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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?


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.

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”!



by Lorraine on March 2, 2011

Okay, at last…this will be my first attempt of posting some video that I shot of my garden last month and hopefully I won’t mess things up here and I will do it correctly without too much trauma.

My garden is constantly changing each day and for a while, we had some very warm weather that triggered many plants to bloom too soon.   Then we became swamped in several rainstorms and then after that, the temperatures dropped so low that we had even a wee bit of snow.

Needless to say, all of these weather changes have caused confusion for not only my garden but for all kinds of plants and crops.   The good news for farmers who grow stone fruits, is that at least the cold weather would be good for their production but for plants that have bloomed out of their normal cycle, it could be damaging.

But, I guess I don’t really know.  However  for my garden that is filled with native plants from California, there’s been quite a bit of confusion, lately.   Bulbs were coming up and as a matter of fact some of the native Irises in my garden were sending out shoots, but not now.  Frost in the mornings put an end to that attempt to show off.

But more on that in a later post because I want to see if I can manage to a share a video that I did at the end of February of the garden. At that time the Ceanothus and Monkey Flowers were blooming and so was the Howard McMinn manzanita. 

Plus, there is a brief appearance of Theo, too!   Note his beautiful blue eyes…and his jaunty harness!

The manzanita’s flowers have since turned brown because of the freezing temperatures but the Ceanothus, Monkey Flowers, Channel Island Poppies, continue to bloom.   And there are even a few California Poppies starting to put on their show.

Well, it seems that I can’t load the video, because it exceeds the allowable size for my web site.   Drat!   Back to the drawing board, but I will learn how to do this.


Hippies, El Paseo & Conserving Water

by Lorraine on January 23, 2011

I am sitting here, chuckling over Antonio’s very funny comments about growing up in El Paso and how different the culture is there from here due to the Hippie sensibilities to protect nature  and live in such a way to promote sustainability,  protect the environment and live healthy and happily.

We have our Hippies, too but most of them these days are now part of the senior citizen community but still faithful to loving the planet, growing their own food and not wasting anything….in spite of the over the top consumerism that is so prevalent in Southern California.

Antonio speaks:

“Now that I think about it, my people back in El Paso actually weren’t all hippies (they were Chippies – Chicano Hippies!), they have simply learned to live with what they have.  Yes, we were probably forced to live with this reality by high water prices and strict watering restrictions, but the fact of the matter is that water conservation is a way of life in El Paso. It doesn’t matter if you are a Conservative, a Liberal or whatever Obama is choosing to be these days (Ouch!), 9 inches of rain a year is 9 inches, there ain’t no changing that! 

 Now, I am no water expert, no scientist, not even a botanist, and if I go to Arizona I am not even a U.S. Citizen, but I am smart enough to know this – We and the rest of Southern California need to get to where El Paso is.  We need to be able to wake up every morning and make water conservation a part of our life, without thinking about it.  We need to accept where we live, and realize we can’t keep taking unlimited amounts of water from Sacramento or from our own groundwater supplies without consequences.

  And don’t worry all of you who fear that your property values will go down because of all the cactus and mesquite trees that will be moving into your neighborhood; As far as landscaping goes, Ventura County will never look like Phoenix or El Paso, mostly because many of those desert plants don’t grow well out here.

  Along with much cooler summer temperatures, our spoiled landscapes get a lot of their moisture from just being close to the ocean and being able to kiss the fog every night (damn that was poetic).  But on the flip-side, El Paso and other desert cities can get flash floods in the summer from all of those big monsoon storms, something that would be almost impossible to get here in Southern California because we receive almost no rain from May-October (That’s 5-6 months of no rain, that means our native plants have evolved with this dry time!

 Can you imagine not watering your current garden for 5-6 months?).  So what’s the point of all of this rambling?  Well, my hope is that we all become El Paso-type hippies soon and learn to love Fajitas……I mean, live within our water means. That would be a huge first step.

  Let’s all appreciate that we are not in a desert, but our home is desert-like.  Let’s be proud of our Mediterranean Climate and what it means for ourselves, our families, and our futures.  It’s crazy to think that planting one native plant or one small low-water yard can make a difference, but it can.  I read somewhere that over 50% of the water used by homeowners in Southern California is used outside the house on landscaping.

  While I am not exactly sure how true this is (because it wasn’t on Wikileaks), it is probably more true than false.  Just like the landscaping in El Paso and other desert cities blends in with the surrounding landscape, the day is coming that gardens in Southern California will reflect our local hills and canyons. 

Who knows, your front yard may have once been home to some white sage, lemonadeberry or an oak tree, providing food for people and wildlife.  And even more importantly, maybe its’ time to bring those old friends back……Plant Native, Enjoy Life!”


May and June in California

by Lorraine on May 27, 2010

The day has started out being dreary, gray and drizzly….it doesn’t make me feel happy or thrilled but I guess there are some people that love this kind of weather but I am not one of them.  If you grew up or live in parts of the country where long gray days are the norm, you would not be bothered by it.

But being a native of southern California, I am used to mostly sunny days and when we have our “May Grays”  and “June Glooms”   those of us who have lived here for most of our lives, hate this kind of weather.

Hopefully the condition won’t last long and our sun and warm days will reappear soon.   But sometimes this will last for weeks and you dispair about the darkness and eat too many carbs.

I hate this gloom and for some reason, this year we have had very little of it and most of the time its been beautiful, sunny and blue skies to look forward to and I loved it.  

Especially the last few days with clear skies and horizons that called out for attention.  It’s been amazing and makes you want to be outside and enjoying it as much as you can and be in my garden, doing things, poking around and loving it.

With the additional rain we have had this year, all of the wildflowers continued blooming longer than normal and the plants in my garden have become quite large and those that bloom are still going strong.  A terrific bonus!

The Nodding needle grass overtook my pathway and I finally but reluctantly, decided it was time to trim it back to each clump’s base, so that I could walk on the path.   Although the cats simply cruised under it as they traversed it.   It was a bit like a tunnel to them and they have enjoyed hiding and napping in it for cover during the day.

I enjoyed how it looks when it waved back in forth in the breeze and especially in the early evening when it is back lit by the setting sun and is mesmerizing to watch in it’s movements.

It appears golden and silver, shimmering in the soft sunlight and creates a mellow and calming sense of pleasure.   But it was blocking the path, so I cut most of it back and created bundles of it to dry for future arrangements, as it looks beautiful in a vase and brings the outside in and memories of lovely, swaying grass and sunlight.

But gray, gloomy days can mean catching up on housekeeping, reading a book, going to the movies or just daydreaming about the sun.

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