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California and Native Plants

by Lorraine on January 22, 2013

Oh my gosh.   I cannot believe how, very, very long it has been since I last made a post about my garden.   I guess I have been too pre-occupied with my daily life and all of the demands it makes upon me.

Yes, yes…we all have busy lives, don’t we?  However my garden continues to delight me and of course it has changed considerably over the last few years, as I have too.

I really feel that tending and loving a garden whether or not it’s one filled with ornamental plants or like mine, more “native” and drought tolerant which is so important here in southern California, that are lives are just a bit richer for it.

Everyday, I can observe the different birds that find refuge in it and of course plenty of places to hide, built a nest and find food.   The seasons evolve, the plants bloom and recede in the hot summer months, only to catapult back into life with the first winter rains.

Lessor Goldfinches and White Crowned sparrows have been enjoying it’s bounty and I know that soon, I will see other avian visitors.   Spring is just around the corner and many plants are preparing to put on a show of flowers and color.

I promise that I will be writing more.   After all, it’s the garden that provides respite for me, too.




Four Years Later

by Lorraine on February 17, 2012

I was looking at the pictures on the right side of this site, that rotate and show different aspects of the garden and one that includes Deena who originally helped with it’s design, when I realized how much the garden’s appearance has changed.

In the four years since I pulled out the lawn and created the garden, I am amazed at the difference.   Comparing the pictures on the site to ones that I’ve taken since then, there is a huge difference.   I have since removed quite a few plants and changed up some others in the meanwhile, but what is quite obvious, is how quickly everything grew.

Here is a picture that I took in the spring of 2011 when the garden was in high-gear and displaying a bounty of blooms.   At this time in February, things are more sedate but there are hints that soon a show will be debuting, although probably not as spectacular as last year because there has not been enough rain.

Sometimes I wonder where the time as disappeared to….and I wish life would slow down a bit and I can’t believe that it’s been as long as it has been since I started my project.

But there’s never a regret, the garden is a lovely place to spend a few hours, watching birds (Especially the hummingbirds…they’re in love with it) and seeing how the setting sun back lights the grasses & plants at the end of a day  into a soft, sensuous glow.

And what do you think?



Native Americans, Herbs & Lanny Kaufer

by Lorraine on February 14, 2012

Once a month I volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service to help maintain the trails north of Ojai in Ventura County, CA.   I’ve been doing this for a number of years and I always enjoy meeting people that show up for this event and spending a day with good friends.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet a large variety of personalities and from all different types of professions including those who are fortunate enough to be retired and have the wear with all to pick up a Maddox or a McCloud & join us on the trail for a day of frivolity.

Well, not quite.   We tend to work our butts off but there is tremendous satisfaction at the end of the day, knowing that we have made a trail more passable  for hikers, equestrians and and available to people that come out to enjoy wilderness for the day.

On my last event, I met Lanny Kaufer and as it turned out, he has a very interesting background in ethnobotany, the local native American culture and the use of wild herbs for ceremonies, crafts and gardening and has been leading walks and holding workshops for quite some time.

He leads walks in the local mountains to provide education for people that are interested in local plants and their uses and teaches how to identify the plants and their uses.   This sounds like something I should be signing up for, sometime in the future.

He’s a very interesting guy and as we were “chugging” of the trail together, we shared a discussion of our mutual love of nature and in particular native plants…

I’m sure that I will probably be seeing him on the next Forest Service event in March but in the meanwhile you may want to take a look at his web site.   It’s very well done.


Birds in my Native Garden

by Lorraine on February 12, 2012

Here is the continuation of the previous post about some of the birds that I had been seeing in my garden last December.   Now that it is February, some have left the area and now I’m seeing more White Crowned Sparrows and on the one day that it was hot, I found an 8″ Rattlesnake that was dead (mysterious), laying in the sitting area of my garden.

Good grief!

During the spring and summer I am more likely to see English Sparrows and Common Goldfinches as they patter around underneath the plants, seeking seeds and vying for territory. And there have also been Hooded Orioles that have nested in one of my trees that last two years.

Robins and their loud voices are the “bad boys” of the garden during the earlier part of each year and commandeer the bird bath, shoving out the smaller birds from it and in general, taking over the garden for their own purposes.

Although, they probably spend more time at my neighbors house where they find fat worms in their lawn, the do poke around among my plants and splash so much in the birdbath, they practically empty it in their enthusiasm of fluttering their wings…

Hummingbirds never seem to leave the area as I have something in my garden that is always in bloom year throughout the year. They are currently enjoying the Desert Lavender and fuchsias and now there are some new flowers on the salvias to give them a bit more variety.

Anyone who that thinks California native plants are ugly and unattractive, lack the knowledge of what they really are like. It’s not that dried-out dead-looking stuff you see along the roadsides…those are invasive plants, especially along the freeways.

California native plants are magnificent, varied and beautiful. Grow a garden made of natives and you will experience such joy and pleasure in their beauty and also enjoy the multitude of birds that will find it a rich sanctuary for their lives, too.


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Okay, So it’s Really February in the Garden

by Lorraine on February 8, 2012

I came across these comments that I obviously wrote last December, when I was seeing a number of different types of birds visiting the garden.   But some how, I got caught up in the busyness of Christmas and the holidays and I forgot to post it.   So better late than “never” even if some of these birds aren’t here now….

Once the garden was done and the plants were in, I began  notice an immediate change of “visitors to my yard, because it was now very attractive to wildlife, whereas before it was boring and didn’t provide cover or food for birds or butterflies. All kinds of different birds began to show up throughout the year along with other interesting critters.

Depending on what was blooming ( And there is always something blooming in my garden), and the time of the year, I always have the opportunity to share it with a variety of birds and butterflies.

It is now December and I am seeing more of the Mourning Doves ( They are a bit stupid, I have to admit), poking around looking for seeds but lately I have been seeing Black Phoebes that in general are in the garden all year long and now White Crowned Sparrows sharing the turf with Lessor House Finches.

And into to this mix are still some Anna Hummingbirds, taking advantage of the nectar from the Everetts Choice fuchsias and their bright red-orange flowers that lure them into their succulent places. Darting in and out of the garden are common finches and the very handsome Dark-Eyed Juncos, which I think are one of my favorite birds.

This is a rather longer post and I hate to bore anyone, unless they truly love watching birds in their garden, but I’m saving the rest of it for the next post.

To be continued…