See our native landscaping on the Redlands Garden Tour April 16-17

See our native landscaping on the Redlands Garden Tour April 16-17

One week from now (Sat/Sun, April 16-17) our yard is one of six featured ones on the Redlands Garden Tour and Plant Sale. As some know from my articles, in 2008 we replaced most of our lawn in front with drought tolerant — mostly California native –plants. Now it’s a mature example of how lush native plant landscaping can be.

Other features of our yard: [Read more…]

Weed barrier – don’t use!

Weed barrier – don’t use!

It’s great that many people are replacing grass with low-water landscaping, especially in the Southwest where lawns don’t make sense. One concern (along with trees not getting adequate water) that I’ve noticed is the widespread use of weed barrier cloth. Our Redlands CA fire stations have even used it in their waterwise demonstration projects.

While it might help with weeds initially, weed barrier cloth not necessary and is even harmful. [Read more…]

Butterfly Update! Including Monarchs from our Yard and Mexico butterfly photos

Butterfly Update! Including Monarchs from our Yard and Mexico butterfly photos

Here in Southern California in January, despite some temps dipping into the 20s, I’m still seeing monarch butterflies in our yard, helped by some of our milkweed that manages to stay alive. I posted an article in October about how our tropical milkweed finally attracted monarch caterpillars. I’m happy to report it continues to birth dozens of caterpillars and even some adults.

Outside, these caterpillars are making it on their own themselves.

These caterpillars are making it on their own in January.

Here are some photos from our yard, plus a few butterfly photos from a recent trip to Baja Mexico, along with a few things we’ve learned. [Read more…]

Weeds for Butterflies and More on our Native Pollinators

Weeds for Butterflies and More on our Native Pollinators

This is a follow-up to my post on Attracting Butterflies and Pollinators to our Yards – more takeaways from San Diego area speakers Moe Magoski and Michael Klein, plus photos of pollinators, important butterfly plants we might consider weeds, and some resources. [Read more…]

Attracting Pollinators and Butterflies to our Yards

Attracting Pollinators and Butterflies to our Yards

Who doesn’t want more butterflies in their yards? You need nectar plants of course. But if you want to watch all the butterfly stages — which means your plant’s leaves will get eaten by the growing caterpillars — you need to include specific host plants, such as milkweed for monarchs, or thistle or mallow for Painted Ladies.

But you also need to watch your use of pesticides. Oh, and keep some weeds around.

These were among the important takeaways of the forum “Where have all the Butterflies and Bees Gone? How to Protect our Butterflies and Pollinators,” [Read more…]

Milkweed and Monarchs – Finally!

Milkweed and Monarchs – Finally!

Note: See comments below for discussion on native vs tropical milkweeds

We planted a couple milkweed (Asclepius curassavica or tropical) plants three years ago. But – no monarchs or caterpillars. The last six months the milkweed thrived and climbed seven feet up into our magnolia tree, and also spread via seed. Now we have a couple dozen plants out front.

I counted 8, only to check the next day and they were all gone. After all, they look like they were in their 5th instar.

After seeing this guy, I counted 8, only to check the next day and there were none After all, they look like they were in their 5th instar.

One week ago, after a short trip away, I was watering and noticed a huge caterpillar (see right) and then saw more. Yea – finally!

[Read more…]

A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

With summer in full force in our yard, there’s a variety of subjects on my mind, including missing lizards, mating beetles and even something for plant lovers – so I thought I would provide an update on previous subjects I’ve written about. [Read more…]