California Native Plants: Now’s the time to plan and buy

California Native Plants: Now’s the time to plan and buy

Fall is the perfect time to be exploring and planning the purchases of California native choices, with lots of plant sales. So I checked in with some friends who over the last couple years have planted California natives – to get feedback on what’s done well for them. [Read more...]

Why Native Plants?  Attracting birds is another important reason

Why Native Plants? Attracting birds is another important reason

I’ve written a number of articles on how native plants usher in wildlife.  I read an interesting article, “Grow Native Plants” in The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Spring 2014 Living Bird Magazine, which gives a simple recipe for attracting warblers, the well-loved but evasive group of songbirds. Plant native plants. [Read more...]

Taking Care of Our Native Oaks during Drought

Taking Care of Our Native Oaks during Drought

I’ve had a number of queries regarding the proper watering of native California oaks during this drought. I wrote an article on Oak Tree Care in 2012, and most is current, but I wanted to re-tap some experts for tips during this drought. So along with a quick review and some good and bad pruning examples, here you go. [Read more...]

Using low water native grasses for your lawn

Using low water native grasses for your lawn

Blue grama and buffalo grass make a nice combo

Blue grama and buffalo grass make a nice combo

With our drought here in Southern California there is more talk of removing lawns and planting drought tolerant alternatives. We’ve done both – we took out most of our lawn and replaced it with mostly California native plants. (I’ve written a lot about our process - here’s one)

But we’ve also replaced a small remaining section of Kentucky blue grass with a lower water alternative – blue grama and buffalograss. It goes dormant in the winter but it takes one-half the water, we rarely mow it, and it looks great. Here are some photos and more info.

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Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

I’ve been besieged with a lot of email petitions recently about  a pesticide called neonicotinoids (neonics for short), found in some plants sold by nurseries, which has been shown to kill bees, butterflies and other pollinators – so the word is definitely out. When pollinators visit the flowers or caterpillars eat the leaves of the pre-treated plant, they die. There’s a concern to humans too, as herbs also are being sprayed (see example below).  So what can we do? I received info from the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) in Seattle WA, regarding questions people should ask their nurseries.

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Those special moments in nature: some photos

Those special moments in nature: some photos

I haven’t been able to finish some articles I’ve started (sometimes work gets in the way …) but I’ve been blessed with wonderful moments in nature the last several months – so here they are along with short explanations. [Read more...]

Now’s the time to see butterflies – and what’s better than a ‘puddle party’

Now’s the time to see butterflies – and what’s better than a ‘puddle party’

I was up camping in the San Bernardino Mountains this weekend and one joy was coming across a muddling area, next to the stream my friend Christine and I were camping near. It was lush with butterflies — also called a puddle party. For those who don’t know, a muddle is a mud puddle, or in this case it looked more like a couple circular areas of moist, fine gravel that were several feet across. I sat for about 45 minutes and enjoyed the parade of butterflies as they gathered nutrients the muddle provided, and buzzed each other. Butterflies weren’t the only ones. Various insects and bees alighted too, and the butterflies occasionally harassed a train of harvester ants, making them pick up their pace. (See photos below)

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