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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…

 

 

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Chaparral Plants in my Garden

by Lorraine on August 28, 2011

The last few days have been extremely hot and although I am only 45 minutes away from the beach in Ventura, I may as well be in Palm Springs.  To say it’s hot here today, would be an understatement and spending anytime outside in the garden isn’t possible, as it’s just to hot, but I wanted to continue with my comments about a few of the plants I have growing in my garden and with the exception of one dendromecon harfordii or Island Bush Poppy, most of the plants are from the chaparral community and thrive in the heat, although the Bush Poppy is doing fine & has managed to go through three summers so far without a problem.

I can’t list every type of plant that is growing in my garden because there are so many different ones but another one of my favorites is Woolley Blue Curl or Trichostema lanatum that is supposedly difficult to grow but have done well in my garden in spite of the fact that I don’t have the ideal conditions for them to grow in. Three and a half years later, since I planted them they are still doing very well and each year put out a spectacular display of soft, velvety purple flowers on long stems. and are about 4′ tall and almost as wide.

Hummingbirds love these plants as well as the Everetts Choice fuchsias and the Desert Lavender. The Desert Lavender, Hyptis emoryi is more native to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts but has thrived in my garden and on a day like today, that is in the 90’s they are probably smiling as I’m writing this inside on my computer because they love the heat.

I have two lovely, tall plants against the house that are about 10 feet tall and generally covered in tiny, soft lavender colored flowers that draw the hummingbirds and butterflies to them all the time. They have graceful, narrow branches and lend a nice architectural appearance against the house and create a bit of shade next to my sitting area.

Everyone of the plants that I chose for my garden, thrives in the heat prefers dry, rocky soil and in general, needs very little attention. Ideally when you have a chaparral garden you have the best growing conditions, such as well draining soil but in most cases you probably won’t and need to make the best of it when you are initially putting in your plants.

But the soil in my garden tends to be heavy however I am been fortunate in spite of issue and the majority of my plants have thrived and the mortality rate has been very, very low. I seldom water and all I do is any necessary trimming when it’s called for but other than that, I simply enjoy their fragrances, flowers, birds and butterflies and know that I have a tiny bit of that 7 million acres of chaparral in my front yard.

 

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Ruthless Trimming and Rainstorms

by Lorraine on July 31, 2011

Okay, so the weather forecast for mid to southern California was for thunder storms, lightening, rain, humidity, drama and flash floods.   None of which happened around here, although I don’t know if these events transpired in other parts of the state.   But the weather turned out to be beautiful with fantastic blue skies, some clouds and lots of humidity.

Sometimes  I can be spontaneous and I got the urge to (well just a little bit), do some trimming in the garden yesterday.   Naturally, being me…this became an event that lasted about three hours as I cut back some of the Salvias, trimmed the Desert Lavender/Hyptis emoryi and knocking myself out for any future events that might require my energy.

I have two Desert Lavender bushes and both of the are up against the house and easily over 8′ and tend to want to become bushy.   So once in a while I have to do some trimming as one of them is right next to my sitting area in the garden and if I didn’t trim it, I’d be sitting in it’s branches.

They are covered in bees, collecting nectar and spreading their good cheer and work and Hummingbirds like them as well.   Although, lately I haven’t seen too many Hummers, since most of the plants are done blooming for the summer with the exception of Everett’s Choice fuchsias.

They do adore them and of course the fiery orange color, seduces the little birds to visit the bar quite often.  They love the fuchias and typically they are swooping in and out of the plants for most of the day.

So I got off my topic here…trimming.   Due to all the rain we had this past winter, the plants went “bonkers’ in their growth and ended up competing for space.   The Whirly Blue salvias, covered some of the Purple Three Awn grasses and a couple of Yarrows, too.   They are know behaving because I cut them back a bit, which should be done beginning this time of the year.

I soaked a Spreading Gum Plan/Grindelia stricta yesterday and yanked it out today because I think it’s ugly.   There’s another one that will be receiving the same fate as well but later on, not today.  I whacked back several Coyote Mints/Mondardella villosa too, as they were looking done in and no longer putting on a show but they sure have a strong, minty fragrance that is almost overwhelming but nice.

August is supposedly one of our hotter months in California and my plants have all but retreated to safety until the first rains of winter.   Then it will start all over again.

But what happened to today’s rain storms, flash floods, lightening and other exciting events?

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California and Native Plants

by Lorraine on July 15, 2011

As I open my front door each morning and take a peek outside to see how the day is looking, I wonderful fragrance of sage wafts around me.   The sages have just about finished blooming and in particular this year, they all grew to become quite large as they gorged upon  the rain that fell during our very wet winter.

They were absolutely spectacular with all the the branches covered in flowers that lasted for weeks.   The shades were from the deepest blue, to pale pink and of course white.   I would cut some branches and bring them inside to enjoy them while the bloom lasted.   What a display this year we have had  and now it’s ending as we move into another season.

Sigh…there is never a day that I regret having my garden and it’s the one place that I can retreat to when I need to simply ground myself and reconnect with nature, even if it is only in my front yard.

We have had only a few hot days so far, but typically in southern California the hottest months of the year are August and September and if we have the seasonal Santa Ana winds in the fall, the heat will continue.   And that used to be considered our brush fire season, but that now seems to include the entire year as the climate is changing.

My garden put on a spectacular show of flowers this past spring, especially the penstemons, Woolly Curls and of course the poppies.   But there were also are native Iris, Monkey Flowers and the ceanothus.   The garden was a wash in various shades of blue, with yellow and butter scotch shades emanating from the Monkey Flowers and the Channnel Island Poppy bush.

And that is only a very brief list of the entertainers.   There were many more particpants in the celebration of spring and I hope they won’t be offended if I leave them off the credits here on the blog.

Now the Fuchsias are just starting to bloom and along with their beautiful silvery foliage they will fill the eye with delight.  I particularly enjoy looking at them late in the day as the sun is setting because they  postively  shine in the receding light with their orangey-red glow.

As I open my door each morning, there is the fragrance of sage.   As I open my door each morning, there is a new beginning.   And as I open my door every morning, there is the delight and appreciation for my own life and that of nature.

What is out your door?

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Tamarisk, Summer & other Observations

by Lorraine on July 1, 2011

Due to my level of persistence in following up with the California Fish & Game “individual”, he finally called me a couple of weeks ago.   Timing is everything, isn’t it?   And of course, he happened to call me when I was driving to a business appointment, making it difficult to talk for too long and just as I pulled up at my client’s house, my phone went dead.   I WAS just going to get his email at that very moment (it figures) to send him the pictures of the tamarisk and a google earth shot with arrows pointing to their obnoxious location.

Fortunately, he had the sense to call me back and leave it for me to follow up with, which I promptly did the next day.   I understand the shortages that many governmental agencies are experiencing at this time and he did indicate to me that they are spread very thin.   The only Botanist in the county is in Ojai and it’s doubtful when she could follow up on my discovery.   He was very concerned to hear about this being found in a watershed and agreed with me that since it’s only a few plants, it would make sense to remove them as soon as possible before they create a huge problem.

So, I did what I could and sent off my contact information and the location of the plants.

In the meanwhile, I’ve had a couple of Forest Service events, the most recent one was on National Trails Days and a large group of people showed up to help us with “brushing” Piedra Blanca trail.   We have had a great deal of rain this year (As a matter of fact the state of CA, has declared our three year drought as being “over”).

We hiked in about 2.5 miles one way but there was so much brush to be cleared, it was overwhelming.   I got distracted along one area on the trail and the group went on without me.   Actually, I rather prefer to be with only myself or a few people, I really don’t like crowds.   Especially on a trail…I want to “hear” things from nature and not conversations.

The benefit of me staying in one area, hacking away at my least favorite plant (Chamise), game me the opportunity to see a Horned Toad run right across the trail.   He was sooooo cool!   He stopped under a bush, posed for me and I swear he smiled as I took his picture.

Horned Toads are quite rare these days and I seldom see them anymore.   This is probably due mainly to habitat loss…. After taking this picture, I hoisted my gear and headed up the trail to meet with the rest of the group.  There was an enormous variety of plants blooming, especially our native Yucca but for the sake of not making this post too long, I will not mention them at this time.  

Plus, I am assuming you want a report about my garden at my home.   It’s beautiful of course, filled with birds, lizards and butterflies and the Salvias are heavy with blossoms and their fragrance permeates the air.

It’s a wonderful place to relax, think or not think and have a glass of Merlot.

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