Times Standard (Eureka)
Garrya is a sturdy shrub
Ah, the vagaries of February. A month when horticultural divas like camellia, rhododendron, daffodil and hyacinth cry spring. But the weather says no, or maybe yes. Here a warm Sunday afternoon, there a frosty Tuesday morning. This is an exciting month, not without its drama. But let’s take a look at some of the quiet, native beauties that shine no matter what. Easy to grow, they will help your garden become a habitat for the wild ones. Pollinators and overwintering hummingbirds will have food.
Ribes sanguineum: Except for windy gardens right on the bay or ocean, red flowering currant is a natural for most gardens. This deciduous native shrub grows in full sun, or part shade. Inland, part shade is best. The pink/ reddish flower clusters that dangle forth from newly clothed twigs and branches are delightful. In the summer and early fall, purple berries serve as a food source for seed-eating songbirds.
In the landscape, wild flowering currant will grow 6- to 10- feet tall, but can be lightly pruned to the size you desire. It is a fast growing native that is drought tolerant two to three years after planting. Giving it a deep watering a few times during the summer months will keep foliage fresh and green. Fertilizing is rarely necessary as a good mulch of compost or leaf compost will keep it healthy.
Omelaria cerasiformis: Blooming right along with Ribes, Omelaria produces dangling clusters of white flowers that hummingbirds and pollinators love. Also called Oso berry, this deciduous shrub grows best in a damp woodland environment. It prefers part sun/part shade. Fast growing, Oso will grow up to 20 feet tall, but can easily be kept to size with routine pruning.
Garrya elliptica: Also called wavy silk tassel, this evergreen shrub’s male flowers called catkins, steal the show. They cascade down in clusters along the entire plant. ‘James Roof’ is a variety that has extra showy catkins. Female plants are more promenade in late summer and fall with their clusters of ripe fruit that summer birds love.
Garrya is a sturdy shrub that has a thick body and leathery leaves to match. It is no diva. Its strength allows it to easily tolerate salty, windy coastal conditions. It is fairly drought tolerant once established. Garrya can grow up to 20 feet tall and about as wide if left to its own devices. Routine yearly pruning will keep it to size.