From the monthly archives:

October 2009

Ceanothus and Incense Cedar

by Lorraine on October 31, 2009

I’ve been hand watering a bunch of one gallon plants that I’ve purchased in the last couple of weeks and I plan on getting them into the ground soon but in the meanwhile, I need to dig out a few existing plants and I’m going to attempt to move them from my garden to the back yard.

I don’t know how successful I’ll be in this endeavor but the front became too crowded and there are several plants that I decided to remove or transplant.   Two of those are Ceanothus and I’m hoping that I will not kill them in the process but they can’t stay where they are now, as the will eventually become too large.

I’ve soaked the ground around them, dug my holes in the back earlier this morning and filled them with water.  Than it got too hot to do anything else, so I thought I’d wait until later today.   I’m also planning on putting the Incense Cedar that I bought a couple of weeks ago, into the location that I chose for it in the backyard.

I’m wishing that it was bigger as it’s just a small tree right now, about only 3 feet tall but beautiful and it makes me feel good looking at it.   I’m going to be overly optimistic that it will love it’s location so much, that it will grow quickly to 15 feet!   Yes, I know that, that’s not likely to happen but I can certainly wish for it, can’t I?

The evenings are cooling down at dusk and even the days have been cooler with clear, brilliant skies.   But today it warmed up, just another tease for those of us in southern California, making it confusing as to what we should wear.

Shorts and a tank top?   Or something warmer?   It’s not quite flannel shirt season yet but it will be I’m sure in the next few months.   I’m laughing remembering some of the bizarre things I wore when I was putting in the garden. 

A goofy, ugly, over sized, plaid flannel shirt with shorts and my Teva’s and socks.   A friend of mine cracked up when she saw me and just had to tell me that I wouldn’t be winning an beauty contests that day…

But I’m digressing here as I travel back in time…

Now that I have my thoughts back on course…. I’ll wait until later in the day and get everything done.   But I’m thinking….maybe I should have gone to the beach and worked on my tan which has faded to only a memory of summer.


Hiking Uphill in the Sespe

by Lorraine on October 22, 2009

Last weekend I spent one night camping with a bunch of my friends that I’ve made through volunteering with the Forest Service.   Given the obvious fact that I love being outside and experiencing nature, this was something that I was really looking forward to, plus seeing the stars at night from a dark location.

We camped (And dodged bullets as hunting season had just started) at Half Moon campground, just outside of the Lockwood Valley.   The elevation was about 4,000 feet or so and our goal was to hike to a Forest Service lookout tower that is going to be de-commissioned and is located on Thorne Peak.

We set out along the trail and needless to say, it was a very long climb with about at 2,000 gain in elevation.   The views were spectacular as you looked out over the Cuyama Valley and the area was filled  Black Oaks/Quercus kelloggii at the lower elevations and as we climbed, Ponderosa Pines, White Firs appeared and my favorite…Incense Cedars.  

Black Oak

Black Oak

Due to the high elevation, most of the plants consisted of low growing Manzanitas and Big Basin Sage but I did see some Penstemons that were still blooming.   And in the area where the Day Fire burned two years ago, the awful Poodle Bush (An after fire species), the one with the mean bite!  No pictures this time.   See a previous post of this monster.

White Firs, Ponderosa Pines & Incese Cedars

White Firs, Ponderosa Pines & Incese Cedars

Being that I’m already recovering from Poison Oak, I steered clear of this bush.   The last thing that I need is another rash…   We climbed and climbed and when we got to the top, the view was incredible!

At the top.

At the top.

South was the Pacific ocean and we could see the Channel Islands, east to Mt. Baldy, north up the coast and well, what can I say?   It was an amazing experience.

The Pacific Ocean looking south.

The Pacific Ocean looking south.


Looking northwest

Looking northwest


Be careful up there.

Be careful up there.

Then back down the trail with my toes (in spite of tightening up my boots) hitting ever so slightly, the inside of my boot.   By the time we got back to the trail head, we were all quite tired but loved our experience.

I’m just wishing that my “little” Incense Cedar that I bought for my backyard, was already 30′ tall.   Just kidding, but 15″ would be nice.

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Another Autumn

by Lorraine on October 21, 2009

I’m hand watering several one gallon containers of new plants for the garden and some for my back yard, that I intend to start planting with some natives.   This all seems familiar to me, with the exception that at this time, the Santa Ana winds aren’t blowing.

The passage of time, just flows on and on even though we sometimes wish it wouldn’t especially when we are  enjoying ourselves and at other times when we are suffering, it seems as though time has stopped and is most cruel.

It has been two years since I started my adventure in native plant gardening and somehow, Im surprised.   I don’t know why.   I understand that time  is always moving, changing with the universe and our place in it.   And that “time” really only exists in the moment.

Life is nothing more than a series of moments and so is everything in our environment.   Including our gardens where we can see the passage from a plant’s fresh start, maturation and then dying.   The seasons are markers and interestingly enough, Autumn is the marker for a new beginning when you have a garden made up of native plants.

People tend to thing of Spring as a time of fresh starts.   All the annuals in the nurseries and  people feeling inspired to get out into their yards  and do some gardening, making everything look beautiful.   But with native plants, Fall is the beginning.   it’s the time to get excited about new plants and design possibilities and reap the benefits in the Spring.

Kind of backwards!

Looking over my garden at this time, makes me think about how hard Deena and I worked getting it completely done before Christmas.   The howling Santa Ana’s then the hard rains…and boy do I remember how frantically we were shoveling mulch around the plants as darkness fell and in a steady rainfall to make it even more uncomfortable.

The two years have been enlightening and enjoyable for me as the garden as grown and matured.   Now that summer has passed and with the little bit of recent rain, it looks revived and I’m noting that many of the plants are putting on new growth.

The passage of time is something that “all” experience and none of us are exempt from its effects.   As for me, I’ve learned a great deal about natives but only slightly.   I expect my education and experience to grow in the coming years.

Right along with my garden.



by Lorraine on October 14, 2009

It’s been raining a bit these last couple of days.   Not a whole lot, not a deluge (fortunately for those who live in the areas that recently burned).   Just kind of a misty, drifty moistness that makes everything look shiny.

Its a bit of a surprise for us to experiencing rain this time of the year because it’s more likely to occur in January and February, not in October.   But there are always surprises and even with the modern techniques to “predict” the weather…it contunes to keep us amazed and sometimes in awe of it’s radical persona.

My garden looks lovely in the rain, as all the plants seem to be glowing and relishing the washing off the the summer’s dust that made it look a bit dull.   Now it seems to be more alive, even though it is still in plant hibernation…with the exception of a few things.

I’ve noticed that there are returning birds, hopping about in the Quail Bush and nibbling on whatever it is they manage to find on it and of course, arguing amongst themselves in the process.   The Fuchsias are still blooming but looking a little ratty and soon I will be trimming them back to the ground.

This will prepare them for next years bloom.   And…I have several new plants that I purchased at the Theodore Payne Nursery a week ago, including an Incense Cedar/Calocedrus decurrens.

The tree is slow growing and is only in a 5 gal. container but I’m excited about it but once it’s established, it can grow 2-3 feet a year.   An Incense Cedar is one of the loveliest trees and provides habitat for birds and squirrels who love the seeds from the cones.  I’m planning on placing it in the backyard and that hopefully it will provide me with some privacy that I don’t currently enjoy and it may take some time to grow but I can be patient!

Along with it, I will be planting the other plants that I purchased the same day at the nursery.   I’m not sure when I will be getting to this project but hopefully within the next few weeks, as I’m anxious to get started. 

Plus in the meanwhile, I decided to purchase some Wooly Blue Curls, too since I noticed that they had quite a few of them.   They did very well in my garden and as a matter of fact, there is one that is still blooming.   But the other ones look as though they have started to decline and that means, soon they will be dead regardless of how much effort one tries to keep them going.

I’m kicking myself for not picking them up at the time when I saw them but now I have a good excuse to return to the native plant nursery and pick up a few.   I’m thinking that I will place some in the backyard and three in the main garden.

Meanwhile my selection of plants and I are enjoying the sweet and tranquil rain.


Making Plans for the Garden

by Lorraine on October 6, 2009

For the last several weeks I’ve been thinking about what I want to do in the garden as Fall comes around.   I’ve been going through several of my native plant garden books, getting ideas and thinking about the possibilities and feeling a bit confused about what it is that I want to do.   I know that I want to make some changes but I’m hardly an authority on gardening, let alone native plants. 

I’ve only had my garden for two years and over this period of time, I have learned “some” things but what I do know is that I don’t know very much at all.   So I’m fumbling a bit at this but I know that there are many good resources for help and information.

What I do know is how much I love “wildness”, nature and being outside.   I’m sensitive to loveliness, beautiful places and the expressions of nature that surround us all the time, but far too often we miss it because we are too pre-occupied with our daily lives.   Sitting behind a computer is torture for me…what’s going on outside?

Now that Fall is here, I’m starting to get a bit excited and today I received my copy of the “Poppy Print” from the Theodore Payne Foundation.   As usual, it’s full of lots of great information and lists the many upcoming classes that they offer to the public to learn how to transform the typical lawn dominated yard, into something that is lovely, doesn’t require much water and attracts wildlife into it.

Their annual plant sale is coming up and I plan on going to the nursery this Friday with my list that I’ve assembled over the last few weeks.   Some of the plants that I was considering, they don’t have at this time but there are some other ones that I hadn’t considered, so I will probably be purchasing those instead of what I had in mind.  Plus I will start bringing in plants to my ugly and dreadful backyard, too!

The days are now cooler and so are the evenings the perfect time to start with new gardening projects, visit native plant nurseries and dream of your results next Spring.

If you would like to learn more about native plants for California, visit the Theo. Payne website: