San Diego Floral Association
From The Archives of California Garden
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Holiday Colors for San Diego Gardens
November/December 2011, Volume 102 No. 6
Kate Sessions offered up her well-considered opinions on plants in hundreds of articles for California Garden. This discussion includes her top seven plants for holiday color in San Diego and is something of a capstone article on the subject, coming near the end of her life and after she had been in the nursery business for more than 50 years.
–Nancy Carol Carter
Holiday Colors for San Diego Gardens
By K. O. Sessions
San Diego can make a more spectacular showing of bright flowering plants during the holiday season . . . than any other city in the United States excepting, possibly some in Florida.
These plants are self-registering thermometers of our climate and every home gardener should consider a generous planting to give color in abundance, not only for their own pleasure but for the many winter visitors [from around the United States and Europe].
The Poinsettia is No. 1, the ever-blooming Crimson Lake Bougainvillea No. 2. The brick colored Bougainvillea lateritia No. 3 and the newer variety Bougainvillea Mrs. Praetorius No. 4. Our native Toyon, the red berried shrub (Holly), No. 5, the fine red and orange 'berried' Hawthorne, No. 6 and the vigorous berried Cotoneasters, No. 7, are the most showy plant and all are easily grown but the first four need a southern or eastern exposure for an evergreen background of shrubbery and the bougainvilleas grow strong and high and develop bushy and spreading tops of strong color. On or near a tile roof they are very conspicuous. The native Christmas berry shrub will make an excellent hedge and the native wild Cherry gives the holly-like foliage to use with the berries in making wreaths and garlands.
The Pyracanthas or Hawthorns have a choice green foliage with their brilliant berries in large clusters. The Cotoneasters are strong growers with a grayish green foliage and drooping branches with abundant red berries along the whole stem. All of these flowers and berries last well as cut flowers for decorative use.
The winter blooming Strelitzia reginae is fast appearing more generously in our gardens as a very choice plant for color and so desirable as a cut flower for shipping to colder sections of California and the U.S. It flourishes in the open and blooms well when only four years old in our favorable climate.
The well known Camellias are winter bloomers and their very beautiful flowers with their rich foliage make them choice garden plants for very shady locations. One prominent grower lists 150 varieties. . . .
The modest but colorful Belleperone from Lower California is a good ever blooming, red flowering low shrub and the Euphorbia splendens, the Crown of Thorns in pots in the patio bear their brilliant small red flowers generously in a sunny location.
The Bigonia venusta vine produces a wealth of orange clustered flowers from November to February and is particularly brilliant and its climbing habit festoons its golden garlands into adjacent trees and along high balconies.
Pansies, Violas and California poppies and many bright annuals can be in good bloom late in December and all of January.
The Acacia podolyriaefolia is in full bloom in November, lasting until February. Its rich yellow flower clusters with its soft grey foliage make it a very desirable small garden tree.
The climbing Syringa gives an abundance of fragrant white garlands during the winter and the Tecoma Queen of Sheba is in full bloom, with large clusters of fine pink flowers.
Mission: To promote the knowledge and appreciation of horticulture and floriculture in the San Diego region.