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California lilac

Chaparral Plants

by Lorraine on August 26, 2011

Here in southern California, just in from the coastline, we are in the Chaparral plant community.   It extends from San Diego in the south end of the state up to parts of northern California and into the low hills as you enter the Sierra Nevada mountains.   And it also includes the northern end of Mexico and into southwestern Oregon as well but I’m mainly referring to California’s plant community.

It’s a large community of plants that covers approximately 7 million acres in California and that also includes my garden.   Although it is so small that it certainly wouldn’t show up on any native plant guides and you couldn’t find it using Google Earth but it is mainly made of of chaparral plants that I love.

I have several different varieties of Salvias, such as Whirly Blue, Bees Bliss, salvia mellifera and others.   And then there are some Eriogonums otherwise known as Buckwheat which there are more than 125 species in the state but I happen to have some that are low growing variety called Saffron or Eriogonum crocatum that has beautiful soft, gray leaves and brilliant yellow flowers that gradually turn to a “chocolate” brown shade as they dry out.

This post is getting to be a bit too long, so I will share more about what plants I’m using in my garden a bit later on.

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“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?

Free social networking site for nature lovers:

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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.