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California and Native Plants

by Lorraine on January 22, 2013

Oh my gosh.   I cannot believe how, very, very long it has been since I last made a post about my garden.   I guess I have been too pre-occupied with my daily life and all of the demands it makes upon me.

Yes, yes…we all have busy lives, don’t we?  However my garden continues to delight me and of course it has changed considerably over the last few years, as I have too.

I really feel that tending and loving a garden whether or not it’s one filled with ornamental plants or like mine, more “native” and drought tolerant which is so important here in southern California, that are lives are just a bit richer for it.

Everyday, I can observe the different birds that find refuge in it and of course plenty of places to hide, built a nest and find food.   The seasons evolve, the plants bloom and recede in the hot summer months, only to catapult back into life with the first winter rains.

Lessor Goldfinches and White Crowned sparrows have been enjoying it’s bounty and I know that soon, I will see other avian visitors.   Spring is just around the corner and many plants are preparing to put on a show of flowers and color.

I promise that I will be writing more.   After all, it’s the garden that provides respite for me, too.




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.



August and It’s Hot, Hot, Hot!

by Lorraine on August 8, 2012

Okay, I obviously have not been posting anything about my garden since, (Let’s see, March?).   I can’t believe how long it’s been and it’s not due to not having anything to say, but sometimes…there is just nothing interesting going on.

Gardens or in my case “landscape”, are always changing with the seasons and due to little rainfall this past winter, spring was not putting on much of show in my garden.

Yes, the Douglas iris’, Penstemons, and of course the ubiqus California poppy bloomed and so did everything else.   But over all the amount of flowers were less than in previous years but still beautiful anyway.

Spring in the garden

I guess the most exciting thing was to find a dead rattlesnake a few months ago, right where I have two chairs under an umbrella.   Now I have no idea how it ended up there, but it was a little bit unnerving, needless to say.

It’s extremely hot this week and rattlesnakes will naturally be out and about but not in the middle of the day.   Typically, they will find a shady spot under a bush or rock and wait for things to cool down.

Caution prevails, here at my house.   I’m not about to be putting my hands or feet in the target zone for their fangs.



Roadside California Native Flowers

by Lorraine on March 2, 2012

Well, it is now March and usually by now it’s quite common to see many wildflowers blooming along our roadsides but this year is different.

There just has not been enough rain this past winter and that means there will not be a display of wildflowers for the average person to view from their cars as they travel down a road or freeway.

I have a tendency or radar, to be scanning the slopes and open areas along roadsides and the freeway, looking to see if there is anything to catch my eye that says spring has arrived.  I manage to not drive off the road but if there is a place for me to pull over and park, I will and investigate what has got my attention.

Usually we begin to see displays of California Poppies, the state flower, along with a variety of  Lupines ( Arroyo Lupines) that are seasonal and can generally be seen from the road with dark purple flowers and dainty tips of white on each blossom.

But not this year.

I have seen some California Sunflowers/Encelia californica on the hillsides, putting out their bright yellow flowers from green shrubby plants, but that’s about all I have seen and it’s disappointing to me.

I have found it necessary to do some supplemental watering in my own garden to offset the lack of rain.   And many plants are blooming although it looks like the Margarita BOP’s are not going to have too many flowers this time around.

But the Woolly Blue Curls/Trichostema lanatum look fantastic with deep, blue flowery stems, the Channel Island Poppy continues to show off and many of the sages are blooming as well.

Sometimes nature just disappoints us and can be quite harsh, but regardless of her intent, there is still beauty to be found in all circumstances  and in her various presentations…

Search for her beauty today and everyday, because it is to be found everywhere you look and you don’t want to miss viewing something that just might make a difference in your day.



“Oh What a Beautiful Morning…..

by Lorraine on February 19, 2012

Oh what a beautiful day…..I’ve got a beautiful feeeeellllinnnng! Everything’s going my wayyyy”….Okay, so I guess who ever is reading this, knows this is my attempt at singing the song from the musical comedy, “Oklahoma”.

And what does it have to do with native plants, gardening, habitat creation and other aspects of life?   At least my life?   Probably nothing other than it is a beautiful morning and as morning gives away to the afternoon, there are implied promises that the day will continue to be inspiring.

It doesn’t take much for me to be happy and I just completed spreading out four bags of mulch which gives my garden a neater look, especially since this year I won’t have the usual display of wildflowers.

And that is because it hasn’t’ rained enough to encourage the seeds to sprout but there will be plenty of California poppies putting on their best colors as they daintily slip off their slender, green overcoats.   And they never disappoint and can be counted on to show up and show off..

I am so far behind on writing regularly here and I do want to share some of the notes that I took while attending a class at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants…a few months ago conducted by Barbara Eisenstein on the exciting topic of irrigation.

Then there are those times that when I just simply fail when I try to do something such as digging up, dividing and transplanting some of the Douglas Iris’.   Most of them died but failures are to be expected in life and it’s best that we take them with a smile and learn something from them.

Although the ones that I gave to my daughter-in-law are apparently doing just fine.   Or at least that is what she’s telling me.   Maybe she doesn’t want me to know  she killed them, too.

I guess the song from” Oklahoma” is saying that no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, no matter how scared or hopeless you may feel, the sun is always raising somewhere and that includes your heart.

Figueroa Mt.'s Poppies/Santa Barbara County

It’s a beautiful day….