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sages

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?

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Tamarisk, Summer & other Observations

by Lorraine on July 1, 2011

Due to my level of persistence in following up with the California Fish & Game “individual”, he finally called me a couple of weeks ago.   Timing is everything, isn’t it?   And of course, he happened to call me when I was driving to a business appointment, making it difficult to talk for too long and just as I pulled up at my client’s house, my phone went dead.   I WAS just going to get his email at that very moment (it figures) to send him the pictures of the tamarisk and a google earth shot with arrows pointing to their obnoxious location.

Fortunately, he had the sense to call me back and leave it for me to follow up with, which I promptly did the next day.   I understand the shortages that many governmental agencies are experiencing at this time and he did indicate to me that they are spread very thin.   The only Botanist in the county is in Ojai and it’s doubtful when she could follow up on my discovery.   He was very concerned to hear about this being found in a watershed and agreed with me that since it’s only a few plants, it would make sense to remove them as soon as possible before they create a huge problem.

So, I did what I could and sent off my contact information and the location of the plants.

In the meanwhile, I’ve had a couple of Forest Service events, the most recent one was on National Trails Days and a large group of people showed up to help us with “brushing” Piedra Blanca trail.   We have had a great deal of rain this year (As a matter of fact the state of CA, has declared our three year drought as being “over”).

We hiked in about 2.5 miles one way but there was so much brush to be cleared, it was overwhelming.   I got distracted along one area on the trail and the group went on without me.   Actually, I rather prefer to be with only myself or a few people, I really don’t like crowds.   Especially on a trail…I want to “hear” things from nature and not conversations.

The benefit of me staying in one area, hacking away at my least favorite plant (Chamise), game me the opportunity to see a Horned Toad run right across the trail.   He was sooooo cool!   He stopped under a bush, posed for me and I swear he smiled as I took his picture.

Horned Toads are quite rare these days and I seldom see them anymore.   This is probably due mainly to habitat loss…. After taking this picture, I hoisted my gear and headed up the trail to meet with the rest of the group.  There was an enormous variety of plants blooming, especially our native Yucca but for the sake of not making this post too long, I will not mention them at this time.  

Plus, I am assuming you want a report about my garden at my home.   It’s beautiful of course, filled with birds, lizards and butterflies and the Salvias are heavy with blossoms and their fragrance permeates the air.

It’s a wonderful place to relax, think or not think and have a glass of Merlot.

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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!”

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Videos

by Lorraine on March 2, 2011

Okay, at last…this will be my first attempt of posting some video that I shot of my garden last month and hopefully I won’t mess things up here and I will do it correctly without too much trauma.

My garden is constantly changing each day and for a while, we had some very warm weather that triggered many plants to bloom too soon.   Then we became swamped in several rainstorms and then after that, the temperatures dropped so low that we had even a wee bit of snow.

Needless to say, all of these weather changes have caused confusion for not only my garden but for all kinds of plants and crops.   The good news for farmers who grow stone fruits, is that at least the cold weather would be good for their production but for plants that have bloomed out of their normal cycle, it could be damaging.

But, I guess I don’t really know.  However  for my garden that is filled with native plants from California, there’s been quite a bit of confusion, lately.   Bulbs were coming up and as a matter of fact some of the native Irises in my garden were sending out shoots, but not now.  Frost in the mornings put an end to that attempt to show off.

But more on that in a later post because I want to see if I can manage to a share a video that I did at the end of February of the garden. At that time the Ceanothus and Monkey Flowers were blooming and so was the Howard McMinn manzanita. 

Plus, there is a brief appearance of Theo, too!   Note his beautiful blue eyes…and his jaunty harness!

The manzanita’s flowers have since turned brown because of the freezing temperatures but the Ceanothus, Monkey Flowers, Channel Island Poppies, continue to bloom.   And there are even a few California Poppies starting to put on their show.

Well, it seems that I can’t load the video, because it exceeds the allowable size for my web site.   Drat!   Back to the drawing board, but I will learn how to do this.

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Valentine’s Day in a Native Garden

by Lorraine on February 14, 2011

While lover’s are sharing expressions of “love” and romance on what is “officially” the one day of the year to do so (Why not show your love everyday?), I am digging in the garden and moving some plants around.

Gardening is an expression of “love” that doesn’t entail the typical emotional dramas that far too often occur between human lovers but more of something that comes from being united with nature and observing where you fit into the natural world.

Just like lovers, there are disappointments, such as  when a plant dies or frankly it just doesn’t have the personality that you were hoping would enhance your garden, but you get over it, unlike being hurt or betrayed by someone you thought  loved you….

Those kind of hurts can take months to recover from….but a betrayal by a plant?   lolo…no drama in that.   It just ends up in the mulch pile and continues it’s evolution as it breaks down and eventually becomes potential energy for other life.

Yes, today is a beautiful, lovely, caressing day of emotion that pulls upon my heart.   The garden is filled with new blossoms, the fragrances of the Saliva’s puts me in mind of being out on a trail, hiking for the day and makes me feel quite happy.  Birds are swooping in and of of the garden on their individual missions to find nesting material for their house plans and wooing their own “Valentine” avian lovers…..

However, my garden is my “lover” and one that accepts me unconditionally regardless of my mood or frame of mind and it continuously provides me with the nurturing and love that we all need.  Just a little attention from me and it thrives and provides a place of retreat in our busy daily lives.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all Gardners and nature!

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