Posts tagged as:

landscaping

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?

{ 0 comments }

Spring & a Native Plant Garden

by Lorraine on April 13, 2011

It’s been very busy for me the last few weeks and I’m trying to keep up with regular posts, but I’m finding it to be difficult, as I’m being pulled in a multitude of directions.

With the arrival of spring that was proceeded by copious amounts of rain during the winter, the garden has exploded in new growth, robust life & looks postively amazing!

Initially I thought I would mention what plants were beginning to bloom but now it’s past that phase and then I thought I would talk about some of the gardens I saw last weekend on the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants…(what a mouthful)  garden tour.

Now I’m thinking that I probably should be sharing the fact that my OWN garden will be on tour this coming Sat. April 16th from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.

I am part of a native plant garden tour that is being co-chaired by the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and the California Native Plant Society (Channel Islands Chapter).   This event will cover Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and should be a wonderful event.

Between now and then, I will be labeling my plants, sprucing the garden up a bit and I will also have a selection of native plant books for people to peek at and other handouts.

And I will be  promoting my social networking site for people that love nature, native plants and anything associated with sustainability.    It’s free to join and I feel it  will  grow to be quite large over time as more people wish to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences in creating wildlife habitats or just enjoying nature.

http://bit.ly/hQt7xC

At some point in the near future, I will let you know what is blooming in the garden and also my experience with the Theo. Payne garden tour.   There’s just too much going on right now for me to share it all, but I promise, I will.

Go dig, go plant, go “native”!

{ 0 comments }

Native Grasses for Your Garden

by Lorraine on March 24, 2011

I mentioned in an earlier post how much I love the appearance and feel of native grasses and their use in residential landscapes.   The possibilities for garden designs and the varieties of grasses are unlimited and more home owners may want to consider utilizing them in their landscapes to create a different mood in their gardens.

“The American Meadow Garden”  written by John Greenlee discusses in great detail the endless possibilities but I would like to share the excellent article written by Rob Moore with California Native Landscape Design http://bit.ly/dqw87W   where he shares his thoughts as well in the following article.

“One of the questions I always ask my clientele during the preliminary design phase is if they like California native bunchgrasses. From a design perspective, bunchgrasses offer a plethora of benefits both aesthetic and functional.  Attributes include contrast, the element of motion, habitat restoration, visual interest, and historical value.

Experts conclude that native grasslands in California are among the most endangered ecosystem in the United States. Due in most part to historical land use and introduced disease, it is estimated that less than 1% of our state’s original grasslands remain. Fortunately, as forward-thinking home and business owners, we can address this issue by including California’s native grasses in our residential and commercial landscapes.

A short list of favorites for the garden include Purple Three-Awn Aristida purpurea, Blue Grama Bouteloua gracilis, California Fescue Festuca californica, Giant Wild Rye Leymus condensates, California Melic Melica californica, Deer Grass Muhlenbergia rigens, and Purple Needlegrass Nassella pulchra (our state grass here in California). Grass-like species such as Sedges Carex spp. are a great addition to a California-friendly, native garden as well.

In their natural environment, native grasses typically occur in groups with bare ground between them where wildflowers grow. Even though some gardeners feel grasses look messy; in consideration of wildlife value, letting things go to seed and having an area that’s ‘messy’ is good for seed-eaters and butterflies.  Alternatively, hand trimming at the appropriate time of year is preferable aesthetically, and an occasional grooming to remove dead leaves and spent flower stalks or a seasonal coppice is perfectly acceptable and will keep them looking tidy.

Most of the aforementioned ornamental grasses will prefer a sunny spot in the landscape and will be tolerant of drought once established, though most species will look better with occasional summer water.

Like many native plants, grasses play an important role in providing cover, nesting materials, and additional food sources for beneficial, garden-friendly wildlife. Coupled with the addition of contrast, the element of motion, habitat restoration, and historical value, I’m confident that you will enjoy the addition of California’s native bunchgrasses to your garden!”

{ 1 comment }

Dreaming of Meadows

by Lorraine on February 16, 2011

I recently attended a symposium hosted by the California Native Plant Society, Channel Islands Chapter in Camarillo for an entire day.   There were several speakers but one in particular I was very eager to hear his presentation on using native grasses for landscaping.

John Greenlee is a horticulturist and the owner of Greenlee Nursery which is the oldest grass nursery in California and he is passionate about using native grasses in landscapes in lieu of the traditional and boring lawns that are typical of most suburban landscapes.

He has become a specialist in creating meadows….meadows to dream upon, feel, smell, loll upon and invite wildlife into it’s lovely realm.   I have always been intrigued by meadows and the diversity of the plants, animals and birds that use them for habitat but never thought of having one of mine own. 

 I can remember as a child, looking at them along the coast of California as we drove to San Francisco to visit my grandmother and noticing how they appeared to be like the ocean, as they waved and swirled with the current of the wind that passed over them.  They were so beautiful.

Grasses are sensual, moving and hypnotic to the eye.   In the spring they can be a beautiful shade of green and in autumn, their golden hues gleam in the sun.  I enjoy observing the Nodding Needle Grass/Nassella cernua in my own garden as the first green sprouts come up in spring and then dry out during the summer, leaving me with beautiful, tall golden strands of grass that make beautiful indoor arrangements for the house.

 It’s healthy for the environment, provides habitat for wildlife and doesn’t require fertilizers, lawnmowers or pesticides.   It’s interesting to know, that the typical suburban lawn in Los Angeles on a daily basis, contributes 22 tons of air pollution each day.   This comes from lawn mowers, leaf blowers and edgers and all the combined chemicals needed to keep it green and pest free, which of course, runs off into the gutters and eventually makes it’s way to the ocean….another problem.

Shocking!   Isn’t it?

A landscape that is made up mainly of native plants, doesn’t require wasteful amounts of water or combat to keep it healthy and looking good.   And the same can be said for using native grasses…they perform beautifully,  just as they have evolved to do so.

I picked up a copy of “The American Meadow Garden” while at the symposium which was of course, written by John Greenlee and I am just starting to read it.   The photography is gorgeous, the prose well written, inspiring and I’m relishing it and enjoying the book and the information that he provides about grasses from all over the world.

Some people want a sports car, some the latest technological gadget, a smaller nose or to be a rock star. 

I want my own meadow.

{ 1 comment }

California Native Plant Nursery

by Lorraine on January 20, 2011

My garden is growing like crazy due to all the rain we have had so far this winter and many of the plants are blooming ahead of schedule because then everything heated up to 90 degrees!

But more on that in a later post, as I am going to share a very humourous post but at the same time, informative as well, about using our beautiful native plants that we have in great abundance in California for your landscapes.  

I will post it over two days, as it’s a bit long for this space.   It was written by Antonio, one of the owners of Nopalito Native Plant Nursery in Ventura, CA

“I grew up in El Paso, home of the UTEP Fighting Miners, lots of good Tex-Mex Food and a town full of hippies. Yup, you would never know it but me and my neighbors, all 700,000 of them, were a bunch of pot-smoking, long-haired hippies.  Don’t let the flag-waving, beef-eating, football-loving stereotype fool you……Every person in El Paso was and is a hippie. 

 A quick drive around any El Paso neighborhood (or any ‘desert’ city, for that matter) will show you the same thing – Small Lawns, Lots of native and drought-tolerant plants, and malls, government properties and even huge mansions all with the same type of low-water landscaping.  Water Conservation and caring more about your water supply than how many pretty flowers you have are classic signs of a hippie community! 

 Let’s compare El Paso to the supposedly ‘green’, ‘liberal’ and ‘hippy’ Southern California.  A quick drive around the City of Ventura will reveal just the opposite of my hometown – Malls and shopping centers with almost every kind of landscaping imaginable, government properties with huge amounts of lawn (wait, maybe that’s a golf course) and huge mansions with even huger (that’s not a word!) water bills.  Average yearly rainfall in El Paso is 9 inches, Average yearly rainfall in Los Angeles is 14 inches.  Using my ridiculous math skills that means that Southern California, on average, gets 5 more inches of rain a year than El Paso!”

http://nopalitonursery.com

{ 1 comment }