Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

The California Stunner

As our dry winter continues, I feel the need to drag out my soapbox once again. Isn’t it time we got real about drought-tolerant landscaping? I am not advocating severe rock-and-cactus plantings. I’m suggesting some serious consideration of California native plantings.

March is the perfect month for us to take notice of the beauty of California native plants. Poppies and lupines are coloring hillsides all across the state. Manzanitas are dotted with tiny whitish blooms. Our stately blue oaks are budding out. Ceanothus is blooming cool blue from the coast to the foothills.  And all this glory comes along without supplementary irrigation!

Have you noticed the other California stunner? The Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is dazzling right about now, its leafless branches covered in magenta blooms. You can see the shrubs along roadsides and freeways throughout Solano, Yolo and Sacramento counties. They’re particularly beautiful on the road to Lake Berryessa.

Now this is a native I can really get behind. It is easy to grow, though a bit slow. It’s not too picky about soil, but seems to be happiest on a well-drained, sunny hillside. It is deciduous, but with year-round interest (magenta blossoms now, burgundy heart-shaped leaves in spring, seedpods throughout winter). It can be trained into a smallish tree (8-20 feet), or left to its shrubby natural growth patterns. Not much bothers redbuds. The best part, in my opinion: Once a Western redbud is established in your landscape, it does not require extra irrigation. You might attain faster growth with occasional summer water, but the tree will do just fine without.

How cool is that?

Blooming stands of Western redbud can be found in March along Pleasants Valley Road in rural Vacaville. (photo by Kathy Thomas-Rico)
Blooming stands of Western redbud can be found in March along Pleasants Valley Road in rural Vacaville. (photo by Kathy Thomas-Rico)

Posted on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Comments:

1.
Glorious, Kathy!

Posted by Marian Chmieleski on March 16, 2013 at 8:16 AM

2.
Can you suggest nurseries that carry C. occidentalis? Thanx

Posted by Susan Croissant on March 20, 2013 at 8:19 AM

3.
Thanks, Marian. It is a gorgeous shrub, isn't it?  
 
I also received a comment/question about where to find Western redbud for purchase. The UC Davis Arboretum includes redbud in its list of All-Star plants. The Arboretum will host several plant sales soon, and redbud will no doubt be available. Sales are set for April 6 and 28, as well as May 18. Check http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/plant_sales_and_nursery.aspx.  
 
Also, Lemuria Nursery in Dixon has 1-gallon size Western redbuds in stock.

Posted by Kathy Thomas-Rico on March 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

4.
I also just heard that Mid City Nursery in American Canyon has a 15-gallon Western redbud in stock, and can order the shrubs in 5-gallon size as well.

Posted by Kathy Thomas-Rico on March 22, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Leave a Reply

You are currently not signed in. If you have an account, then sign in now! Anonymously contributed messages may be delayed.




Security Code:
PEDPPH
:

Read more

 
E-mail
 
Webmaster Email: kmchurchill@ucanr.edu