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Okay, You’ve Bought Your Plants… Now What?

by Lorraine on November 13, 2011

Assuming that the new native plant enthusiast has research their choices and based upon the findings, have selected their first plants for their native garden then the next step is to get them into the ground.  Keep in mind, that you do not amend the soil and don’t add any fertilizer either.  Native plants don’t need anything but dirt, so don’t feel that that is necessary to add fertilizer because it’s not.   Plus you save money!  No more fertilizing!

Per Barbara Eisenstein’s presentation at Theodore Payne Foundation, here is what she had to say to “How to Keep “um Going”.   And of course the following is from my attempts at note taking.

1.   Make sure that you know how large your plant will grow out to.   When you are planting, keep most of them 3-4 feet apart.   Give ‘um room.

2.  Dig your hole a little bit deeper than the root ball and about 2X as wide.   Fill with water and let’r drain.   This may take some time depending upon your soil type.

3.  Gently remove the plant from the nursery container and lower into the hole, keep the top of the root ball “JUST” above the hole.  Do not shake or mess around with the roots.  Leave them alone…no “touchy”.

4.  Water throughly and spread some mulch around the plant but keep it away from the crown of the plant.   Otherwise you could invite in some pathogens and end up killing it.

5.  Be aware of weather conditions.   Windy?  Hot? Pouring rain or maybe not enough rain?   Don’t ignore your plants.  Check with a plant/water probe and see if they need watering.   And don’t be stepping near them after a heavy rain, as you could be crushing the roots.  Be careful.

It’s my understanding that it’s all about getting your plants to survive their first year and winter allows them the opportunity to become established and be prepared for the following summer when things are a bit more challenging for them due to the heat.

Then the next obvious question is about “watering”.  More on that in the next post.

 

 

 

 

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Learning About How to Keep Native plants Alive

by Lorraine on November 11, 2011

If someone has decided to make the switchover to using native plants in their landscape, this is the time of year to do it because the weather is now cooling down, we’re past the hot summer months and all of the horticultural gardens that specialize in native plants are having garden sales.   It’s enough to make you go crazy over the huge selection but once you have reined yourself in, picked out your plants ( I hope you’ve done some research), it’s time to put them in the ground.

But what’s next?   How do you keep them alive and thriving?  How often do you water?   What about gophers?   Whadda ya’ do?  Leave ‘um alone?

I recently attended a class at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants that we being conducted by Barbara Eisenstein.   Barbara comes with a great deal of experience and at one time she was on the staff with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens in Claremont and she continues to be very involved in promoting sustainability, habitat  and the use of native plants for home gardens.   She is particularly fond of native grasses which there are many and she is an expert when it comes to using them in landscapes.

Anyway, so I went to her class for some tips and she not only provided a terrific list of “beginner” plants but went through the basic steps of what to do when you bring your new plants home.

Of course, it begins with digging a hole, filling it with water and putting the plant in it after the water has drained out.   But, there really is more, it’s not quite that simple but in a way…it is very simple.   But you have to do it correctly to increase the chances of that plant’s “happiness” in it’s new location.   After all, you’ve pulled it out from a container that it was enjoying and then shoved it into foreign territory.

How would you feel if you were treated like that?

And on that note, I will end this post here, cuz what I am going to share about the necessary steps to success will take up too much space and whoever reads this may not be in the mood to get through to the end & I can see that I already have been too verbose!

More thrills and information to follow  in the next couple of days…..

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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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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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