In Regards to Fall Planting

I’ve always used the rule of thumb that you want to plant things that don’t like the cold in the spring, and others that don’t like the heat in the fall. With the little bit of rain we received last week, and ground has softened a bit so now is the best time for planting Japanese maples and conifers, as well as many other shrubs and trees.
I know we’ve highlighted Japanese Maples in the past, but our stock will be larger and more exciting than it has ever been. Sun tolerant varieties, dwarf shrub types, and elegant cascading selections. The extremely weeping variety Ryusen has green leaves and a prostrate habit that is suited for the edge of containers or cascading over walls. I’ve even seen it used in hanging baskets! Mikawa Yatsubusa is one of the most eye catching varieties you will ever see. With larger green leaves and short internodes on branches that sweep upward, this is one of the most distinguishable maples out there. I know some people may be frustrated with their maples right now due to leaf scorch. The combination of high heat and low humidity make the leaves of the Japanese Maple burn very commonly in the north valley summers. Smaller varieties can be kept in a pot so you can move them into more protection if they show stress. And for sure, larger varieties that will receive more sun stand the best chance when planted in the fall. acer2
We also have a great selection of conifers now at the nursery. We’ve carried conifers from Iseli nursery now for five years and through a lot of trial and error, we have found many varieties that do well in the north state. Without a doubt, placement and soil conditions are very important with all conifers. If you love conifers but have had poor luck, try the varieties of cedar, juniper and cephlotaxus, which seem to be the least finicky of our selection. All other varieties do need special care when planting (use a mix of native soil, compost, and small cinder rock for best results), and extra attention to planting placement. Follow these guidelines (along with a consistent watering schedule), and once the conifer is planted and will become quite low maintenance. Iseli nursery takes incredible pride in hand selecting their parent stocks for nearly forty years and most of their selections are dwarf and slow growing with great natural form without having to prune extensively. While many of the other plants we sell are but a few months old when they are sellable, Iseli conifers are rarely less than five years old, as can be as old as twenty years old for some of the larger specimens. And yes, they are some of the more expensive plants we carry because of this. If you are interested in planting conifers in your yard, feel free to ask a lot of questions to us, for it is everyones best interest here that you have success with all of our plants:)

By the way, we also have a great new selection of camellias, azaleas, and other shrubs that can also be planted now too!
~Chris Hunter, Nursery Owner

A Message from Co-Owner, Chris Hunter

Back in the early 1990’s, I was but a young lad doing grunt work at Hubbard’s West Side Gardens in Chico for the trusted old time garden guru, Herb Hubbard. One of my memories (though not the fondest) was the hundreds and hundreds of roses we would receive bare root every year which we would pot up, organize and sell like hot cakes in the spring. After months of working with roses we would all have battle scars all over our arms from working with the thorny beasts. Now Mr. Hubbard, being the hands on owner that he was, would be right there with us for those long days of potting, and like the rest of us, he could be covered in bandaids at the end of the day. However, what was interesting was that Mr. Hubbard, over the course of 60 years of working with roses, had developed a skin condition that would cause him swell up with dark purple welts at every place he had been pricked. Apparently, after so many years of being punctured by rose thorns, his body had been afflicted with Sporotrichosis, also known as rose pickers disease, and every year he would become more and more scarred and mangled by it. Chrisbus

Now I bring this up because once Courtney and I stepped into the owners shoes and realized that we might be doing this for a long time,we began to think about our exposure to plants and chemicals used in our industry and how they would effect us in the long run, and you might have noticed we’ve never been ones to have a huge selection of roses. I have, however developed nasty rashes that get worse with age from handling different conifers and euphorbias, but my primary concern going forward would be my exposure to the different chemicals that are already on plants when handling them all day.
Though the days of using DDT are thankfully long in the past, the use of new chemicals in our industry may to be at an all time high. The box store mentality of creating product as quick as possible for high turnover leads to growers using amazing amounts of chemicals to create faster growing frankenplants that are irresistible to the consumers eye. Unlike food in this country, there are no regulations on growing the plants we all so love. The use of powerful fertilizers, systemic insecticides, fungicides, and growth regulators are so common in this industry that customers seem to think plants are sick or of poor quality if they aren’t produced that way. While our industry has the facade of being green and beautifying the environment, we are in fact doing immense harm by contaminating our precious water and poisoning the beneficial organisms that indirectly feed us. And It’s all around us, and we are not adored in lab jackets and hazmat suits, yet we are tactilely absorbed in dirt, leaves and flowers all day.
That is why we do our best to not only educate our customers of such things, but it is also why are shifting more and more of our business into growing more natural plants safe for you and us to handle and love for years to come. We use mostly reused pots, fertilize sparingly using mostly organic fertilizer, and never use unnatural pesticides or fungicides or growth regulators on the plants that we grow here. Sometimes our plants will not be completely full or in full bloom, but rest assured, they are good plants that grow well in our temperamental neck of the woods. And you have our word, that these plants will in fact be good for the birds, the bees and all the other beings that are so important to all of us.

August2012 015

Splash of Color from Down Under

One of the winter highlights here at Magnolia is the flowering of our very graceful, very under-rated grevillea shrubs. Originally hailing from Australia, there are over 250 species and varieties of this versatile plant. They vary in size, color and texture, but can be counted on to have slender leaves or needles, and to flower profusely in colorful clusters. The zones they thrive in depend on which species you plant, but the ones we carry are hardy to this area.

Grevillea - Magnolia Gift and Garden

Grevillea is a many faceted shrub with sought after attributes that can be hard to find all in one plant. First, they are drought tolerant. That is, once their roots are developed after a couple of years, they don’t require very much water. In fact, they don’t appreciate summer irrigation. Second, they are evergreen, keeping their leaves year round, with needles ranging in color from deep forest green to a soft grey. Third, they can be planted in a plethora of locations. Full sun is this tough shrubs favorite setting, causing it to cloak itself in brightly colored flowers which come in varying shades of peachy pink to bright fuschia to ruby red. A little shade will not dampen its spirits either. Fourth, because of the cheerful eye-catching, nectar filled flowers, which often appear for two months in winter, hummingbirds flock to these friendly shrubs.

For any tough spot to fill, a grevillea may be the plant that has all the answers. Their root systems will thrive in poor soils, and they can be cold hardy enough to be planted up the Pacific North West, and heat loving enough to go down into the deserts of Southern California. They are from Australia after all!

The only problems the grevilleas tend to have are when they receive too much love. They are the ideal low maintenance shrub, requiring only light applications of low- phosphorous fertilizer, if any. To keep them as cold hardy as possible, harden them off by not watering them in the summer time.

Here’s a peek at the varieties we have brightening up our nursery:

Lava Flow Grevillea
G. juniperina ‘Lava Cascade’– This compact shorty reaches 1-2 feet tall and spreads 6-10 feet wide. Deep green needle like leaves are not as sharp as some forms. Great frost tolerant ground cover shrub, dangling coral red flowers in the fall through spring. Will establish a large area quickly, and choke out competing weeds.

Penola Grevillea
G. lavandulacea ‘Penola’– Dense habit with half-inch gray leaves. Grows 5 feet tall and 8 or more feet wide, with rose red flowers through the spring. The gray foliage makes a great compliment to deep green conifers.

G. ‘Noellii’– Arching form 4-6 feet tall and wide, with glossy 1 inch needles. Spring blooming with pink and white flower clusters. Will thrive in full sun, with little to moderate water.

G. rosmarinifolia ‘Scarlet Sprite’– A fast compact mounding plant 4-5 feet tall and 8 feet wide, with dark green, fine textured needles 1 inch long. Large clusters of spidery rose pink flowers appear heavily in winter and spring. Frost hardy, full sun, light to moderate water.


G. ‘Noellii’– Arching form 4-6 feet tall and wide, with glossy 1 inch needles. Spring blooming with pink and white flower clusters. Will thrive in full sun, with little to moderate water.

G. rosmarinifolia ‘Scarlet Sprite’
– A fast compact mounding plant 4-5 feet tall and 8 feet wide, with dark green, fine textured needles 1 inch long. Large clusters of spidery rose pink flowers appear heavily in winter and spring. Frost hardy, full sun, light to moderate water.

Japanese Pagoda accompanied by Grevillea - Magnolia Gift and Garden

Melynn’s Favorite Plants

Melynn’s Top 5 Must Have Plants


Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’
· This small shrub has all season color. In warm weather leaves have a soft chartreuse variegated color. In the cooler weather leaves take on a pinkish maroon color.
· Low maintenance plant. Growth habit is neat and compact. Plant reaches 2′-3′ tall and wide.
·Great evergreen shrub for small areas.


Loropetalum ‘Burgundy’
· Holds beautiful burgundy leaf color all year.
· Withstands full sun to almost all day shade
· Unique neon pink fringe flowers
· Low maintenance and little pruning required
· Although evergreen this shrub gets great fall color


· Endless array of color combinations

· Brightens up dark shady areas

· Fast growing and has many different height selections

· Can be a stunning houseplant

· Last a very long time in flower arrangements

Acacia baileyana
· Tough drought tolerant evergreen tree

· Beautiful soft texture leaves with a grayish-blue color

· Spring flowers are in bright yellow globular clusters

· Good choice for small yards reaching only 20′-30′ tall

Gingko biloba
· Spectacular glowing yellow autumn color

· Fan-shaped leaves are very unique

· Disease resistant and very few pests

· The oldest tree in the world. Over 2oo million years ago these trees kept the dinosaurs company.


Chris’ Favorite Plants

Chris’ Top 5 Must Have Plants

Arbutus ‘Marina’

· All season interest

· Attracts hummingbirds

· Superb evergreen mid-sized garden tree

· Drought tolerant

·Well suited for North Valley conditions


Kumquat ‘Nagami’

· Very hardy (So hardy because unlike most other citrus does not grow in winter months)

· Nice and neat uniform growth habit

· His favorite fruit, it tastes great and is nutritious (can be an acquired taste)


Muhlenbergia dumosa – Bamboo Muhly

· Excellent silhouette

· Reflects the sun well illuminating in sunlight

· Drought tolerant

· Has a reputation for reseeding (however he has never had any problem in his yard)

· No need to cut back when dormant stays attractive in winter too


Polygonatum o. ‘Variegatum’ -Solomon’s Seal

· Tough shade perennial (withstands abuse from his rambunctious dogs)

· This variety is particularly vigorous

· Great spring emergence from the soil (looks really neat)

· Variegated leaves stand out in dark shade

· Great companion plants are Variegated Aspidistra and Rhodea


Butia capitata- Pindo Palm

· Distinctive nicely silhouetted fronds

· Very cold hardy palm that looks great even in winter

· Nice fine textured gray foliage


Courtney’s Favorite Plants

Courtney’s Top 5 Plants


Agave vilmoriniana- Octopus Agave
· Drought tolerant

· Beautiful curved and twisted bluish-gray leaves

· Impressive silhouette

· Hardy (Many sources claim it should not survive in the North Valley yet it has happily for several years in Courtney’s yard)

· Improves with age

· Evergreen plant that makes a statement


Sedum ‘Lemon Belle’

· Drought tolerant

· Easy care low maintenance

· Striking chartreuse foliage contrasts beautifully with other plants

· Usually evergreen in North Valley

· Looks great in containers spilling  over edges


Grevillea ‘Long John’

· Drought tolerant

· Hardy (Many sources claim it should not survive in our zone yet it has happily for several years in Courtney’s yard)

· Flowers are very unique and beautiful

· Foliage is long and feathery

· Yet another evergreen plant that makes a statement



Hakonechloa macra- Japanese Forest Grass
· Graceful grass that prefers some shade
· Many color selections most chartreuse and golden which stand out in shady gardens

· Contrasts well with burgundy and green plants

· Tolerates moist soil

· Beautiful new growth emergance from soil spring



Cornus florida- Flowering Dogwood

· Beautiful spring flowers announce the joyous arrival of spring

· Winter berries attract birds

· Young trees needs a bit of extra care in North Valley but  worth the effort

· Stunning autumn color

· Branching is airy forming a wonderful canopy