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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?


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?


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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December, Already?

by Lorraine on December 9, 2010

Well, I guess you could say that I’m not exactly posting regularly here about the events or lack “of” as to what’s going on in my garden.   Most of the summer was rather quiet and it’s then that a native plant garden goes into a kind of slumber as it coasts through the long  hot days of the season.

I had been trying to decide what I would do about the Canyon Prince Rye Grass, as I commented in my last post and I finally dug up (lets see here,  hummm) four of them but I still have three to be removed.

Obviously, there were too many put into the garden three years ago and what I didn’t know at the time, was how large they would become and that they obviously  loved the conditions in the garden and thrived.

It took some digging to get out the ones I did remove and I am noticing some shoots coming up here and there where they previously were and that could be a future problem.  This means I will have to pay constant attention and make sure that they don’t get a “root hold” again…..

In their place I have planted some Purple Three Awn native bunch grass and several Yarrows.   My color palate is grayish-blue and yellow.   Mixed in with this are the amazing Woolly Blue Curls that continue to amaze me in their resilience and look healthy and are still blooming.

This weekend I plan to remove the rest of the Canyon Prince and also remove two Salvia mellifera and attempt to relocate them to my backyard.  I don’t know how successful this will be, but I want to keep them and I have more space in the backyard for them to spread out.

The garden evolves as we all do, circumstances change and nature’s moods and music continue to delight, regardless of what is happening in the world.



Monarch Butterflies

by Lorraine on June 16, 2010

As spring has traversed into summer and the days alternate between being gray and overcast to sometimes hot, I have noticed that butterflies are now visiting the garden.

I don’t know very much about them, other than I can identify a Swallowtail or a Fiery Skipper and lately there have been a few Monarchs drifting along the flowers and drinking nectar.   They look so delicate as they flit among the plants and sometimes briefly alighting upon one of them to take rest a bit, waving their wings slowing back and forth.

Many of my plants continue to bloom and they have been drawn to the Coyote Mint that borders the walkway (Monardella villosa), the sages and the Monkey Flowers.   The later are just about done blooming after having put on spectacular display this year and soon will become dormant as the weather heats up.

The Theodore Payne Foundation’s recent newsletter talks about Monarch butterflies and their long migration to coastal California or Mexico during the cold winter months.  And of course, their habitat is being threatened in Mexico due to the destruction of forests that they rely upon for survival.

They mainly feed exclusively on Milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.) if they are available but obviously will feed on other plants as well, such as the ones I have in my garden.   But when it comes to laying their eggs, they will only use the Milkweed, which means if you have one or two in your garden,  you are helping to perpetuate the species.

Which is good.   We all need butterflies in our lives…..

But as I said, I certainly don’t know anything about butterflies other than I love seeing them in my garden and I hope that the Monarch will be able to survive indefinitely and if all it takes is putting in some Milkweeds in our gardens, I’m all for that…

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