Bay Laurel Garden Center - California Natives


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Matilija poppy

California Bush Poppy


The Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) is one of the most spectacular California native plants. Getting it started can be difficult, but once established, it requires no irrigation and may, in fact, need to be watched so as not to take over your garden.

Another very showy native is Dendromecon harfordii (California bush poppy); in late spring it is covered in bright yellow flowers and flowers intermittently throughout the summer. Trichostema lanata (Woolly blue curls) and Fremontedendron both exhibit colorful flowers.

Prunus lyonii (Catalina Cherry) and Prunus ilicfolia (Holly leaf Cherry) are two evergreen shrubs that are extremely useful as screens or background plants. They both have red berries in late summer which the birds find very desireable.


Ceanothus 'Dark Star'

Ceaonthus, 'California wild lilac'
is known for its brilliant violet blue flowers, but at least two white-flowered varieties are found. Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman' and 'Cliff Schmidt ' are among the tallest of the Ceanothus, attaining heights of 12 to 15 feet. 'Dark Star' and 'Concha' are among the varieties that grow 4 to 6 ft. Both of them have profuse brilliant violet blue flowers in the spring. 'Yankee Point' is a popular 3 to 4 ft. ground cover; a much lower growing ground cover is'Heart's Desire' .


Paradise Manzanita

bark of Paradise manzanita


Tops on the list of desirable shrubs is Arctostaphylos commonly called 'Manzanita.' Again, there are many choices in this genus. Handsome and tree-like are 'Dr. Hurd', 'Hood Mountain' and 'Austin Griffiths'. 'Sentinel' is one of the more upright varieties, eventually reaching 5 to 6 ft. Medium sized Manzanitas are 'Howard McMinn,' 'Sunset,' 'John Dourley' and 'Wayside,' growing between 3 to 5 feet tall and spreading. At gound level is 'Emerald Carpet.'and 'Ken Taylor' 1 ft. or less, and 'Pacific Mist,' a gray green variety 2 ft. high and spreading.



Salvia 'Bee's Bliss'

Salvie spathacea



Another diverse and useful genus is Salvia. The Clevelandii group includes 'Allen Chickering','Whirly Blue,' 'Pozo Blue' and 'Winifred Gilman.' In need of an attractive, drought tolerant ground cover? Try 'Bee's Bliss'. This salvia has gray green leaves with lavender flowers in spring; it will spread 3 to 4 ft. wide or more. Salvia leucantha also has gray green leaves but the shrub can grow 5 feet tall. The flowers are a pink shade of lavender. Most all the salvias benefit from a light shearing once a year as they tend to become woody over time.

A more herabceous plant,
Salvia spathacea spreads by runners and produces dramatic magenta flowers in late spring.


Carpenteria californica

New leaves of Mahonia acquifolium


Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon), an evergreen shrub or small tree with dark green toothed leaves has red berries in winter (a rare vareity has golden berries). Carpenteria californica (Bush anemone) does best with afternoon shade; clusters of white, anemone shaped flowers cover this evergreen shrub in early summer. Ribes species display charming white, yellow and shades of pink tear drop flowers in spring, again, doing best with some afternoon shade. Mahonia aquifolium and various species of Rhamnus (Coffeeberry) are handsome evergreen shrubs.



Eriogonum umbellatum


Buckwheats provide color spring and summer. Eriogonum umbellatum (Sulphur buckwheat) sports bright yellow flowers in spring. Eriogonum giganteum (St. Katherine's Lace) is topped with creamy clusters of flower sprays reaching as high as 5 feet. The star of the genus, Eriogonum grande var. rubescens (Rosy Buckwheat) displays rosy buttoms atop rounded gray-green leaves for most of the summer.

Zauschneria californica


Penstemon 'Margarita Bop' which was discovered by Las Pilitas Nursery in our own county sends up wands of fuchsia and violet blue flowers. Epilobium commonly called 'California fuchsia' is an extremely reliable bloomer from mid-summer through fall; the flowers are brilliant red-orange, and,as you would expect, draw lots of attention from the hummingbirds. Don't forget to throw out the California poppy seeds in October before the rains arrive. If you do forget, we stock them in 6 packs and 4" pots in spring.



Heuchera maxima


Iris douglassii


For the shade, try Heuchera maxima, a cream flowering coral bell that looks great under oak trees and needs very little water. Pacific Coast Iris is another good choice for a shady spot as well as Western Columbine. Native ferns are excellent plants for the shade. You will usually find Woodwardia fimbriata (Giant chain fern) and Polystichum munitum (Western sword fern) in our shade area.

Most of the native plants referred to above do best with good drainage and small amounts of water. They are all good choices for a climate such as ours when levels of rainfall are never certain.

For more information on California natives, go to This is the only nursery in San Luis Obispo county exclusively growing California native plants


Bay Laurel Garden Center • 2500 El Camino Real • Atascadero, CA • 805-466-3449