Garden Bloom of the Month – December

Way back in early 2012 (currently wrapping up my third year if you can believe it), I started this blog anticipating a flood of pictures from reader’s gardens and hikes.  These would feed the Rambler App, where you could hunt down your favorite native plants.  Well, the flood isn’t even a trickle, just lonely ole me taking barely-focussed pictures and talking to myself.

Sending out my annual plea.  If anyone would like to share their native plant pictures I’d love to post them.  I could use the break.

December is generally slim pickings for native blooms.  Manzanitas which would normally be getting ready to burst out on the trails are bereft of flowering members, victims of three years of drought.  I of course cheat at my manse, and have already enjoyed the “Refugio” Manzanita blooms over a month ago.  The rest are starting to rock, my favorite for the month:

Austin Griffith's manzanita

Austin Griffith’s manzanita

To quote my friends at Las Pilitas, Austin Griffith’s Manzanita is a hybrid between Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Sentinel’



and Arctostaphylos manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’.

Dr. Hurd

Dr. Hurd

It was introduced in the 1980s by Native Sons nursery in honor of a conservation volunteer who worked the Nipomo Dunes.

If left unattended the plant will grow to a hefty 12 foot tall and 12 foot wide.  Like most manzanitas it doesn’t mind being pruned and shaped into a small tree.


The bark is reddish purple, with red stems, small pink flowers


and shiny green foliage.  It can bloom anywhere between December and February.


Its soil and water needs are rather liberal.  While well-drained is always preferred clay is OK too as long as you don’t drown it.


According to the Las Pilitas folks the flowers, nectar and fruit make it one of the most desireable manzanitas.  Hummers seem to prefer them, chipmunks eat the berries and birds will even eat the flowers.


Red Admiral butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly

I got mine at the long-lost-lamented Nopalito Nursery.  You might get lucky at Theodore Payne or go all the way to Claremont and visit Antonio (former Nopalito proprietor) at the fantastic Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden.

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2 Responses to Garden Bloom of the Month – December

  1. JJ says:

    I wait for the day when I do have pictures worth sharing – a few-months-old native landscape has little to show anyone but its doting ICU nurse. However, the Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ that grew three foot in six months is budding… although an earlier ‘bud’ was a wasp gall….

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