Posts Tagged ‘water saving’


Pete Veilleux has three garden photos accompanying this article about “losing the lawn” - every day we see more attention being paid to this – so if you spot an item in your local paper. please let us know so that we can share.

There are some nice tips for removing turf and a short list of easily available summer blooming natives. Good for those who are just getting started on the native gardening path.




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photo courtesy LA Times

As part of our daily life, water and energy are getting a lot of attention as we come to realize their intertwined relationships. The Los Angeles Times just printed an article, “Water conservation’s other benefit: its a power saver,” that highlights some of the issues. Native plant gardening will not reap all the benefits of lower water use. For example, some benefit will come from people taking fewer or shorter showers with cooler water. But it hits home in the use of water for landscaping. Moving water around the state is one of the primary electrical expenditures in California.

When we decrease the amount of water that we use on landscapes, it is like getting a free power plant. Direct, no cost! So, let’s continue to encourage all who we see that this is a great alternative in so many ways. And, some day soon, it will be rare to see a photo of grass being watered in this state.

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Los Angeles Times article photo credit.

Well, that’s the new term: “Behavioral water efficiency.” Water districts are experimenting with ways to allow consumers to compare their water use to their neighbors’ levels. This tends to create more efficient behavior. And, since about half our water goes into our gardens, this is of interest to CNPS in implementing our outreach programs – getting more people interested in natives for a variety of reasons. Conservation of our precious heritage is joined by the everyday economics of running a household.

Do you think these sorts of programs make long-term behavioral change? I’d love to know your views, and any examples from your own patterns of use – not just water, but how you have modified and adapted your actions and activities in other ways that can help us to see how to affect change.

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Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 5.53.16 AM

Following up on our media coverage bubble, this news clip is about Janet Thew’s native plant garden in Loomis. She added a 1,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system.

You can barely see the plants in her garden, which is too bad, but the narrative starts off with the message that this is native, as opposed to their lumping it into the “drought-tolerant” category.



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Agi Kehoe Mercury News native garden



The above photo is one of several that appeared in the San Jose Mercury News – Agi Kehoe is nicely featured!

The is two articles right in a row at different spots in the state. Let’s keep that momentum going!

Agi, congrats on the press.

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Greg Rubin Unnion Tribune

courtesy San Diego Union-Tribune

As the current weather conditions point up our vulnerability, the press is turning to local experts for ideas and advice. A perfect example: Greg Rubin’s photo and quote in this article from the San Diego Union Tribune.

In your communities, offer yourselves as experts to the press and extend our reach. If you’d like help in learning how, just give me a call or email me:

619 318 4590


We can discuss talking points, statistics, and approach for getting our ideas across, along with providing photos and homeowners whose gardens would be good examples.


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Sherri Osaka

The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show is coming up: March 19th thru 23rd. Sherri will present in the “Learn with the Experts” track. Her topic will be “Relevance of Native Plants in a Water-tight World” - she is right on target with that message, isn’t she?

Thanks, Sherri, for taking on that speaking engagement!

We will have more news about other speakers and CNPS participation in the event in a few days…

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Greg Rubin

I love this one because we often hear that Australian plants are what Californians should use…Here are some challenges to that idea:

Free February Program!

Balboa Park, Casa del Prado, Room 104 !

February 18, 2014….3rd Tuesday!

6:30pm-7pm: ”Natives for Novices”: “Substitutes for Australian and New Zealand and Plants” presented by Greg Rubin. Followed by:

7pm-7:30pm: Coffee, Camaraderie and Book Browsing!

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Romneya ‘White Cloud’ – Matilija Poppy

Matilija Poppy has been called the “Queen of California Flowers.” In the words of Mary Elizabeth Parsons, from The Wild Flowers of California, 1897: “The Matilija poppy (pronounced ma-til’li-ha) must be conceded the queen of all our flowers. It is not a plant for small gardens, but the fitting adornment of a large park, where it can have space and light to rear its imperial stems and shake out its diaphanous flowers. It is justly far-famed, and by English gardeners, who now grow it successfully, it is regarded a priceless treasure, and people go from many miles around to see it when it blooms. It is to be regretted that our flowers must go abroad to find their warmest admirers.”

Matilija Poppy, unique and distinct, is one of the most recognized and beloved of California’s native plants. The large white blooms are the size of a saucer.  The petals look like wrinkled crepe paper, the center is a bright yellow disk.  Some have likened the flower to the appearance of a fried egg.  A solitary bloom is a very fine thing, but a large stand of Matilija in full bloom is a sight to behold!  Hundreds of huge white flowers borne at eye-level on long straight stems, contrasted by attractive blue-green foliage… a real show stopper in late spring/early summer!

Matilija poppies are only found in a few locations in California.  Within their range, they prefer gravelly soil, sometimes on the sides of stream banks or alongside a road.  Their appearance always seems a surprise, as they are not common. They can be found in sunny chaparral and coastal sage scrub in coastal and inland regions of southern California.

ImageWhile easy to grow in the garden, in the nursery, the species (Romneya coulteri and R. trichocalyx) are difficult to propagate.  Seeds will not germinate unless they have experienced the flash heat of wild fire.  At Tree of Life Nursery, pine needles are ceremoniously burned across the tops of the freshly sown seed flats.  Germination usually begins within a few days. Seedlings are tiny and they are vulnerable to the elements.

The best garden variety is a supposed hybrid between the two species.  Theodore Payne first discovered it in a southern California nursery in 1940.  The selection he made had much larger blooms, attractive lush foliage and a slightly more compact habit than the species forms.  He introduced it as ‘White Cloud’ and first offered it for sale sometime before 1956; the exact details are now lost in history.

At one time the hybrid plant was all but lost in California horticulture.  In the early 1970’s, Art Tyree (who had worked with Theodore Payne in the 1960’s) knew of a stand of ‘White Cloud’ growing in a private garden in Pasadena. Tree of Life Nursery obtained permission to secure a few small root cuttings.  Since ‘White Cloud’ is a cultivar, it must be grown vegetatively. Seed would not be suitable and stem cuttings are practically impossible. From those few cuttings thirty years ago Tree of Life Nursery has planted and maintained large stands of mother plants, of the exact clone that Payne had selected almost seventy years ago.

ImageMatilija poppy is a clumping perennial with long, upright blue-green stems and foliage. Plants reach 5 to 8 feet tall and spread by underground stems to form large colonies. The plants can be difficult to establish in a garden, but once established will thrive. Don’t plant anywhere where the vigorous spreading from underground runners would not be welcome.

Transplant carefully in cool weather to avoid disturbing roots and provide monthly watering and well-drained soil. The plant is drought tolerant and will not survive continually wet roots, such as in the middle of lawn (yes, this has been attempted). Matilija Poppy looks beautiful in roadside and parkway plantings, along fencelines, on slopes, in large scale planters and borders, and as an accent for entrances.  Cut it back hard after flowering (September-October) to remove old stems and allow for new spring growth.

Article adapted by Laura Camp with permission from Tree of Life Nursery, californianativeplants.com

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Every year in my garden, and in the garden at Tree of Life Nursery where I work, and maybe in your garden, too, the earliest Manzanita to bloom is Arctostaphylos refugioensis.  Last year it had plentiful flowers at Christmas, but this year it’s quite early and in full bloom in time for Halloween.

Arctostaphylos refugioensis, Refugio Manzanita, late October

On Saturday, October 30th, I attended a talk by pollinator and native plant expert Bob Allen at the nursery, and in the course of a talk about gardening for butterflies he mentioned that manzanitas are good nectar plants for adult butterflies and moths. When I arrived home later that afternoon, lo and behold, two Monarch butterflies were fluttering high around my front yard, and further observation showed that their target was the profuse blooms of my Refugio manzanita. Guru Bob strikes again! (more…)

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