Native Plants Do Help Habitat for Wildlife

Native Plants Do Help Habitat for Wildlife

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…]

Converting Lawns to Waterwise Landscapes: So CA examples

Converting Lawns to Waterwise Landscapes: So CA examples

With the drought in the west and the growing appreciation for natives and other drought-tolerant landscapes, I’m writing some articles for our local paper – here is the link to the first one that explains why, here’s the second on the planning process, and here’s the last one on plant selection.  I wanted to post more photos of converted landscape projects in Southern California, including our own. [Read more…]

Sustainable landscaping: Some tips…

Sustainable landscaping: Some tips…

Wondering how you can do your landscaping and yard work in a more gentle-on-the-earth and sustainable way? Janet Hartin, horticulture advisor and author with the U of California, has given over 1000 talks on sustainable landscape topics, and our local horticulture group was one of them last month.

Below are some of takeaways from her talk [Read more…]

Low-water Yard Attracts People and Wildlife

Low-water Yard Attracts People and Wildlife

One thing Redlands resident Brenda Wolfe definitely didn’t expect after she converted her former landscape, primarily composed of a not-so-healthy lawn and an oleander hedge, to a low-water one. “I’ve learned I need to close the blinds in the bathroom. I’m not used to having people standing out front.  [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…]

Favorite Natives: Western Sycamore

Favorite Natives: Western Sycamore

Here in Redlands CA, ESRI employs 2000 and is a huge presence in our town. With hundreds of sycamore trees dotting ESRI’s campus, the tree is obviously a favorite of the company’s founder, Jack Dangermond. “I like this tree. It makes people feel good when they are around them,” says Dangermond. He followed with more than a dozen characteristics, which include its rustic, casual character and sculptural multi-colored trunk, big beautiful leaves that offer changing seasonal colors, and its plentiful food for birds. But of course, It’s hard to find a perfect tree.  Sycamores can be messy, and they may trigger allergies for some people.

The California or Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) is also a favorite of mine. Here is some info about this fast-growing, deciduous tree. [Read more…]

Favorite So. California Native Plants

Favorite So. California Native Plants

We had a garden club meeting in my town (Redlands CA) and were lucky to have as our speaker Bart O’Brien from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) in Claremont. He presented a wonderful talk about California native plants. More importantly, he shared his favorites for our area. These feature good survival rates [Read more…]