A friend forwarded an article “Are We Really Helping” by plant ecologist Susan Tweit that questions how much the planting of native plants aids wildlife. The answer is yes, it does. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, while keeping some mature (50 + years) California natives such as Sugar Bush (Rhus ovata) and California Sycamores (Platanus racemosa) on our property, we’ve converted a former lawn in our front yard to mostly native plants. We’ve also taken out dead or half-dead oleanders in our backyard and plugged in local California native plants such as sages (salvias), toyons and elderberries. The result has been more wildlife, evidenced by butterflies, small native insects, bees and wasps that visit our plants (and our pool where I fish them out), and larger critters photographed in our wildlife camera. Photos below. [Read more…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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.
Flannel bush (Fremontodendron) or fremontia is another favorite California native plant. And with its distaste for summer water once it’s established, fremontia is a perfect solution for the drought times we seem to be going through here in the Southwest. Here is more info about this beautiful native. [Read more…]
I realize I haven’t written about ceanothus – commonly called wild lilac, which has been ablaze with its blue blooms lately. So here is another favorite, which has done really well on the two properties where we planted it. It’s short-livedness is a rumor for us, and backed up by ceanothus in the wild living 90 to 100 years. Here are some factoids and photos. [Read more…]