Seasonal Interest in the Garden-January (1 of 3)

February is here!  But, let’s take a few minutes to look back on January and what was in flower or otherwise gave us good seasonal color in “winter” in Southern California.

First up – Manzanitas!

Arctostaphylos refugioensis, Photo by Laura Camp ©Tree of Life Nursery
Arctostaphylos refugioensis, Photo by Laura Camp ©Tree of Life Nursery

Some of the manzanitas started blooming in December, and among the very first every year is the magnificent Arctostaphylos refugioensis from the coast Refugio State Beach area in Santa Barbara county.  This fast-growing species grows to 15+ feet tall and puts on a great show of big white flowers.

Arctostaphylos pajaroensis ‘Paradise’, Photo by Laura Camp ©Tree of Life Nursery
Arctostaphylos pajaroensis ‘Paradise’, Photo by Laura Camp ©Tree of Life Nursery

Manzanitas will continue blooming their white or pink bell-shaped flower clusters right through February, providing important food source for hummingbirds and other pollinators.  After the bloom we can look forward to a new growth flush that in some species is a colorful pinkish or even an orange tinge, such as on Arctostaphylos pajaroensis or A. ‘Sunset’.  And manzanita provide year-round interest with their beautiful burgundy bark and evergreen leaves.

Do you have a manzanita that looks particularly wonderful in your garden?  Let us hear where you are and which one of the numerous species and selections we have here in California are working for you….

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  1. i’ve been growing an Arctostaphylos refugioensis called ‘Pinky’ which i’ve never seen carried by anyone else. it has gorgeous pink flowers, and is the fastest growing of any of the large manzanitas. it even roots very easily from cuttings – unlike many of them. have you seen this one?

    my favorite small / medium manzanita is Greensphere – really gorgeous and really slow growing to about 4′ around – dense w/ nice foliage, good structure and very long-lived and numerous flowers.

    My favorite large cultivar is ‘Austin Griffiths’ which cannot be beat for such lovely clusters of pink flowers and great structure and leaves too.

    I’m growing one Arctostaphylos hooveri which looks very promising – and what a beauty it is! it’s growing very well for me so far – especially for one of the very fuzzy-leaved varieties which can be very difficult. i started most of them from seed, so i can’t promise it will have such pink flowers, but here’s some photos of the mama plant:

    my favorite small manzanita is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Tom’s Point’. It has gorgeous structure, very cute pink and white flowers – summer flowering – and lush, dense, dark green foliage. here’s a photo of it:

    1. I would love to see ‘Pinky’ – it sounds like a real winner. Where did it come from? A. hooveri and uva-ursi ‘Tom’s Point’ are also new to me, and thank you so much for the photos. I love ‘Greensphere’ and ‘Austin Griffiths’, too, although I haven’t seen them used extensively yet. We must get together to trade cuttings someday soon. The diversity and beauty of manzanitas is amazing.

  2. sounds good laura. i just found this reply to my post. let me know when you’d like to get together. i’m still amazed at the speed of growth of ‘pinky’. i get nice sized 5 gal plants in about a year from cuttings.

    1. Unfortunately we have the distance to keep us apart! I’ll try to contact you and visit sometime when I’m up in your area.

      The rate of growth of ‘Pinky’ sounds amazing! I think that would be really useful. Another couple of manzanitas that have been growing pretty fast here are A. silvicola ‘Ghostly’ and A. andersonii, but not as fast as A. refugioensis. You just can’t beat manzanitas for landscape quality.

  3. PS – It’s almost a year since this article was originally posted, and the Refugio manzanita bloomed in late October/early November this year! Amazing early bloom.

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