Emily Green writes in the LA Times on manzanita (Arctostaphylos). I think some might look good up against my house in the back. I'd want something branching, upright, and open, but not too tall or too wide. A quick survey of those available through TPF filtering against height, growth habit, soil (mine can be heavy), and light (part sun) indicates that the following might work for me:
Arctostaphylos silvicola x stanfordiana bakeri "La Panza"
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn'
Arctostaphylos manzanita "Dr. Hurd" (careful on the size here)
Arctostaphylos stanfordiana stanfordiana (not native to S. Ca)
...Bart O'Brien, director of special projects at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, likes everything about manzanita. Being a horticulturist, he calls it by its botanical name, Arctostaphylos, "Arcto" for short.
"The plants look great year round," he says. "Arctos have no down season at all. I like the flowers, the fruit, the foliage and the bark is great."
Ask plants-man Mike Evans from the Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano what he likes about manzanitas, and his mind turns instantly to their diversity, more than 200 types of species and cultivars....
"Arctostaphylos leaves tend to be held perpendicular to the noonday sun," he says. "It's a water-conservation and temperature-controlling device. If they're not getting direct sun, they're not transpiring and losing moisture through photosynthesis."
This means they hold the light differently. They shimmer. If there's a drawback to the lovely posture of the leaves, it's that it can make it hard to read when they need water.
"They don't wilt," says O'Brien. "They can't wilt. Only new growth can sometimes flag. During the summer months you have to be tuned into what the manzanita is telling you. If they're borderline, they'll go off color. If they don't get water then, a branch can die."...