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California Lilac: “Concha” 2.0

As those who know me well know, I love the ceanothus, AKA California Lilac. I'm constantly planting new varieties wherever I live, ever since my love and I planted our first in the garden of my first home in the Rose City and it grew startlingly fast, becoming happy shady spot for our then-ducklings to nap under away from predators and the hot sun that first summer we had them.

On the farm, I planted a long row of them in front of the small pasture that became our huge veggie garden and put a soon-to-be huge beauty in the front. When we downsized to our city cottage, I saw it as a good sign when a sad-but-salvageable ceanothus was hiding in the backyard (check out its story HERE), I really got to experimenting with varieties, from Victoria to Yankee Point to Italian Skies to Concha and more... and even a number of the small-but-mighty Point Reyes groundcovers to help with erosion control on a slightly sloped area.

Here in the Valley? First thing I did was enlist my love in helping me plant up 7 of the bigger "Italian Skies" in front of our fence, a "Victoria" along our back path, two varieties of Ceanothus groundcovers along the slight slope on one area, a Ray Hartman tree-ceanothus (crossing fingers, this one's the dream...) and this awesome Concha you see above (the link is from our last place showing how massive it got in less than two years' time - perfect for going in front of a window!), which was an experiment for me this time as far as planting location goes, in a couple of ways.

First, I was nervous about planting in an area where I wasn't 100% sure the sun would reach as fully as it did, but trusted the lessons learned in our Emerald City cottage in how to follow the sun seasonally, knowing that while it may be part shade in the winter due to where our fence is and the very, very tall evergreens a couple houses down, once the sun got high enough in the sky it'd get both the morning sun AND that late afternoon sun that it loves so much.

Second, I planted this one at the end of an existing gravel path, so its 'mulch'! Having to go down 4-5" to reach the soil and cut through the old fabric underneath to plant it was a trip, but ultimately it's been just fine - and to look at these big fat purple flowers? Totally rad. And now that I think about it, these are prime drought tolerant shrubs, which my sweetheart and I drooled all over when we were visiting the Botanic Gardens in my early 2000's stomping grounds of Santa Barbara, so it's happy as can be there. To see it thrive in this spot makes me proud of how far I've come as a gardener.

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust.” ~ Gertrude Jekyll


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