If your garden were a kingdom, Manzanita ‘Howard McMinn’ (Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’) would be a charming and delicate princess who makes you fall in love as soon as you lay your eyes on her! Beautiful and easy to incorporate with most gardens, this evergreen shrub has been adored by generations of gardeners ever since it was first introduced 60 years ago.
In 1952, a new Manzanita was selected from a wild stand of Vine Hill Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora) from Sonoma County. This plant was later named after its discoverer, Dr. Howard McMinn – a botanist from Mills College, and distributed by Saratoga Horticultural Foundation in 1955. Nowadays, this plant is usually found in commercially landscaped Shasta County, Sonoma, Los Angeles and Berkeley.
Of all Mazanita varieties, Howard McMinn is reputed to be the most tolerant of garden conditions. It tolerates drought as well as regular water. So, if necessary, it could be planted adjacent to lawn sprinklers, either in full sun or partial shade. Manzanita ‘Howard McMinn’ thrives on well-drained soil, typically reaching 5 to 10 feet from a watered area where it can get the root enough moisture. It does not mind on sand and heavy clay soils, as long as you don’t over-water or over fertilize the plant !
What makes Manzanita ‘Howard McMinn’ attractive has more to do with the aesthetic pleasure it brings to your place. Although Manzanita ‘Howard McMinn’ is genetically a slow grower, it is worth the wait. As this handsome shrub matures, it lifts up the branches for a display of the striking red bark under the shiny green foliage, which is a wonderful accent to any garden. From late February to April, tiny clusters of pink flowers appear, taking your breath away with their gorgeous bell shaped blooms. According to a majority of gardeners, Howard McMinn works best aesthetically when planted alongside monkeyflowers, Ceanothus and Carmel Sur manzanita.
Not only does Howard McMinn look stunning, it has important ecological benefits as well. This Manzanita provides food for moths, butterflies and hummingbirds in colder months when not a lot of other natural sources are available. If there is a warm spell, you will also see bees collecting nectar during the bloom period. In early summer, quail and other birds enjoy the tenderness of Howard McMinn fruit on their foraging trips. Such visits from the wildlife will surely keep your gardening experience exciting and intriguing!
If you want to give it a try, Manzanita ‘Howard McMinn’ is now available at California Native Garden Foundation’s Plant Nursery, located at 76 Race Street, San Jose, CA 95126. Come take a look!
Driggs, Michelle. “Native Plants: Howard McMinn Is a Winner.” REDD. Record Searchlight, 5 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.
“Arctostaphylos Howard McMinn.” Arctostaphylos Densiflora Howard McMinn Manzanita, McMinn’s Manzanita. Las Pilitas Nursery. Web. 12 Aug. 2015. <http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/43–arctostaphylos-densiflora-howard-mcminn-manzanita>.
Arctostaphylos Densiflora Howard McMinn Flowers. Digital image. Las Pilitas Nursery. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015. <http://www.laspilitas.com/images/grid24_24/11974/images/plants/arctostaphylos-howard-mcminn-flowers.jpg>.
Arctostaphylos Densiflora Howard McMinn Flowers. Digital image. ForestFarm. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2015.
Arctostaphylos Densiflora Howard McMinn Flowers. Digital image. Las Pilitas Nursery. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.