Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Selecting uncommon vegetation – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Care for your backyard

Recent columns have centered on my nomination of the 5 most common groups of backyard plants. Some or all of these plant teams are integrated in my backyard garden and a lot of other gardens.

The generic groups (dahlias, irises and roses) contain increasing lists of types picked or hybridized by growers to charm to gardeners the other groups (California natives and succulents) incorporate both numerous genera and species and different varieties.

Total, these well-liked plant teams present a fantastic variety of selections to choose from, building plant collection a tough task for quite a few gardeners. We have proposed easing this process by procuring for vegetation that would (a) align with a thematic design for the backyard garden, and (b) develop to a size acceptable for a distinct location in the landscape.

Here’s a third strategy: deciding on uncommon crops that you love.

This is a liberating way to choose vegetation whilst elevating the new worries to discover and locate unusual plants that be sure to your eyes and then uncover the appropriate places for them in the back garden.

These new issues can be enjoyable lookups. They include thumbing the web pages of mail-get catalogs, roaming by way of sections of a yard middle, and browsing web-sites on the Web.

I have liked such treasure hunts, with the result that my garden’s well-known plant teams are complemented by numerous uncommon plants. These are not quite unusual plants, but specimens that differ from additional acquainted vegetation, and stand out as exceptions.

In this article are a couple illustrations.

Decorative Onion (Allium schubertii). This bulbous perennial plant is indigenous from the jap Mediterranean to central Asia. In the spring, it makes 12- inch huge, umbrella-like flower heads (umbels) that can be compared to exploding fireworks. Its dried seed heads fall to the ground where they are unfold by the wind, earning the plant’s other frequent name, Tumbleweed Onion. This eye-catching plant will self-seed in a constrained way, and each individual season’s new crop is pleasing to see. It can be identified in mail-get catalogs that attribute Alliums and other bulbs.

Madeira Island Geranium (Geranium maderense). This plant is the premier of the 422 species of the genus Geranium. It bouquets biennially, but its darkish eco-friendly palmate leaves have earned a prominent place in the backyard when not in bloom. When it blooms in spring, its substantial inflorescence of 1-inch wide mauve-pink dim centered bouquets rises to five ft, very well above the 3×3 foliage. I acquired this plant in the slide of 2017, at the Santa Cruz Backyard Trade. It has since developed nicely and proliferated, yielding seedlings for other Yard Exchange readers. I not long ago lifted a big seedling for a mate, then watched the reduce leaves shrivel as the plant developed roots. It’s searching wholesome now, but I since acquired that the reduce leaves are wanted to assist the towering flower heads. Time will explain to if the loss of lower leaves will be a dilemma.

World Daisy (Globularia sarcophylla ‘Blue Eyes’). This reasonably scarce plant is endemic to the Canary Islands. It is a shrubby perennial, escalating to 3×3 ft with dark green 2-inch extensive dark green leaves. Its appeal focuses on its distinctive, 1-inch huge, globular bouquets with white petals with lavender-blue margins that bloom from spring through summer season. This plant was hybridized by the Huntington Botanic Gardens and is becoming developed by San Marcos Growers (which provides nearby garden facilities).

Rice Flower (Pimelea ferruginea ‘Bonne Petite’). This Australian indigenous grows to a 3×3 foot evergreen bush, with generous clusters of small pink bouquets blooming most intensely in the spring. The species title suggests “rust-coloured.” The plant grows properly in a sunny location with well-drained soil. I obtained this plant about 3 several years from the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Backyard. It’s expanding nicely but reportedly does not have a prolonged lifetime, so I will get pleasure from it right until a replacement will be required.

Advance your knowledge

The Cactus & Succulent Society of The us will present the webinar, “The Succulent Selection of Babylonstoren Farm,” at 10 a.m. Saturday. This is an exceptional backyard in South Africa’s Western Cape, targeted largely on succulents from southern Africa, and is operate like a botanical backyard. The presenter, Ernst van Jaarsveld, Ph.D., was used by the South African Nationwide Biodiversity Institute from 1974 to 2015. As a horticulturist, he curated the succulent part at the environment-famous Kirstenbosch Countrywide Botanical Gardens. Soon after retirement, he pursues full-time work on the Babylonstoren Farm and is involved in constructing a succulent selection like a botanical backyard garden. Jaarsveld is the creator of more than 200 articles or blog posts and several books. In 2013, with Uschi Pond, he manufactured a coffee-table reserve on Welwitschia mirabilis to commemorate the 100th birthday of Kirstenbosch Botanical Back garden. He has also authored Tree Aloes of the World (2015).  Ernst is a fellow of the Cactus and Succulent Culture of The us. To register for this no cost celebration, check out


The Monterey Bay Rose Modern society will current its 41st Annual Rose Clearly show, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, at the Alladin Nursery, 2905 Liberty Blvd., Watsonville. This in-human being occasion capabilities roses expertly grown by area gardeners and offers an option to learn and choose roses for purchase from numerous resources for the duration of the impending bare-root time.

The California Landscape and Garden Historical past Culture will sponsor the webinar, “Garden Record of the Monterey Peninsula,” at 6 p.m., May perhaps 11. For details on this payment-primarily based occasion, and to register, look through to and click on on “Events.”

Enrich your gardening days

Try out establishing your back garden by conducting treasure hunts for unheard of crops. Though we can often recognize the common plants, owning “something different” could increase spice to your yard style. It could also bring in the focus of your gardening pals.

Take pleasure in your garden!

Tom Karwin is past president of Buddies of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Society, a Lifetime Member of the Monterey Bay Spot Cactus & Succulent Culture, and a Life time UC Learn Gardener (Accredited 1999–2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Culture, and energetic with the Pacific Horticultural Society. To look at daily shots from his backyard, For back garden coaching details and an archive of prior On Gardening columns, go to Get hold of him with comments or thoughts at

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