Posts tagged as:

sustainability

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?

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Non-Native Invasive Plants

by Lorraine on May 27, 2011

Sigh, I want to stress that I am not a horticulturist or a botanist but simply a person who happens to love the environment and nature.   I breaks my heart to see it damaged by intentionally introducing animals into a habitat where they don’t belong (I’m thinking of the mongooses I saw on Maui to control rats but ended up destroying the eggs of the local birds) or plants that take over and engulf areas that are meant for native plants.

A week ago as I was walking up a dry stream bed behind my house, doing some seed collecting and I was shocked to see a Tamerisk bush growing in it that was about 8′ tall.   What a heartbreaking vision this was, plus I could see some smaller plants in the area surrounding it as well.

The problem with Tamerisk  is that they are not only an invasive species of plant but they will literally take all the water that they can find and deprive the native plants in the same area of any moisture to sustain themselves.   They have very long tap roots, are extremely difficult to remove and eventually they will choke out any competition and completely take over the area.

I just felt so upset about this and resigned to the feeling that there was nothing that I could do about it.  In all the years of hiking around in the hills and through the stream bed areas, I have never seen one before and I’m wondering if some idiot planted some in the housing tract nearby or if possibly the golf course’s landscape that butts up to the area, it the source of the invader.

Many plants that are popular for use in landscaping come from other areas and are not compatible with our climate, environment or our local plants.   They tend to invade the hillsides and open spaces and it becomes virtually impossible to stop their expansion.  Please inform yourself, your landscaper or Gardener as to which plants should be avoided when planning  your landscaping.

Do nature a favor and be sure that your choices aren’t going to become a problem in the future.   “It” may look nice (Fountain Grass) but it’s an awful choice when there are so many other beautiful native plants that are better and more beautiful to use for landscaping your home.

For more information, you can go to the California Invasive Plant Council:

http://cal-ipc.org

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Spring & a Native Plant Garden

by Lorraine on April 13, 2011

It’s been very busy for me the last few weeks and I’m trying to keep up with regular posts, but I’m finding it to be difficult, as I’m being pulled in a multitude of directions.

With the arrival of spring that was proceeded by copious amounts of rain during the winter, the garden has exploded in new growth, robust life & looks postively amazing!

Initially I thought I would mention what plants were beginning to bloom but now it’s past that phase and then I thought I would talk about some of the gardens I saw last weekend on the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants…(what a mouthful)  garden tour.

Now I’m thinking that I probably should be sharing the fact that my OWN garden will be on tour this coming Sat. April 16th from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.

I am part of a native plant garden tour that is being co-chaired by the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and the California Native Plant Society (Channel Islands Chapter).   This event will cover Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and should be a wonderful event.

Between now and then, I will be labeling my plants, sprucing the garden up a bit and I will also have a selection of native plant books for people to peek at and other handouts.

And I will be  promoting my social networking site for people that love nature, native plants and anything associated with sustainability.    It’s free to join and I feel it  will  grow to be quite large over time as more people wish to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences in creating wildlife habitats or just enjoying nature.

http://bit.ly/hQt7xC

At some point in the near future, I will let you know what is blooming in the garden and also my experience with the Theo. Payne garden tour.   There’s just too much going on right now for me to share it all, but I promise, I will.

Go dig, go plant, go “native”!

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Dreaming of Meadows

by Lorraine on February 16, 2011

I recently attended a symposium hosted by the California Native Plant Society, Channel Islands Chapter in Camarillo for an entire day.   There were several speakers but one in particular I was very eager to hear his presentation on using native grasses for landscaping.

John Greenlee is a horticulturist and the owner of Greenlee Nursery which is the oldest grass nursery in California and he is passionate about using native grasses in landscapes in lieu of the traditional and boring lawns that are typical of most suburban landscapes.

He has become a specialist in creating meadows….meadows to dream upon, feel, smell, loll upon and invite wildlife into it’s lovely realm.   I have always been intrigued by meadows and the diversity of the plants, animals and birds that use them for habitat but never thought of having one of mine own. 

 I can remember as a child, looking at them along the coast of California as we drove to San Francisco to visit my grandmother and noticing how they appeared to be like the ocean, as they waved and swirled with the current of the wind that passed over them.  They were so beautiful.

Grasses are sensual, moving and hypnotic to the eye.   In the spring they can be a beautiful shade of green and in autumn, their golden hues gleam in the sun.  I enjoy observing the Nodding Needle Grass/Nassella cernua in my own garden as the first green sprouts come up in spring and then dry out during the summer, leaving me with beautiful, tall golden strands of grass that make beautiful indoor arrangements for the house.

 It’s healthy for the environment, provides habitat for wildlife and doesn’t require fertilizers, lawnmowers or pesticides.   It’s interesting to know, that the typical suburban lawn in Los Angeles on a daily basis, contributes 22 tons of air pollution each day.   This comes from lawn mowers, leaf blowers and edgers and all the combined chemicals needed to keep it green and pest free, which of course, runs off into the gutters and eventually makes it’s way to the ocean….another problem.

Shocking!   Isn’t it?

A landscape that is made up mainly of native plants, doesn’t require wasteful amounts of water or combat to keep it healthy and looking good.   And the same can be said for using native grasses…they perform beautifully,  just as they have evolved to do so.

I picked up a copy of “The American Meadow Garden” while at the symposium which was of course, written by John Greenlee and I am just starting to read it.   The photography is gorgeous, the prose well written, inspiring and I’m relishing it and enjoying the book and the information that he provides about grasses from all over the world.

Some people want a sports car, some the latest technological gadget, a smaller nose or to be a rock star. 

I want my own meadow.

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