Many common herbs are drought-tolerant when planted in the garden.
They are native to Mediterranean countries, where the summer is as dry as our own. The biomes or ecosystems of Mediterranean vegetation are called maquis, and the types of plants found in them have similar characteristics to the types of plants in our own main ecosystem (called the jungle). Chapparal comes from "chaparro", which means dwarf or shrub oak in Spanish. Shrub oak dominates maquis and chaparral and is usually called shrub.
One of the characteristics shared by maquis and chaparral plants is the foliar fragrance. Although garden sage (Salvia officinalis) is the most commonly used culinary sage, it also comes from maquis, but there are also aromatic chaparral sage, the most famous being white sage (Salvia apiana) and Cleveland sage ( Salvia clevelandii). Artemisia is another example. Although tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) has ordinary green leaves, many Artemisia plants from Maquis are known for their silver snowflake leaves. The most famous member of the mugwort family in our area is Artemisia californica. It is usually short in stature, but may grow up to five feet tall, and its "Canyon Grey" variety embraces the earth. California Sand Dune Sage (Artemisia pynocephala) is a compact subshrub whose "David's Choice" variety is only It grows a foot tall.
Artemisia is famous for its alcoholic beverages: absinthe, pernox and absinthe. Artemisia absinthium (Artemisia absinthium) is the plant that originally made absinthe. Absinthe (worm in German = worm) is named for its ability to cure stomach discomfort. Two centuries ago, stomach discomfort was usually attributed to the presence of intestinal worms. The same mugwort forms the most attractive hedge with its intricate silver leaves.
Essential oils or volatile oils that impart a herbal fragrance impart drought resistance. Just as the viscosity of radiator coolant prevents water from boiling, these oils in plant juices can inhibit water loss. These oils also make plants more susceptible to fire; the heat opens up some of the hard seed coats. In the event of a fire, the chemicals contained in the smoke may also stimulate seeds to germinate. Fire is an essential element of the jungle and Marquis ecosystem, because it not only promotes the germination of certain seeds, but also provides minerals in the form of ashes, thereby accelerating the regeneration of native vegetation.
Rosemary is one of the most drought-tolerant herbs in the sun. After the rosemary plant grows in the garden, you don’t need to water it more than once a month, even in the hottest weather. The word "rosemary" is derived from the dew (ros) of the ocean (marinus) in Latin, which implies its habitat, namely the hills of Portugal and northwestern Spain that do face the sea.
Wormwood (Artemisia annua) (Photo: Joshua Siskin)
Laurel (Laurus nobilis) (Photo: Joshua Siskin)
California white sage (Salvia apiana) (Photo: Joshua Siskin)
Artemisia (California Canyon Gray) (Photo: Joshua Siskin)
Myrtus community Buxifolia (Photo: Joshua Siskin)
Due to the presence of rosmarinic acid, rosemary has a strong medicinal value, and rosmarinic acid is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Dozens of scientific studies have been published regarding the beneficial effects of rosemary. For example, Kansas State University concluded that when rosemary extract is mixed with ground beef, it can prevent the formation of "carcinogenic compounds produced during roasting, roasting, or frying." Take home lesson: Before grilling the burger, be sure to add rosemary extract to the ground beef.
A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience showed that spraying the compartments of test subjects with rosemary oil can enhance their overall memory and alertness. A large number of studies have shown that regular consumption of rosemary can combat the occurrence or development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and extend life expectancy. Perhaps the best evidence can be found in the coastal fishing village of Acciaroli, south of Naples, Italy. 15% of the population is 100 years old or older. Rosemary can be found everywhere, and every meal is used as a spice or decoration.
Speaking of shrubs, the common myrtus (Myrtus community), also native to the Mediterranean, is almost perfect. For the ancients, its diamond-shaped, fragrant leaves represented the omniscient eye of wisdom, and it was no accident. Myrtle is full of dazzling white flowers with golden stamens in early summer. If the subsequent blue fruit has astringent taste, it can be eaten and turned into a liqueur in its hometown. Myrtle is tolerant to all soil types, does not require water once established, and can handle freezing well, making it a suitable choice for Antelope Valley Gardens.
No plant native to arid climates has more shiny and fresh leaves than myrtle. Usually, such polished leaves are associated with tropical plants. Somehow, even when growing in habitats including arid regions in the Middle East, myrtle always looks like it has just been watered or rained.
If you are patient, your myrtle will eventually become a small tree without pruning. No more than 15 or 20 feet tall at maturity, the myrtle tree not only has curved branches and smooth exfoliated bark, but also shiny leaves. Myrtle has a compact variety and is sometimes used as a low hedge, but when grown in alkaline soil, due to iron deficiency, it is prone to chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves). Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) is an Australian close relative of common myrtle. Its leaves and flowers exude a strong lemon scent. Its growth habits are similar to ordinary myrtle, which is very suitable for Southern California gardens.
Bay leaves-used for tasting grilled meats, fish and sauces-come from the evergreen Mediterranean plant sweet laurel (Laurus nobilis), and its wreath crowned the heads of the victorious athletes of the ancient Greek and Roman emperors. Bay leaves used for cooking are completely dehydrated, so they are smaller than freshly picked bay leaves.
Sweet bay is widely used in gardens and can be used as a specimen tree 30-40 feet high, an informal hedge 8-10 feet high, or a formal hedge 3-4 feet low. It is also an attractive container plant, whether on the terrace or indoors. In our inner valley, it grows best in the morning sun; the leaves facing southwest—our hottest exposure points—may burn. Sweet bay has fairly dense leaves, and if it is not regularly diluted, it may attract scales.
A related species to consider is the California bay tree (Umbellularia californica). Although it grows slower than the sweet bay, it can handle sunlight and part of the sun. Its leaves can also be used for cooking, although they are more pungent than traditional bay leaves.
This week’s tip: Lavender is cold and drought-resistant. The most commonly grown lavender grassland is produced in the Lower French Alps at an altitude of more than 2,000 feet, and is hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, like other plants in cold climates, cold temperatures will promote their flowering. Due to the colder winters in the north, the blooming lavender is more spectacular in San Francisco than in Los Angeles.
The need for lavender is minimal: ample light and fast-draining soil. However, in our hot inland valleys, lavender grows best when protected by the afternoon sun. However, even in the hottest weather, lavender should not be watered more than once or twice a month, as long as it is slowly soaked or drip-watered with a hose, rather than watered through an overhead sprinkler. If you leave enough space around the lavender, it will develop into a mound a few feet in diameter, so that the soil at its bottom will be completely covered. Therefore, its roots will be shaded and unstressed, the evaporative water in the soil will be almost eliminated, and you may be able to avoid watering at all. Like most herbs, lavender only needs to be fertilized when it is grown in a container.
A large number of lavender varieties and varieties can be ordered online from Mountain Valley Growers (mountainvalleygrowers.com) in Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe, a total of 21 types. The strongest scent is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is actually native to France, and lavender (Lavandula x intermedia). Two dwarf English lavenders ('Hidcote' and'Munstead') have silver-gray leaves, and yellow lavender (Lavandula viridis), whose golden flowers contrast sharply with the violet flowers of Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas). Fern-leaf lavender (Lavandula pinnata) has lacy, thin-leaf-like leaves. Mountain Valley Growers is an excellent source of a variety of mugwort, basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, scented geranium and thyme.
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