orange and yellow flowers on a stout stalk in winter. Also known as A. ellenbeckii. Rounded green leaves with white spots, growing under a foot tall. Plant in a sunny to part shade spot that drains well or use in containers.  Provide shelter in winter outside of Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 8/2014-Suzy Brooks

'Fang'    red teeth     the real Fang, our gentle, almost-toothless guest of House 13   a really colorful, small growing Aloe, one of the best of the new ultra compact, warty hybrids, featuring creamy colored spots and bumps and really big, blunt, hooked orange teeth along the margins. This makes a nice display specimen, pups freely, and bears good, light coral red, 1" flowers in fall and winter10-15 per stem, with 2-4 stems per short flower spike, increasing in density and count with age. Sun or part shade, water spring through fall, give it much less in winter if possible. Not deeply frost hardy, so bring it in or at least put it in a protected spot in winter if you are outside Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 11/2011 

'Firebird'    such a charming plant!    leaves    isn't this just the cutest little thing you've ever seen? Gracile, glossy green leaves, white spots, brilliant orange and yellow flowers in a condensed cluster, what a gem! Everything is ultra-small scale, and those flowers are so intensely colored they absolutely pull you in for close examination. So far this looks like a long-day or facultative long-day initiator. Containers, patio, house, or very warm outdoor rock or succulent gardens (think Santa Barbara, or coastal San Diego). Part sun, typical good drainage, assume little or no frost unless you have dry winters. USDA zone 9a/Sunset zones 17, 21-24. rev 6/2016

gastrolea 'Midnight'  coral flowers   a slender, stiff, rough leaf, almost black, comes from the cross of a Gasteria and an Aloe. This a great one to combine in a dish garden, seeing that it gets not much bigger that a foot tall and wide at full clumping maturity. This color would show off special gravel underneath, or colored glass, or polished pebbles. Stalks of orange flowers appear in summer. Sun or part shade, little watering, takes quite a bit of cold, 26-32F. Sunset zones 9, 16-24/USDA 9. rev 5/2011 

'Goliath'   Karl's garden  another monster. Add some visual weight with the bold scale, large size, and heavy, succulent leaves of this hybrid. It forms a solitary, branching trunk, growing slowly to 12' tall, 5-6' wide. Many-branched stalks of tubular coral flowers, with greenish or purplish tips, are held within the leaf canopy in winter or early spring. This is a good choice for containers where  temperatures dip below 30F because it can be moved to a warmer spot. This cross between A. barberae and A. vaombe also features distinctive whitish banding on the leaf undersides. To keep it from lodging grow it slowly and on the dry side, with enough iron to keep it from yellowing but a minimum of fertilizer. Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9a. rev 5/2011 

'Hedgehog'   winter flowers  a popular hybrid from South Africa, with grey green leaves, some white teeth, and bold orange flowers that burst from wonderful big buds in late winter through late spring. Easy to grow and maintain, forming a clump to about 20" tall when in bloom. Will take summer watering in a sunny, well drained location and fills out a pot nicely. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA rev 1/2014-Suzy Brooks

'Hercules'  Westside Santa Cruz home landscape, juvenile     Westside Santa Cruz commercial landscape, teenager   as good as they get!    this is the closest thing to the legendary and stunning A. bainesii that you can reliably grow north of the Transverse Ranges. 'Hercules' grows as a rather narrow, large-textured shrub or small tree to about 15-25', as far as we can tell (it is a new variety), with short clusters of salmon pink flowers in late winter. Below about 28F the leaves and small stems of the highly desirable A. bainesii will freeze, and at around 25F the major trunks will go, everything becoming liquified into a thick, black, smelly liquid which slowly drips to the ground below while the "woody" stems lose their turgor and slump over towards the ground. It is a lot like watching a body decompose, and it isn't pretty. 'Hercules' isn't as graceful, isn't as open, as tall, as snaky, or cool or dramatic, but it sure is a lot hardier. What it will provide is a more robust, narrow approximation of A. bainesii that should be good to around 20F before major trunk damage, though it will certainly lose leaves above that temperature. The trick is to avoid the terrible disfiguring damage, which wrecks the basic shape of large landscape specimen plants and pretty much removes the reason for having them in your garden. If a tree-like specimen won't take a typical 10 year 25F freeze, and it isn't a fast grower, it is probably a waste of time for all of us except those who dedicate themselves to always being home during the holiday season so they can rush out with a sheet and a lightbulb to care for all their tender babies. Personally, I'd rather enjoy Christmas in Rome. Sun, good drainage, give it some summer water for faster growth, great in pots of course. A hybrid of A. bainesii and A. dicotoma. rev 9/2009 

humilis HEDGEHOG ALOE   our first plants    flowers closeup  a  dwarf species, growing to just 6-12" tall, with white spines against blue green leaves. It bears quite tall, very gracile, narrow stalks bearing a small number of coral orange to orange red flowers in late winter, with very light off-season bloom, to a stalk height of about 2-3' tall. It clusters freely, and forms nice clumps. Use for its highly ornamental spines, foliage pattern and winter to spring color. Of course this is just outstanding in a small container. You can even keep it as a pet houseplant. Typical aloe conditions, hardy to about 20F and listed by one South African seed source as hardy to USDA zone 8! Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24. South Africa. rev 8/2010 

'Johnson's Hybrid'    nice clump   young plants, blooming   I don't know who "Johnson" was, but this is a great little hybrid that is small scale, always in a good mood, and almost always showing small clusters of clear orange flowers above its more or less grassy foliage. I've had this plant for years but only just recently put into production as part of our succulent program. To about 12" tall, spreading slowly. rev 10/2009 

juvenna    flowers    foliage      this is a charming little species, diminutive, always interesting, offering a surprising amount of flower power, and easy to grow. It forms a small, tight, clustering clump of narrow, columnar, upright stems, eventually cascading and spilling down the side of the pot or across its planting bed. The leaves are heavily marked with white. The very nice coral orange and green flowers appear in summer on thin, very tall, branched stalks, sometimes 50 or more per plant! This is just perfect for a small container, especially on a windowsill, because it is easily kept small. In full sun it will become bronzy, and tighter, but it will also tolerate considerable shade. A patio, container or house plant anywhere, protect from frost outside Sunset zones 16-24/USDA 9. rev 1/2012 

'Latte'  potted  earthy green and brown colors with smooth bumps on the long leaves, nice and cool to touch. Coral flowers on stalks to a foot tall. A nice little clumper for containers or the trough. Sun or part shade, water it well when dry and very little in the winter. Sunset zones 17-24/USDA 17-24. rev 3/2012-Suzy Brooks 

'Lavender Star'    rosette    another small, fun Aloe with a bumpy green leaf surface that has a lavender cast, and marginal red teeth. The right size for small to medium containers, alone or mixed. Sun or part shade, water when the pot feels light. USDA 9/Sunset zones 16-24rev 5/2014

'Lime Fizz'   dermally affected leaves   perky flowers   yet another of the fantastically textured, small statured hybrid Aloes, this one a summer bloomer. Slow, appreciates some shade but careful or you'll lose your colors. Orange teeth, white bumps, blue green background, light coral orange flowers are small tubes with green and violet tipped mouths. Houseplant/patio or otherwise probably Sunset zones 17, 21-24/USDA zone 10. rev 8/2012 

'Lizard Lips'    closeup of those amazing leaves     long, thin, greenish bronze leaves with white markings in stretched rosettes, like the tips were pulled.. An easy one to grow and very rewarding. From John Bleck, the hybridizer of many small aloes, this one to about 6-8" tall and making a nice clump.  Sun or part shade. Watering during the growing season, drier in winter. Shelter from cold outside Sunset zones 17-24/USDA 9. rev 5/2013-Suzy Brooks 

'Mancave'    manly-man leaves     a charming small Aloe with long, rather flexible bronzy leaves and orange flowers. We originally purchased this at some succulent sale as A. haworthioides x bakeri 'Brass Hat,' but it needed a more nimble handle. This is a really attractive selection, clumping readily to fill a pot and blooming nicely, with those orange flowers wonderfully complementing the foliage color. Under a foot tall when mature, it offers nice colors to mix with other succulents. Sun or part shade, water when soils feels dry. Indoor/outdoor, patio everywhere, or outdoors with frost protection in USDA 9/Sunset 9, 17, 21-24. rev 5/2015 

'Marmalade'   yawning, toothy maw   summer flowers   and one more, this one even more highly colored, with orange teeth and orange bumps too. Flowers are a little larger, not quite as deeply colored. Leaves are more powdery, silvery blue underneath the ornamentation. Houseplant/patio or otherwise probably Sunset zones 17, 21-24/USDA zone 10. rev 8/2012 

'Moondance'   ghostly white leaves   how does a plant that is almost all white live? This is one of the great mysteries of the universe, and by owning this plant you can ponder at your leisure. While we're at it, since we're on mysteries, just whom in the hell is this "Snookie" everyone is talking about? What is so important about the baby? Is Jionni just Johnny mispelled? Why don't I know these people, and why are they is famous? Is she a star, or is he a politician? Hmmm.  'Moondance' is possibly the most unusual and striking of the new hybrid introductions, growing into a nice, many-headed clump and producing light coral red, tubular flowers shaded white, then green at the tips, on short branched stalks in summer. No frost, typical conditions and soil and watering. rev 10/2012

nobilis  GOLD TOOTH ALOE  very young!  this handsome specimen with its dark green leaves has little white spines that looks like it has been sprinkled with sea salt. The tips turn rusty orange in sun though it will take part shade. Every summer flower stalks host red orange tubular flowers for the hummingbirds. Forms a clump with the many pups but only about 12" tall. Nice for the garden and still manageable for a container, easily moved to shelter when temperatures drop. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 9. rev 4/2013-Suzy Brooks 

'Pink Blush'  young rosette   flowers   whole effect   a new compact, cute, perky, interesting little study in silvery grey fur and pink bumps from hybridizer Kelly Griffin, with diminutive, airy, gracile flower stalks bearing coral orange to orange red flowers in winter. An outstanding container plant, for patios, windowsills, small rockeries if you have the drainage. Typical of many new hybrids bred for maximum enjoyment in a minimum of space. To perhaps 6-8" across and tall, flower stalks to not over 16". Sun to part shade, happy inside, keep frost away until we know more.rev 1/2010 

plicatilis  FAN ALOE, FRANSCHOEKAALWYN   blooming at the Huntington   have to love a common name like that, but it is probably just "fan aloe" in Afrikaans. A shrubby, upright, branching species to 10-15' tall, but only reaching that size with age an under the best conditions. In California I have only seen it a few feet high. It is easily recognized by its foliage, because its wide, smooth, strap shaped grey green leaves emerge in line with those before it, forming large, neat fans. Coral orange flowers are produced  late winter to spring, on narrow, solitary stalks, one stalk per branch. It is very tolerant of cold, wet winters but starts to fall apart much below 25F. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA zone 9. South Africa. rev 10/2009 

polyphylla  KARATSA, ALAN'S ALOE  closeup  Alan Beverly's nursery and growing info  this wonderful, stemless, spiral-form succulent is grown for its amazing, hyptonizingly perfect rosettes of short, tight, dense blue green leaves, with not-very-threatening yellow spines, to form a specimen usually about 1' tall and 2' wide. Occasional monsters reach 3' tall and wide. There are left-spiral and right-spiral variants, and they can even switch direction. It does flower, very rarely here (or in its native habitat), and only after a very long time, with short, dense, chunky, basally branched stalks of yellow to deep coral orange flowers that are quite respectable. Most of what is in California derives from plants grown from seeds that a Santa Cruz landscaper and nurseryman, Alan Beverly, brought back from working as a botanist in the country of Lesotho, its only source, where it grows in high altitude regions of the Drakenburg.  (Check out the story of Alan's Amazing Adventure at his website.) While in Lesotho Alan was able to collect seeds that gave rise to his first generation seedlings. Current tissue culture material we buy likely originates from some of Alan's little plants. It likes cool summers, can take cold winters, and even snow. It also likes regular summer watering. Apparently this species is rather easily grown here compared to in its native country and is now becoming rather widespread in California. I clearly remember a tour of Australians who rampaged through town back in the 1980's and the one South African woman with them who commented she probably saw more plants in front gardens while driving through Santa Cruz than probably existed in cultivation in all of South Africa. It is grown to USDA zone 7b at Plant Delights Nursery, where they state it is "is perfectly adaptable to the cold winters of the eastern US." It seems to not like typical Aloe country, meaning hot and dry, and Southern Californians away from the coast will probably have trouble. Give it good drainage everywhere and less sun in those hotter climates. Paul Licht of the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden notes it does very well planted on an angled slope or mound, where water can trickle off more easily from those deep crevices between the leaves. It makes a killer container plant. South Africa (Lesotho, actually). rev 1/2013

spinosissima  SPIDER ALOE   nice garden specimen   a fine, heavy blooming, quite compact hybrid species, being apparently a cross between the very dwarf A. humilis and our spectacular giant landscape species A. arborescens. You get an ultra-compact version of the latter's flower display on very tight, dense, neat plant to just 1-2' tall by a little more across. The flowers separate well from the leaves, with the stalks about 1' higher, and bloom begins in late winter. New pups sprout freely from the base, and it increases reliably. It tolerates our occasionally very wet, cold winters very well, and stays looking good. Full or mostly full sun, takes frost to around 25F, typical good drainage and moderate or very infrequent summer watering. rev 5/2017 *New for 2017!*

'Quicksilver'  flowers against leaves   a little starburst of white bumps on green leaves, only inches high, and a terrific subject for a small pots. Dark coral flowers in summer and sporadically during the year. Full sun near coast, some shade inland. Little watering. Protect from cold outside Sunset zones 17-24/USDA 10. rev 11/2014-Suzy Brooks

'Red Riding Hood'  RED RIDING HOOD ALOE  flowers close up    blooming crop   this is a compact hybrid by Cynthia Giddes of South Africa, with the free blooming A. sinkatanaas one parent. Originally named 'Rooikoppie, and pronounced "roy-copy," that means "little red cap" in Afrikaans and refers to the fairy tale. It is a medium sized species to under 30" tall that bears branched stalks of coral red flowers, with yellow mouths, throughout the year, initiating most heavily under short days. The leaves are green, with spots.  It was recently introduced by the Huntington Botanic Garden. This is often incorrectly sold as "rudikoppi" or some other species-like designation. Sun or even mostly shade. rev 12/2011  

'Silver Ridge'  very young plants   a new hybrid bearing light coral red flowers with a whitish mouth against mostly upright leaves almost completely covered with longitudinal, silvery grey ridges. This is too new to have any really mature specimens out anywhere, so I am only using my professional judgement to say I estimate about 12" tall and wide. Hardiness is unknown but it will probably take down to around 25F. Use it any way you want to. 
rev 4/2010

striata   CORAL ALOE  beauty   watch your eyes - sunglasses advised!!   an easy to grow, adaptable, and friendly aloe for the garden or containers. No spines, flat, wide leaves in wonderful symmetry, it takes sun or shade, average to little water, most soils, and it blooms every winter-spring with beautiful, dark coral flowers. About 2' tall and wide, add 2' for the flower stalk. Move under cover if you're outside of Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. rev 1/2011

striatula  HARDY ALOE   Pelton St. specimen    wonderful flowers   really showy, striking, golden yellow flowers are light orange at the base shading to green at the mouth and even have contrasting red orange stamens. The overall effect is of strong, citron yellow. The one or two stalks per trunk reach up to 2' above the canes. The plants grow as a slowly spreading cluster of dramatic mini-trees to 3-4' tall, with interesting, snaky, downward-arching green leaves. This looks something like the scandent Climbing Aloe (A. ciliaris) but is smaller, neater, more robust and free standing. This does very well in cool Northern California, and is one of the spring bloomers. It might get 3-5' tall with age, and 4-6' wide or more. Likes some summer water, much less in winter. Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24/USDA 7b. rev 11/2015

'Tangerine'   teeth only, for now   found growing at the Huntington within a block of A x principis, this is thought to be a seedling or sport of that natural hybrid species (A. arborescens x A. ferox). It forms rosettes of beautiful, bluish leaves with nicely ornamental marginal teeth, followed by branched stalks of very narrow, very tall, very vertical spikes bearing densely packed orange flowers. Described as having moderate frost tolerance, I can't find a trusted source for an actual temperature. This is probably a short day or facultative short day flower initiator. Both parents are large growers, so if not frozen back this form should be able to reach respectable size. rev 10/2016

'Thin Lad'  stock plants flowering   closeup  what a winner! This is a continuous, heavy bloomer and vigorous grower. Light coral orange, pendant tubular flowers, with greenish white tips, are produced in fall and winter then again spring through summer. It seems it is never out of bloom once it reaches blooming size. Very thin, gracile, slightly toothed leaves are dark green, russeting in full sun, and essentially unmarked. This is a very free flowering form, with a high flower-to-foliage ratio. The stalks reach 24" high and multiple stalks are produced from each rosette, and each rosette forms offsets, producing heavy flowering clumps in the landscape. It is also excellent and quite rewarding in containers of course. Sun, typical succulent conditions, takes frost to about 15F. Sunset zones 8-9, 13-24/USDA zone 7. rev 9/2010

thraskii  COAST ALOE   Karl's garden   this magnifucent South African species grows as a solitary tree with leaves that curl down almost to the trunk and leave a dried skirt. To 8-10' tall or more, by 4-5' wide. Branched stalks bearing yellow and orange flowers come in winter. Amazing when planted in a group, like a Dr. Seuss forest. Sun, drought tolerant, frost will damage the flowers. Sunset zones 17-24/USDA 10. rev 1/2011 

'Twilight Zone'  furry, starry sky   darker, furry, starry sky   flowers   almost but not quite One Step Beyond the Outer Limits of what can be found buried in the genetic code of Aloes. This compact, dark green, freely and joyfully clumping rosette becomes dark coppery brown with age, and at all stage is covered with distinctive, minute white dots. Flowers are what we in the trade call "subtle," or "humble," being small, narrow tubes of pale apricot and pale green, scantily produced on very stringy stalks. They initiate under long days. Keep it in a container, feature it by itself. House or patio plant, not hardy. Greener in shade, redder/browner in full sun and drier conditions. rev 8/2012 

variegata  TIGER ALOE, PARTRIDGE BREAST, KANNIEDOOD  young plants  regular triangular rosettes, with chevron-like white markings, then freely produced stalks of dusty coral pink flowers in spring. The leaf color is often quite brown in full sunlight, greener with some shade. Spreads slowly by short underground sprouts. Hardy to about 20F if you can keep it dry enough on the Left Coast that it doesn't rot, but outside Southern California, and perhaps the drier parts of the Central Valley, almost all older surviving specimens are in containers. Likes some summer water in most areas but it can survive several years without rainfall in its native habitat, shriveling up to almost nothing. In nature it grows among shrubs and grasses.  rev 6/201

'Walmsley's Bronze'   young plant    "What does this one do?"  "It's just like the other one, except it's bronze" (in sun!). That's what Suzy told me. Sunset zones 21-24/USDA zone 9a-10 until I have more hardiness info. rev 2/2017 *New for 2017!*

'Walmsley's Blue'   rosette   a moderate size clumper, dividing quickly, with blue foliage, tinted rosy purple in sun and especially with cold. Features typical coarse marginal teeth. Hardiness unknown. I have never seen it flower in the two years we have grown it. This is a beautiful foliage plant for containers or garden settings. Sunset zones 21-24/USDA zone 9a-10 until I have more hardiness info. rev 7/2010

'White Beauty'      nicely dressed (by Suzy!)    long, pointy green leaves with rectangular, white bumps and soft spines on the edges on this small clumper. Simple coloring can look good in almost any pot, alone or in combinations. Dark coral buds with green tips open to paler flowers about now. Sun or part shade. Good drainage, average watering while growing. Protect from cold outside USDA zone 9. rev 2/2015-Suzy Brooks 

Alopecurus pratensis 'Aureus'  GOLDEN FOXTAIL GRASS   striking foliage forms a charming, casual clump of gold, arching leaves. Best color is in sun but it will take part shade. Makes a meadow by itself in a large pot, or add it to a woodland garden. A foot tall, twice as wide, takes heat if it has regular watering. Has foxtail-like flower/seed heads, but they're not the nasty kind that get in your dog's fur. They are held on tall stalks in spring. USDA zone 5. rev 6/2016-Suzy Brooks 

Aloysia triphylla  LEMON VERBENA  flowers  deciduous shrub or small tree to 15’ tall by 20’ wide at a moderate pace. Bears narrow leaves heavily scented with lemon. Short spikes of fragrant white flowers appear in summer. Sun, average to little summer watering required. Damaged by frost below 25°F. Argentina, Chile. Verbenaceae.

Alyssum wulfenianum 'Golden Sprint' PP25710  MADWORT    first flowers   an alpine species, with greyish foliage, a very low, creeping habit and yellow flowers in short clusters beginning in late spring. Full sun, good drainage, well-suited to containers. Very frost hardy - USDA zone 4/Sunset zones 1-9, 15-17. rev 4/2016

Alpinia galanga  GALANGAL, GREATER GALANGA, THAI GINGER  young garden plant  a clumping, rather narrow, gracile ginger relative to 5-6' tall, with wonderfully fragrant foliage and rhizomes. Responsible for one of the characteristic flavors of many Southeastern Asian cuisines, it is especially characteristic of Thai cuisine.The flavor of fresh rhizome is different from and distinctly superior to that of the dried form. Narrow, dark green leaves reach 6" long. Slender terminal flower spikes bear a few scattered small, spidery, fragrant, creamy white flowers in summer, if you get enough heat. We haven't seen them yet in our climate, even in coldframes or greenhouses, but they should be expected in Southern California and the Central Valley. Reported hardy (deciduous) to USDA zone 7-8 (roughly Sunset zone 5), it grows well from there through the almost tropical USDA zone 11. Can be grown in mostly sun, but it seems to like the combination of heat and half shade best. For best growth give it rich, moist soil. It makes a very effective, almost bamboo-like container plant. There is another galanga, Lesser Galanga (Kaempferia galanga), also used as a spice. The terms greater/lesser refer to plant size, not desirability. Southeast Asia. Zingiberaceae. rev 10/2010

intermedia 'Sun Spice'  variegation pattern  humble flowers   this is an intriguing foliage plant, growing a couple of feet tall and sporting rather rounded, ginger-type leaves on typical short canes. The green and golden variegation varies, but is usually boldy striped. This is a useful variety because it stays contained and is of restrained proportions. Use it where Variegated Shell Ginger would overgrow the available space. It does very well as a container plant. The flowers are small, in narrow spikes, are produced in late summer, and are noticeable, and intriguing, but not showy, and very sparse on this variegated form. They are nicely fragrant though. It definitely does better in warm (as opposed to cool, or cold and miserable) aspects, and with part sun. Mature growth (larger leaves, long internodes) is substantially more vigorous than the shorter-leaved, tighter-internode juvenile phase growth. In full, hot sun it burns, in cold, wet soils it stalls, in frost it freezes down. USDA zone 8/Sunset 5, 8-9, 12-24. Japan. rev 3/2015  

nutans  DWARF CARDAMOM  humble flowers  juvenile foliage  mature stand at Sea World, San Diego  a compact upright plant to 24-36" tall, spreading slowly as a clump. It is not true cardamom, Amomum cardamon, but does have a very nutmeg-like or cardamom-like fragrance. I can't wait to try throwing some leaves on the Weber, along with bay and allspice leaves, when I am cooking fish, steak or ribs. That ought to bring the neighborhood around! The flowers are white, tend to remain closed, and are held on spikes barely as tall as the leaves. Grow this one also for the wonderful appearance of its lush, broad, deep blue green leaves with bronzy tones, and its rather formal, compact appearance. It is dimorphic, with rounder, shorter, darker green juvenile foliage on stems to less than 2' tall when young. After a year or two in the ground the larger and relatively longer (to 12") and lighter colored mature foliage appears on stems to 36" tall. It does very well in containers. Seems to grow in full sun with watering and tolerate almost full shade, probably it likes part sun best. It appreciates rich soil, good drainage, and regular watering for best appearance. This has been a good, easy, vigorous grower for us here on the cool Central Coast, should be even better in areas with more heat. Frost hardy to USDA zone 8/Sunset zone 8. Moluccas (Indonesia). rev 3/2005

'Variegated' VARIEGATED DWARF CARDAMOM  foliage closeup  a striped form found within one of our own blocks, the variegation ranges from broadly edged in with almost no green to evenly distributed green stripes. Same small flowers, infrequently seen. To about 12-16", growing as a compact clump. My wife Molly (I call call her "my focus group of one") really likes this plant, and that is always a good indicator of a good seller. rev 4/2011

zerumbet  SHELL GINGER  striking leaves   commercial-landscape tough!  flowers  a robust, subtropical rhizomatous foliage plant, usually growing to about 6-7' tall, with striking dark green leaves to 10" long or more. It is dimorphic, with differential juvenile and adult foliage. The juvenile leaves are smaller, rounder, softer, and have much shorter internodes. Most plants for sale in nurseries usually exhibit this foliage. As the plant matures the leaves become larger, longer, and much harder and tougher, with longer internodes. It can take considerable frost (USDA zone 7, Sunset zone 7), behaving as a deciduous perennial. Recovery is much faster in hot spring/summer climates. The habit is narrow to spreading, but mostly upright, so it can be trimmed and used in narrow spaces or containers. This one is excellent combined with other foliage plants and really comes into its own against a wall. Its clean, neat habit and lack of litter makes it a favorite of commercial landscapers. Its strong outline and large size make it a natural focal point plant. It produces drooping terminal spikes with pointed, pearly white flowers with pink tips that open briefly to display broad intense orange red lower lips with brilliant yellow and red striped picotee edges. In tropical climates flowering time is primarily late winter to spring on second year canes, but I see the flowers in spring and summer in our cool coastal climate. Southeast Asia. rev 3/2007

‘Variegata’  VARIEGATED SHELL GINGER  nice clump  foliage  at the Huntington  usually seen growing to 5-6',  splashed with light golden rays. It will eventually bloom, usually during the warm season in our climate. The all-green form does bloom along the coast. Give it at least some direct sun, or very bright indirect light, or the leaves will turn almost all green. It also tends to show much less variegation when mature, and if you want the much brighter juvenile foliage you should cut it back every other year or so to force new juvenile growth from below. It makes an adaptable container plant. rev 12/2005
Alstroemeria hybrids  PERUVIAN LILY   named for a Swedish botanist and student of Linnaeus, Klas van Alstroemer. There are about 50 species, most with short bloom times. Flowers range from white, orange, and yellow through pink, red, and violet purple and are produced from semideciduous rhizomes. They grow best in full to just part sun with some summer watering in our dry Western climates. They will tolerate at least 15-20°F in the ground and probably much lower, since A. aurantiaca,  one of the important species used, will easily survive in Portland gardens (USDA zone 8). Until recently even modern hybrids needed cool soil temperatures for flower initiation, and would stop blooming with the onset of higher summer temperatures. Many of the newest releases have reduced this problem. Cut flowers are harvested commercially by twisting and pulling the stem from the base, detaching it from the rhizome cleanly and reportedly limiting clump dieback that starts in stems which are cut instead of yanked out. USDA zone 8/Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24. South America. Alstroemeriaceae. rev 5/2017
Inca Series  a new release from Konst in the Netherlands, with future selections on the way. These are compact to ultra-compact hybrids, varying widely in size and color, for landscape and container use. They will continue to bud with all but the highest summer soil temperatures. rev 5/2017
'Bandit'   flowers   rich, deep, intense red. And very compact,  just 8-12" tall. rev 5/2017  *New for 2017!*
'Lolly'   flowers   deep, clear true red, to 8-12" tall. rev 5/2017 *New for 2017!*
'Lucky'  flowers  white with deep red at the very base of each petal. Another ultra-compact grower, 8-12". rev 5/2017
'Milva'  flowers  center three petals are pale yellow, whitish sepals have pale violet tips and reddish reverses. 8-12". rev 5/2017
'Replay'  flowers  strong, rich violet purple, on taller stalks to 12-18" tall.  rev 5/2017 *New for 2017!*
'Rock 'n Roll'   mesmerizing flowers    those wild leaves!  strongly variegated leaves, dark green around the edge and creamy white in the middle. This is one of those plants that make you wonder how it grows at all, it has so little green. But it seems to size up and spread itself quite nicely! Flowers are brilliant red orange, the effect is blinding and mesmerizing at the same time. To about 18-24" tall. rev 5/2017 *New for 2017!*
'Sundance'   flowers  dense and compact, about 12-16", in warm, butterscotch yellow and pale salmon. Many flowers per stalk. rev 5/2017 *New for 2017!*
'Indian Summer'     hot colors     vigorous plant       chocolate-colored leaves offset large, open-faced flowers that are intense yellow and rosy orange. Always an eye-catcher, and one people always comment on  To about 30" tall. These flowers can last two weeks in a vase, and the clumps themselves will keep flowering into fall. Sun to part shade, infrequent summer watering needed (but make sure they get at least some!), flower best with at least seasonal fertilizing. USDA 6. rev 6/2016
‘Regina’  closeup  dusky pink flowers with mauve markings on the widely flared petal tips. A sterile, everblooming commercial cut flower variety that grows strongly to 3-4’. This old variety, along with 'Harmony,' its more salmony-orange sibling, was one of the first patented hybrids developed for the cut trade. They were also the first that made it into the container trade and hence gardens, and are both still two of the best for size, foliage quality, stem length, bud count, flower conformation, productivity, and overall garden performance. 'Regina' has proved to be the more popular color. rev 5/2016
‘Third Harmonic’  closeup  spring closeup  planting  a hybrid of ‘Harmony’ and A. aurantiaca, this variety performs as well in the garden and when cut as the wonderful 'Harmony,' and has essentially replaced that variety in the lineup. It bears medium orange flowers with a touch of taupe pink, is everblooming and sterile. A strong grower to 3-4’, it was created by the ultimate Alstro collector, amateur breeder and tireless UCSC Arboretum volunteer George Hare of Bonny Doon. An exceptionally productive variety, it also is about a month later coming into bloom than the other florist types but is a very good continuous producer once it starts and is probably the best yellow-orange available. rev 5/2016

Alyogyne huegelii 'Swan River'   BLUE HIBISCUS  closeup    more    typical blooming plant, Aromas  medium purple blue, darker than the "regular old trade form," which is actually the variety ‘Santa Cruz,’ but not as dark as ‘Monterey Bay.’ Has better form than either, more compact and denser foliaged, and the flowers are thicker textured, somewhat fuller, and with a conspicuous overlapping “propeller” form. This variety is close to the form found in nature (or rather, formerly found in nature) near Moora, Western Australia. In fact, this form is probably the result of that Moora form crossed with ‘Santa Cruz,’ as is ‘Monterey Bay.’ During the deep drought of 1977-78, the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz had a severe deer problem, resulting in the continual browsing of the young growth of the Alyogynes growing there. The plants developed into beautiful, dense, dome shaped shrubs covered with purple flowers. Prune constantly and don’t worry about removing buds - there will be plenty more! At the very least cut it back twice a year. Sun to part shade, little or no summer watering when established. Best with good drainage, but will tolerate relatively heavy soils if summer watering is infrequent. This plant will be killed by temperatures between 20-25°F and will probably be cut to the ground by 25°F for more than a single night. From UC Santa Cruz. Western Australia. Malvaceae. rev 6/2005

Alyssum wulfenianum 'Golden Sprint' PP25710  MADWORT    first flowers   an alpine species, with greyish foliage, a very low, creeping habit and yellow flowers in short clusters beginning in late spring. Full sun, good drainage, well-suited to containers. Very frost hardy - USDA zone 4/Sunset zones 1-9, 15-17. rev 11/2016

Amorphophallus konjac  DWARF TITAN LILY, VOODOO LILY, KONJAC  5 feet tall in Borneo   in our greenhouses   30" tall, one year, my yard  this is a smaller, hardy version of the largest composite flower in the world, A. titanum. We are growing it because these are very interesting plants and also because I was inspired by Ernesto Sandoval of UC Davis, the Ayatollah of Smelly-ola (he's an expert on the genus), who tells me this is truly garden-hardy outside in most of California (see zones) without needing to be lifted. He says it has taken rain and cold temps even in the Central Valley. This is noteworthy because even though this thing will grow outside in Missouri, it is those long, cold, wet, miserable winters that really sorts out the tropicals. I have had no problem with it in my perched soils in Santa Cruz, right through a very wet winter. It flowered in April and began producing new leaves early in june. It produces a single dramatic leaf to 3-5' tall, somewhat like a dwarf palm tree, with a single large, thick petiole broken into a single large, palmately divided leaf. The green petiole can be up to 4" thick and is intriguingly mottled with darker spots. When the bulb is mature and large enough it also produces a single flower stalk to 3-6' tall, before the new leaf appears. The narrow, dark maroon spathe surrounds a tall, narrow light colored flower cone. The entire inflorescence has no smell except for a week or so,  when it smells somwehere between an old garbage can and a dead horse, depending on the size of the flower. The plant is worth growing much more for the leaf than the flower just because it adds a very alien, odd appearance to a garden. It does very well as a container plant, the bulb growing large each year and producing many offsets.Rich soil, full to part sun, average watering. The very large tuber (many pounds!)  produces a starch which is utilized as food in many parts of tropical Southeast Asia. Eventually it will clump and produce a cluster of giant leves. Small quantities only!  Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24/USDA zone 7. Southeast Asia. Araceae. rev 5/2016

Anacampseros telephiastrum 'Variegata'     "an ancient name for herbs that restore lost love"?? This small, overly-cute succulent thing has small, close, chunky dark leaves green leaves separated by a few wispy white hairs. Small bright pink flowers are seen in summer. Only inches tall and clumping, it can be a groundcover under a larger plant, be used in combination with others, or can fill its own small container. Part sun, good drainage, dislikes cold. House or patio plant. USDA 9 (protected)-10. South Africa. Portulacaeae. rev 2/2015 

Anagallis 'Compact Blue'    definitely blue   here's a little mound of dark true blue to add sparkle to flower beds, borders, or pots! About 8-10" tall and wide. Likes sun and average watering. This is the first form we've grown that hasn't completely fallen apart with the onset of heat. Until now they have mostly proved adaptable as far south as Victoria, British Columbia. Sunset zones 4-9,12-24/USDA 7. rev  6/2013-Suzy Brooks 

Anemia tomentosa   DORADILLA   "flower" spike    leaves  this aromatic species is used for a variety of things that ail you and is even collected commercially for sale as a dried medicinal herb. It has a delicious fragrance when bruised, like intense, sweet cedar wood, due to mostly sesquiterpenes with antimicrobial properties. The scent really is addicting, I bruise a few leaves every time I walk by. The rather ordinary, soft, tomentose, mostly triangluar fronds get about a foot long, and the "flower" (spore) spike gets about a foot tall as well. This will take rather dry conditions when established but prefers good drainage. It grows naturally on rocky hillsides in shaded sites. Part sun, infrequent watering when established, grows fine in containers of course. Sunset zones 7-9, 12-24/USDA zone 8. rev 9/2012 

Anemone 'Pretty Lady' series  
'Pretty Lady Diana'   'Pretty Lady Emily'    'Pretty Lady Julia'   nothing signals the changing of the seasons as the Japanese Anemone! The buds are charming as they rise above the dark green leaves and open to flowers that are simply elegant . The 'Pretty Lady' series are compact, under 2' tall, and will hold up to the rains without staking. They are profuse bloomers with 2" flowers through fall and make nice little clumps for borders, beds, and containers. Sun or part shade, more shade in hot areas, regular waterings. All Sunset zones/USDA 5. rev 9/2011-Suzy Brooks

Anigozanthos hybrids  KANGAROO PAWS  clumping evergreen plants with grass-like foliage that bear tall stalks of fuzzy, unusual, tubular flowers, often in striking colors. They can be used as focal point specimens or massed in banks. All make excellent cut flowers or container plants. Sun to part shade, average drainage (at least), little summer watering when established. They do well in pots and are pretty forgiving. I can't figure out what their flower initiation signal is, they seem to be continuously in bloom. They may initiate at cool (not cold) temperatures and so be everblooming along the coast. They will survive 20°F by resprouting from below. The hybrid varieties we offer are more disease resistant and vigorous than the species. Famous local landscape designer Dave Leroy opines that the dwarf forms are best used in situations where snail/slug loads are minimal else they will eat through the base of the emerging stems until they fall over. The tall forms grow fast enough and harden quickly enough that this is usually not a problem, but the dwarf forms he prefers require siting in either drier or more inland situations or conscientious baiting. Most of the following varieties are hardy to Sunset zone 8, USDA zone 9. Haemodoraceae. Australia. rev 5/2006

'Amber Velvet' PP18,999     paws   another one of the Ranger Series, with plenty of large flowers on a compact plant. To 12-16" tall, flower spikes to 36-40", light orange and light red. Appreciates sun, good drainage, and regular water. Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24/USDA 9.   rev 11/2010
‘Big Red’  flowers  at Strybing Arboretum  big (6'), and red, dark red. One of the easiest and most adaptable, inkspot resistant. rev 11/2003
'Big Roo Orange'       typical dark green, spiky leaves to a foot and a half and flower stalks to 3', with the paws in shades of orange. rev 10/2014-Suzy Brooks 
'Bush Blaze'  closeup  a vigorous deep red, with green interiors. To 3' tall. rev 5/2005
‘Bush Dawn’  closeup  produces dense clouds of light yellow flowers, aging to green, to 4-5' tall. A robust, durable, adaptable variety. rev 7/2003
'Bush Devil'  closeup of flowers  2-3', bright red. rev 12/2010
'Bush Ember'
  flowers  a compact growing variety, to about 18", with greenish tubes covered with red and violet hairs, a strange combination that ends up looking like burnt orange. rev 7/2005
'Bush Illusion'  flowers  pale green flowers covered with coral red and violet hairs, overall light coral flower color, to 3'. rev 7/2005
'Bush Nugget'  flowers  compact growing to 18-24", reddish stalks with clear yellow flowers covered with large, coarse yellow fur. rev 7/2005
'Bush Pearl'    flowers   whole bunch!   like 'Pink Joey,' but very compact, to just 18" tall. rev 6/2013
‘Bush Ranger’  spectacular landscape specimen  a dwarf grower, to just 18" tall, with bright red flower spikes of excellent color. A very vigorous, reliable variety for landscaper David Leroy. Full sun. rev 5/2006
'Bush Royal Mist'  flowers  light green flowers are dusted with occasional violet hairs, and have bright red, showy bases against light green stems that are covered with more red hairs. This species definitely shows some of the same amazing color combination as A. 'Blue,' but is more subtle. Intermediate growth, to probably 30" tall. rev 8/2007 
'Bush Sunset'  closeup  to 5-6', dark orange red. rev 5/2005
'Bush Tango'  closeup  bright orange, 3-4'. rev 3/2005 
dwarf red  a small, grassy grower to just about 12" tall (including flower spikes), its flowers are bright red at the base and green with dark purply blue green hairs the rest of the way to the tip. Stalks are sprinkled with bright red hairs. Probably best in containers in light soil, but worth a try outside if drainage is good. rev 11/2002
‘Gold Fever’  a strong, adaptable, medium size grower, to 30", with brilliant yellow to yellow orange flowers of excellent color against green stems. Inkspot resistant. rev 11/2003
'Gold Velvet' PP21178  nice big flowers  a midsized Kangaroo Paw just right for landscape, flower bed or border, and containers. The golden yellow flowers repeat bloom into summer and make the most interesting bouquets. This clumper grows about 20-28" tall and, with flowers, to 3-3 1/2' tall. rev 2/20214-Suzy Brooks 
‘Harmony’  nice plant, UCSC Arboretum   closeup of yellow on red   young plant  tall, strong growth to 6', featuring rather open flower spikes. The stalk itself is dark red, the flowers are bright citron yellow, with green mouths as usual. This variety is very similar to 'Yellow Gem' but the flower spike is more open and is more red than orange.  This variety has reportedly been lost in Australia, probably due to local disease. A two year old plant of this variety was killed by five nights at 25°F. rev 5/2005
'JoJo Orange'   blooming   just like 'JoJo Yellow' but flowers light orange, maturing to gold. rev 7/2012
'JoJo Yellow'   blooming   an ultracompact yet vigorous and floriferous strain, reaching about a foot tall and wide at maturity, maybe a little more. This is a really vigorous strain, and it is best suited for container culture. Sun to part shade, usual soil and watering. Sunset zones 9, 16-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9 or as patio containers anywhere. rev 7/2012 
'Kanga' series dwarf growers, to just 12-18", with flowers compactly clustered near the tops of the stalks. Spikes reach to about 2' tall. A really good, compact strain, very good for containers. rev 4/2016
'Kanga' Burgundy  flowers   deep violet-burgundy flowers, becomine lighter violet when opening. rev 4/2016
'Kanga' Red  flowers    intense red-orange flowers. rev 4/2016
'Orange Cross'  closeup  garden  listed as a synonym of 'Gold Fever.' Also, as far as I can tell this identical to 'Tequila Sunrise.' rev 10/2009
'Pink Beauty'   wonderful flowers   a small (about 2' tall and wide), very compact new Ball Horticulture introduction that has really shocking pink flowers, much stronger in color than the old standby 'Pink Joey.' In fact consider this an improved 'Pink Joey.' It shows a touch of lavender or blue near the flower tips, just like some of the legendary Western Australian species. Typical K-Paws conditions, mostly sun, at least average drainage, infrequent to moderate summer watering, no fertilizing or at least no phosphate, and if it goes below 25F you probably get to decide whether you want to plant the same plant there or try something new. It does fabulously in containers, at least until it gets old and big and tired out after a few years. Flower initiation is short day or facultative short day. rev 1/2013
‘Pink Joey’  closeup, greenhouse flower color  established plant, outdoor flower color  possibly one of several strains so labeled. An A. flavidus species selection, the original was found growing wild in a variable population in the Margaret River region in 1965. Bright, clear pink buds dusted with grey mature to form a flower with a deep lavender pink base and grey green outer segment. One of the most strikingly colored varieties, and easy to grow too. Its A. flavidus origin brings with it natural disease resistance as well as very valuable snail resistance. It is also another excellent commercial cut flower variety. A handful of stems in a vase always brings a comment! It is a smaller grower than most of the wild types, to 4’. Cut to the ground at 25°F but regrew the following year. rev 5/2003
'Red Cross'    flowers garden    flowers sky   a tall, robust grower, with very dark red flowers in open spikes that reach 6' in the ground. One of the original hybrid crosses. rev 3/2014
‘Regal Claw’
  flowers  warm red orange buds open to large, light green flowers, a striking color combination. To 4-5'. rev 7/2003
'Regal Velvet'   from the Velvet Range collection, large flowers on compact, disease resistant foliage. Green and red flowers on 4' spikes, leaves 18-24" tall. rev 10/2010 
‘Royal Cheer’  xeric garden  very close to the outrageously showy species A. manglesii but even brighter and showier, and a little easier to grow. It is a smaller grower, to about 2', with wide, rather lax, dark green leaves, and wildly colorful, felty red stalks and bud bases that contrast with large, very blue green flowers. This one is fussy about drainage (must be good), soil (must be light and mineral), watering (must be adequate but infrequent, especially in summer), and climate (must be Mediterranean in nature, with not-too-stressful summer heat). But it is very, very good and well worth the trouble if you can give it what it wants. Otherwise just enjoy it as either a short term garden color item or a long term outdoor bouquet. It probably does best in a container that doesn't get too hot but is almost certainly short-lived no matter where it is. Of course it makes an outstanding cut flower. rev 7/2003
rufus 'Backdraft'     floccose buds  though our first flowers haven't opened yet, the flowers in this selection will be intense, dark red, just like its wild species parent. Stalks reach 3' tall, foliage is nicely silver or slightly bluish, and offset the flowers wonderfully. Clumping, with very narrow leaves to 18" tall for sun or a modest amount of shade,  needs good drainage with very occasional watering. A superior cut flower. USDA 8/Sunset 8-9, 15-24. rev 2/2015 
'Tequila Sunrise'  flowers   luminous, glowing orange and red orange tones. See 'Orange Cross.' To 5'. rev 10/2009
'Velvet Ruby'   intense red color   one of the Velvet Range hybrids with flowers that really are ruby - deep red with just a hint of blue undertone, pointing to its A. manglesii parentage. Flowers reach 3' tall, foliage is green, clean, compact to 2'. rev 2/2014
‘Yellow Gem’  nursery plants blooming  brilliant citron yellow flowers are held against orange red stems. The clusters age to coral orange. This cultivar is very similar to ‘Harmony’ but smaller, with less color on the lower flower stems, and much shorter overall height. In addition the flower clusters are more compact, with shorter internodes. To 3-4’ tall, an excellent cut flower and landscape variety of medium size. rev 8/2005

Aquilegia vulgaris  deciduous perennials, deep rooted and self-seeding. Frost hardy to Sunset zone 1/USDA zone 4. Ranunculaceae. rev 4/2014

Backing Hills     wonderful color and contrast!   lime green leaves, and short spurred flowers of pink, lilac, or white, nodding on the dark stems are as fresh as spring! In the ground or pots, it adds colors and texture to the garden, while making a mound of foliage about 12" tall. Part sun or shade, average to little watering. All Sunset zones/USDA 5. rev 4/2014-Suzy Brooks 

Woodside Goldspot   flowers   foliage   a very nice variegated, blue flowering strain which seeds very true. Dark green leaves are splattered with warm gold, which colors pinken up with cool weather. Double pendant flowers of very dark purple blue bloom mid spring then sporadically until late summer or early fall. Medium height, to 24"-30" in bloom on mature plants in the ground. rev 4/2014

Arachniodes davalliaeformis  SHINY BRISTLE FERN   deep green fronds  an evergreen, upright grower with thick fronds that don't feel like a regular fern at all, they're stiff like plastic! But they are very pretty, excellent cut and added to a vase. A slow, upright grower to 18-24" tall and clumping. Likes moist soil and shade, would be nice in a container. Sunset zones 8, 9, 14-24/USDA 7. Polypodiaceae. Southern Japan. rev 3/20120

simplicior  VARIEGATED SHIELD FERN  leaves  an attractive but slow growing fern with glossy, dark green triangular fronds with a light golden green stripe along the midrib. It only gets to 1-2' tall at maturity. Exact cold hardiness is unknown, but is hardy enough to be grown outside in much of California. This plant is often incorrectly sold as Variegated Leather Leaf Fern, Rumohra adiantiformis ‘Variegated.’ China, Japan. rev 11/2010

standshii  UPSIDE DOWN FERN   frond   so called because it looks like the nicely texturedfrond is turned over, and you're looking at the underside. Bright green new foliage, soft texture, very pretty. It has furry feet that slowly creep, gets 2-3' tall. Likes shade and moist soil. Sunset zones 6-9, 14-24/USDA 7. Japan. rev 10/2010 

Aralia cordata 'Sun King'   luminous foliage!   our related native species (A. californica), at Henry Cowell State Park    turn the light on in your shade garden with this glowing, golden shrub! A deciduous, clumping, soft-wooded shrub with basal shoots growing to 3-6' or more, it tolerates full sun through deep shade. This is a close relative and near look-alike of our native Elk Clover (A. californica), a bold, huge-leaved plant found growing in deep shade and cobbly/gravelly soils along our streambeds. Spikes of small white flowers in summer turn into chains of purple-black, bird-friendly berries in fall. Will tolerate almost any soil but does best in rich, moist conditions protected from strong winds. The pithy cores of the stems are used for food in Japan, and have an interesting resinous flavor. The young shoots can directly be turned into tempura, or sliced thinly and sauteed in soy sauce and a little balsamic vinegar. Alternatively you can peel those young shoots and eat their core raw, older/harder stems will need to be pared with a knife. The root is used as a stand-in for ginseng, to which it is relatively closely related (same family.) Deer resistant!. All Sunset zones/USDA 4. Eastern Asia. Araliaceae. rev 7/2014 Brooks

Arbutus  STRAWBERRY TREE, MADRONE   trees and shrubs, native to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean basin and North America. Most feature attractive bark to at least some degree, and especially prized are those with peeling bark similar to our native Madrone, A. menziesii. Ericaceae. rev 3/2016

‘Marina’  flowers  fruit  bark  young tree in front of 620 Washington St. (John Werner House/German-Methodist Parsonage, 1860's)  commercial planting  street trees  evergreen tree offering bark and habit similar to our native Madrone (A. menziesii), but much easier to cultivate. Leaves are smaller, not as glossy, and flowers are pink, borne in pendant clusters in summer. Fruit is large, red, quite ornamental. The best feature is that wonderful, smooth red brown bark that peels off to reveal the green to tan new bark beneath. Also distinctive are the sinewy branches and trunks. Most probably this "hybrid" is simply a seedling of A. canariensis. Sun to part shade, little or no summer watering when established, at least average drainage. Hardy to at least 15°F based on our experience, estimate USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24. Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation. Ericaceae. rev 6/2015

'Spring Frost' TM (MBAV13, PP26579)   leaves and flowers    more leaves  our brand-new introduction,  a very nicely variegated sport of 'Marina' that Manuel himself found in a production block. The leaves have a very clean, edge-variegation, creamy white against the very deep green older leaves, with bright burgundy red stems showing behind both. In summer the white deepens to green, and by the following year those leaves will form a backdrop for those highly variegated new growth in spring, also deep coral pink flowers from early fall through spring. The crisp contrast and makes for a really clean look.  As trees get larger the contrast becomes more dramatic, and the variegation seems stronger just due to increased foliage. As far as we can tell this grows about as fast and big as its parent variety, so we're going to project final spec's as being the same or just slightly smaller. Fruit set is slightly lower, which means they will be about as showy but an even better choice wherever foot traffic or debris cleanup is a consideration. Estimate USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24. rev 3/2016  MBN INTRODUCTION-2015

unedo ‘Oktoberfest’  flowers   15 year old plants at Manuel's house  seems to grow to an ultimate height of about 8’ in favorable locations, with a similar spread. This choice variety grows with shorter internodes, resulting in a more even, dense habit than seen from the usual seedlings. In addition it produces a heavy show of beautiful, dark rosy pink flowers in late winter and early spring. It sets a nice show of typical, large, orange red berries which begin to ripen and show color in late summer and fall. Will tolerate soils of poor fertility, drainage of slightly below average or better, and needs infrequent (but some!) summer watering except in very near-coastal zones or maritime climates. Very frost hardy, to USDA zone 7/Sunset 5-9, 12-24. This superior, relatively compact (not dwarf!) selection of A. unedo was discovered and introduced by the Gerd Schneider. rev 3/2016

Arctostaphylos  MANZANITA  Manzanitas range in their difficulty of cultivation. In general, the burl forming species are considered extremely difficult and aren't offered commercially except by specialists, while the non-burl forming types are more adaptable. All have tiny bell shaped flowers, usually produced in late winter. Many have attractive berries which remain on the plant into fall. Although we Californians usually focus on foliage and flowers when selecting manzanitas, the striking bark and twisted, sinewy branches we take for granted are often their very best features. It is hard to think of another group of plants which are as ornamental when not in flower. Almost all need average to good drainage, with as little watering during the warm summer months as possible, although in the hottest climates they will usually need help when young or planted outside their native range. All are considered frost hardy enough for most California zones. If you plan to use them in the more extreme California bioclimes (desert, High Sierra, or Great Basin), you will need to seek out local native species raised by specialists. Manzanitas in general are poor container subjects, disliking any form of water stress and especially hot roots. Ericaceae. rev 12/2002

densiflorus ‘Howard McMinn’  growth habit   flowers   showy red leaf galls  probably the most adaptable manzanita. To 4-7’ tall, 6-8’ wide (unpruned), with dense, compact foliage and clusters of tiny, showy white flowers tinged light pink in late winter. Dark brown bark adorns typical beautiful trunks. Easy, dependable. Tolerant of a wide range of soils and climates. This shrub is easy and reliable enough to justify being considered "just another landscape shrub" when planning a yard or commercial design. I usually recommend retail nurseries remove it from the bed where it is usually banished to, the "natives section," and merchandise it next to the Escallonia ‘Fradesii’ and Laurus nobilis in the hedge or shrub section. It generally lives when planted, and lives quite a long time. It can be clipped, pruned occasionally for height/shape, or just left alone to fill out naturally. It will naturally drop its lower branches as it ages, something you may or may not want and a feature that can be controlled (somewhat) by pruning. The red leaf galls are usually seen and are the result of an insect. They are essentially benign and require a fair amount of chemical application to prevent. Consider them part of the overall beauty of the plant and enjoy them because they really are pretty and very showy. rev 1/2010

edmundsii ‘Carmel Sur’  dense park planting  foliage closeup  ground cover to 1’ tall, 12’ wide, slow when young. Produces beautiful, shiny foliage with coppery new growth. This species is native to the Big Sur coast, usually on freely drained mineral soils. It doesn't like sprinklers, too much heat, or bad drainage.

‘Emerald Carpet’  young planting  foliage  an evergreen groundcover to 1’ tall, 6-8’ wide. Favored by many landscapers as the manzanita of choice for inland situations, though it is still best and only really reliable under cool summer conditions. Dark green leaves, compact growth, relatively tolerant of adverse soil conditions. Needs good drainage. rev 11/2007

manzanita 'Dr. Hurd'    young garden plant   if you see a large, tree-like, upright manzanita in a garden, and it doesn't have greyish leaves, this is what it is. Flowers are white, from mid winter to early spring, depending on how the temperatures go. The de-facto standard large variety for many years, it is respectably garden tolerant, especially for a first-generation derived selection, which is quite unusual. To 6-8' in good situations, meaning good drainage, little summer watering, and not the hottest, most shade-free spots in the hottest-summer climates like the Central Valley or near-desert areas. If you can extend spring, and hurry fall, with a little well-timed irrigation supplied during cooler periods, your plant will be happier and live longer than if you try to water through the summer. Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24/USDA. rev 8/2014

uva-ursi  this species is not only found across the US, it is actually circumpolar, and found in Europe and Asia as well. It is always an evergreen, prostrate form. rev 5/2011

‘Green Supreme’  lush, shiny foliage  a very fast growing selection with bright green leaves. Branches root in as they travel. This variety may prove to be the most garden worthy and dependable of the prostrate varieties. I haven't seen it flower. rev 5/2006
'Massachusetts'
BEARBERRY, KINNIKINNICK  bright leaves   this is the same species as our own California native version except it is far cold hardier and more tolerant of summer watering. To under a foot tall, spreading as an open mat to perhaps 6-8' across, with very dark green leaves, moderately showy white flowers in spring, and moderately noticable red fruit. It has been so long since we have had this in our catalog we may as well call it "new."
rev 4/2011   
‘Point Reyes’  foliage  habit  evergreen groundcover to 1’ tall by 10’ wide, eventually. Foliage is dark green and compact. Berries are noticeable and pretty, but not spectacular. Adaptable, one of the best California A. uva-ursi varieties for use in inland areas.
‘Radiant’  foliage closeup  to 1’ tall, 10’ wide. New growth and young twigs are coppery red. Berries are bright red and rather showy, unlike all the other commonly available landscape groundcover strains. Not quite as adaptable as ‘Point Reyes,’ but showier, somewhat more formal, and much faster, with branches stretching out 2' or more in each direction from the centers per season when young. rev 5/2006

Arctotis acaulis and hybrids   AFRICAN DAISY  clumping perennials to 1’ tall by 3-4’ wide but newer hybrids can be smaller and substantially more compact. Leaves vary from rather open and grey green to quite compact and grey white. Flower color ranges from white and yellow through violet. Blooms can appear at almost any time of year, especially under cool conditions, but are heaviest in fall, late winter and spring. Give them full to half sun, moderate to little summer watering, and average to poor soils. In rich soils with regular irrigation they can become unkempt. Damaged by frost below 25F but usually recovering from the roots at temps close to 20F. Sunset zones 7-9, 14-24/USDA 8. South Africa. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 2/2009

'Bumble Bee' PP 19,170   flowers   bright, intense yellow against quite grey foliage. Compact but fast and spreading.  rev 5/2008 
'Cherry Frost'  flowers  intense red against very low, very grey foliage. Compact.  rev 9/2010
'Peachy Mango' TM  flowers   luminous, glowing orange pink, mostly grey foliage. Compact. rev 5/2008 
'Pink Creeper'      pink and creepy     silver and pink are such a pleasing combination and to find it with a cheerful daisy face! Shades of pink to dark rose with a sparkly dark center and beautiful buds, a cool season bloomer of low maintenance and needing just average watering. 8-12" tall and spreading makes it a terrific groundcover, rose companion, or a nice subject for containers. rev 5/2015-Suzy Brooks 
'Pink Sugar' TM   flowers  stronger than pink, a luminous magenta watermelon actually, with a warm apricot yellow center. Foliage is silvery, habit is somewhate compact but robust enough to shoulder weeds aside. rev 3/2009
'Pumpkin Pie' PP14732   flowers   redder than orange, a hot, striking color. Foliage is grey green. Compact. rev 5/2008 
purple  closeup   landscape     happy garden  a stronger clumping grower, to 12" tall by 3-4' wide. Foliage is grey green, flowers are violet purple with a dark center. An old, reliable, tough landscape variety with enough mass to compete with weeds. rev 3/2009
'Ruby Creeper'   ruby petals   a very low growing, compact and dense perennial with silvery foliage with dark ruby red flowers from late fall through spring. New buds are almost black red. A wonderful, low maintenance groundcover or container subject. About 8-12" tall and spreads to form broad mats. rev 6/2013
'Sashe' TM    flowers   deep magenta rose petals shade to silvery lavender pink, with petals tips fading to white. Compact greyish foliage completes the package. rev 5/2008 
'Sunspot' PP14667   flowers   clear deep orange, grey green foliage. Compact. rev 5/2008 
'Vulcan'  big color  large, glowing, orange red daisies on silvery foliage bring fiery color to the winter and spring garden. Grows to about 12-16" tall and spreading, it makes a great goundcover or filler in a flower bed. Keeps blooming as long as the weather is cool. This is a branch sport we found on 'Purple'. The petals have a distinctive and different dark burgundy purple reverse. Sun or part shade, little summer water required once established. rev 6/2013 MBN INTRODUCTION-2011 
'Wine'   flowers   not wine colored, unless you are talking about my mother's afternoon glass of Vin Rose. "The doctor says it's good for my circulation" she used to say, like she needed any excuse with four kids, and my father. The flowers are light rosy violet, against grey green foliage. Another taller, clumping grower, big enough and robust enough to be used as a large scale groundcover. rev 3/2009 

Armeria Ornament Salmon     I think we were the very first nursery to separate this and other colors out from the mix, and offer them as standalone varieties, way back in 1989 as I recall. We dropped it at some point in the mid '90's, but here it is again. Still my favorite of the color range, possibly my favorite Armeria, and that is the reason I selected it. This is one of the tallest of the Sea Pinks, with 12-15" stems that are wonderful added to informal bouquets and add a whimsical touch lining a path  or border. Evergreen, and when not in bloom , offers bright green grassy leaves in tufts. Easy to grow in sun or part shade. They do appreciate good-draining soil, whether in the ground or in pots. Terrific in combination plantings, a shallow pot with succulents and rocks, or covering the ground under a tree rose. Average watering. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24/USDA 4. rev 2/2012

Artemisia  shrubs and perennials, mostly grown for silver or grey foliage effects. Most have bitter, aromatic foliage. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 2/2016

'Parfum d' Ethiopia'    ferny foliage from close    ferny foliage from far   this is a wonderful, large-textured, very silvery selection, probably of A. arborescens, with a sweet, warm, tarragon-like fragrance. Upright growing to about 12-18" (larger where it doesn't freeze down), it makes a superb foliage container plant, especially as a contrasting element for strong-colored flowers or other dramatic foliage plants. In the garden it can be used singly or massed. anywhere you have at least half sun and average soil/drainage/watering. Received a "Best of the Best 5/5" rating in a recent MSU garden trial. USDA zone 6/Sunset all zones. rev 2/2016 

‘Powis Castle’  foliage detail   nice plant, nice fence  a big, fast, soft, silvery, soft-wooded shrub or woody perennial with wonderfully silver, feathery leaves. This is probably a garden hybrid, likely A. arborescens x absinthium, and received an RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1993. Use it as an accent or backdrop for perennial gardens, or for contrast against darker backgrounds. With just moderate summer watering it is reliable and tough enough to make it in commercial landscapes. It tends to be only briefly deciduous in mild climates like ours. It lives for quite a few years but may need replacing after particularly long, wet, mild winters. It reaches 2-3’ tall, 3-6’ wide, unrestrained, and does well in containers if cut back seasonally in winter. Flowers are not showy, and aren't usually seen. USDA zone  6/Sunset all zones. Compositae/Asteraceae. Released from Powis Castle, Wales, in 1972. rev 5/2017

pedemontana   ALPINE SAGEBRUSH   ultrafine, silvery foliage  soft and silvery, these tiny leaves grow almost flat, forming a mat to 18" wide. The yellow flowers in early summer bring the height to about 12". Evergreen to semi-evergreen, it takes heat and drought, and likes good drainage. This is a bright little groundcover for containers, troughs, or between succulents. Sunset 1-7, 14-17, 23-24/USDA 3. rev 6/2011-Suzy Brooks

pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’  SAND DUNE SAGE  at Cabrillo  evergreen perennial native to California coastal strand dune communities. Grows as a compact white mound of distinctive, silvery white foliage to 1’ tall, 3’ wide. Flowers are noticeable but not showy, they go sideways, and are produced in summer. Sun, good drainage, little or no summer watering. Best in cooler coastal climates, but will grow in interior heat. rev 10/2012

schmidtiana 'Silver Mound'   dew-dappled foliage  properly 'Nana,' but no one would know it as such. Under 6", feathery grey green to silvery green leaves on very short stems. Winter deciduous, and tends to "travel" here, rooting out and away from its original planting spot. rev 5/2017

'Silverado'   leaves   more vertical habit and fuzzier leaves than 'Silver Mound,' but just as short and otherwise very similar. rev 5/20017  *New for 2017!*

Artichoke    giant perennial herbs related to thistle and sunflower, evergreen to summer dormant in most of California , where they grow as they do in their native Mediterranean climate, winter dormant but surviving in moderately colder climates. Here they are on the usual Mediterranean-plant schedule: short day or facultative short day growth and flower initiation (cool, moist), then long day dormancy (hot, dry). All varieties make wonderful ornamentals, with spiky, grey green to silvery whiet leaves getting prettier every day, then the spike bearing your edible bud, after that a giant purple thistle, and if cut and dried a great dried flower. They are an attention-getter if left to bloom, with that crown of silvery white leaves surrounding the outrageous purple flower. The plants go at least semi-dormant in summer, and come back bigger and better when they resume growth in very late summer or early fall.  For good eating quality heads, plan on cutting plants back in early fall in inland areas and growing on through cool, overcast winter weather. Hot weather causes the buds to bolt and limits climatic range. Plants need about 1300 hours below 50°F to fully vernalize and form buds early but plants are facultative long day bloomers and will initiate about a month later without chill. In coastal areas, plants can be cut back after harvest for repeat crops. In all areas, frost below 25°F will kill the plants back, but except for bronzing of outer petals on the heads, quality should be unaffected. In fact, some experts consider these “frost kissed” buds to be the best. Plants produce best if fed rather heavily when young and more moderately when mature. They will require watering at all stages for good production except very near the coast or in very rainy areas. They need at least average drainage or they will be prone to various root rots. For best results treat them to deep, rich soil and feed moderately heavily. Full sun, part sun if only used as an ornamental. Perennial in USDA zone 7-8/Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24. Mediterranean origin. Compositae/Asteraceae. rev 11/2014

Imperial Star (seedlings)  ARTICHOKE  ornamental clump, Huntington Botanic Gardens    ready to pick!   fun with flowers, by Virginia Bennett   amazing bloom, closeup  an improved strain from the California Cooperative Exchange Service, producing a good percentage of high grade heads. This line was selected for good uniformity and a better range of climatic adaptation. The plants will vary but most will have good flavor and produce slightly faster producer than many ‘Globe’ field divisions that are occasionally available in retail outlets. While the quality from the best of these is not as good as 'Green Globe,' the divisions of that variety are often plagued by remnants of root fungus from the fields, and even more so by virus and viroids spread from plant to plant by the artichoke knives used in harvesting. Most of these will produce decent heads, the most common faults being small size, thinner flesh and more spines. This line is best suited as a deciduous vegetable or ornamental for areas much colder in winter or hotter in summer than the commercial production areas located near the Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay Areas. In this seed strain 80% of plants will flower after just 200 hours of chill, which makes it an excellent variety for Southern California. rev 11/2014

'Imperial Condor'   glossy green, rounded heads, more oblong than 'Imperial Star,' with excellent tolerance to cool weather. Very productive, relatively uniform, thornless, to about 3-4' tall and wide. Plant them now for that nutty, eat-it-with-your-fingers treat next spring. And enjoy the beautiful, arching, grey green foliage and silvery new growth all winter. rev 10/2014-Suzy Brooks

Green Globe    dramatic plants!   the seed line of the division-grown commercial variety, which is itself actually an intermittently seed-grown reselected line. This is done when field plants become virused and the integrity of any divisions is in question. This is a good choice in or near any of the commercial areas. If you're willing to plant more than you need and rogue out the lower quality heads you should be able to emulate grocery-quality Green Globe heads almost exactly.  rev 11/2014 

Monterey Bay Giant   los grandes!   big, but not too big, nicely rounded, well proportioned, firm yet also soft and succulent. By the way did you know that one Norma Jeane Mortenson (Marilyn Monroe) was the very first Miss California Artichoke Queen ever to wear that auspicious crown in Castroville? That appearance was also one of her very first as a celebrity. Anyway, this is our very special and hard to get seed strain, derived by us from the ultra-special, top-secret modern hybrids currently being grown all around the Monterey Bay Area. No one else sells plants of this very hard-to-obtain seed line right now except us! It is typical of the modern, new generation hybrids that combine the genetics of the old Green Globe standby with the very latest and best Spanish and Italian cultivars. Commercial growers will grow a crop of these, then select an especially nice one (or several) for tissue culture and then mass production. These artichokes are the ones you find in the store with hearts so big you can't completely encircle them with your fingers, the ones that sell for $3-$5 each.  The genetic and TC work is all hush-hush, and the details of breeding and propagation recipes are highly proprietary and closely guarded. Believe me this is true because I tried to find a source for those even-more-special TC plants, or hints as to lab protocols, and no one was willing to sell plants, or seed, or even divulge any info or lab protocols. Finally an ex-grower I met at a farmer's market explained it all to me and helped us get going with some of his former stock. So for now this is the best we can do. Expect a reasonable percentage of gigantic heads with most of the rest being in the huge to large range and as always with seed strains some will be smaller. Culture and care are the same as for any other artichoke, being full sun, rich soil, plenty of water, etc. except this strain may not do as well away from the immediate, cooler, near-coastal or near-bay waters. More on that if I hear from growers in some of those hotter, inland  climates. rev 3/2013

Purple Romagna   an Italian heirloom seed strain. Expect the usual big plants with the typical, highly ornamental, gigantic silvery green leaves and smaller (by our local standards) buds. Color ranges from just light burgundy or violet purple leaf tips to deeply colored outer sets of leaves. More spiny than Castroville's finest, but prized by Italian chefs for what they consider to be its superior, rich, nutty flavor. Full sun, rich, intermittently moist soils, can be very drought tolerant when established but will be mostly summer-dormant. A great container plant, perennial in the ground in USDA zone 8-9/Sunset 8-9, 14-24, annual elsewhere. rev 11/2015 

'Violet Star'  wonderful violet buds   such a pretty plant with the silvery foliage alone, but it really stands out with some big purple buds in the middle! Trim them up, cut in half, steam 'til almost done, brush with basil garlic butter, grill, then eat. Heaven = this. This winter grower and bloomer likes full sun, nice soils and average watering. Give it plenty of room, 4' tall and wide. rev 11/2014 

Asarum caudatum  WILD GINGER  flowers   foliage   at Strybing Arboretum's Redwood Grove  an evergreen perennial, native to coastal redwood forests, that forms a dense groundcover with large, soft, fragrant, dark green, heart shaped leaves and interesting flowers, usually hidden at ground level. An excellent choice for dry shade, or areas of moderate summer watering. One or our more formal looking native plants. Needs good drainage and rather complete shade. Frost hardy for most of California. Aristolochiaceae. rev 11/2010

Asclepias curassavica Red Butterfly  BUTTERFLY WEED    it truly does attract butterflies and this ornamental milkweed is quite attractive, with dark foliage and lots of bright red and yellow flower clusters. This is a nice cottage garden perennial, blending with daisies, lavender, and purple coneflowers. To about 2-3' tall, it also is a great cut flower. Sun, average watering, appreciates good drainage. hardy to around 30F, so treated as an annual outside Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 9. Easter US. Asclepiadaceae. rev 1/2011

curassavica 'Silky Gold'    get ready for hot caterpillar action!   a host for real Monarch butterfly larvae, this deciduous perennial also makes a great cut flower, with stems in the 2-3' range. Full sun, rich soil, average to modest watering. Overwinters over as a tender perennial that is cranky about drainage, but reseeds liberally and reliably. USDA zone 9/Sunset 15-17, 21-24. rev 6/2015 

'Wildfire' BUTTERFLY WEED     the flowers     majestic gusano!  brownish green leaves provide a dark background for red flowers with yellow centers. In the language of flowers, this one means 'Let me go'. Which is what it does when the seed pods ripen and the seeds float off in the wind. Grows about 3-4' tall and is a great attractor for butterflies. Blooms all summer. Perennial in Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. rev 7/2013-Suzy Brooks 

Asparagus  clumping evergreen to deciduous bulbs. Evergreen types can be damaged by severe frost. South Africa. Liliaceae. rev 4/2012

densiflorus ‘Meyers’  FOXTAIL FERN  mature plant, sun   Molly's container specimen   evergreen, especially effective as a larger, mature specimen in part shade, where it maintains a darker green color. Seedlings vary widely, with some being robust and others quite skinny, some being upright and others quite horizontal. It can be used massed as a groundcover and also makes an excellent hanging basket specimen. The formal looking fronds have an even, spiral arrangement of leaflets. Damaged by severe frosts, and looks best with at least occasional watering and fertilizing. Believe it or not I have seen this survive the true desert in full sun with heat reflected by rock groundcover. It just needs watering to survive those conditions. rev 4/2012

retrofractus  MING FERN  old, unthinned clump   plume of foliage  clumping woody perennial to 5-6' tall, easily recognized by vigorous, open stems with delicate pompons of soft, green, wispy, foliage. The bark of older branches turns greyish with age, contrasting nicely with the bright green (new growth) to deep green leaves (actually cladodes). Stem length and vigor increase after the plant has been established for a couple of years and matured. Flowers are very small, delicate, white, and appear in open sprays and are followed by small orange berries. According to Teresa Aquino of Blue Bamboo Nursery in Santa Cruz, when her dramatic front porch container plant bloomed the flowers filled the air with a strong tropical scent of coconut lotion, strong enough to scent the whole house and gardens with the aroma of Hawaii. Full sun to mostly shade, little summer watering when established (but give it at least a little), not really frost hardy. Can be used for large cut flower arrangements, and is grown commercially for this purpose. This is a dramatic accent or focal point plant that fell out of favor years ago, for some reason. With the emphasis on interesting form and diversity of plant shapes in modern gardens now, it has seen a resurgence. Alone by itself with rocks, on a mound, against an old board fence, displaying its puffs of foliage in an otherwise empty shady space, in commercial landscapes, in a large container by itself, all of these uses show this plant off to its best advantage. rev 8/2007

setaceus  ASPARAGUS FERN  against a blue house   grown up  also known as A. plumosus. A vining plant distinguished by flat planes of very wispy foliage, climbing to 10’ or more. Excellent as container plant, house plant, or in hanging baskets, if you can untangle it and keep it from climbing the hanger. It can be quite striking as a climber when kept thinned out. Part shade to shade, average summer watering. South Africa. rev 11/2010

Aspidistra elatior  CAST IRON PLANT  nice clump   Adventureland Jungle Cruise  this tough evergreen perennial bears large, vertical, lance shaped leaves to 2’ tall. It spreads slowly by rhizomes but can be reasonably fast with good drainage and moderate watering and feeding. Bizarre star-like flowers appear at ground level in spring. They are pollinated by a terrestrial amphipod. It can tolerate very deep shade and considerable drought as well as frost to 5-10°F or lower (it is grown outside in Portland, Oregon). Excellent in containers or as a house plant for cool homes and durable enough for widespread use in commercial landscapes, especially in high impact or low care situations. Japan. Liliaceae. rev 3/2004

‘Asahi’  leaves  features a narrow central blonde variegation stripe along the midrib, broadening out at the tip so the entire upper section of the leaf is whitish. A good, vigorous grower. rev 1/2003

‘Variegata’  VARIEGATED CAST IRON PLANT  established clump  at the Huntington  like regular Aspidistra, but with creamy white stripes on the leaves. Throws all green, all white, broadly or narrowly striped leaves. This is a variable and unstable variegation. rev 2/2003.

Asplenium SPLEENWORTS  love that name. A group of about 700 widely distributed, mostly good looking ferns, often epiphytes or lithophytes, some tolerating extended dry periods. Polypodiaceae. rev 10/2008

antiquum 'Victoria'  WAVY JAPANESE BIRDS NEST FERN   waviness   a compact, narrow, more frost tolerant Birds Nest Fern, easily distinguished from the larger, more tender species by its midrib, which is rounded both above and below the frond. It is always more slender than either A. australasicum (trade "nidus")or true A. nidus (not seen here yet!) and much smaller also, growing to only about 2' wide by 20-24" tall. This form has edges that are very wavy and undulate. This is the best species to try outside unless you are in SoCal or similar warm-winter areas. It is somewhat frost tolerant but I don't have solid info on how low it will go. And I haven't grown it myself yet. For a start let's try Sunset zones 8-9, 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. Japan. rev 5/2017

australasicum  BIRD'S NEST FERN  a polyphyletic species (means there are many similar under one name but actually unrelated) found growing naturally as large rosettes on branches, tree trunks and rocks, sometimes to over 8' across, in tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands. Sori (spore structures) are closely spaced and extend well beyond half the distance to the edge, the frond midrib is keeled below, vs. above for true A. nidus on which sori barely extend past halfway to frond margin. Usually epiphytic, it can also be found growing in humus on the forest floor. Exciting recent news is that the custom of harvesting the new, uncurling fronds for food in Taiwan and Malaysia is spreading! Tender fronds can be boiled/steamed or stir-fried. Needs mostly shade, frost protection, and snail protection, especially when young. While it thrives with regular watering, a very small plant survived almost an entire summer in my cool coastal garden with no watering at all, indicating considerable drought tolerance when mature and established. This makes a spectacular container plant when large. Native to tropical and subtropical regions throughout the Southwest Pacific. rev 5/2017

'Aves'  WAVY BIRD'S NEST FERN  probably this a variety of A. australasicum, time will tell if its fronds are properly keeled beneath. Relatively thinner than its parent variety, with nicely undulate margins. Can't wait to see it grown up! rev 5/2017 *New for 2017!*

'Austral Gem'  our beloved plants   somewhat similar to common Mother Fern, A. bulbiferum, except it is much smaller, cuter, darker green, harder/firmer textured, and sterile. The lack of spore production makes it a neater plant for use in clean patio or indoor applications. To about 12" tall, 18" wide, fabulous in mixed or single specimen containers. Our propagation source lists this as a hybrid between A. dimorphum and A. difforme. Shade, typical fern conditions, Sunset zones 9, 15-17, 21-24/USDA zone 9. rev 8/2011

bulbiferum  MOTHER FERN  closeup of mom's babies   at Strybing Arboretum  a soft textured evergreen fern grown for its very lacy, light green fronds to 3’ tall, often with miniature "babies" produced along the margins of the pinnae. Likes shade to part sun, becoming very light green to almost golden in more light, and regular watering. It is not very  frost hardy. Like most ferns, it is excellent in containers. Australia, southeastern Asia. Polypodiaceae. rev 8/2010

'Floralee'  fronds   container   a fine textured hybrid selection (A. bulbiferum x oblongifolium), probably the same as what has been sold previously as 'Maori Princess.' Much like a small scale Mother fern without the babies. Glossy, fine textured, light green. Sometimes called 'Hardy Mother Fern' but I don't believe this is going to be anywhere near the scale of A. bulbiferum. Figure on 2' tall and wide. Part sun to full shade, rich, moist soil. Tom Ballinger reports it "looks good year round right against the north side of my house" in San Francisco. rev 2/2010

trichomanes MAIDENHAIR SPLEENWORT   with his best friend, The Meaningful Rock   from a Greek word meaning 'hair of the head' and it does make a really cute little tuft of evergreen fronds with dark stems. This very Maidenhair Fern-like species likes rocky areas and good drainage as it grows in the old ruins of castles in Northern Europe and Britian. Under a foot tall, so nice in groups or containers. Sunset zones /USDA 3. rev 6/2013-Suzy Brooks 

Astelia nervosa v. chathamica  SILVER SWORD, SILVER SPEAR  nice sun plant, Edward D. Landels New Zealand Garden at UC Santa Cruz Arboretum   Strybing Entry Garden, part shade   commercial landscape, shade   a robust, clumping perennial, similar to Phormium, producing broad rosettes of silvery foliage. Leaves are V-shaped in cross section, grow to 3-4’ long. Plants grow to 4’ tall, with new growths arising from the base, eventually forming a clump to 6' or more across if not cut back or divided. This is really a shade plant, and all the best looking specimens I have seen receive little or no sun. It will take full sun in the coolest coastal locations, but any heat or high light intensity tends to yellow foliage. It is not reliably frost hardy below 20°F, and tips will be burned below freezing, but can be raised down as low as Sunset zone 5/USDA zone 8 by those willing to put up with occasional dieback. It is a great plant for the foliage border, as a centerpiece or focal point planting, or in large mixed containers. Its leaves can be used as cut foliage. Flowers are tiny, round inconspicuous things on low, straggly clusters below the leaves. After a one of the rosettes in a clump flowers, it will yellow and die out, these should be removed after bloom so the fresher looking pups can shine. This variety is more silvery than the species and is native to the Chatham Islands, a group of islands off the East Coast of New Zealand. Liliaceae. rev 8/2010

banksii compact form  young plant at UCSC's New Zealand Garden  older  this is a smaller, grassier, slightly bluer version of the familiar Silver Spear, but only growing to about 24-30" tall and wide. It likes part sun but will take full sun in cool coastal conditions. Easy to grow except in poorly drained situations, it is at its smallest and most silvery in gravelly soils. A great container plant, tough, forgiving, and very useful in the garden because its smaller size makes it easier to site than the dramatic but very large A. nervosa v. chathamica. This form does not seem much different than the images and descriptions I see for just A. banksii (i.e. non-"compact form"), but I'll check that with Tom Sauceda (NZ collection manager) and report back. UCSC. rev 5/2016

Aster frikartii ‘Moench’  closeup  deciduous perennial to 30" tall. Light lavender blue flowers to 2" wide with yellow centers appear from early summer through early winter. Sun to part shade, average to little watering, frost hardy. Leaves and flowers are larger on this variety than others. Compositae/Asteraceae.

dumosus 'Sapphire'  blooming  a compact grower with deep lavender blue flowers, typical late summer through fall bloom. Looks great with grasses, especially blue-toned ones like Helictotrichon and Agropyron. Sun, average watering and drainage, frost hardy, cute in containers. Zones 1-9, 14-24/USDA zone 4. rev 10/2009

latifolius 'Prince'  flowers  tiny whitish flowers with pink centers are displayed in summer against fine textured, blackish foliage. To less than 2' tall and wide, and holds its foliage color well in summer. Full sun, regular watering. All zones. rev 9/2010

Astilbe hybrids  FALSE SPIRAEA  clumping deciduous perennials with ferny leaves and tall, feathery spikes of flowers in spring and early summer. Best bloom occurs in full to part sun. Excellent cut flower. Makes an impressive, vertical statement in the perennial garden, with attractive ferny foliage remaining after bloom. Average watering required, completely frost hardy. Saxifragaceae.

‘Bonn’  blooming  dark orange pink, to 24".
‘Bumalda’  blooming  a compact variety that produces buff pink flowers fading to creamy white, on stalks to about 2' tall. Very dark, bronzy new growth makes for a great background for the light flowers. rev 5/2005
'Drum and Bass' PP14964  first flowers   a compact, repeat-blooming variety, producing deep, rich pink flower spikes above the foliage for a total height under 2'. This is one of several new varieties that really impressed me with excellent overwintering performance (a problem with many varieties in our low-chill areas) and repeated flowering throughout the growing season.
‘Fanal’  spike  dark red, to 24-30".
‘Gladstone’  single spike  white, 24".
‘Gloria’  flowers  light lavender, to 24-30".
‘Hyacinth’  flowering  dark lavender pink, to 30".
‘Rhineland’  spike  dark pink, to 18-24".

Athyrium  delicate, rather brittle ferns for shady, moist, peaty sites. They don't like any kind of physical abuse such as foot traffic brushing by, or strong wind, and the fronds desiccate and bruise quickly. So keep them tucked away in protected sites where their lush fronds can be kept looking undamaged. All are deciduous. Polypodiaceae. rev 2/2003

felix-femifera 'Frizelliae'  closeup  tiny round, frilled leaflets on short arching stems. Highly unusual. Substantially more evergreen other varieties of this species, withstanding all but direct frost. rev 1/2008

'Ghost'  young nursery plants  a hybrid of A. felix-femifera and the tricolored A. nipponicum 'Pictum.' Grows as a clump, to about 2' tall, spreading slowly by rhizomes. The fronds are a very light greyish color when mature and look most striking against dark surfaces. This selection really helps light up a dark place, bringing a large, soft textured, silvery grey green presence to the shade garden.. Give it moist, acid, peaty conditions and adequate watering. Very frost hardy. rev 5/2008  

nipponicum ‘Pictum’  JAPANESE PAINTED FERN  leaves  another view  an outstanding foliage plant, forming low feathery clumps of light green fronds overlain with greyish lavender and with darker violet highlights over the veins. Spreads slowly by rhizomes. This one needs a year or two of growth to form crowns large enough to produce the foliage in all its glory. When it is mature and established, it is just stunning. Performs well in cool coastal areas as well as shaded, moist sites in hot regions. It may be most at home in areas with more montane, continental weather patterns with longer dormancy and colder winters. The unvariegated reversions are occasionally available from us when they can be sorted from the main crop. Excellent in containers, especially mixed with other strong foliage plants. rev 2/2003

'Applecourt'  young fronds  tips of fronds are forked and crested. Similar coloration to 'Metallicum' and 'Pictum,' with purplish veins, dark green and burgundy midsection and steely silver coloring on the outer half of the pinnae. rev 10/2007 
'Metallicum'  young frond color  one of innumerable TC mutations on the theme, this one lighter and more steely silver than the original. rev 8/2007
'Red Beauty' young frond color  another variant, this one tending towards darker burgundy red and less contrast. rev 8/2008
Atriplex nummularia    OLD MAN SALTBUSH   26 years, and no summer water - ever!    silvery foliage, plus non-showy flowers, close    a variably-adapted species that ranges completely across Australia, from north to south, then east to west. Our selection of this very silvery, grey green shrub finally reached 6', after 25 years, growing without any irrigation whatsoever. Mature growth is slightly succulent and much more silvery and compact than the greener, more open foliage of your juvenile container plants.When grown hotter it becomes even denser and more strikingly silvery white than seen in our images, and to not much over 3-4' tall when grown really dry in that heat. One of my strongest memories from Australia was the sight of these plants shining brightly in the headlights on night drives, easily announcing their presence. even well off to the side of the road, and quite far off in the bush. Becuase of that characteristic, this crop is actually part of a trial installation I talked CalTrans into, to evaluate their effectiveness as roadside margin plantings on cloverleafs, dangerous curves, etc. Besides that, it is also a first-rate daytime ornamental, can stabilize slopes, and makes a good hedge or screen. It also works great just for its color and texture in a dry, mixed Mediterranean landscape. It has only been damaged by cold once here, in the all-time record freeze of December of 1990, when it was cut to the ground at 20F, resprouting vigorously in spring. Grow it in half to full sun, give it very little to no water when established. Tolerant of virtually all soils, including clay, heavy alkalinity, and/or saline conditions, really anything except for truly boggy conditions. Like most Australian plants it is highly tolerant of Eucalyptus litter and root competition. USDA zone 8a/Sunset 8-9, 12-24. Australia. Amaranthaceae (recent) or Chenopodiaceae (previously). rev 8/2015 

Aucuba japonica      JAPANESE LAUREL, JAPANESE AUCUBA  a tough, extremely attractive landscape shrub for part or full shade. Very drought tolerant and cold hardy, it is used for its easy care, low water use, dramatic foliage and, on pollinated female plants, very showy, terminal, bright red berries. (Over)used to a large degree in hardscapes during the 1950's and 1960's in California, it fell out of favor afterwards has been relatively hard to find in nurseries here in California until recently. However its tough, drought tolerant nature as well as a renewed focus on foliage elements have given it new importance and place in modern gardens and landscape installations. Old and new selections are now featured at some of the trendiest new-plant sites (CistusXera,  Plant Delights). The standard "species" form is dark  green, rarely seen, but quite striking in many applications, especially shady, formal or woodland settings. Plants are dioecious, with males and female flowers on separate plants. Almost all varieties currently produced in California are variegated males. To about 4-6' tall by 4' wide, with age. Part sun to full shade, very little to no watering when established. Eastern Asia. Garryaceae (!!). rev 1/2016

'Picturata' ('Goldeana')  young garden specimen   those leaves!   my personal favorite, I decided it was worth reintroducing to our line as a New Age foliage plant around 1998. I found it was effectively absent from the trade, but I finally located a very old planting to filch cuttings from, growing along a tired-out motel in the Beach Flats area of Santa Cruz. Using this tough, reliable, eye-catching selection is reliable way to "dramatify" any shady area or unused background "canvas." Large, golden  yellow blotches irregularly mark most of the middle of the leaves, though new growth often emerges speckled and can remain so until maturing months later. rev 1/2016

'Variegata'  production plants  leaves are irregularly speckled with gold spots, juvenile plants have larger markings. rev 1/2016