Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Favorite or New Plant
'Ruby Glow' Tea Tree
I can't think of a plant that is better suited to our climate than the tea tree (Leptospermum). This shrub is native to Australia and requires very little water and full sun. The soil should be slightly on the acid side for best results with this colorful evergreen plant. Add redwood compost at planting time to acidify the soil. The leaves are needlelike, making it perfect to plant in windy areas. My favorite of the tea trees is Leptospermum scoparium or the New Zealand tea tree. The cultivar 'Ruby Glow' has magnificent tiny, double, hot pink flowers that set the plant ablaze in spring and summer. The flowers of the tea tree are long lasting in flower arrangements.
Hardy Plants for Arid Climates
Dryland Gardening by Jennifer Bennett (Firefly Books, 2005) was written for gardeners dealing with climates with an inconsistent rainfall throughout North America. The book contains advice on all aspects of dryland gardening including coping with limited access to water, dealing with invasive plants, nurturing ground cover and grasses and how to grow vegetables herbs and annuals in a compromising situation. It provides practical advice and contains extensive planting lists. Each plant entry includes a full color photo and provides common and botanical names, detailed descriptions and complete instructions for planting, care and maintenance.