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.

[Read more…]

Favorite California Natives: Flannel Bush (Fremontia)

Favorite California Natives: Flannel Bush (Fremontia)

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…]

Favorite Native Plants: Ceanothus (Wild lilac)

Favorite Native Plants: Ceanothus (Wild lilac)

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…]

What’s blooming (and feeding wildlife) in our native plant yard

What’s blooming (and feeding wildlife) in our native plant yard

We have an early spring this February with our warm Southern California weather. I’ve been keeping track of what our resident hummingbird – the Anna’s Hummingbird – is taking nectar from in our reconverted lawn, now mostly California natives. The insect life is also rich – which in turn attracts the hummingbirds and other winged life. Seems photos will speak best, so here are a few from the last couple months. [Read more…]

California Native Plants with Summer Color

California Native Plants with Summer Color

Sure, they lower water bills and usher in more wildlife, but I admit it’s much easier to entice folks with the benefits of native plants in spring when the sages (salvias), wild lilacs (ceanothus) and many others are in full bloom. It’s a tougher argument in the hot summer through fall months when most native plants enter their dormant, survival mode.

However, with proper plant selection, you can have a colorful yard with natives during the hot months, at the same time providing important food sources to wildlife. Antonio Sanchez, production manager at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden [Read more…]

Seek Local Native Plants for Cold (and Hot) Tolerance

Seek Local Native Plants for Cold (and Hot) Tolerance

“One of the advantages of growing local native plants is that the plants from your immediate vicinity are well adapted to our climate’s yearly fluctuations and can take those rare days with winter low temperatures and high temperatures in the sumners” – Bart O’Brien, RSABG

IMG_0138

our agave ‘Blue Flame’, coffee berry, Mexican feather grass and manzanita did well in recent cold snap

Here in California we’ve had some unusally cold weather this January [Read more…]

Favorite Natives: Hardy, Dramatic Manzanitas

Favorite Natives: Hardy, Dramatic Manzanitas

Manzanitas (arctostaphylos) are one of my favorite native plants. Their reddish bark offers a striking contrast to their green leaves, which look healthy even when temps start soaring. Very drought tolerant, they grow well in the West as long as [Read more…]