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Theodore Payne

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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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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Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants

by Lorraine on March 9, 2011

I recently attended the Golden Anniversary celebration for the Theodore Payne Foundation at Descano Gardens in La Canada, CA   It was a very inspiring event and I would say a rousing success, promoting the love and respect for California’s native plant population.

“Theodore Payne was born in North Hamptonshire, England and served an apprenticeship in horticulture. He came to Los Angeles in 1893 and fell in love with the California flora, dedicating his life to its preservation.

Even in the early years of this century, native vegetation was being lost to agriculture and housing at an alarming rate. He urged the use of California native plants and lectured across the state on preserving the wild flowers and landscapes native to California.

In his own nursery and seed business, which he started in 1903, native wildflowers and landscapes were his specialty. In 1915 he laid out and planted 262 species in a five-acre wild garden in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park. He later helped to establish the Blaksley Botanic Garden in Santa Barbara, planted 178 native species in the California Institute of Technology Botanic Garden in Pasadena, helped create the native plant garden at Los Angeles’ Descanso Gardens, and advised the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Orange County.

By the time he retired in 1958, Payne had made over 400 species of native plants available to the public.”   From the Theo. Payne Foundation Web Site.

The dinner celebrated his efforts and those who have followed in his footsteps, sharing their love of our beautiful native vegetation.  I felt such total enjoyment with meeting many individuals who are also passionate about nature, native plants, sustainability and providing habitat for wildlife.

A Lovely Raffle Prize

It was a beautiful evening consisting of a lovely dinner, soft music and laughter.   There also was a silent auction and wonderful raffle prizes as well.   I managed to win two of them, an expensive bottle of wine and a framed picture that caught my eye early in the evening.  It was on fabric and depicted our state flower and bird, the California Poppy and California Quail.   It looks fantastic in my home and I enjoy it’s vibrant color against a wall in my kitchen.

It’s like sharing my morning coffee with a representation of what I love most and greets me with a reminder of why I chose to create my garden from California’s native plants!

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Canyon Prince Wild Rye

by Lorraine on September 7, 2010

Lolo, this sounds like it’s going to be a hot and racy post about some sort of Prince named “Canyon” but that’s hardly the case.  Actually its about a native plant or grass, whatever you want to call it, that I have in my garden.

I fell in love with it’s appearance the first time I saw it, plus it’s beautiful blue-gray color.   It’s a very architectural plant, stately and adds visual interest to a garden.   But, oh my goodness, I was clueless about how large they could grow.

My garden will be three years old in December ( I’m shocked at how quickly the time flew, really?) and during that time, these plants were relatively small but this year they took off.   Check out these pictures and you can see what I am talking about.   They have grown to be about 5 and half feet tall and probably about 7 feet wide.

Yes, they are gorgeous but they are taking over my garden and I will need to remove them this winter.   I hate doing it but it’s necessary.   And get this!  I will have to dig up six of them and attempt to transplant them to the backyard along a wall.

I do have some concerns about their potential to create more rhizomes that produce larger colonies of the grass & if I’m too late at this point to prevent them from spreading.

There are three of them in this picture & they are smothering a Woolly Blue Curl and shouldering out a Whirly Blue Sage.

My plan is that within about a month, I will cut them down to about a foot above the ground, soak them and go at it.   I’m wondering how large the root balls will be on the buggers and naturally I’m wondering how successful I will be at relocating them.

This will require ample preparation on my part, plenty of water, snacks, gloves, sunscreen and whatever paraphernalia I will need to accomplish my mission.   I had also better get a good night’s sleep the night before.

I already dug up one earlier this year and so far it’s managed to make it through the summer but I’m not so confident about the ones that still need to be moved.

Once they’re out of the garden, I will need to decide on what other plant I will replace them with.   I really love the color and would like to still have that in my garden but whatever it is, it can’t be too big.

So, so much for “Princes”….lolo, these are the only ones in my life and I’m breaking up with them.

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It’s Summer & Where do I Start?

by Lorraine on July 24, 2010

You would think that I would have all kinds of time to talk about what’s going on in my garden but I always have too many avenues I’m running to the next destination.   I love my garden but honestly, there isn’t always anything new to say about it.   It’s just doin’ its thing, growing, moving through the seasons and is now adapting to the hotter temperatures of summer.

This is actually it’s second summer and looking back over time, I can see that overall, the garden has thrived and done well with few casualties.   Which is to be expected but I guess I got lucky in that regard, because I have lost very few plants.

I received the Poppy Print newsletter from the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants the other day.   And as usual, I find myself longing to drive over to the nursery, poke around, smell the plants and enjoy the ambiance of colors and sound…..lots of birds and the “crunch” of walking on the gravel pathway.

Here is a photo of the nursery from last Fall.

There’s lots of news in it about what is for sale, upcoming classes covering topics such as Irrigation for Native Plants, Maintenance, Native Plant horticulture and several others, too.  All the classes are wonderful and a great way to gain information if you are interested in using Natives in your garden.

Here’s a picture of an old house that has since been restored and is now used as a classroom.

The section on what needs to be done in the garden now, is also very helpful and I always make sure that I read it so that I know what I should be doing.   Sort of like what Sunset Magazine does each month in their gardening section.   And of course, it’s mulching, weeding, pruning (Which I will be doing, today) and putting in plants.

Meanwhile in my garden, the Hummingbirds are returning to visit the Fuchsias that have started to bloom and the sages are beginning to go into summer hibernation, but Desert Lavender/Hyptis emoryi, continues to bloom and draw bees to each plant.

It’s warm today but not too hot and soon I will be heading outside and begin my Communion with my native garden.

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