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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.


California and Native Plants

by Lorraine on January 22, 2013

Oh my gosh.   I cannot believe how, very, very long it has been since I last made a post about my garden.   I guess I have been too pre-occupied with my daily life and all of the demands it makes upon me.

Yes, yes…we all have busy lives, don’t we?  However my garden continues to delight me and of course it has changed considerably over the last few years, as I have too.

I really feel that tending and loving a garden whether or not it’s one filled with ornamental plants or like mine, more “native” and drought tolerant which is so important here in southern California, that are lives are just a bit richer for it.

Everyday, I can observe the different birds that find refuge in it and of course plenty of places to hide, built a nest and find food.   The seasons evolve, the plants bloom and recede in the hot summer months, only to catapult back into life with the first winter rains.

Lessor Goldfinches and White Crowned sparrows have been enjoying it’s bounty and I know that soon, I will see other avian visitors.   Spring is just around the corner and many plants are preparing to put on a show of flowers and color.

I promise that I will be writing more.   After all, it’s the garden that provides respite for me, too.




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.



“Oh What a Beautiful Morning…..

by Lorraine on February 19, 2012

Oh what a beautiful day…..I’ve got a beautiful feeeeellllinnnng! Everything’s going my wayyyy”….Okay, so I guess who ever is reading this, knows this is my attempt at singing the song from the musical comedy, “Oklahoma”.

And what does it have to do with native plants, gardening, habitat creation and other aspects of life?   At least my life?   Probably nothing other than it is a beautiful morning and as morning gives away to the afternoon, there are implied promises that the day will continue to be inspiring.

It doesn’t take much for me to be happy and I just completed spreading out four bags of mulch which gives my garden a neater look, especially since this year I won’t have the usual display of wildflowers.

And that is because it hasn’t’ rained enough to encourage the seeds to sprout but there will be plenty of California poppies putting on their best colors as they daintily slip off their slender, green overcoats.   And they never disappoint and can be counted on to show up and show off..

I am so far behind on writing regularly here and I do want to share some of the notes that I took while attending a class at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants…a few months ago conducted by Barbara Eisenstein on the exciting topic of irrigation.

Then there are those times that when I just simply fail when I try to do something such as digging up, dividing and transplanting some of the Douglas Iris’.   Most of them died but failures are to be expected in life and it’s best that we take them with a smile and learn something from them.

Although the ones that I gave to my daughter-in-law are apparently doing just fine.   Or at least that is what she’s telling me.   Maybe she doesn’t want me to know  she killed them, too.

I guess the song from” Oklahoma” is saying that no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, no matter how scared or hopeless you may feel, the sun is always raising somewhere and that includes your heart.

Figueroa Mt.'s Poppies/Santa Barbara County

It’s a beautiful day….




Fickle Weather

by Lorraine on February 16, 2012

It has been a very dry winter this season unlike last winter when it seemed as though we were being rained upon almost all the time.   Everything was so saturated and one storm was  particularly intense as it blew in from the southwest, smashing against the house with high winds.

I remember that I had a problem with water coming in underneath the front door and into the hallway.   Ha, ha…lot’s of fun.   I’m outside in the driving rain, completely covered up in rain gear and attempting to cover up the front door in plastic as everything was whipping around me but all the time I kept thinking how lucky I was that I wasn’t someone that was faced with losing their home in a flood as they were back East at the time.

Then I had a temporary flashback of a particular El Nino year when it seemed the state of California was going to drown and I had a leaky roof.   I would climb up on it  when it was raining  (Not the smartest thing to do) with huge rolls of plastic and attempt to hammer it down and keep the inside of the house free from leaks, all the while making sure I didn’t slide off and get hurt.

(One of my more enjoyable experiences of being a single Mom.   And a “thank you” to my son Ryan who was right along beside me, building  his character.)

But the storm from the previous winter ruined the wooden front door although  somehow my flooring survived the assault and out of this, one of my sons gave me a beautiful new front door a few months ago.

So, I’m digressing here…I think I was talking about the lack of rain we’ve had this year and I have been doing some supplemental watering in the garden.  I’m disappointed that none of the wildflower seeds I had sown a few months ago, have appeared.   But the poppies are plentiful and I noticed this morning that one has a cheery, orange flower bouncing upon itself.

A couple of days ago I purchased four large bags of shredded bark  and this weekend I plan on spreading most of it out in the areas where things are a bit bare.   All I need to do is get them out of the trunk of the car.

Where’s a man when I need one?

As I was saying, the weather has been odd this winter.   I few weeks ago it was hot and that’s when I had a rattlesnake in my sitting area and then yesterday, it became very cold (Something I hate) and it hailed!

So what’s next?   I think most of us are still hoping for more rain, as we certainly need it but in the meanwhile my garden still looks beautiful.   And at the end of the day,  I can enjoy the tranquility and peace it provides to me and know that life is good and each day brings it’s blessings if we are only paying attention.