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Landscaping with CA Native Plants

by Lorraine on March 19, 2011

Undoubtedly, I’m not much different from many other people and have made a common mistake with my garden.

I over planted it when it was new and I bought far too many plants.   In retrospect, I’m sure that I could have used about 25% fewer plants and in the process I would have spent less money and have had less aggravation later on, as eventually I found it necessary to start digging out some that got too large or just weren’t working out where they were placed initially.

I was new to this experience and I was very uninformed about native plants.   I had no idea how quickly they can grow and that the “rule of thumb” is to give them plenty of room when you are putting them into the ground.   At least 3′ to 4′ between each plant for enough space for them to grow.

The one area were I didn’t make a mistake, was that I only purchased plants in one gallon containers as recommended.  Anything larger than that, is risky when transplanting and certainly more expensive.   So stick to the one gallon size and don’t be tempted to buy anything larger.

What is totally amazing, is that within one year, how quickly natives will grow!   So heed my warning here, pay attention to spacing and be sure to research your plant choices before you buy them and be certain that you have enough space so that you won’t have to remove any plants later on.

Here are the ones I removed or trying to manage from being invasive:

Encelia californica/CA Sunflower.   I love it the plant, but it got to be too large.

Leymus condensatus/Cyn Prince Rye.   I love the color & shape of this grass but it gets huge.   I ended up removing 6 plants.

Juncus patens/Wire Grass.   Again, I love the color & the structure of this grass, but it’s invasive & I will be digging it out next winter but I may put it into some ceramic pots.

Santa Barbara Daisies.   Very, very invasive.   They were placed in one small section of my garden, but they have been a TOTAL PAIN in the “you-know-what”…and I’m constantly digging them out.

So there you have my initial experience as a neophyte in using native plants for my landscape.   And I love the change from the cruddy lawn, have no regrets and my garden rewards me all year long with it’s beauty and the wildlife it attracts.

Just don’t over plant!   Instead, sit in your garden, enjoy it’s sights, sounds and smell along with a good glass of Merlot!

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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.


Snow-Free California

by Lorraine on January 12, 2011

It’s an amazing and gorgeous day here in southern California.   While the east coast and Canada are being buried underneath snow drifts, the sun is shining and the sky is clear.

The temperatures are expected to reach 80 degrees by Saturday and then slowly descend down into the mid-70’s by the following week.   No wonder so many people want to live here.   Our weather is very appealing and there is no snow to shovel and icy roads to navigate!

With all the rain that has fallen in the last two months, my garden has exploded in growth.   Several plants are starting to bloom and many bulbs are coming up through the earth and everywhere I look, I see something new and changes in the landscape.

There are lots and lots of California Poppy seedlings and I know I will have a visual feast of glowing, orange flowers within the next couple of months.

It’s really too early for this kind of activity and I guess you could call it a “false” spring, as we could still have some very cold temperatures, as it’s truly winter.  And if that should happen, it will kill or at least cause some of these early bloomers, to die back.

The warm sunshine has brought many different types of birds into the garden and they are feeding on the seeds they find as though they are at a banquet.  And  I half expect to see some lizards due to the warmth but I guess they are still sleeping, tucked away under the rocks.

They know it’s not Spring as of yet.


A Garden Tour

by Lorraine on April 26, 2010

Two weeks ago my garden was part of a Spring garden tour for the Simi Valley – Moorpark Republican Women’s Club.   There were a total of five featured properties but mine was the only one dedicated to California Native plants.

The members were all surprised to see what a native garden looks like and how beautiful one can be and they had quite a few questions about it.

The press release didn’t say that one of the gardens on the tour would be a native one and I am betting that if it had, there would have been even a larger amount of visitors on the tour, although I am guessing that there was probably about 200 or so that came to my home.

The Garden before the Tour Arrived

I had a table with several selected books about native plants and landscaping with them, plus several handouts as to where to find them and other resources as well.   My two hostess from the “Club” said that most of the time when they do these tours, the owners aren’t home and they expected to be very bored but I kept them busy!

Looking at the plants

Soon they were saying to the visitors that “This is a 100% California native plant garden”…and they had a blast mingling with the visitors and hanging out with me and at the end of the day, they both said it was the most fun they have ever had hosting!

Most people wanted to know how often I watered the garden and needless to say thay had many questions about the plants.   Where could they get them?   What’s it called? (Even though I had tags next to most of them) and how much work is it to take care of?

I felt like it was some sort of celebrity all day long.   The questions kept coming and I rarely sat down for a break.   But it was fun and I felt really happy about all the interest the garden got and also how thrilled and excited people were to mingle in it.   The smells, the textures, the colors and birds all lended magic to each visitor’s experience.

At the end of the day, I was quite tired after answering so many questions but at the same time, excited by all the interest.   I think my garden made a huge impact on the visitors and changed their conception of what a garden can look like using only natives.   Later I poured myself a glass of wine and sat back under my new umbrella to relax and enjoy the twilight of the evening.

And believe it or not, some people still dropped by, bringing their spouses to see the “wildness”…and admire it just a little bit more.

California native Iris in my garden.


Native Plants, Garden Tours and Other Things

by Lorraine on April 13, 2010

As of late, I have been so busy with what seems like a million projects going on all at the same time, that my mind is scattered and unfocused.   But my  garden is spectacular, fragrant, lovely, filled with birds, butterflies, fragrance and life.  And a place to retreat to with a glass of wine when I feel overwhelmed.

And each one of these comments is a discussion onto itself.   Everything seems to be blooming and with the amount of rain we have had this winter and Spring, all the plants have grown quite a bit.   Some are quite large, as a matter of fact.   I am eye-balling the Canyon Prince Rye Grass, realizing that they are going to become too big in some of the spots where they are currently growing and I will be digging some up this winter.

Going on The Theodore Payne Foundation Native Plant & Wildflower garden tour this past weekend, was wonderful.   I saw some terrific designs, some that were just “okay” but the passion and enthusiasm of the hosts was lovely.   And I took note of some of the plants that I happen to have in my garden and realized there were be a potential problem in the future if I don’t remove them this winter.

I am guilty of putting in too many plants and too close together and now I will have to rectify that before it becomes a major job.   But, I love my garden.   It’s beautiful, tranquil and filled with life.  

And it will be on a garden tour this Sunday.   I am told to expect about 300 people, all of who are traditional gardeners.   So my garden will be a new experience for them and I am expecting many questions about native plants.

It should be an interesting day.