The Monarchs of Venice, California

Certified Monarch Watch Waystation, Venice, California, Photo by Kathy Vilim

The morning sun rose over the canals of Venice, California, its soft yellow color reflected in the water, as I stood watching the Monarchs, already up and about.  The pocket park they were visiting was still mostly in shade, so I didn’t expect to see the orange-winged beauties until hours later, when the sun would […]

In This Fifth Season of Subtle Changes …

Fremont's Cottonwoods, Populus, Big Bear Lake, California, photo by Kathy Vilim

Autumn is coming. The Cottonwoods will turn bright yellow first, then the willows, and then the Sycamores later.  Even as late as Thanksgiving, Sycamores will turn orange, and their large palm-like leaves will begin their descent to the canyon floor throughout December.  As holiday shoppers woosh along winding canyon roads en route to malls in […]

Lights, Camera, Action: Hollywood’s Fan Palms

California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) Photo: Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences

Sprinklers let loose— Water is softly spraying a neighbor’s yard, and it sounds nice, even though it is only a plain green lawn that’s benefiting.  Well, not just a lawn— Out the window I see both a tall California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) and a more robust Phoenix Palm (Phoenix Cunninghamiana) standing together in the […]

Vampires in the Canyon

Chaparral Dodder, Cuscuta californica, Photo @LynnWatson

Is there a vampire in the Canyon?  If you were hiking through the Santa Monica Mountains this month, you would most certainly run across patches of strange-looking, yellowish vine-like plants. What is this plant that is laid out across the chaparral bushes as if it were strangling them? Is it really hurting the bushes on […]

Succulents for Pollinators

Dudleya pulverulenta (Chalk Liveforever) Photo by Las Pilitas Nursery

Many native cacti & succulents are beneficial to pollinators.  Previously, I have written about choices for the So Cal wildlife garden that are both native & drought tolerant.  I have written about plants that stay green in the summer with little to no water. There is yet another way that So Cal wildlife gardeners can […]

Buckwheat and the El Segundo Blue Butterfly

Male-and-Female-El-Segundo-Blue-Sterba, Photo credit: Don Sterda and Friends of Ballona Wetlands

Nothing warms my heart quite like hearing the happy news that butterflies are flourishing~ somewhere.  Rarely do we get good news about our winged friends lately.  But this story is one of hope and promise! The El Segundo Blue (Euphilotes battoides allyni) is a pretty light blue butterfly that is found nowhere but in So […]

What Native Plants Will Stay Green In Summer Drought?

Coyote Brush, (Baccharis pilularis consanguinea) with Butterflies, Photo courtesy of Las Pilitas Nursery

In Southern California, we have a problem: There’s no green stuff in the summertime.  Many of our native perennial plants die back and leave you with a garden that is, well, lacking for the color green.  Most of us have this ńeed to see green in the garden, so much so that we would go […]

Watering Your Native Plant Garden

Ceanothus Celestial Blue, Drought Tolerant CA Native June Blooming, Photo credit: laspilitasnursery.com

One cannot love gardening with native plants if they up and die on you. There is nothing worse than bringing home a plant from the nursery, planting it and having it die — except perhaps having no idea what you did wrong.  Most gardeners have passed the point of killing their new plants, having had […]

Plants for Pollinators – There’s an App for That!

The Wonder of Discovery, Pollinators all Around, from Pollinator Partnership

“Butterflies delight us with their graceful flight, a flight of fancy, as if they have nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it~ ” by Kathy Vilim Taking a walk down the street, I watch as a butterfly flies past me, crossing into someone’s garden. I follow him — he’s […]

Native Plant Gardens are Alive

Butterfly Mint Bush, Monardella antonia, Photo: LasPilitasNursery, Santa Margarita, A

Okay, you have a beautiful garden full of colorful flowers.  Your garden design is well thought out. The beds wrap around your house in a pleasing way.  All of your neighbors enjoy walking past your front yard.  Yet, you feel something is missing… what could it be? This is where wildlife gardening comes in.  Add […]

Where Golden Ornaments Adorn Sycamore Trees

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) Photo credit: Las Pilitas Nursery

A glint of gold caught my eye from up in the top of a young Sycamore Tree.  “Click click” I heard a familiar call and looked closer.  It was a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), sitting all proud in the morning sunlight.  Not in a hurry to leave that spot, he seemed to be guarding it.  […]

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