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hummingbirds

Birds in a Chaparral Garden

by Lorraine on December 19, 2011

One of the many pleasures of having a native plant garden, is the amount of wildlife it attracts to it.   Not only does it provide habitat for the many birds and butterflies but it also provides food and nesting sites as well for birds that live in the area and those that may be migrating through on their way to other areas.

It has been four years since I completed the installation of my garden in my front yard, after removing the lawn that was nothing more than ugly Bermuda grass with various sorts of weeds.   I hated it, it was boring, took too much water and lacked anything attractive about it and I made the decision to turn it into a chaparral garden, primarily made up of plants from the Coastal Sage Scrub community.

There has never been one moment of regret, I don’t miss the “grass” ( If you could call a variation of weeds, “grass”) at all and the best part is my water bill is incredibly low and I have a beautiful garden filled color, scent and wildlife.

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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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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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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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