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southern california

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…

 

 

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Birds in a Chaparral Garden

by Lorraine on December 19, 2011

One of the many pleasures of having a native plant garden, is the amount of wildlife it attracts to it.   Not only does it provide habitat for the many birds and butterflies but it also provides food and nesting sites as well for birds that live in the area and those that may be migrating through on their way to other areas.

It has been four years since I completed the installation of my garden in my front yard, after removing the lawn that was nothing more than ugly Bermuda grass with various sorts of weeds.   I hated it, it was boring, took too much water and lacked anything attractive about it and I made the decision to turn it into a chaparral garden, primarily made up of plants from the Coastal Sage Scrub community.

There has never been one moment of regret, I don’t miss the “grass” ( If you could call a variation of weeds, “grass”) at all and the best part is my water bill is incredibly low and I have a beautiful garden filled color, scent and wildlife.

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California and Santa Ana Winds

by Lorraine on November 3, 2011

Every Autumn in southern California we have a very “windy” event, otherwise known as the Santa Ana winds.   In many parts of the world communities  have their own terrible, driving winds which are unique to their particular area and we are no exception and upon their arrival the damage and  havoc that can ensue by winds which sometimes have gusts up to 70 miles per hour!

These winds develop out of the higher deserts located northeast of the Los Angeles basin and funnel though the canyon passes with a verocity that can be deadly and quite often cause brush fires.   Last fall we were quite fortunate, in that the Santa Ana season was quite mild and we didn’t experience the insanity of constant blowing winds and it was a relief to me, since I hate them….

On Tuesday we started to develop a mild Santa Ana and by Wednesday they were ferocious.   Downed trees everywhere, tons of debris and everyone is on edge, as it makes you quite uneasy with the worry of brush fires.

Whew!   They ended last night, there were no fires that I know of and other than experiencing a lot of sneezing due to allergies, there’s a mess in my garden.   I JUST swept it up and cleaned it out the other day and now everything is smothered in fallen leaves and small branches.   Even my little Certified Wildlife Habitat sign from The National Wildlife Federation got blown over.

But I’m relieved that there was no damage this time around and the worst I have to deal with is cleaning up all the leaves and small branches that came off my neighbors Ash tree and my three Liquid Amber’s.

However, this can change quickly and we are only just beginning the season for, what some people call, “Devil Winds” and I’ve got my fingers crossed that this year, will be one like last fall.   Very, little wind and very little worry.

Just dried and cracked skin.   I need lots of good, creamy lotion.

 

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Chaparral Plants in my Garden

by Lorraine on August 28, 2011

The last few days have been extremely hot and although I am only 45 minutes away from the beach in Ventura, I may as well be in Palm Springs.  To say it’s hot here today, would be an understatement and spending anytime outside in the garden isn’t possible, as it’s just to hot, but I wanted to continue with my comments about a few of the plants I have growing in my garden and with the exception of one dendromecon harfordii or Island Bush Poppy, most of the plants are from the chaparral community and thrive in the heat, although the Bush Poppy is doing fine & has managed to go through three summers so far without a problem.

I can’t list every type of plant that is growing in my garden because there are so many different ones but another one of my favorites is Woolley Blue Curl or Trichostema lanatum that is supposedly difficult to grow but have done well in my garden in spite of the fact that I don’t have the ideal conditions for them to grow in. Three and a half years later, since I planted them they are still doing very well and each year put out a spectacular display of soft, velvety purple flowers on long stems. and are about 4′ tall and almost as wide.

Hummingbirds love these plants as well as the Everetts Choice fuchsias and the Desert Lavender. The Desert Lavender, Hyptis emoryi is more native to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts but has thrived in my garden and on a day like today, that is in the 90’s they are probably smiling as I’m writing this inside on my computer because they love the heat.

I have two lovely, tall plants against the house that are about 10 feet tall and generally covered in tiny, soft lavender colored flowers that draw the hummingbirds and butterflies to them all the time. They have graceful, narrow branches and lend a nice architectural appearance against the house and create a bit of shade next to my sitting area.

Everyone of the plants that I chose for my garden, thrives in the heat prefers dry, rocky soil and in general, needs very little attention. Ideally when you have a chaparral garden you have the best growing conditions, such as well draining soil but in most cases you probably won’t and need to make the best of it when you are initially putting in your plants.

But the soil in my garden tends to be heavy however I am been fortunate in spite of issue and the majority of my plants have thrived and the mortality rate has been very, very low. I seldom water and all I do is any necessary trimming when it’s called for but other than that, I simply enjoy their fragrances, flowers, birds and butterflies and know that I have a tiny bit of that 7 million acres of chaparral in my front yard.

 

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Chaparral Plants

by Lorraine on August 26, 2011

Here in southern California, just in from the coastline, we are in the Chaparral plant community.   It extends from San Diego in the south end of the state up to parts of northern California and into the low hills as you enter the Sierra Nevada mountains.   And it also includes the northern end of Mexico and into southwestern Oregon as well but I’m mainly referring to California’s plant community.

It’s a large community of plants that covers approximately 7 million acres in California and that also includes my garden.   Although it is so small that it certainly wouldn’t show up on any native plant guides and you couldn’t find it using Google Earth but it is mainly made of of chaparral plants that I love.

I have several different varieties of Salvias, such as Whirly Blue, Bees Bliss, salvia mellifera and others.   And then there are some Eriogonums otherwise known as Buckwheat which there are more than 125 species in the state but I happen to have some that are low growing variety called Saffron or Eriogonum crocatum that has beautiful soft, gray leaves and brilliant yellow flowers that gradually turn to a “chocolate” brown shade as they dry out.

This post is getting to be a bit too long, so I will share more about what plants I’m using in my garden a bit later on.

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