Favorite specimen plants for CA gardens?

Propaganda Garden DesignAugust 2, 2012

I want to compile a list of great specimen plants for California.

Preferably natives or other like climate plants, Mediterranean, South African, Australian, Chilean, or plants from other areas that will do well with our summer drought and winter rains with little supplemental water.



Large Grasses or Bamboos


Small Trees

Large Trees

(or any other categories you like).

Reasons you think they make a great specimen tree and pictures would be great too!

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What exactly does "specimen plants" mean?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 10:57AM
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For the shrub category, Dendromecon Harfordii is a nice choice. I won one about 10 years ago in a drawing. Didn't know where to plant it, so I stuck it out in the middle of my backyard. It's now as large as a midsize sedan. It has silvery green leaves and produces yellow fragrant blooms that are similar in shape to California poppies. Bloom is heaviest in Spring but it flowers most of the year. All I have to do to it is look at it. I never water it. I suspect it may get some benefit from a slow soaker I have on my Crape Myrtles about 8 feet away.

An aromatic choice is Cleveland Sage. It's my favorite filler for dry borders. It's a hummingbird magnet.They are super fragrant after a rain.

If you want a specimen plant that will eat your yard, Matilija Poppy is a gorgeous choice.

Though it does need some water once mature, There is nothing like the grace of California Sycamore. They smell good too.

It's name notwithstanding, Arizona Cypress is a Cal native that you can find in big box stores from time to time. Beautiful bluish foliage. It's happier with some water.

Tecate Cypress is a recent introduction to my garden. It has airy gray green foliage. The jury is still out on it for me since it's not filled out yet but it seems happy with the water the Crape Myrtles get nearby though I do not directly water it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Propaganda Garden Design

Socks a specimen plant is one that is so incredible that it can serve as a focal point for the garden on its own without needing to be massed or combined with other plants.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 8:43PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Aloe marlothii

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 12:38AM
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Thanks, clematis...

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 12:56AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Small trees:
Manzanita tree! I don't have one :(

Beaucarnea recurvata (bottle tree,can't find a photo). Euphorbia cotinifolia (Caribbean Copper Plant):

Succulent: Blue Agave.

I have a lot of thirstier choices, like Australian Tree Ferns, Giant Bird of Paradise, Japanese Maple, Brugmansia, etc.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 2:44AM
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