Ribes in Spring

RibesArticle and photos by Jennifer Jewell

The spring woodland garden has many bright stars in the form of shrubs: ceanothus and mahonia come immediately to mind. But look a little closer and you will see how lovely the ribes are as well this time of year. The native ribes are far more soft-spoken but have equally nice things to say as their brighter companions. Continue reading

Landscaping for Southern California Gardens

Summer-dry, drought tolerant, naturalistic, Mediterranean garden with California native Acer circinatum (Vine Maple). Photo by Saxon Holt.

Summer-dry, drought tolerant, naturalistic, Mediterranean garden with California native Acer circinatum (Vine Maple). Photo by Saxon Holt.

By CNPS and Modernize

The unique environment of Southern California, while often a source of great appeal for its residents, poses distinctive challenges for anyone wishing to develop and maintain the aesthetics of their yard. The dry climate, paired with an increasingly limited water supply, means a lush green space is no longer ecologically viable. However, there are many other possibilities for creating a beautiful outdoor space.   The folks at Modernize, a website devoted to home remodeling inspirations, like to view this landscape challenge as an opportunity to create a uniquely Californian place for outdoor living.  Here, they share two approaches to this challenge- xeriscaping and hardscaping- including along the way some of their favorite California native plants for the garden. Continue reading

It’s CNPS Fall Plant Sale Season!

liliesFall is the right time to prepare your garden for spring!

When is your local chapter hosting a plant sale, presentation, or native gardening workshop? The CNPS Horticulture Events Calendar is searchable by CNPS chapter and type of event, including “Plant Sale” to help you plan for regional CNPS Chapter plant sales. The calendar is frequently updated, so be sure to check back for events in your area, or follow the CNPS Facebook page where we are posting many of these events as well. There’s never been a better time than now to transform your yard into a water-thrifty, habitat-extending, native garden!

Free CNPS “Ditch Your Lawn” workshops to be offered in Modesto, Chico, Redding, and Sacramento this summer and fall

ditchyourlawnSponsored by the California Department of Water Resources, CNPS is pleased to announce free residential landscape conversion workshops for homeowners. No experience required! Anyone with an interest in replacing water-thirsty lawns with beautiful native plant landscaping are encouraged to attend. Workshops will be held in Modesto, Chico, Redding, and Sacramento this July and fall, with the first classes in Modesto and Sacramento coming up July 18 and 19th, respectively. For more information, to view the dates, or to register, click here. Classes are limited to 50 attendees, so be sure to sign up in advance.

Southern California homeowners, we haven’t forgotten about you either! A two day “Ditch Your Lawn” workshop will be held October 29-30 in partnership with Southern California Garden Clubs in Encino. There is a fee for this class, but CNPS and SCGC members receive discounted registrations. Click here to learn more about the Encino “Ditch Your Lawn” workshop, or to register today!


Styles of the New California Garden

Peyton Ellas, Quercus Landscape Design

It used to be that a California native garden meant only a wild-looking, informal garden, or that you could add some California native plants among your existing non-native (exotic) plants in standard planting beds. California landscaping has gone through a phase where a dry creek had to be part of a native-plant garden, and I still add dry-creeks and similar water-theme features in some of my landscape designs, but it’s no longer mandatory. We’ve seen wildflower meadows and native-grass-as-turf-substitute styles come and go.

The new California garden seems to be developing along the following basic styles. See if any of these fit with your yard or goals.

A Cottage style Garden with a mix of native and non-native species to ensure year-round interest. Visalia, CA.

A Cottage style Garden with a mix of native and non-native species to ensure year-round interest. Visalia, CA.

Continue reading

A garden conversion project in Los Angeles

Sierra Club homeonwner - before

“Before” garden, courtesy of Sierra Club Angeles Chapter website

Some homeowners in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles decided to convert their lawn into a more water-wise garden recently. They then published the narrative of the project, along with photos and analysis at the Sierra Club’s online website. The project is a classic before and after and they discuss the sots of doing the job, the turf rebate incentive that drew them to making the commitment and finding a designer.

The before and after photos were, apparently, the ones they sent to DWP in order to complete the paperwork for receiving their rebate, so the “after” picture” isn’t a full-grown, lush garden yet. But they did get the job done!

What intrigued me most was their set of gardening points:

•    We are working with our gardener to transition to the care of native plants rather than a lawn. There are legions of gardeners throughout Southern California who make their living cutting grass. They need help to transition to this new form of yard care. This help could come from such agencies as immigrants’ rights groups, day labor site sponsors, and city governments.
•    The retail home improvement stores give very little space to California natives and do not label their plants as such. This makes it very difficult for the average homeowner to find native plants and to get the advice they need. This needs to change.
•    Those companies who are converting lawns to a drought tolerant landscape need incentives, education, and encouragement to plant natives only.
•    The water utilities should provide a list of contractors who are approved to apply for the rebates in the homeowner’s stead and who also are committed to planting California native plants. This is essential for the large group of homeowners, like us, who are not likely to do such a project on their own.
•    City government should make it a priority to partner with community based organizations and the private sector to establish retail native plant nurseries throughout Los Angeles. This could be done in conjunction with groups such as North East Trees, TreePeople, and the Conservation Corps. Many jobs could be provided and it would be easier for homeowners and contractors to purchase native plants if there were more such nurseries available.

Sierra Club owner AFTER

“After” garden, courtesy of Sierra Club Angeles Chapter website

Their gardening points sound familiar, don’t they? And this is what the CNPS Horticulture Program is working to change throughout the state and Baja. Please continue to support our efforts to spread the word about the efficacy of native plant gardening!