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…]

High Water Bills? Maybe it’s Lawn Removal Time

High Water Bills? Maybe it’s Lawn Removal Time

It’s the time of year of high water bills – and perhaps time to think about replacing plants that need too much water, or maybe even taking out some of your thirsty grass.

I recently came back from the Midwest where drought conditions have prompted many folks to let their lawns go dormant. When I came back I was struck by the irony of how we here in SoCA keep watering our grass during the many months of no rain while our friends in other places let theirs go dormant.

We’ve removed nearly all of our lawn [Read more…]

Great Hikes: Caroline Park’s Lush Natives       (Redlands CA)

Great Hikes: Caroline Park’s Lush Natives (Redlands CA)

I just did a walk up to Caroline Park and luckily had my camera to capture the flowering natives, birds and bunnies. Caroline Park is a native plant park set aside in Redlands CA by Olivia Phelps (of the Phelps-Dodge family) in 1929 to honor her sister Caroline. While the many flowering plants in spring to early summer make it an especially beautiful walk, there’s always something blooming [Read more…]

Favorite Plants for Attracting Birds/Butterflies (California/Southwest)

Favorite Plants for Attracting Birds/Butterflies (California/Southwest)

In a follow-up to my post (Favorite Plants for Attracting Birds/Butterflies (Midwest/East)  here are some favorites from two of our homes, both landscaped with natives and other wildlife-attracting plants. (See Our Conversion to Low Water Landscaping). I also asked two friends in Arizona, for their favorites: [Read more…]

Ahh, the Beauty of Mature Chaparral

Ahh, the Beauty of Mature Chaparral

My husband Tom, and I were amazed with the mature stands of chaparral on a hike we took last week – the Mishe Mokwa trail in the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area. I think the photos below illustrate how short-sighted the belief is that chaparral is meant to burn.¬†Chaparral does just great when it’s left to do its thing. We estimate that the chaparral on this hike was at least 30 years old, possible older. [Read more…]