Suggestions for Slope Planting

hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)November 18, 2010

I have a fairly large open area in my front yard, on the north side of our lot that gently slopes upwards. The slope, then, would be south-facing, and gets pretty much all sun all the time. As you can see in the photos, I have lots of other water-wise/Calif natives on this slope (with the exception of some roses down by the driveway on their own drip), and I'd like to do a nice planting of Calif natives cascading down the slope. I know I want Ceanothus and Manzanitas, just not quite sure which varieties. I'm defintely going to put 3 Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman' starting at the very top, but then, not sure after that. Maybe Ceanothus 'Tuxedo', and I am hearing?? about another new cultivar, Ceanothus 'Midnight Magic', which I can't find any info on. I would like the plants to sort of scale down in height as I come down the slope, with the larger, taller specimens up higher (hence the 'Ray Hartman' at the top). Any suggestions? White, blues and pinks all welcome, a variety of blooming times also a plus. Other plant material suggestions also very welcome. I plan on hand-watering to establish, and then I may run a drip line I can keep turned off, and only water this grouping maybe once every 3 weeks or so during the summer if it gets really warm, so I can water these natives as they prefer, and not "over-love" them :-) The area is about 50 feet long and about 18 feet wide - larger and longer than the photos make it appear.

Patty S.

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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

I, myself, would have to include cistus...for its toughness, beauty and scent and many, many of the native salvias are quite nice..penstemons....

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 6:01PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Thanks, gypsy. I do have cistus towards the front of the slope up against the street. 3 large specimens that are suffering (the 4th has already died), and neither I nor my gardener can figure it out. We're going to try more water (they get zero additional water right now), so I'm a little leery of trying cistus right now until I can resolve my current issues. Have lots and LOTS of salvias - about 10 different varieties right now on this slope, along with lots of different cupheas and several penstemons (my fav) plus Calif. Fuschias, Dragons Tail, too. Plus about 10-15 other different specimens too many to name. What I'm trying to achieve in this area is more of a cascad effect with growth habit: tall upright, to mounding to prostrate as I work from top to bottom. I know I can do that with different Ceanothus hybrids, as well as different Manzanitas. But, I might think about a lower cistus. Just wish they were "tough" for me. Right now, large portions of my cistus are appearing as those they suddenly got scorched, and all leaves in large sections are turning brown and dropping suddenly. We've checked for gophers - no mounds or any evidence of gopher activity at all. Really anywhere in my yard which is extremely unusual for my area of California (N. San Diego County. We even have an area about 2 miles east of me called Gopher Canyon for good reason!) Just worried I'm going to lose the other 3. They are about 8' tall and very lovely. Or were last year :-(

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 6:17PM
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That's a gorgeous landscape already! Is that salvia apiana in the distance there? I was in SD recently and noticed a lot of it. Is there any artemisia tridentata? It has beautiful gray foliage, fits right in, and the foliage smells great.

And I saw brahea armata all over San grows incredibly slowly so you might have to spring for a more mature specimen, but I saw it in bloom once in Santa

I've actually never seen these in person, but hyptis emoryi (desert lavender) and pitcher plant (lepechinia fragrans) might be right up your alley too! Google them!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 7:30PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

You have some very nice accent plants and I think some prostrate Arctostaphlos would be nice addition for much of your bare soil. Al

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 9:32AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Hah! Yes, way up at the top of the slope you can see some salvia apiana (White Sage). Needs to be trimmed up a wee bit. I have it in a few other places in my front yard, too, and I think it is a little more sensitive to lack of water than my other salvias. But, the flower stocks are worth it - pale whitish lavender and very delicate. What looks like artemesia is actually SILVER FEATHER, Tanacetum ptarmiciflorum. I thought it was an artemesia as well, but this great forum actually helped me ID it. I LOVE this plant, and I have several volunteers that are doing very nicely. It becomes this lovely, symmetrical silver ball, and then has lovely tiny white flowers that cover it for months. Just gorgeous. I may have some artemisia tridentata up on this slope - the previous owners were kind of on a silver theme which I really like. I have so many specimens up there I can't recall off the top of my head. Yes, lots of brahea armata out here (Mexican Blue Palm) which I have several of on the lower side of my front and side yard. Good suggestions for surrounding plant specimen choices, I'll keep those in mind!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 12:12PM
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Your slope is my 'dream' garden layout. A gentle south facing slope which shows all the plants well. In my dream I have an artificial stream running from top to near bottom disappearing into the ground...

For 4 season interest don't forget winter growing South American bulbs like watsonias etc.

Buddleia will give you a tall blue gray shrub. Also consider the S.A. shrubs like Protea, Grevillea etc.

I think C. Tuxedo needs partial shade - I have mine but it's less than 1 year in place.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 12:49PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Al, I totally agree, I've just got to figure out what Manzanita cultivars to select. I want showy flowers and berries. And Chad, I do have several Grevilleas all up the slope right at the street level and they are HUGE. I thought they looked so pretty and soft, and made the mistake of running my hand along the needle-like leaves. Ouch. That was a mistake :-) I might be able to tuck some lower Grevilleas or Protea along this swath up the hill. I want a similar look as a dry stream, but we're going to put in a winding walkway up this section, then continue making walking paths along this slope and a few benches. I'm going to put up plant markers, too, since we get asked so much from the neighbors what plants we have. Then my neighbors can just walk through and take notes. I'm also hoping I can get the garden spiffy enough to go on tour next year - we'll see. We still have a rather sizeable area in the back, on the south side of our yard fondly referred to as "The Jungle", as all our water drains down there. It IS a jungle, lol!! That will take some $$ and time to get squared away, but it's on the dockett for next year. I'm going to head over to Las Pilitas this Saturday and get their advice. Bummer about Tuxedo needing some shade - there pretty much isn't any in this area. I'm going to also ask them about a new Ceanothus hybrid 'Midnight Magic' and see about that one, too. Would LOVE dark foliage if I can get it & it tolerates the full sun. Hope I don't warp my pocketbook to badly, lol!! Thanks for all the great advice!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 1:23PM
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napapen(ca 15)

I was in New Zealand recently and saw a small NZ flax that has pretty flowers on it. I plan to look for it for my garden.

Yesterday I saw a creeping plant in the Protea family that has pink and red flowers. It is never watered (after established) and has a beautiful feathery foliage. Local nurseries carry it.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 1:25PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Your garden is beautiful, and it sounds like you have a perfect plan. I would love to see it after you find and plant the right ceanothus. I agree that the dark foliage would be just right.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 4:16PM
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Apologies but I misspoke about C. tuxedo, sun is fine; however it is less drought tolerant than other native ceanothus.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 7:58PM
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For lower-growing plants, what about Bee's Bliss sage? The ceanothus cultivar that comes to mind is Yankee Point or the one I just planted, I think it's Point Reyes. Are you open to red at all? A lower growing version of a CA fuchsia like Everett's Choice would give you hummingbird action and late color.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 8:55PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

kelpmermaid, I'll check out the Bee's Bliss Sage, not familiar with that one. Yankee Point is on the list. You'll see that everywhere in Oceanside, in public plantings (someone working for the city must know their native plants!) and it does extremely well out here. I have several Calif. Fuschia up by the street, and there are always a consideration as I have a gazillion Anna hummers in my yard. They would always appreciate more options :-) Thanks, all good suggestions!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 9:38PM
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Lots of beautiful manzanitas out there...look on the Las Pilitas site, they list a huge variety of them, with pictures and all. Keep in mind that arctostaphylos definitely needs careful watering through the first couple of summers, although once established they're great.

Also, how about western redbud (cercis occidentalis)? It's one of those plants that looks really delicate but is actually tough as nails and incredibly drought tolerant. Gorgeous pink flowers in spring and red seedpods in fall.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 1:30AM
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Thinking white to pink-ish, there are some versions of native buckwheats that might be of interest, too, particularly if you are coastal. Have you checked those out?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 11:57AM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

I agree on the Bee's Bliss. I'm very happy with the way it spreads....

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 12:21PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Okay, spent an hour and a half at Las Pilitas. In the lovely gentle rain. The sage and artemisia smelled intoxicating it was so strong! Had a great consultation with Jereny Sison of Artemisia Landscape Architecture, What a sharp guy. Have a LONG list of plant suggestions as well as a hand-drawn planting schematic for the front slope, along with a general idea of where to put the walking path. Jeremy specializes in Calif. natives, so his list is all CA natives, which I can add to with some drought-resistent non-natives for some different looks. Here's the short list (as you all know, it NEVER stays this short, lol!):

Salvia 'Vicki Romo'
Salvia brandegei
Salvia apiana compacta (a little neater version of apiana)
Salvia mellifera 'Terra Seca'
Salvia clevelandii 'Pozo Blue'
Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman'
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens or 'Joyce Coulter' (in replacement of Yankee Point)
Ceanothus r. 'Snowball'
Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)
Rhus Integrifolia
Rhus Onata
Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn'
Arctostaphylos 'Sunset'
Arctostaphylos 'Dr. Hurd'
Arctostaphylos 'Louis Edmunds'
Arctostaphylos 'Pacific Mist'
Encelia californica
Monkey Flowers (orange and yellow varieties)
Fremontodendron 'Calfornia Glory'
Fremontodendron 'Ken Taylor'
Sphaeralcea ambigua (Apricot Mallow)
Cercis occidentalis
Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
Leymus condensatus 'canyon prince' (GREAT grass!)
Baccharis pilularis 'Pidgeon Point"
Zauschneria (haven't decided what cultivars, yet, Ghostly Red for sure)
A few yuccas and a few agave, yet to be determined

So, that's the short list for now! We'll be putting these in over the winter, since there's a pretty large amount of planting to be done. We'll probably tackle it in groupings, breaking it up into 5 or 6 groupings and try to lay out a walking path best we can.

Thanks, everyone! I'll try to post photos as we go. It's a big project, and only one of 4 we want to complete in the yard. Then, the yard will be completely done and just in "maintenance" mode, I hope!!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 7:54PM
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i really like the contrasting foliage of Arctostaphylos 'Pacific Mist' and 'John Dourley'. they look amazing planted together w/ Artemisia californica 'Canyon Gray'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pete

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 3:02AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Hi Pete! Should have asked on the GWN Yahoo list! I'll check these two out. I'm better with Ceanothus than Manzanitas, so I'll see about these and squeeze them in. I have a lot of room on this slope, so I'll see about picking up these two. I do have some Canyon Gray up there - one of those plants I NEVER water or pay attention to, as it is just so good on its own. Great suggestion.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 5:59PM
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