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December in California

by Lorraine on December 19, 2016

I have completely neglected this blog about my chaparral garden for a very, very long time, but my garden is awesome and doing well.

I’ve actually lost track how long it’s been since I swapped out the thirsty lawn and put it in.    I’m thinking it’s been about 9 years ago and since then I’ve certainly learned a great deal about what plants to use and which ones didn’t work in my space.

And I have made quite a few changes to it over the years, too.

I removed a number of plants because initially there were too many of them, a common “rookie” mistake when you are setting out to create a drought tolerant and native plant  garden.

I know have a gorgeous Desert Museum Palo Verde next to the rocky, “dry” streambed and I can always count on lots of California poppies coming back each year and as a matter of fact, there are zillions of seedlings in it now.

So, I was ahead of the curve for converting my lawn to a drought tolerant landscape and due to the on going drought here in S. CA, a lot of people made changes too but some were taken advantage of my unscrupulous people that merely removed their lawn   and threw in some plants that eventually would die.

But that’s another post

However, there is still time to put in some “natives”.

In S. CA check out the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sylmar for help and ideas.


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.




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.




“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….




Fleeting Time

by Lorraine on February 13, 2012

I never envisioned myself as a Gardener, I certainly don’t grow vegetables, fruit or roses and REALLY, I’m not one.   The term gardener is a misnomer for me…

I’m actually a dreamer.   Growing up for me  was more about having a wonderful childhood, with many explorations into the local mountains and desert and parents who truly loved me and my sister.   I tend to think that a garden, regardless of what is in it, is an expression of ourselves and what we love.

When I look over previous pictures of myself, it is quite apparent how much being free is part of my soul.   Nature is a perfect expression of that emotion and my garden is a source of connection to that part of myself and int turn  connected to the universe that supports all life.

The seasons change, move and surprise us sometimes with their unpredictability but we can observe the evolution of nature and ourselves through these times and when I look over my garden, I feel an ease, appreciation for my life and continue to delight in my decision to “go native”.

Treasure each day, each relationship, value what is close and be kind to one another.   And especially be kind to yourself and know that you have value….

Plant a poesy, plant a tomato, but plant something and gaze and marvel at it’s ability to survive and grow in spite of your mistakes.

It’s life, after all.