Salton Sea Tour highlights… burrowing owls, sandhill cranes, shorebirds aplenty

Salton Sea Tour highlights… burrowing owls, sandhill cranes, shorebirds aplenty

Last weekend my husband and I did a Salton Sea tour through the Living Desert Museum in Palm Desert, led by College of the Desert professor Kurt Leuschner. For those who don’t know Kurt, he is a birding, wildlife and ecologist extraordinaire. We saw so many birds, and learned so much –including debunked myths about this amazing place.

Below are some photos and takeaways.  [Read more…]

Favorite Plants: California Native Trees and Shrubs

Favorite Plants: California Native Trees and Shrubs

If you’re in the market for a tree or shrub, consider California natives —  for a number of reasons.

While we’ve received nearly two inches of rain this fall, Southern California is still in an extreme drought. California native trees are drought tolerant and have the best chance of success once they get established. They attract native beneficial insects and birds. Plus, there’s a surprising variety to choose from.

I contacted local experts from the California Native Plant Society for their favorites. I also tapped Abby and Jason Harned, [Read more…]

Tree Care During Drought: Highlights from Forum

Tree Care During Drought: Highlights from Forum

Water your trees and don’t overprune them.

Those were two primary takeaways from ‘Tree Care During Drought Forum’ held on Nov 12 in Redlands CAThe forum featured Dave Roger, a consultant urban forester who has worked with several Southern California cities. This includes Claremont CA which this year won a significant award for its program to save drought-stricken trees. The event was sponsored by the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District and the Redlands Sustainability Network.
[Read more…]

How to Plant and Water Native Plants

How to Plant and Water Native Plants

I recently attended a “How to Water and Plant Native Plants” seminar at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. (There’s another one Dec 17 from 10-11am).  Andrew Chambers, who works with RSABG’s Nursery and Conservation programs, shared what he’s learned from experience and discussions with other native plant experts. He also demonstrated RSABG’s recommended planting technique (see photo gallery below).

You will find native plant nursery websites and experts have instructions that vary some, but here are recommendations (I’ve bolded what I think are most important) and why they’re important. [Read more…]

Lessons Learned on our Waterwise Landscaping (and upcoming native plant sales)

Lessons Learned on our Waterwise Landscaping (and upcoming native plant sales)

Note: RSABG in Claremont CA has a free talk on Dec 17, 10-11am  on “How to Water and Plant Native Plants” 


After a baking hot summer in SoCA and no precipitation, we’ve revisited our previous planting and watering schedule. We’re still happy we went with mostly California native plants, but it’s always good to keep learning – therefore the following ‘Lessons Learned’.

Native Plants Need Some Water

Spurred on by an excellent publication “Watering Native Plants”  by Tree of Life Nursery, we’ve learned the following about this challenging area of growing natives. [Read more…]

Watering Trees During Drought

Watering Trees During Drought

To reach local people a version of this has been published on the Redlands Sustainability Network website

After five years of drought here in Southern California we have a tree crisis – in our city alone (Redlands) we have 1400 dead street and park trees. Some are young, but many are old ones that take decades to replace.

Many have been stressed by the continuing drought in California. In addition, well-meaning people have been removing lawns and changing to low-water landscapes — but their trees are not getting the water they need.

Here are some guidelines on watering your trees & useful resources: [Read more…]

A Special Nature Sanctuary in Central Park

A Special Nature Sanctuary in Central Park

Central Park was my nature haven the year I lived in New York City attending graduate school. It still is when I return for visits.

Now, a bird sanctuary on the southeast corner of Central Park, which has been closed to the public since 1934, is open to a limited number of people each week. I recently traipsed around the area, called Hallett Nature Sanctuary, which is on a bluff above the Pond. The Pond was formed from a swamp in the development of Central Park in the 1850s.

Below are some photos from early June.  And here’s what made it special to me: [Read more…]