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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 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.



Four Years Later

by Lorraine on February 17, 2012

I was looking at the pictures on the right side of this site, that rotate and show different aspects of the garden and one that includes Deena who originally helped with it’s design, when I realized how much the garden’s appearance has changed.

In the four years since I pulled out the lawn and created the garden, I am amazed at the difference.   Comparing the pictures on the site to ones that I’ve taken since then, there is a huge difference.   I have since removed quite a few plants and changed up some others in the meanwhile, but what is quite obvious, is how quickly everything grew.

Here is a picture that I took in the spring of 2011 when the garden was in high-gear and displaying a bounty of blooms.   At this time in February, things are more sedate but there are hints that soon a show will be debuting, although probably not as spectacular as last year because there has not been enough rain.

Sometimes I wonder where the time as disappeared to….and I wish life would slow down a bit and I can’t believe that it’s been as long as it has been since I started my project.

But there’s never a regret, the garden is a lovely place to spend a few hours, watching birds (Especially the hummingbirds…they’re in love with it) and seeing how the setting sun back lights the grasses & plants at the end of a day  into a soft, sensuous glow.

And what do you think?



Birds in my Native Garden

by Lorraine on February 12, 2012

Here is the continuation of the previous post about some of the birds that I had been seeing in my garden last December.   Now that it is February, some have left the area and now I’m seeing more White Crowned Sparrows and on the one day that it was hot, I found an 8″ Rattlesnake that was dead (mysterious), laying in the sitting area of my garden.

Good grief!

During the spring and summer I am more likely to see English Sparrows and Common Goldfinches as they patter around underneath the plants, seeking seeds and vying for territory. And there have also been Hooded Orioles that have nested in one of my trees that last two years.

Robins and their loud voices are the “bad boys” of the garden during the earlier part of each year and commandeer the bird bath, shoving out the smaller birds from it and in general, taking over the garden for their own purposes.

Although, they probably spend more time at my neighbors house where they find fat worms in their lawn, the do poke around among my plants and splash so much in the birdbath, they practically empty it in their enthusiasm of fluttering their wings…

Hummingbirds never seem to leave the area as I have something in my garden that is always in bloom year throughout the year. They are currently enjoying the Desert Lavender and fuchsias and now there are some new flowers on the salvias to give them a bit more variety.

Anyone who that thinks California native plants are ugly and unattractive, lack the knowledge of what they really are like. It’s not that dried-out dead-looking stuff you see along the roadsides…those are invasive plants, especially along the freeways.

California native plants are magnificent, varied and beautiful. Grow a garden made of natives and you will experience such joy and pleasure in their beauty and also enjoy the multitude of birds that will find it a rich sanctuary for their lives, too.


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