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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….




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?



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.



Ruthless Trimming and Rainstorms

by Lorraine on July 31, 2011

Okay, so the weather forecast for mid to southern California was for thunder storms, lightening, rain, humidity, drama and flash floods.   None of which happened around here, although I don’t know if these events transpired in other parts of the state.   But the weather turned out to be beautiful with fantastic blue skies, some clouds and lots of humidity.

Sometimes  I can be spontaneous and I got the urge to (well just a little bit), do some trimming in the garden yesterday.   Naturally, being me…this became an event that lasted about three hours as I cut back some of the Salvias, trimmed the Desert Lavender/Hyptis emoryi and knocking myself out for any future events that might require my energy.

I have two Desert Lavender bushes and both of the are up against the house and easily over 8′ and tend to want to become bushy.   So once in a while I have to do some trimming as one of them is right next to my sitting area in the garden and if I didn’t trim it, I’d be sitting in it’s branches.

They are covered in bees, collecting nectar and spreading their good cheer and work and Hummingbirds like them as well.   Although, lately I haven’t seen too many Hummers, since most of the plants are done blooming for the summer with the exception of Everett’s Choice fuchsias.

They do adore them and of course the fiery orange color, seduces the little birds to visit the bar quite often.  They love the fuchias and typically they are swooping in and out of the plants for most of the day.

So I got off my topic here…trimming.   Due to all the rain we had this past winter, the plants went “bonkers’ in their growth and ended up competing for space.   The Whirly Blue salvias, covered some of the Purple Three Awn grasses and a couple of Yarrows, too.   They are know behaving because I cut them back a bit, which should be done beginning this time of the year.

I soaked a Spreading Gum Plan/Grindelia stricta yesterday and yanked it out today because I think it’s ugly.   There’s another one that will be receiving the same fate as well but later on, not today.  I whacked back several Coyote Mints/Mondardella villosa too, as they were looking done in and no longer putting on a show but they sure have a strong, minty fragrance that is almost overwhelming but nice.

August is supposedly one of our hotter months in California and my plants have all but retreated to safety until the first rains of winter.   Then it will start all over again.

But what happened to today’s rain storms, flash floods, lightening and other exciting events?