Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman'
This fairly fast-growing large shrub or small tree reaches 10 to 20 feet in height. It is evergreen with shiny green foliage. Beautiful large lavender-blue flower clusters cover the plant in mid-spring and appear again more sparsely in late fall. ‘Ray Hartman’ is one of the most garden-tolerant Ceanothus— it will tolerate clay soil and pruning. Plant it in full sun and give it some water. It makes a choice specimen tree (especially planted on a mound with boulders) surrounded by colorful Monkeyflower and bunchgrasses.
Wildlife value: Ceanothus are hosts to a number of butterflies, including the Pipevine Swallowtail, Brown Elfin, Hedgerow Hairstreak, and Echo Blue. Their abundant flowers draw many insects. Ceanothus leaf litter supports plenty of invertebrates which, in turn, feed birds and lizards. The foliage provides excellent cover. The larger-leaved species are good forage for deer. Quail eat the small, hard seeds, and a number of mammals both large and small browse the twigs and foliage.
Additional notes about Ceanothus: Many Ceanothus are prone to disease in summer-wet soils, so little watering is recommended after the plants are established. Tip-pruning will keep plants compact. Small, wrinkled, or spiny-leaved forms are usually unattractive to deer. Ceanothus roots fix nitrogen in the soil. These plants will suffer if their roots are handled. Do not pry or prune the roots.