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Oryzopsis hymenoides (photo courtesy of Thom Gourley/Flatbread Images, LLC/Alamy)

Oryzopsis hymenoides

Indian Rice Grass

Native to the dry regions of the Southwest and northward to Canada. Forms a clump to 1–2 ft. high and wide; tight at the base, spreading and open above. Very narrow, 6–8-in.-long leaves are bright green in cool weather, turning golden brown when summer heat comes. Open, airy flower clusters (attractive for cutting) produce seeds that were harvested by Native Americans for food. Useful plant in high elevation and desert landscapes.

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Hakea laurina


Native to Australia. Especially good for the seacoast. Tougher than many other Proteaceae family members and adapt to a wide variety of soil types (including poor soils). Fertilizer is usu...

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Fremontodendron ‘California Glory’ (photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic

Fremontodendron hybrids

Flannel Bush

Several oustanding plants in a range of sizes have been produced from crosses between two species—F. californicum and F. mexicanum.

‘California Glory’. Rich yellow flowers to 3 in. across have red-tinged backs. Prolific bloom over... Gold’. Compact grower to just 3–4 ft. tall and 6–8 ft. wide, with glossy green... yellow blooms to 3 in. wide appear in spring.

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Armeria maritima ‘Splendens’ (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)



Narrow, stiff, evergreen leaves grow in compact tufts or basal rosettes; small white, pink, rose, or red flowers are carried in dense, globular heads. Main bloom period is spring to early summer, b...

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All of these odd-looking plants have decorative stems, but those of P. macrocarpus are bare most of the year. Inconspicuous red flowers are concealed in tubular or slipper-shaped red bract...

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Garrya fremontii

Fremont Silktassel

Native to the mountains of Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona. Grows to 9 ft. tall and wide. Leaves are glossy, smooth edged, and lively yellow-green on both upper and lower surfaces. Yell...

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Brodiaea coronaria (photo courtesy of Mark Turner)

Brodiaea coronaria

Harvest Brodiaea

Clusters of dark blue, inch-long flowers on 6–10-in. stems.

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Pinus wallichiana

Himalayan White Pine

From the Himalayas. Slow to moderate growth to 30–50 ft. tall and 15–30 ft. wide. May reach 150 ft. high in the wild. Broad and conical, it often retains branches to the ground even in ...

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Nassella pulchra

Purple Needle Grass

The classic native California bunch grass, growing to about 3 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide. Blooms in late winter and early spring, with ears producing 4-in. awns (bristles) that age to silver.

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Coreopsis auriculata ‘Nana’

Makes a 5–6-in.-high mat of 2–5-in.-long leaves. Under ideal conditions, it will spread by underground runners to form a 2-ft.-wide clump in a year. Bright orange-yellow, 1–2 1/2-in. flowers rise well above the foliage; blooms profusely over a long season (from spring to fall) if you deadhead faithfully. Best used in front of taller plants, in borders, or as edging.

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Opuntia basilaris

Beavertail Cactus

Low-branching plant grows to 1 ft. high and 4 ft. wide. Oval to roundish gray-green to purplish pads are 2–12 in. wide and 1/2 in. thick, set with spines up to 2 in. long. Rich rose-purple, 2–3-in. spring flowers.

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Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)

Agave desmettiana

Graceful and upright, this plant grows to 2–3 ft. tall and wide. Arching blue-green to yellow-green leaves are tipped with a dark brown terminal spine; few if any teeth. When young, the plant forms offsets that grow nearly as large as the original rosette by the time it blooms. Leaves of ‘Variegata’ are edged in bright yellow. Takes full sun or partial shade on the coast; sun or shade in low desert areas.

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