Answer: Ceanothus, the California Lilac should thrive in a full sun exposure so I wonder if the soil needs to be amended to help it grow? Why not dig it out of the bed, then amend the soil with some organic matter (compost, aged manure, etc.) and then replant your Ceanothus? Adding organic matter will help the soil drain well yet hold just the right amount of moisture and it will enrich the soil and make it easier for the roots of your plant to get the nutrients it needs. Give it a try and I think you will see a huge improvement in the plant's behavior.
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