Seasonal Color – March preview

March is just starting, and here in Southern California we can look forward to Ceanothus just starting to come into peak bloom.  Here’s a teaser from my home garden:  Island Ceanothus, Ceanothus arboreus, which makes a great large shrub or small tree, and is very fast growing.  This tree is about 12 feet tall and 12 years old, but was full-sized after 4 years.  Which Ceanothus are putting on a show in your yard?

Island Ceanothus, Ceanothus arboreus, Photo: Laura Camp ©Tree of Life Nursery

6 thoughts on “Seasonal Color – March preview

  1. I have a partially shaded/full shade back yard site that needs a ground cover plant with a couple of smaller shrubs. The soil is moderately clay/loam with good drainage, do you have any recommendations?

  2. I’m not that familiar with the plants that work in your area – you don’t mention it, but I happen to know you’re in Sacramento! I am in Southern California.

    But a good small shrub for shade or part-shade statewide is the Coffeeberry, Rhamnus californica. There are a couple of cultivars that stay pretty small, including ‘Ed Holm’ and ‘Mound San Bruno’ and some that are good garden selections but get somewhat larger, including ‘Eve Case’ and ‘Little Sur’.

    Ribes viburnifolium, or Evergreen Currant, is a mounding plant that is good for shade, and Satureja douglasii, Yerba Buena, is a very low groundcover that does well in shade. For flowers you can accent with native Iris or Coral Bells (Heuchera).

    It sounds like you have very good soil, that should help!

  3. Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ll plan on taking the list to the Sacramento Valley Chapter’s Plant Sale coming up on April 11th at McKinley Park. They typically have a broad selection. I had already placed an order for Satureja douglasii, Yerba Buena.

  4. The local CNPS chapter plant sales are certainly an important source of native plants, but more importantly, local knowledge and advice.

    Good luck with your garden.

  5. I have a 6 year old Ceanothus in my garden, this year it was amazing, in full bloom all at once!

    While hiking last weekend in the Santa Ana Mountains, I found a California Tortoiseshell Butterfly caterpillar munching happily on a native California Lilac (Ceanothus)…keep planting those natives!

    I will be posting a blog with photos of this “rare find” butterfly on my “Flutter-Blog” at http://obsessionwithbutterflies.com/blog/ soon!

    • Vickie – thanks for mentioning how much butterflies are attracted to Ceanothus. I love it later in the season, too, when the sparrows and other birds come to feed on the seed that spreads on the ground. Thanks for the link to your butterfly blog, I will look for the post you mentioned.

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