CA Hazelnut photo courtesy Keir Morse
If you have a shade garden, the California hazelnut (Corylus cornuta ssp. Californica) is a natural resident. It is widespread in woodland, particularly in moist or shaded canyons. It can be found along the Coastal Ranges in Northern California, the Siskiyous, and Sierras. If you hike this time of year, you may be rewarded with a crop of nuts unless the squirrels have beaten you to them. The name, Corylus, comes from the Greek ‘coys’, meaning helmet, which refers to the sheath around the nut. The hazelnut is in the birch family (betulaceae), related the alder. It is interesting to notice the similarities between them – from the shape of the leaf to the late winter catkins.
The hazelnut is an attractive addition to the woodland garden. It is a large (12’ – 15’), spreading, deciduous shrub with graceful, arching branches. In late winter the catkins appear. Each plant has separate male and female flowers but it is the males that are most conspicuous as they develop into long, golden tassels, followed by the unfurling of soft, velvety leaves. In late summer or early fall, the nuts ripen, much appreciated by squirrels and birds.
The California hazelnut is an adaptable garden plant. It is drought resistant once established but unlike many native plants, it will accept year-round water. It is a plant that will fend for itself, needing only pruning to keep it looking attractive. Some natural companions are sword ferns, bush monkey flower, and Douglas iris.
Look for this sign – and see a native shade garden
Photos courtesy of Kathy Kramer
This year the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show is giving a lot of showtime to water-conserving native plants. In the main garden showroom are three beautiful native plant gardens. They were designed by Pete Veilleux of East Bay Wilds; Ryan Cummings of The New Leaf; and Terra Ferma.
On Saturday, March 22, there will be an entire day of talks given by noted native plant experts. Michael Thilgen of Four Dimensions Landscape Company; Bart O’Brien (co-author, with Carol Bornstein and David Fross), of “California Native Plants for the Garden”; Kathy Kramer, coordinator of the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour; Kelly Marshall of Kelly Marshall Garden Design; and David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation will all be giving talks about native plants. The talks are free, once admission has been paid.
Admission to the Show is $20. The Show runs March 19-23, at the San Mateo Event Center.
By Tanya Kucak
Pale Swallowtail butterfly on Eriogonum giganteum
Five years ago, Jim and Meredith Howard bought a 1971 slab house with a flat concrete-paved backyard in the San Francisco Bay area and began transforming it into a habitat garden. They wanted to create an interesting and functional space that attracted native birds and insects, learn the local native plants, improve drainage, and do it all on a budget and without wasting materials or hauling truckloads to the landfill. Continue reading