smithsonian moving moutains

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian – http://tinyurl.com/leqw8fm


A reader brought this article to my attention: California’s Record Drought Is Making Earth’s Surface Rise. It was published at Smithsonian.com.

The idea is that, “The record-breaking California drought is so bad that monitoring stations used to study earthquakes can detect the drying ground rising up. Measurements of these subtle movements, made using GPS instruments, suggest that the western United States is missing some 62 trillion gallons of water, enough to cover the entire region six inches deep.”

We have a huge network (over 1000 measuring points) in the US and many  of them are focussed on us – especially the San Andreas Fault. The activity is predictably unpredictable, of course. Every once in a while someone will see a slight pattern and then scientists rally round to figure it out. Dr. Adrian Borsa, from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, noticed one of these little patterns: ‘Most of the stations have been gradually rising in the last couple of years, just when the region was drying out.”

Apparently their instruments are so sensitive that, when water, which increases gravitational pressure on the crust, drains away, the decreased pressure allows the earth to shift upwards ever so slightly. This is a slightly different result than what happens when we drain aquifers – then the ground subsides, because the surface collapses to fill in the space left behind. I am not a scientist, so this is a super-simplified explanation.

Suffice to say that when Dr. Borsa and his buddies got together and made the necessary measurements, and most of these stations in southern California had begun to rise. By March of 2014, nearly all of the stations from here through Washington and Idaho registered on his instruments. They mapped the results with maps of deviation from normal precipitation and, BINGO!, found good correlations.

How big of a difference? On average 0.15 inches, with up to half an inch in the mountains.

Golden Yarrow and Mimulus bifidus

Photo courtesy Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds – Golden Yarrow and Mimulus bifidus

As many of you know, In 2010, the California Legislature adopted Assembly Concurrent Resolution 173 to inaugurate Native Plant Week to celebrate California’s natural heritage of native plants. So, rolling forward to 2015, Native Plant Week will be April 11 – 19.

Drawing on a wide-ranging volunteer pool of experts and activists, we selected a group that exemplifies the broad base of supporters and enthusiasts to form the Native Plant Week 2015 committee. It consists of:

Barbara Hunt: Barbara has been a member of CNPS for several years and participated in many native plant events in her area, Santa Clara County, including garden tours and maintaining plantings.


Deidre Kennelly: Deidre is the Communications Manager for CNPS. She works to support the needs of members and chapters and expand CNPS’ reach. She oversees a team of talented people dedicated to helping chapters succeed.


Susan Krzywicki: Susan is the Horticulture Program Director for CNPS. In addition to her work with CNPS, Susan chaired Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Programs Committee in San Diego.


Ryan Lawler: Ryan is a Botany student at Humboldt State University and a cross-country runner, as well as hiker. He is helping to bring a consciousness of native plants to college campuses.


Don Rideout: Don is an artistic and accomplished gardener and active in the CNPS San Diego chapter. His property has been on the recent Garden Native Tour and combines found art with strong botany skills.


Joe Sochor: Joe is an active member of the California Native Plant Society in San Diego and works in the craft beer industry in Southern California. He believes California native plants are proof that God wants us to be happy since they flourish in the driest of droughts and require less “gardening” thus leaving  more time to enjoy craft beer.


Pete Veilleux – Pete is the owner of East Bay Wilds, a native plant nursery in Oakland.  His firm specializes in the use of native plant material for use in residential and commercial landscapes in the Bay Area. Pete is also an avid photographer and has provided many garden images for CNPS projects.


The committee is working to leverage Native Plant Week 2015 to increase the scope of understanding and use of native plants and their positive impacts on the environment. Gardening practices are changing as experts learn more about the negative effects of over-watering and chemical-dependent techniques. Native plants are the most ecologically beneficial solution any gardener can employ. They naturally use low amounts of water; do not require chemical fertilizers or pesticides; provide a unique caterpillar-host relationship to allow for abundant butterfly populations; provide the best nectar, pollen, and habitat for butterflies, bees and birds; and give a sense of place that no other plant palette can provide.

Daniel Gluesenkamp, our Executive Director says, “We have a lot to celebrate in Native Plant Week 2015 including  our successful conservation efforts, our gardening initiatives and CNPS’ 50th anniversary.”

We’ll be telling you more in the future!

TPF Prinzing article

Debra Prinzing, of the Slow Flowers movement, wrote a very engaging article for the Los Angeles Times, which is all about native gardening’s increase in popularity.

There are some nice photos, and The Theodore Payne Foundation’s Kitty Connolly is quoted as saying. “Now is the perfect time to plant so that you will have a beautiful garden next spring.” The article highlights several Los Angeles area gardens, so do go and check it out.


Photo courtesy Silicon Valley Business Journal

Linda Ruthruff, our dedicated member from the Santa Clara Valley chapter, tells us that it has been announced to the public: Facebook has native plants in their new West Campus project. The Silicon Valley Business Journal reported on it in this lengthy article.

And CNPS helped – here is Facebook’s list of key team members: PAE, energy consultant; Brightworks, LEED tracking; CMG, landscape architect; Forell/Elsesser Engineers, structural engineer. Environmental groups consulted: Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, Sequoia Audubon Society, Committee for Green Foothills, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, Save the Bay, California Native Plant Society (Santa Clara Valley Chapter), South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.

The article explains that the project, “Located on a former industrial site across the street from the Ravenswood wetlands, West Campus will include perhaps the region’s most ambitious green roof: More than 350 trees, including mature oaks, will dot the top of the 430,000-square-foot building, which will reach completion next year. The garden will also feature drought-resistant grasses, shrubs and groundcovers amid winding walking trails. And parking? No acres of heat-producing asphalt here: It’s all tucked underneath the building at grade level.”

“From the outside, it will appear as if you’re looking at a hill in nature,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook wall in 2012, introducing the project.

This project has been a labor of love for the many environmentally-conscious volunteers who have contributed time and know-how to help Facebook make the great choices that are evident in their plans. A high-profile project like this is a great way to spread the word about the value of our native flora. Who’s next?


That ubiquitous Sunday paper insert, Parade Magazine, has a set of weather predictions for us, based on The 2015 Farmer’s Almanac. A recent article stated that, “… the western third of the country, including most of California, should have below-normal precipitation.” But they did predict that the region north of the San Franscisoc Bay Area could see above-normal snowfalls.

How accurate is the Farmer’s Almanac? Anyone out there tracked this over time?

Native plants live here - garden signCNPS soon will be offering Garden Signs that anyone with native plants in their garden can buy and display. We announced the signs to generate neighborhood interest in the gardens that are bringing us all into the future: great landscapes with habitat, low water use, reliance on Integrated Pest Management instead of chemicals, and help us to conserve native plants throughout the state and Baja. The signs are meant as a marker of recognition. People who buy the signs are not being “certified”, nor are the gardens inspected. This less formal approach to garden signage means more people will feel able to participate and welcomed into the community.

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Trillium Plea

Trillium photo by Russel Graham

Trillium photo by Russel Graham

Is Trillium a neglected California native coveted abroad and deserving more attention at home or a multifaceted research subject? The taxonomy is unsettled for sure, propagation protocols are sketchy, nursery suppliers are easier to find in Europe, the UK, Oregon, Washington, and Canada than in California, botanic garden displays are bigger and perhaps more complete in Scotland and England, gardeners in New Zealand and other parts of the world grow more trilliums than Californians, and the market economics are distorted, while native habitat is disappearing.

Trilliums, all parts in multiples of three, are much admired by wildflower enthusiasts and considered harbingers of spring in their native distributions and in gardens nearly worldwide, whether “Toadshade” (sessile types) or “Wake robins” (pedicled types). Despite significant variation in flower shape, size, leaf appearance, fragrance, and petal color, most folks know the California Trilliums as either white or maroon and may not realize there are 5 different species (with 2 or more yet to be “published”?), again depending on the key, flora, or plant list used. But, what about the pinks, reds and yellows; are they hybrids or just species variation?

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