From the monthly archives:

January 2011

Hippies, El Paseo & Conserving Water

by Lorraine on January 23, 2011

I am sitting here, chuckling over Antonio’s very funny comments about growing up in El Paso and how different the culture is there from here due to the Hippie sensibilities to protect nature  and live in such a way to promote sustainability,  protect the environment and live healthy and happily.

We have our Hippies, too but most of them these days are now part of the senior citizen community but still faithful to loving the planet, growing their own food and not wasting anything….in spite of the over the top consumerism that is so prevalent in Southern California.

Antonio speaks:

“Now that I think about it, my people back in El Paso actually weren’t all hippies (they were Chippies – Chicano Hippies!), they have simply learned to live with what they have.  Yes, we were probably forced to live with this reality by high water prices and strict watering restrictions, but the fact of the matter is that water conservation is a way of life in El Paso. It doesn’t matter if you are a Conservative, a Liberal or whatever Obama is choosing to be these days (Ouch!), 9 inches of rain a year is 9 inches, there ain’t no changing that! 

 Now, I am no water expert, no scientist, not even a botanist, and if I go to Arizona I am not even a U.S. Citizen, but I am smart enough to know this – We and the rest of Southern California need to get to where El Paso is.  We need to be able to wake up every morning and make water conservation a part of our life, without thinking about it.  We need to accept where we live, and realize we can’t keep taking unlimited amounts of water from Sacramento or from our own groundwater supplies without consequences.

  And don’t worry all of you who fear that your property values will go down because of all the cactus and mesquite trees that will be moving into your neighborhood; As far as landscaping goes, Ventura County will never look like Phoenix or El Paso, mostly because many of those desert plants don’t grow well out here.

  Along with much cooler summer temperatures, our spoiled landscapes get a lot of their moisture from just being close to the ocean and being able to kiss the fog every night (damn that was poetic).  But on the flip-side, El Paso and other desert cities can get flash floods in the summer from all of those big monsoon storms, something that would be almost impossible to get here in Southern California because we receive almost no rain from May-October (That’s 5-6 months of no rain, that means our native plants have evolved with this dry time!

 Can you imagine not watering your current garden for 5-6 months?).  So what’s the point of all of this rambling?  Well, my hope is that we all become El Paso-type hippies soon and learn to love Fajitas……I mean, live within our water means. That would be a huge first step.

  Let’s all appreciate that we are not in a desert, but our home is desert-like.  Let’s be proud of our Mediterranean Climate and what it means for ourselves, our families, and our futures.  It’s crazy to think that planting one native plant or one small low-water yard can make a difference, but it can.  I read somewhere that over 50% of the water used by homeowners in Southern California is used outside the house on landscaping.

  While I am not exactly sure how true this is (because it wasn’t on Wikileaks), it is probably more true than false.  Just like the landscaping in El Paso and other desert cities blends in with the surrounding landscape, the day is coming that gardens in Southern California will reflect our local hills and canyons. 

Who knows, your front yard may have once been home to some white sage, lemonadeberry or an oak tree, providing food for people and wildlife.  And even more importantly, maybe its’ time to bring those old friends back……Plant Native, Enjoy Life!”


California Native Plant Nursery

by Lorraine on January 20, 2011

My garden is growing like crazy due to all the rain we have had so far this winter and many of the plants are blooming ahead of schedule because then everything heated up to 90 degrees!

But more on that in a later post, as I am going to share a very humourous post but at the same time, informative as well, about using our beautiful native plants that we have in great abundance in California for your landscapes.  

I will post it over two days, as it’s a bit long for this space.   It was written by Antonio, one of the owners of Nopalito Native Plant Nursery in Ventura, CA

“I grew up in El Paso, home of the UTEP Fighting Miners, lots of good Tex-Mex Food and a town full of hippies. Yup, you would never know it but me and my neighbors, all 700,000 of them, were a bunch of pot-smoking, long-haired hippies.  Don’t let the flag-waving, beef-eating, football-loving stereotype fool you……Every person in El Paso was and is a hippie. 

 A quick drive around any El Paso neighborhood (or any ‘desert’ city, for that matter) will show you the same thing – Small Lawns, Lots of native and drought-tolerant plants, and malls, government properties and even huge mansions all with the same type of low-water landscaping.  Water Conservation and caring more about your water supply than how many pretty flowers you have are classic signs of a hippie community! 

 Let’s compare El Paso to the supposedly ‘green’, ‘liberal’ and ‘hippy’ Southern California.  A quick drive around the City of Ventura will reveal just the opposite of my hometown – Malls and shopping centers with almost every kind of landscaping imaginable, government properties with huge amounts of lawn (wait, maybe that’s a golf course) and huge mansions with even huger (that’s not a word!) water bills.  Average yearly rainfall in El Paso is 9 inches, Average yearly rainfall in Los Angeles is 14 inches.  Using my ridiculous math skills that means that Southern California, on average, gets 5 more inches of rain a year than El Paso!”

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Snow-Free California

by Lorraine on January 12, 2011

It’s an amazing and gorgeous day here in southern California.   While the east coast and Canada are being buried underneath snow drifts, the sun is shining and the sky is clear.

The temperatures are expected to reach 80 degrees by Saturday and then slowly descend down into the mid-70’s by the following week.   No wonder so many people want to live here.   Our weather is very appealing and there is no snow to shovel and icy roads to navigate!

With all the rain that has fallen in the last two months, my garden has exploded in growth.   Several plants are starting to bloom and many bulbs are coming up through the earth and everywhere I look, I see something new and changes in the landscape.

There are lots and lots of California Poppy seedlings and I know I will have a visual feast of glowing, orange flowers within the next couple of months.

It’s really too early for this kind of activity and I guess you could call it a “false” spring, as we could still have some very cold temperatures, as it’s truly winter.  And if that should happen, it will kill or at least cause some of these early bloomers, to die back.

The warm sunshine has brought many different types of birds into the garden and they are feeding on the seeds they find as though they are at a banquet.  And  I half expect to see some lizards due to the warmth but I guess they are still sleeping, tucked away under the rocks.

They know it’s not Spring as of yet.