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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Governor signs Assembly Bill 2104

Bill’s author, Lorena Gonzalez

Bill’s author, Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblywoman District 80. Image licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Have you heard of Homeowners Associations fining residents for their native gardens, or intimidated into keeping their non-native grass? This situation has been covered in the press, including reports of gardeners being sued for their appropriate choice of water-wise gardening practices. In many parts of California, there are large segments of the homeowner and apartment-dweller population that live in what are legally called Common Interest Developments or, as we often casually call them, HOAs.

We’ve struggled to help individuals and landscape committees for these communities change their practices to include the native plants that suit their gardening conditions. These “CC&Rs,” (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), are limitations and rules placed on the units by a builder, developer, neighborhood association and / or homeowner association. All condos and town-homes have CC&Rs; as do many developments and even old, established neighborhoods.

One of the largest areas of control is front yards. In many associations grass is mandated. Plant lists are often restricted to a specific set of species and rarely do native plants appear on these lists. Homeowners who applied to their landscape committees for exceptions to these restricted palettes were often turned down, and neighborhood compliance has been enforced by peer pressure as well as financial injunctions.

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Jan Schachter talking to The Almanac about her native gardening

Jan Schachter talking to The Almanac about her native gardening

The Almanac Online is the community news and information service for Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside, contiguous communities located on the Midpeninsula south of San Francisco. Their August 27th issue featured a very nice article about several gardeners: Jan and Vic Schachter (she’s on a mission to eliminate invasive plants from her property), Danna Breen, and John and Sharon Richards. They won the town’s first Backyard Habitat awards to honor efforts made by residents to encourage and maintain corridors that welcome native plants and animals.

Congrats to these homeowners!

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Just five more days to register, space is limited and the symposium seating is filling up fast. Please remember that our Santa Clara Valley chapter only holds a symposium every couple of years so don’t miss out. And Sherri Osaka wants to remind us that there will be plants for sale as well!

Are you concerned about our state’s shrinking water supply?  Learn how to conserve irrigation water and create a beautiful landscape at the same time at the Native Horticultural Symposium “Saving Water, Creating Beauty with California Native Plants,” September 20th at Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills.  To register and find out more information, visit www.cnps-scv.org, or call (408) 828-6467.

As the continuing drought shrinks our water supply, people are searching for ways to conserve water. Landscaping with California native plants is a proven technique for creating low-water use landscapes and is especially effective when combined with other water-saving methods.  Learn how at the Native Horticultural Symposium “Saving Water, Creating Beauty with California Native Plants,” September 20th at Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills.  Speakers at this year’s symposium are experts in native plants and water conservation:

  • Barbara Eisenstein, blogger, writer, speaker
  • Robert Kourik, writer, speaker, researcher
  • John Greenlee, grass expert, nurseryman and designer
  • Theresa Lyngso, master gardener and composter
  • John Whittlesey, horticulturalist and author
  • Ken Foster, certified permaculture designer and landscape contractor

The symposium runs from 9 AM – 5 PM, September 20th.  $65 for students, $90 for CNPS members, $100 for the general public. Continental breakfast and lunch are included. To register and find out more information, visit http://www.cnps-scv.org or call (408) 828-6467.

SF Flower and Garden Show

Last spring, a number of our local resources, and some even farther afield, participated in the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. It was a scramble to get the speakers organized and to get booths and displays set. But it turned out to be a very successful event, according to the feedback I received.

Now the question is: shall we make a coordinated effort again this year – and even improve on our efforts? The next show will be held March 18-22, 2015 at the San Mateo Event Center. The theme this year will be “Going Wild.” That makes it right up our alley!

The creators of the event say, “In response to increasing demands for participatory experiences from the new generation of garden en­thusiasts, presenters with an idea for mini “hands-on” workshops or “Make & Take” stations are encour­aged to present ideas for consideration for the “Do-It-Together” workshop area.

The overall criteria for the selection of speakers for 2015 will be new speakers with exciting information or points of view, as well as those speakers rated highest in past years. The most successful speakers are always those who engage the audience with strong interpersonal skills and craft their presentation or demonstration to be manageable within the time allowed (45-minutes with a maximum of 15-minutes for Q&A.) Because the majority of show attendees come from the Bay area, priority will be given to speakers with subject matter that is tailored to sustainable gardening in Northern California with its par­ticular climate, water patterns, and appropriate plant choices.”

We will need to have our plans together quickly – they have a deadline for speaker applications of October 30th. So, please let me know what you think about this event. Should we go for it? 


Alri’s Edibles

Courtesy Middlebrook Gardens

Photo courtesy Middlebrook Center

The California Native Garden Non-Profit Foundation (CNGF) invites you to join us on Saturday, September 20th from 5 to 10 PM at the Middlebrook Center, 76 Race Street, San Jose, CA, for an elegant evening of dining and music at our Eating California Fall Harvest Festival. The Festival will culminate CNGF’s Eating California Native Edible Eating series, a partnership with The Red Basket Chef, a line-up of cooking, designing, and tasting workshops that are taking place on several Saturdays throughout the summer and early fall of 2014. The culminating Fall Harvest Festival will also serve as a finale to the many projects and events related to sustainability, garden design, and food taking place at the Middlebrook Center this summer. The Festival will capture the essence of the mission of the California Native Garden Foundation–to provide the next generation the knowledge and resources necessary in order to create a prosperous future society based on the ideals of healthy living and the preservation of the natural world.

The festival includes

a tasting menu of small dishes using native edible ingredients
organic and sustainable wine
garden-brewed beer
garden infused mixed drinks
silent auction
Bossa Nova music by Dillon Vado Trio
socializing with inspiring people


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