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native grasses

Learning About How to Keep Native plants Alive

by Lorraine on November 11, 2011

If someone has decided to make the switchover to using native plants in their landscape, this is the time of year to do it because the weather is now cooling down, we’re past the hot summer months and all of the horticultural gardens that specialize in native plants are having garden sales.   It’s enough to make you go crazy over the huge selection but once you have reined yourself in, picked out your plants ( I hope you’ve done some research), it’s time to put them in the ground.

But what’s next?   How do you keep them alive and thriving?  How often do you water?   What about gophers?   Whadda ya’ do?  Leave ‘um alone?

I recently attended a class at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants that we being conducted by Barbara Eisenstein.   Barbara comes with a great deal of experience and at one time she was on the staff with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens in Claremont and she continues to be very involved in promoting sustainability, habitat  and the use of native plants for home gardens.   She is particularly fond of native grasses which there are many and she is an expert when it comes to using them in landscapes.

Anyway, so I went to her class for some tips and she not only provided a terrific list of “beginner” plants but went through the basic steps of what to do when you bring your new plants home.

Of course, it begins with digging a hole, filling it with water and putting the plant in it after the water has drained out.   But, there really is more, it’s not quite that simple but in a way…it is very simple.   But you have to do it correctly to increase the chances of that plant’s “happiness” in it’s new location.   After all, you’ve pulled it out from a container that it was enjoying and then shoved it into foreign territory.

How would you feel if you were treated like that?

And on that note, I will end this post here, cuz what I am going to share about the necessary steps to success will take up too much space and whoever reads this may not be in the mood to get through to the end & I can see that I already have been too verbose!

More thrills and information to follow  in the next couple of days…..


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   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!”

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