What's in a name?

Photos Courtesy of Tanya Kucak
It’s advisable to replace butterfly bush with ceanothus, above.

Sometimes a plant’s name is part of its appeal, but I can think of a few plants that need to be renamed.

“Butterfly bush,” for example, suggests that this might be a good choice if you want butterflies in your garden. In fact, it is one of the worst choices because it can be invasive and provides only nectar.

Gamble Garden class highlights planting for privacy

Kevin Raftery – owner of the Los Altos-based Kevin Raftery Horticultural Services – is scheduled to discuss “Planting for Privacy: Successful Plants to Use for Hedges, Screens, Espaliers and Vines” 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto.

The class will focus on the use of plants to create aesthetically pleasing private outdoor living spaces.

Spring blooms early at Filoli estate in Woodside; Botanical Art Exhibition opens

The Filoli estate opened its “Spring Frolic” season with a celebration Friday.

California native plants shine in local Japanese-style gardens

Courtesy of Tanya Kucak
Masses of blue ceanothus flowers denote springtime in California. Though planting a variety of ceanothus cultivars can extend the bloom time, the peak bloom time will still be spring. The seasonality of these shrubs makes them special.

When you envision an authentic Japanese landscape design, do you think of (a) moss, bamboo and Japanese maples, or (b) local California native plants? If the garden is located in California, the correct answer can be (b).

“In Japanese gardens, 98 to 100 percent of the plants are native,” said Leslie Buck, an aesthetic pruner who wrote about her mid-career gardening apprenticeship in Japan in the book “Cutting Back” (Timber Press, 2017). Japanese gardeners, who are “masters of native landscaping,” she said, advise: “Don’t copy our nature; use your own.”

Apricots in paradise: Tracing the roots of a fruitful garden legacy

Above Left Town Crier file photo; Above Right and right Photos courtesy of Robin Chapman
In addition to filling the region with pink blossoms in spring, above left, apricot trees and their bounty allow growers to make jam, above right. The old apricot tree, right, still graces the garden of a Los Altos home on Covington Road. Apricot trees can live 50 years, or even longer if planted in the hills.

It was really paradise.

MV works to welcome backyard rental units

Courtesy of Tony Chan
Local developer Tony Chan builds small backyard units on existing lots that meet the 700 square-foot cap in Mountain View.

To relieve the statewide housing shortage, numerous California cities have made it easier for residents to build accessory dwelling units – also known as “granny units” – in their backyards.

Mountain View is one of those cities, according to Mayor Lenny Siegel, who spoke at a free seminar titled “Backyard Rental Units as a Means to Address the Housing Shortage” Jan. 12.

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