PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Manzanita ‘Howard McMinn’ (Arctostaphylos manzanita)

If you live in the PNW and have seen Manzanita you’ve undoubtedly thought “Hmm, it looks just like a shrubby Madrone tree!”. They are close cousins. Manzanita, native from Oregon to California, enjoys open, dry, sunny spots and Madrone trees grow in mixed coastal mountain forests from Cali to B.C. Manzanitas, depending on variety, can get a few feet to 15 feet tall. They both have bark that sheds almost completely leaving a ‘just-shaved-bald’ look in tones of deep burgundy to orange-red. The wood is gently rippled and softly lumpy making the plant look sort of muscular.

Manzanita is all that and evergreen too. And if you want something for that wretchedly difficult planting area on the parking strip that bakes in the sun and almost never gets watered, Manzanita is the ticket. It actually does not care to be watered much if at all. Also, be sure to plant it in a well draining spot so our winter wet doesn’t overwhelm it.

‘Howard McMinn’ variety is worth shouting about because it is the most garden-tolerant of all the Manzanitas. This one will grow to 8-10 feet and can be pruned shorter. Unlike most, ‘Howard McMinn’ will put up with the richer soil and more attention that other garden plants usually enjoy.

We have read about but never tried making a refreshing cider from the berries that are ripe around the end of summer. Pour boiling water over berries,, steep for 20 minutes, mash lightly, steep till solids settle, pour off liquid. High in vitamin c, tart, apple-ish & apparently very yummy. Madrone berries are juicier and make a great jam.