2016 Garden Tour - Featured Plants

Tue, January 05, 2016 8:00 AM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

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   Full Garden Descriptions

Hawaiian Hilltop - Featured Plant

Ficus elastica ‘Variegata’  VARIEGATED RUBBER FIG (Moraceae) Origin: SE & Southern Asia

This is an attractive variegated form of the commonly grown evergreen rubber tree.  It has thick green leaves with white or yellow margins, multiple trunks and a spreading canopy.  Newly emerging leaves often have a red hue.  Although taller in its native habitat, it can reach 25 to 40 feet in the garden landscape and is useful as a screen, shade, patio or specimen tree in frost-free locations.  It can be grown in full sun or shade but achieves the best leaf coloring in partial sun.  Note that care should be taken around the plant, as its milky latex is a skin irritant and is poisonous if ingested.  The tree has a high tolerance for drought, but prefers some humidity and thrives in wetter conditions.





Horticultural Fantasy - Featured Plants

Aristolochia gigantea DUTCHMAN’S PIPE (Aristolochiaceae) Origin: Brazil

A vigorous evergreen twining vine with stems that can grow 15-20 ft. long and can be seen in this garden draping down over the railings of the bridge leading to the house.  The large triangular to heart-shaped dark green leaves form a mat which can be useful as a screening device.  From summer to early winter, curiously shaped flowers resembling curved pipes with flared bowls up to 1 ft. long are formed on the plant.  The flowers are burgundy with white netting and a yellow throat, and its unusual form is a definite conversation piece.  The plant is hardy to 30-32 degrees F and does best in a well-drained soil.


Hakea baxteri FAN LEAF HAKEA (Proteaceae) Origin: Australia

An attractive small ornamental shrub with stiff fan shaped leaves that climb gracefully up the branches. The flowers are rusty brown to greenish cream and strongly scented - but the attraction of this plant is mainly the shape of the leaves and its erect form with growth up to 6 ft.  Like most hakeas, it likes freely draining acidic soils and sun but will tolerate some shade and moderately heavy frosts.  It is attractive as a landscape plant or when grown in a large container.




Entertainer's Delight - Featured Plant

Dasylirion  wheeleri  DESERT SPOON (Asparagaceae) Origin: Southwest U.S.

A yucca-like plant characterized by a rosette of attractive long narrow gray leaves and a tall flower spike.  These plants can be seen growing along the driveway interplanted with variegated Yucca ‘Color Guard’.  The Spoon Yucca is a plant adapted to extended periods of drought and requires good drainage but some irrigation will speed growth.  It is often planted in inland desert gardens but is also planted in southwestern style landscapes and as specimen plants in cactus and succulent gardens.  The plant grows to 4-7 ft. in diameter forming a symmetrical mound when young and developing a short trunk that can reach 4-5 ft. tall as the plant ages.  The leaves grow to 3 ft. and have sharp teeth on the margins.  The base of each leaf broadens where it joins the trunk to form a long handled “spoon” that is used in dried flower arrangements.  When mature, the plant produces white flowers on 9-15 ft. tall spikes in early summer.




Nature's Garden - Featured Plant

Euphorbia cotinifolia CARIBBEAN COPPER PLANT (Euphorbiaceae) Origin: Mexico

This striking coppery-red leaved deciduous plant can be grown as a shrub or pruned to become a tree with a height up to 18 ft. tall.  Small white flowers with creamy bracts bloom at the ends of the branches in summer with new growth.  However, it is the bold foliage that makes it an excellent accent or foundation plant in coastal California and other frost free areas.  It prefers a well-drained soil and full sun.  The purplish stems when broken yield a milky sap that is an irritant and can be poisonous if ingested, so care should be taken when working around the plant.




Palm Paradise - Featured Plant

Cupressus cashmeriana KASHMIR CYPRESS ( Cupressaceae) Origin: Bhutan and India

One of the most attractive conifers for the home garden with its distinctive pyramidal shape formed by upright main branches and weeping foliage.  The flattened branchlets support aromatic scale-like blue-green foliage.  The tree grows slowly up to a height of 30-40 ft. and does best in sunny exposures with regular moisture.  It does not do well with extreme heat or drought stress, and benefits from some shade in warmer inland areas.  The tree is well suited as a focal point in a woodland or Asian style garden due to the tree’s beautiful form and color.




Simply Succulent - Featured Plant

Dioon spinulosum  GIANT DIOON, CYCAD (Zamiaceae) Origin: Mexico

This attractive cycad is endemic to hillsides in the tropical rainforests of Mexico.  It is one of the tallest cycads in the world, growing to 50 ft. in its natural habitat, but only reaches 5-12 ft. in the garden landscape.  The plant grows in an upright nest shape with shiny stiff leaves that have marginal thorns, so should be located away from walkways.  It is easily grown with regular water and a well-drained soil.  Cycads are an interesting group of plants because they are among the earliest cone bearing plants originating from ancient flora of the Mesozoic era.  It should be noted that all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.  The Giant Dioon provides an exotic look and formal touch to the garden and it can also be grown in tubs for a similar effect.






Spanish Villa - Featured Plant

Zamia furfuracae CARDBOARD PALM, CYCAD (Zamiaceae) Origin: Mexico


The Cardboard Palm is a small cycad and has a circular crown of leaves that resembles small fronds of a palm.  The symmetrical leaves and sculptural form give it a unique appearance that is much prized as a specimen in containers (as can be seen in this garden), or a background or understory plant in the garden.  Mature plants can grow to 4-5 ft. high and wide with pinnate leaves and stiff leaflets, and both female and male plants produce long cylindrical cones.  The plant is drought tolerant due to its ability to store water in the thick basal stem and underground root.  In California, it is principally grown in coastal and adjacent inland areas that are generally frost free, and is adapted to coastal sun or shady understory locations.




Texture and Tapestry - Featured Plant

Synadenium grant ‘Rubra AFRICAN MILK BUSH (Euphorbiaceae) Origin: East Africa

An attractive shrub or small tree with leaves of green, red or a combination of the two colors.  It typically grows between 6 and 15 ft., the smaller size when grown in containers.  The flowers are tiny and inconspicuous red bract-like cyathium (flower forms typical of the Euphorbiaceae).  The plant is drought tolerant, and can be grown in full sun or light shade.  It is generally evergreen but is sensitive to freezing temperatures and may lose its leaves after mild frosts.  If the frost is not severe or prolonged, the plant will resprout again.  As most plants in the Euphorbia family, the milky sap on this plant is a skin irritant and poisonous if ingested.  Therefore, particular care needs to be taken when cutting or working on the plant, and the plants should be kept away from small children and pets.




Torrey Pines View - Featured Plant

Melaleuca incana (prostrate form) GRAY HONEY MYRTLE (Myrtaceae) Origin: Australia

A low growing form of the Gray Honey Myrtle has graceful arching branches of tiny gray leaves that grow to a height of only 1-2 ft. and then cascade downward.  Small whitish-yellow bottle-brush type flowers form on the plants from spring to early summer.  Although they are drought resistant after establishment, the plants look better with occasional watering in summer.  They prefer full sun to partial shade, and are well adapted to both California coastal and inland areas due to their hardiness to 20 degrees F.  The delicate texture and muted foliage of these plants make them suitable for background or featured status in the garden, as well as container plantings where they cascade over the pot edge.

 Our Mission  To inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants, and to create beautiful, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes.

Our Vision  To champion regionally appropriate horticulture in San Diego County.


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