From the monthly archives:

February 2010

“Poppy Day” & Gophers

by Lorraine on February 26, 2010

Okay, lets start with the good news in that the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants will be having their annual Poppy Day Spring Festival & Plant sale.

It just seems like the other day that they had it but here we are again, another year has flown by (where do they go?) and this fun event is just around the corner and happening on March 27th. at the nursery in Sun Valley, CA   You may call them for details at 818-768-1802 or go to their web site

Now the gopher issue.   I put my native plants in about 2 and a half years ago and I have never had any problems with gophers until this year.  In the last couple of months these buggers have turned up in the garden.

I’ve tried the cat piss clumps…didn’t work and then just prayed that they would go away.   Yeah, don’t laugh but that’s what I did.   The main attraction seems to be the CA Poppies which apparently are like candy to them.

It’s been very frustrating to see a Poppy look “poopy” only to discover that it no longer has a root.   The good news is that the first gopher and the newest arrival are not damaging any other of my plants because the are established.

But I am concerned about the wildflower seedlings and my bulbs that are just sprouting.  I will be really angry if they ruin them, especially since my garden is to be featured on two garden tours this Spring.

You would think that one of my four dopey cats would take them out but nooooo.   They are not interested.   However they do seem to like the lizards way too much which makes me annoyed and I have to pay attention to what they are up to on the few occasions that they are in the garden.   Otherwise a lizard might get caught by one of the cats.

What to do?

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California Spring in a Native Plant Garden

by Lorraine on February 23, 2010

I don’t know where to start or what to say because my garden is roaring with life.   Since we’ve had much more rain this winter than we’ve had in quite some time (which is very good), my plants have really developed and grown in the last few weeks and the garden is looking fantastic!

Over all, is the most beautiful variety of greens and grays, along with an inspiring mix of textures and smells.   Many things have started to bloom plus native bulbs are sprouting and the entire garden is filled with life.

Every day I am seeing more birds actively enjoying the benefits that a native landscape offers to wildlife.   They are seen in the bushes and pecking on the ground and collecting items to create their nests for the upcoming families.

I’ve been taking many photographs and only just today, managed to get some of them organized so that I would have a better idea of what types of pictures I have been shooting like crazy these last few weeks.

Woolly Blue Curls, Trichostema lanatum, are one of my favorite plants and from everything that I’ve heard about them, they are very difficult to grow in a garden.

Woolly Blue Curls & Calif. Sunflower

Woolly Blue Curls & CA Sunflower

 In this photo you can see how large this plant has become after I put it  into my garden two and a half years ago.   In addition to this one, there are eight others, all about the same size.   In the background is a CA Sunflower , Encelia californica which can be seen all over our hills.

To the left side you can slightly see a Manzanita that has also started to bloom with dainty pinkish flowers that look like small bells.   This particular one is called Howard McMinn and is considered to be relatively easy to maintain in a garden landscape.

Howard McMinn Manzanita

The garden looks so beautiful and its exciting everyday to see what has started to come out of winter hibernation, that I find it difficult to concentrate on my work, as I’d rather be outside, gazing at it, smelling the lovely fragrances and watching the wildlife indulge themselves in my corner of native habitat.

I will be updating with more pictures in the coming months as the garden barrels into spring.   It going to be amazing!


Cats, Wild Radish & Spring

by Lorraine on February 13, 2010

It’s been a lazy, warm day filled with hints of Spring.   I had truly intended to write something here earlier in the day and also to add some new pictures to the site since the garden has so many things developing at this time.   So much is going and it’s positively bursting with life and energy.   Winter has passed and with the recent rain everything looks revived, green , succulent and pregnant with possibilities.

Bees Bliss Sage with a Bee!

It was probably 80 degrees here today and I just couldn’t spend it inside.   The cats and I have been either in the backyard or the garden for most of the day.   Concentrating on anything proved to be impossible, as I was lulled by the sweet smells of plants and the songs of birds drifting over my senses making me feel dreamy and sleepy.

I spent part of the day in the backyard, pulling weeds that threatened to choke out the wildflowers that are coming up.   There are lots of California poppies of course but there are many other things sprouting that I am clueless as to what they may be.   It’s a bit like Christmas, wondering what is in the packages as I look at all of the new sprouts coming up in my backyard.

The cats have been in and out most of the day with the exception of Theo who never seems to nap the way most cats do.   It’s as though he can’t miss anything going on outside and he revels in being in the garden, checking things out and sometimes, dozing in the sun.

Its been a beautiful day and as I am writing this, the sun has set behind the low hills to the west of my house.   Twilight is beginning to fall and the birds are seeking their spots for the night.   A very slight chill has begin to descend and I’m sorry to see the day come to a close.

There is always more to say and typically I struggle to express the feelings that well up in my life when I am looking at the beauty of nature.  My native plants are just a little oasis of happiness for me and helps me to keep my connection with the universe and all things wild.


California Native Plant Society

by Lorraine on February 4, 2010

I recently joined the California Native Plant Society in Ventura County.   I had met their President at a lecture on native plants being given by Lili Singer of the Theordore Payne Foundation a few weeks ago.

She asked me if I would publicize their upcoming symposium in Camarillo in February and “opps”, here it is, already February.  Here’s the info:

The Channel Islands Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has been holding native plant sales and answering questions for about 20 years.  With the surge in interest in growing natives for sustainability, water conservation, bringing wildlife into the garden and pure enjoyment, we have more questions than a handful of volunteers can answer.

On February 20, 2010 we will present an all day Native Plant Landscape Symposium. The event will be in the newly renovated and super-high-tech Camarillo Ranch House Barn, Camarillo, California from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

We are bringing together some of the most knowledgeable and dynamic speakers in Southern California for a day of sharing knowledge, creative ideas and beautiful photographs.
This symposium will delight those new to growing native plants as well as the experienced horticulturist!  Topics for the day will include native plant choices for the home landscape, watering, wildland interface, designing for wildlife, landscape design for fire resistance, landscape maintenance, integrating natives with non-native plants, landscaping under oak trees, lawn replacements and permaculture.
The generous sponsorship of the Camarillo Ranch House Foundation Nopalito Native Plant Nursery have helped to make this possible.

Native plant gardening and sustainable landscaping books authored by Carol Bornstein, Bart O’Brien, and Owen Dell will be onsite for sale and autograph along with many other books of interest. Beverages, snacks, and lunch (catered by Carrie Clough will be provided. Spanish translation will be available.
The List of Presenters follows as Page Two.  For full details and registration go to
For further information, please contact CNPS Channel Islands Chapter Horticulture Chair, Patt McDaniel (805) 646-9948 

California Native Plant Society
Sustainability Through Nature
A Native Plant Landscape Symposium
February 20, 2010
Camarillo, California   
Speakers include: 
Sustainable garden “wise guy” Owen Dell speaking on “Sustainable Landscaping: A Visionary Look at the Future of Gardens.” Owner of County Landscape & Design, Santa Barbara since 1971, Owen Dell is a Licensed landscape contractor and licensed landscape architect specializing in sustainable landscapes, firescaping, native landscaping.
The dynamic and humorous Richard Halsey, chaparral/fire ecologist, author, and founder of The California Chaparral Institute, a nonprofit research and educational organization focusing on the ecology of California’s shrubland plant communities, wildland fire, and how Mediterranean-type ecosystems have helped shape human culture.
Greg Rubin, California’s Own Native Landscape Design, Inc., design/build contractor, author, speaking on “Landscaping Secrets for the Native Garden” brings practical experience and understanding to basic design principles for creating year-round interest, minimizing maintenance, fire resistance, irrigation, and success!
The delightful and informative Carol Bornstein, coauthor (with David Fross and Bart O’Brian) of California Native Plants for the Garden, horticulturist, garden designer; Carol is one of Southern California’s most highly respected native plant specialists
Ojai Oak expert Michael Inaba, Arborist with Inaba Horticulture, speaking on caring for and planting around oaks, gardening with existing native oak trees, understanding sun/shade requirements and plant growth, soil considerations,
Knowledgeable and helpful Barbara Eisenstein, blogger, writer, speaker, and gardener will share ideas and information on “Creating a Wild Suburbia with California Native Plants.” Barbara works with gardeners, landscape professionals and horticulturists to advance the use of native plants and sustainable gardening practices in homes and parks. 
The most knowledgeable and highly regarded Bart O’Brien,  Senior Staff Research Associate, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden coauthor of California Native Plants for the Garden, and of Care and Maintenance of Southern California Native Plant Gardens.


California in January & Native Gardens

by Lorraine on February 1, 2010

A California day in January that is perfect in its beauty.   Well, at least in my garden.   The day feels tranquil and lazy, very quiet and peaceful causing me to feel unmotivated to do anything although I did walk earlier in the day.

With the recent rains we have had in California, the options of enjoying my garden have been limited although I am always surveying it every morning, looking for anything that may need my attention.   Such as the recent gopher and mole invasion.   A “first” for the garden but they didn’t do any damage other than eating a few of the poppies that have sprung up.

Given the nature of poppies to proliferate, I wasn’t particularly concerned about losing a few of them to these annoying pests but I certainly didn’t want them to take over the garden, either and cause any further damage.

My method to make it unattractive, is to take several portions of cat pee clumps from the gang’s litter box and drop them down into the marauder’s hole.   Within hours the hole is back filled and they seen to disappear.  I haven’t had any more intrusions from them since I delivered their smelly gifts and hopefully, they will not return.

I don’t consider myself a “cat lady”, although some of my friends my disagree behind my back. But I somehow managed to end up with four cats, the most recent one being Theo.   You would think with this many cats, there wouldn’t be a gopher around but they are all too lazy and fat and more concerned about having their “tuna time” than catching any gophers or moles.

Theo was abandoned, dumped, thrown away and he is really amazing.   He’s very much like a person, a total love and that means he is enormously friendly with everyone he meets.  That is not necessarily a good thing, as I saw him trailing behind a woman who had stopped to admire my garden.

Theo napping in the warm sun.

Theo napping in the warm sun.

I had to intervene to prevent him wandering off because I think he would have kept following her.   The upshot of this, was that she and I had a very nice conversation about my landscaping and the use of native plants and she has signed up at my new social networking site for lovers of nature.

She said that she takes walks on her lunch break and loves to come by my house to admire the garden.   I had to chuckle when she said to me how often she has felt, that someone very special must live there!  What a lovely compliment that was so unexpected and totally surprised me!

She doesn’t know the “real” me….I’m only kidding.   I think I am a pretty decent person.  Who else would put up with four cats and no vacations?

She continued her walk and Theo remained with me and I returned back to working inside the house.  Now, about that!   I finally have a laptop and I can sit outside in the garden and not miss a thing going on.    Such as right now.   There’s  some glare on the screen, so there are some disadvantages but I’m so much happier being outside then confined to the interior of the house.

The Ceanothus is starting to bloom with beautiful royal blue flowers and so is the Bush Daisy and many of the WoollyCurls/Trichostema lanatum, one of my favorite plants.   The Channel Island Poppy has bloomed continuously by putting out brilliant yellow disks of flowers all winter long.

Its a peaceful and hypnotic day in the garden.   Just another lovely January in California and enjoying my native plants.