Thursday, February 19, 2015

Walk Down To Arcto Avenue!

Let's take a walk down to...Arcto Avenue!
Can you hum that to Eddy Grant? Anyhow, I digress...
 So there's this walk we take with an avenue of really cool planter boxes in the hellstrip hiding a very cool mid-century modern home behind its matching fence.

A couple of years ago, I noticed a couple of Xera Plants tags in them. Oh boy! Arctostaphylos tags! They were not very large plants but arctos all the same.

We watched the plants growing bit by bit, but somewhere between two years ago and now they really got big. I mean look at them! We were on a neighborhood walk the other day and came across them in full, glorious bloom, and I was stopped in my tracks (stopped without my camera). 


I came back the next weekend to capture the bloomiferous explosion (on a very windy day), and to show off just what an Arctostaphylos, commonly known as a manzanita, can do.


The tags are long gone but Paul at Xera Plants kindly I.D.'d these for me by photos. These with the pink blooms are likely Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn'.


And these with the white are Arctostaphylos columbiana.


Just beginning to open up, the bees (yes, I have seen a few out this early) will be all over these blooms.





Here's what Xera's website says about these wonderful shrubs:

Manzanita - Ultimate Shrub of the West.
No other shrub is more symbolic of the Pacific Coast than Manzanita. From Baja to Canada one species or another is native from the coast to the mountains. Picturesque bark and familiar flowers make them great transitional shrubs from cultivated borders to wild areas. In the Pacific Northwest they are great echos for Madrones and are at home in a variety of landscapes. Pink to white urn-shaped flowers appear for a long time in late winter to spring and followed by copious amounts of small shiny fruit. Manzanita is Spanish for little apple to which the fruit resemble. One reason they are such striking shrubs is that they hold their leaves perpendicular to the stem an adaptation to avoid moisture loss. The myth that Manzanitas are difficult to cultivate most likely comes from the fact that they do not take well to regular summer irrigation. In a garden where summer watering is non-existent they are among the easiest and most handsome shrubs one can grow. They do best in acid soil on slopes with full sun and good air circulation. Avoid amendments, mulch with bark, NOT COMPOST. Newly planted Manzanitas can take weekly irrigation until they begin to grow in earnest- then taper off. Eventually, they are best with no water during the warm months and can handle the driest of years with no visible stress. Manzanitas bloom on wood from the previous year. They may be tip pruned to limit size and as they age they can be limbed up to reveal the striking bark. This also helps ensure good air circulation which they very much appreciate. All are evergreen (of course).



Such striking bark that will eventually exfoliate.


There really are a plethora of forms from prostrate to 12-feet tall and more. Even our native groundcover kinnikinnick is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi so you see whatever your garden situation (at least here in the west), there is an arcto for that. Tree-like shrub? Check. Sprawly ground cover with berries for the birds? Check. Medium shrub for structure? Yup. All super sexy plants? Yup.


As I mentioned in last week's post, Xera plants has a fine page about the growth forms and sizes of Arctostaphylos, and it can be found here. It's a really useful tool to help get a sense of the final size of any given shrub and its habit, helpful especially if you're wanting to fill in a narrow hellstrip and want to avoid spilling over into the street, for example.  


One could devote an entire blog to this species, which would be incredibly interesting. I for one do not know a lot about them horticulturally, but I really adore arctos and appreciate what they bring to the landscape visually and what they do for habitat. I was particularly struck by this special grouping blooming their fool heads off on this cool February day and I want to simply share the love.  


Another great place to find them locally is Cistus nursery where legendary plantsman Sean Hogan faithfully promotes their wonderful uses in the Pacific Northwest (and West Coast) garden. Just don't water them in the summer, please - especially when we get that really really hot dry weather. Go visit Cistus, they have a wonderful selection and are very knowledgeable. They will have something for you, I guarantee. They also have mail order if you are not local.


A nice simple planting, it's just so effective. I love it!


I like their choice of rock and stepping stones.


A fabulous search engine if you want a lot of information and to see a bunch of images of arctos in one place is Plant Lust. Not just manzanitas, you can search for any manner of plant. It's a wonderful tool I use constantly to search for flowers, grasses, spiky things, perennials, you name it.




This whole hellstrip garden is a great example of a Mediterranean-style garden, perfectly appropriate here. We have wet, usually very mild winters and dry, hot summers. The arctos (again, also known as manzanitas), lavender and rosemary are all appropriate.





There are five big ol' plants in total with gorgeous steel planters. Apologies for the blurry photo, it was a very windy day and maybe I was also a little too excited.


I think if the owners were around they must have thought I was stalking them. 
What can I say? I am a plant addict. If the owners ever see this, thank you for beautifying the neighborhood!



Well, this simple post wraps up this week at Chickadee Gardens.

I will also mention that I will be scaling back my frequency of posts for health-related issues. I have been unfortunately experiencing an onslaught of insufferable migraines and this has made it necessary for me to make some serious adjustments to my life, gardening is unfortunately included. As I feel up to task, I will continue on with my passion -  gardening and writing about it. Please know I'm only a click or two away and constantly thinking about the blog and gardening. It pains me to not be at it constantly, but one must do what's best. If these bloody things go away once and for all, I'll be back at it full throttle.

Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!




21 comments :

  1. So sorry to hear about your migraines! Chronic severe pain drains your energy and ruins so many things you love. I hope you are working with a good neurologist who will help you devise a plan to keep this insidious monster at bay so that you can enjoy more of your life again! (Ask about Butterbur.)

    Gorgeous metal planters, fence, house but the Arctostaphylos are the stars, aren't they? Such great plants. Sean did a talk about native plants at the NWFGS and had a LOT of slides of Arctostaphylos growing in the wild, each one with some wonderful qualities!

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    1. Thanks, Peter :) They do drain the energy, sounds like you totally understand. I am on Butterbur, actually - (among others) so I'm giving it a good chance.

      Aren't those planters the MOST? LOVE them. WANT them. I have heard Sean speak about arctos a lot and how he collects cuttings here on the West Coast and just cultivates the most amazing plants. Just love them. There's an Arctostaphylos for nearly every situation, except bog garden, I swear. Thanks for your kind words and for reading . Hope to see you at a plant swap soon!!

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  2. Thanks for sharing this, and I hope you get your migraines under control soon. :(

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    1. Thanks, Alan, me too. I'm certainly working on it, full-time :)

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  3. Awesome post! Love that hellstrip. I've never used this shrub form of Arctostaphylos. Are the flowers fragrant? I doubt it....but a gardener can hope, right? :) What is the full Latin name?

    Thanks for sharing this xeriscape gorgeousness!
    Good luck with the migraines - that's never any fun.


    Tara
    www.GalleryofShea.com

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    1. Hi Tara, love your site too! So - they are slightly fragrant, actually. The bees do love them, too which is a bonus. The full latin names are Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' and Arctostaphylos colubmiana, according to Paul Bonine, co-owner of Xera Plants and Arctostaphylos expert. They are both just gorgeous plants and can be limbed up if you want to show off some of that sexy bark and structure underneath. Highly recommended for xeriscaping!

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  4. Wish it was easy to grow Arctostaphylos here, with our similar climates you would think that would be the case but not at all. Wetter and not so warm summers not conducive to them.

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    1. You would think..it's too bad you can't, I think it's a case of the dry summers here - you are right. But you can grow a whole host of other amazing gorgeous plants, at least!

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  5. Migraines are miserable - I hope you can bring them under control and get back to the things you love. I love Arctostaphylos but unfortunately, despite their extreme drought tolerance, they're not recommended for areas like mine that have high fire risk.

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    1. Yes they are, I wish them on no one. Thank you for the well wishes! Too bad about the fire risk...that's a serious consideration for you and one we (fortunately) don't have to think about so much here. I'm sure there are a whole host of great fire retardant plants for you, right?

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  6. These planters are really stunning! Wish your migraines disappear, I often suffer of migraine too so I know it is horrable pain and so tiring.

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    1. Aren't the planters great? I really like them. Thanks for the well wishes, Janneke! I am sorry you get them too :(

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  7. Wow, now that is an impressive display!
    I'm sorry to hear about your headaches. At our son's appointment with the neurologist, one of the seizure meds we discussed is apparently really good for treating migraines. I'm not a huge fan of prescription drugs, but then again, I've never had a debilitating ailment. Also, a girlfriend of mine used to get them horribly bad, and hasn't had one since cutting wheat and dairy from her diet several years ago. That would be a fate worse than death, as far as I'm concerned, but again, if it cured pain.......

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    1. Impressive indeed, and these lovely plants are somewhere between your house and mine!
      So thanks for the tips, Mindy :) I am actually on the medication you mention, as much as I hate meds too, I finally gave in...and I've been off wheat and dairy for years **sigh** well...hopefully soon I'll be rollin' like normal again. Right? Right! That's my mantra.

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  8. Oh no, not you too, Tamara - I'm so sorry to hear about you getting migraines...they are so devastatingly debilitating. This is a lovely post. What a great hell strip transformation - simply beautiful!

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    1. Bla, yes. Bla bla...but I have lovey manzanitas and garden friends to bring me joy so it's all good :)

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  9. I'm so sorry to hear you are suffering from migraines. I had them too when I was younger, at least one or two a week, and all I could do was go to bed in a dark room with an icepack. As I got older they lessened in severity, but lasted longer, and they only went away once I reached menopause. They threaten occasionally, and when they do I take Excedrin, which now does the trick. Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- shifted them when I was young. I hope you find some relief.

    I enjoyed this post about Arctostaphylos. I planted two in my front garden last year at about this time, and they're still looking good. I'm looking forward to them getting as big as the beauties in your post.

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  10. Oh wow! I don't know which I like better, the plants or the planters/style of whole thing. You did such a great job of capturing them in their blooming glory. Those fat bumbles I mentioned on FB the other day just can't get enough of my arctostaphylos, they're pretty fierce about protecting them too.

    I am so bummed to read that your migraines are still getting you down. I'd hoped you were on the road to recovery. Fingers crossed this is the case, soon!

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  11. Migraines are beasts and my daughter suffered for years until an excellent neurologist was able to help her identify her triggers and develop a treatment plan. I hope you feel better soon. Manzanitas don't grow here but I wish they did. Such gorgeous shrubs. Love those little bottle shaped flowers. :o)

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  12. Boo on migraines, yay for Manzanitas! Great idea about sending pics to Xera for ID. i have a small manzanita that I bought a couple years ago and completely forgot what type it was. Anyhoo, I love it--the bark is so gorgeous and it reminds me of the coast. Get better soon!

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  13. I love the bark and bell-shaped flowers. They remind me a lot of Pieris.

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