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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.



Roadside California Native Flowers

by Lorraine on March 2, 2012

Well, it is now March and usually by now it’s quite common to see many wildflowers blooming along our roadsides but this year is different.

There just has not been enough rain this past winter and that means there will not be a display of wildflowers for the average person to view from their cars as they travel down a road or freeway.

I have a tendency or radar, to be scanning the slopes and open areas along roadsides and the freeway, looking to see if there is anything to catch my eye that says spring has arrived.  I manage to not drive off the road but if there is a place for me to pull over and park, I will and investigate what has got my attention.

Usually we begin to see displays of California Poppies, the state flower, along with a variety of  Lupines ( Arroyo Lupines) that are seasonal and can generally be seen from the road with dark purple flowers and dainty tips of white on each blossom.

But not this year.

I have seen some California Sunflowers/Encelia californica on the hillsides, putting out their bright yellow flowers from green shrubby plants, but that’s about all I have seen and it’s disappointing to me.

I have found it necessary to do some supplemental watering in my own garden to offset the lack of rain.   And many plants are blooming although it looks like the Margarita BOP’s are not going to have too many flowers this time around.

But the Woolly Blue Curls/Trichostema lanatum look fantastic with deep, blue flowery stems, the Channel Island Poppy continues to show off and many of the sages are blooming as well.

Sometimes nature just disappoints us and can be quite harsh, but regardless of her intent, there is still beauty to be found in all circumstances  and in her various presentations…

Search for her beauty today and everyday, because it is to be found everywhere you look and you don’t want to miss viewing something that just might make a difference in your 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.



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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Okay, So it’s Really February in the Garden

by Lorraine on February 8, 2012

I came across these comments that I obviously wrote last December, when I was seeing a number of different types of birds visiting the garden.   But some how, I got caught up in the busyness of Christmas and the holidays and I forgot to post it.   So better late than “never” even if some of these birds aren’t here now….

Once the garden was done and the plants were in, I began  notice an immediate change of “visitors to my yard, because it was now very attractive to wildlife, whereas before it was boring and didn’t provide cover or food for birds or butterflies. All kinds of different birds began to show up throughout the year along with other interesting critters.

Depending on what was blooming ( And there is always something blooming in my garden), and the time of the year, I always have the opportunity to share it with a variety of birds and butterflies.

It is now December and I am seeing more of the Mourning Doves ( They are a bit stupid, I have to admit), poking around looking for seeds but lately I have been seeing Black Phoebes that in general are in the garden all year long and now White Crowned Sparrows sharing the turf with Lessor House Finches.

And into to this mix are still some Anna Hummingbirds, taking advantage of the nectar from the Everetts Choice fuchsias and their bright red-orange flowers that lure them into their succulent places. Darting in and out of the garden are common finches and the very handsome Dark-Eyed Juncos, which I think are one of my favorite birds.

This is a rather longer post and I hate to bore anyone, unless they truly love watching birds in their garden, but I’m saving the rest of it for the next post.

To be continued…