Holly Leaf Mountain Lilac


Ceanothus “Blue Jeans” has whorls of deep lavender flowers. Does deep lavender mean it’s purple? I wonder about these things. Anyway, this is one of the deer-resistant holly-leaf ceanothuses. Forms a dense shrub that is just coming into a full flush of bloom.

Hungry Mice

Pt. Reyes Lupines threatened by invasive beach grass, with the help of a cute little native mouse.

It’s a battle between an invasive plant and a native plant, but with a new twist. The two plants, European beachgrass and Tidestrom’s lupine, are not in direct competition, and yet the beachgrass is helping to drive the lupine over the cliff.

European beachgrass provides cover that allows a timid deer mouse to get close enough to the lupine to snip off stalks of lupine fruits without being nabbed by overflying birds.

How cute is that little mouse? This cute:


ID Question

Can you help ID this plant growing 50 miles north of Santa Cruz. Any ideas on a species?


Dustin –

It’s a Dudleya. 50 miles north of Santa Cruz is the Half Moon Bay area, so it is probably Dudleya farinosa, but possibly Dudleya cymosa.


Indian Mallow

The Abutilon palmeri in the backyard pond area is blooming.


Indian Mallow


Abutilon palmeri – Indian Mallow

California Native/Southwestern US
Evergreen desert shrub

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low
Size: 3 to 6 feet

Very heat-tolerant. Fuzzy gray leaves, orange poppy flowers. An astounding addition to any drought-tolerant or native-plant garden. Hardy to 25F.

Iris PCH

Iris PCH1

The Pacific Coast Hybrid Irises are in bloom.

Iris PCH2

So many colors!

Iris PCH3

Iris Pacific Coast Hybrids (PCH)

Hybrid from California natives
Evergreen Perennial

Sun: Shade to Part Shade
Water: Moderate, well-draining
Size: 8″ to 20″
Gorgeous clumps of dark green leaves give way to spectacularly colored blooms from spring through summer. Hardy to 10°.

Iris PCH Attack!

Only a week ago, and we had three different lovely Iris PCH in bloom. Now we have 3 more!

Iris PCH5




Iris PCH4



Keith has brought out all our new plants for April today and I photographed them all, put them on the website here, and sent out our monthly email for those on the email list here.

Here’s my favorite this month.

Olneya tesota

It’s been 7 years since we’ve featured this plant at the Cactus Jungle. You can see the older photo from 2005 if you click the link above. So much has changed in 7 years. Including my name. You can now call me Bob.

Thank you and goodnight.

Island Gooseberry, Catalina Perfume

Ribes viburnifolium in bloom.

These are a smaller ribes than the blooming ribes I posted a couple days ago. It only gets 2 to 3 feet tall, but will grow wide. You can let it go wild to about 8 ft. if you choose.

Prefers some shade, can survive well in our local clay soils with no watering through the summer drought.

The edible fruits are a tangy currant. I don’t really know that, I just thought I should write something about the fruits, since they are edible, although the plant is really grown for the flowers. The book says they don’t fruit further inland, but we’re coastal so we’ve seen the fruit. And the birds will eat them right up.

Island Mountain Lilac

This very blue California Lilac cultivar was first discovered on the Owlswood Ranch in Marin, across the Bay from us, less than 15 miles as the owl flies.

An early bloomer for us, and a bluer bloomer than most of the Ceanothuses. Fast growing to around 10 ft. tall.

Ceanothus “Owlswood Blue” in bud, looking purplish.

Here they are fully open:

Man, that’s some blue flowers. Wow, indeed. I think I need to copy that color and paint some sneakers that blue. That would be awesome.

It Has Come to My Attention…

…that the short post I posted last week could use a little more filling out.

Parkinsonia aculeata
Mexican Palo Verde Tree

Now I can understand if you liked the original “Short Post” as it was, but you know, it was inevitable that I would photograph the tree when it came into bloom, and then I would be forced to type a full post about it.

It’s spiny, small-leafed, and very low-water too.

It’s the Mexican version, because, you know, the California native Palo Verde doesn’t grow in N. Cal. We’ve killed about a dozen babies trying to get them to grow, but please don’t tell the woman who sold them to us, because she was very protective of them and didn’t want to sell them to someone who would kill them and we convinced her we would take good care of her babies, and then BAM! we go and kill them anyway, so now it’s Mexican Palo Verde or bust.

Late Summer Cactus Blooms

The California desert can come alive with cactus flowers late in the summer when the rain is just right.

The nipple cactus blooms in response to summer rains in the deserts of California. James Cornett/Special to The Desert Sun

Recently, I was hiking over a remote desert mountain range in eastern Riverside County. I was looking for one of California’s rarest species of cactus, Graham’s nipple cactus, Mammillaria grahamii. To find it one doesn’t actually look for the cactus but rather its flower. This is the state’s only cactus species that predictably blooms in response to summer rains and it has rained a lot this summer in the deserts of California.

Read on for the tale of California’s three Mammillaria species.

Lavender Sage


Salvia “Allen Chickering”

I see we have more native wildflower perennials in bloom. I see that the photos keep coming, no matter.

This one smells really nice – the fragrant leaves make a nice tea. The lavender flower whorls make this a Bay Area garden favorite. Not to mention that it’s deer resistant and attracts butterflies. This plant has everything. But wait! Don’t make your wildflower decisions yet! Did I mention it makes an herbal tea? I did? What was that, kid? I can’t hear you, speak up a bit. Hey! You kids! Get off my lawn!

Lavender Sage

OK, so it’s not really called lavender sage. It’s Official Common Name is Musk Sage, but that’s just nasty.

Salvia clevelandii ‘Winifred Gilman’

Aromatic grey green leaves are topped with whorls of lavender blooms. The shrub will get to about 3 ft., and not an inch more.

It’s history is all Bay Area. First found in a Strybing Arboretum sale, later found growing in a Berkeley garden, and introduced into the nursery trade in 1990. This is considered by many to be a hybrid, unlike other more common varieties like “Allen Chickering”. On the other hand, “Allen Chickering” smells delicious.

Lavender Whorls

Salvia “Allen Chickering”

Shrubby to 5′. A Bay Area favorite for years now.

Did I mention the lavender flowers? They are happy for you too. And of course, being a salvia, they have fuzzy grey leaves. (Gray vs. Grey – which spelling do you prefer?)

Lavender Yarrow

Achillea millefolium “Lilac Beauty” – a very mellow lilac, practically white, but not quite pure white. A nice glow above the rich green yarrow leaves.

Lewisia cotyledon "Regenbogen"

Lewisia cotyledon “Regenbogen” has these weirdly vibrant flowers. They supposedly come in a variety of colors and striping too, but all of our babies we’ve been growing have bloomed in this color, so far.

It’s definitely been Lewisia season for the past 6 weeks or so. The rains the last couple days have stopped the show, but I presume when we get sun again, soon enough, they’ll be bursting out again.



Dudleya cymosa

This is one of the more attractive dudleyas we’re growing. Fat green leaves with bright red edges, and these spectacular bloom displays – as much for the red color of the bloom stalks as for the pale yellow flowers.

Dudleyas were named for famed Stanford forester (and botanist) William Russell Dudley.

I wonder if I’ll ever get a plant named after me?

Mallows are in Bloom

Malacothamnus fasciculatus is one of three mallow species we currently have at the nursery, all in bloom or bud. Plus the related Flannel Bushes in big bloom.


Arctostaphylos “Warren Roberts” blooms are one of the prettier of the A. pajaroensises. So rich, so full. Hold onto them.




Arctostaphylos densiflora “Howard McMinn” is a really nice, deeply-red-barked, twisted-branched medium-height California-native manzanita that has a large showing of pink-tinged bell-shaped blooms this time of year.

They are not to be used as a border plant, as they are only to be used as a centerpiece for a small garden. OK, you can also use them as a feature plant in a larger garden. And they can occasionally be brought indoors in colder areas to be a houseplant sitting in a very bright window, but never in a green pot. Mustard and Burnt Umber are the preferred pot colors.

They can also be bonsai’ed, but that will take a lot of work to reestablish and maintain.



Arctostaphylos rudis “Vandenberg”

We are at the start of manzanita bloom season. The earliest bloomers are starting. We should have species blooming from now until May. Nice!


Arctostaphylos morroensis – Morro Manzanita

Endangered in its native range in Southern Cal., it grows well coastal gardens throughout the state. Lavender flowers with red berries.


Arctostaphylos “Austin Griffiths” is a really nice hybrid with gorgeous large leaves that gets 10 to 12 ft. tall – the perfect size for a Berkeley yard. Full bloom on these is a lot of flowers for a long time – 6 weeks or more. If you don’t like manzanitas in general, then this is not the plant for you. Hah! Everyone loves manzanitas!


Arctostaphylos densiflora Howard McMinn

Arctostaphylos densiflora “Howard McMinn” is another California tree. This one is shorter than yesterday’s Catalina Ironwood, topping out at below 10ft., vs. the 40ft. tall Ironwood.

Arctostaphylos densiflora “Howard McMinn”

California Native
Evergreen shrub

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low
Size: 7ft.h. x 10ft.w.

Large evergreen mounding shrub with clusters of small flowers, white to light pink, in winter through spring. Berries are favored by native birds. Dark red trunk.


A. “Howard McMinn” is a nectar source for the Monarch Butterfly and the California Dogface Butterfly


Arctostaphylos “Sunset” has normal Manzanita flower clusters and pretty red berries in spring, if we ever get a real winter around these parts. I wonder what will happen berry-wise without rain. The birds will be hungry.

Manzanita Berries

Arctostaphylos pajaroensis “Paradise”
This is one of my favorite manzanitas. Great leave color and texture, beautiful bloom sprays, and delicious berries (for the birds).

This specimen was photographed at the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden.

Manzanita Berry Season


Arctostaphylos pajaroensis “Warren Roberts”

Did you ever wonder who these people are that got plant varieties named after them?

Well, Warren Roberts is the Superintendant of the Arboretum at UC Davis.

He comes from a long line of Kern County cattle ranchers and says he inherited some of his plant know-how from a Gold Rush-era great-grandmother who was well respected for her knowledge of herbs.

Manzanita Blooms

arctostaphylos paradise small

Arctostaphylos “Paradise”

The Manzanitas are looking very fresh on such a beautiful Sunday.

Arctostaphylos pajaroensis “Paradise”
California Native/Western US
Evergreen shrub

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low, summer-drought
Size: 5’t x 8’w. in 10 years

“Large clusters of flowers of a lovely shade of pink in winter. Older foliage is blue-green and the newest growth is bronze red. Should be able to tolerate some summer water.”

September 2021

US Constitution


We Get Questions

Email your questions to:

blog [at] cactusjungle [dot] com