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The Acorn Newspaper

by Lorraine on June 22, 2015

We have a local community paper called The Acorn that covers mainly the east end of Ventura County and it comes out each Friday.

Well, due to the increased interest in using Native plants instead of thirsty ones, they will be interviewing me late this afternoon and obviously seeking my experience and tips on transitioning from lawns into a more realistic landscape for our hot and dry Mediterranean climate in S. California.

I spent yesterday doing some basic “fluffing” of the plants, a bit of cleaning and some light trimming where it was needed, but I really wish that they had done this story a month ago, when more of the plants were in bloom, because now the garden is going into it’s summer slumber and other than some of the salvias, there aren’t too many flowers to see.

And I have one section that has proven to be difficult to grow anything in and it’s right next to the Howard McMinn manzanita, which is doing very, very well.    But there is a section between it and the low rock wall where the soil   ( if you could call it that), that doesn’t drain very well and I have experienced several failures with plants that hate to have  “their feet wet” and right now, it’s looking a bit bare.

I will wait until this fall, when the plant sales come up and in the meanwhile keep researching ideas for this section.   Like anything else in life, gardening and landscapes don’t always turn out the way we envision them, but in the process we always learn something new and the birds, butterflies and bees that are attracted to my garden, continue to be a joy to me.




The First Day of Fall

by Lorraine on September 23, 2012

My life has been a bit upturned the last couple of months because I managed to fracture my right foot when I was just finishing up my workout at the gym.   I ended up wearing one of those big, clunky orthopedic boots which was not exactly conducive to walking in my garden and allowing me to  spend any time in it this past summer.

I am finally out of it but still limited on doing things such as hiking or conditioning walking and I have been told not to do any repetitive movements on my foot until the fracture is completely healed, which at this point it, isn’t.

But with the arrival of Fall, I know that soon I will need to be doing a lot of cleanup and maintenance in the garden.  When it comes to using California native plants and in my case those of the chaparral-sage community, there isn’t much to be done during the summer months because most of the plants shut down for the season and become semi-dormant.

With the arrival of Fall  and then winter,  that is the signal to get busy in the garden.  The plants are waking up and getting prepared to grow and that means it’s important to groom, trim, prune the plants that need a “spa day” and of course it’s the best time to do planting.  Plus I have a number of projects in mind this season and am only waiting for the weather to be cooler before I get involved in them.

Although it is quite hot here today, about 102 degrees which is typical for Fall in Southern California.   I know that I will be removing more plants in the next few months but I will need some help when I do.   I can’t do any digging with my right foot to remove the plants I want to take out.   So I will be hiring my P/T garderner, Nelson to do the heavy work.

It  is approaching the 5th. year when I decided to remove my lawn and put in it’s place, native plants and I’m finding it difficult to believe that it flew by so quickly.   But since that time, there has been more discussions, books and articles about creating landscapes based upon using less water, no fertilizers or pesticides and becoming sustainable.

And not to forget, the joy of drawing wild birds and butterflies into a new “wild” space.   Especially the humming birds…..

I’m happy that I have done my part and I certainly have learned a great deal about using natives for landscaping.  And yet, the adventure continues as I learn more about this unique method of landscaping.   And I’m already thinking about the changes I will be making to the garden in the next few months.



Four Years Later

by Lorraine on February 17, 2012

I was looking at the pictures on the right side of this site, that rotate and show different aspects of the garden and one that includes Deena who originally helped with it’s design, when I realized how much the garden’s appearance has changed.

In the four years since I pulled out the lawn and created the garden, I am amazed at the difference.   Comparing the pictures on the site to ones that I’ve taken since then, there is a huge difference.   I have since removed quite a few plants and changed up some others in the meanwhile, but what is quite obvious, is how quickly everything grew.

Here is a picture that I took in the spring of 2011 when the garden was in high-gear and displaying a bounty of blooms.   At this time in February, things are more sedate but there are hints that soon a show will be debuting, although probably not as spectacular as last year because there has not been enough rain.

Sometimes I wonder where the time as disappeared to….and I wish life would slow down a bit and I can’t believe that it’s been as long as it has been since I started my project.

But there’s never a regret, the garden is a lovely place to spend a few hours, watching birds (Especially the hummingbirds…they’re in love with it) and seeing how the setting sun back lights the grasses & plants at the end of a day  into a soft, sensuous glow.

And what do you think?



Birds in my Native Garden

by Lorraine on February 12, 2012

Here is the continuation of the previous post about some of the birds that I had been seeing in my garden last December.   Now that it is February, some have left the area and now I’m seeing more White Crowned Sparrows and on the one day that it was hot, I found an 8″ Rattlesnake that was dead (mysterious), laying in the sitting area of my garden.

Good grief!

During the spring and summer I am more likely to see English Sparrows and Common Goldfinches as they patter around underneath the plants, seeking seeds and vying for territory. And there have also been Hooded Orioles that have nested in one of my trees that last two years.

Robins and their loud voices are the “bad boys” of the garden during the earlier part of each year and commandeer the bird bath, shoving out the smaller birds from it and in general, taking over the garden for their own purposes.

Although, they probably spend more time at my neighbors house where they find fat worms in their lawn, the do poke around among my plants and splash so much in the birdbath, they practically empty it in their enthusiasm of fluttering their wings…

Hummingbirds never seem to leave the area as I have something in my garden that is always in bloom year throughout the year. They are currently enjoying the Desert Lavender and fuchsias and now there are some new flowers on the salvias to give them a bit more variety.

Anyone who that thinks California native plants are ugly and unattractive, lack the knowledge of what they really are like. It’s not that dried-out dead-looking stuff you see along the roadsides…those are invasive plants, especially along the freeways.

California native plants are magnificent, varied and beautiful. Grow a garden made of natives and you will experience such joy and pleasure in their beauty and also enjoy the multitude of birds that will find it a rich sanctuary for their lives, too.


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Okay, So it’s Really February in the Garden

by Lorraine on February 8, 2012

I came across these comments that I obviously wrote last December, when I was seeing a number of different types of birds visiting the garden.   But some how, I got caught up in the busyness of Christmas and the holidays and I forgot to post it.   So better late than “never” even if some of these birds aren’t here now….

Once the garden was done and the plants were in, I began  notice an immediate change of “visitors to my yard, because it was now very attractive to wildlife, whereas before it was boring and didn’t provide cover or food for birds or butterflies. All kinds of different birds began to show up throughout the year along with other interesting critters.

Depending on what was blooming ( And there is always something blooming in my garden), and the time of the year, I always have the opportunity to share it with a variety of birds and butterflies.

It is now December and I am seeing more of the Mourning Doves ( They are a bit stupid, I have to admit), poking around looking for seeds but lately I have been seeing Black Phoebes that in general are in the garden all year long and now White Crowned Sparrows sharing the turf with Lessor House Finches.

And into to this mix are still some Anna Hummingbirds, taking advantage of the nectar from the Everetts Choice fuchsias and their bright red-orange flowers that lure them into their succulent places. Darting in and out of the garden are common finches and the very handsome Dark-Eyed Juncos, which I think are one of my favorite birds.

This is a rather longer post and I hate to bore anyone, unless they truly love watching birds in their garden, but I’m saving the rest of it for the next post.

To be continued…