Springtime Means Native Plant Garden Tours: Put on Your Walking Shoes

2015 Native Plant Garden Tour, from the Theodore Payne Foundation, California

When spring comes, I welcome the chance to put on my walking shoes and head out to native plant garden tours.  Garden tours are a great way to get ideas of what you can do with your own native plant garden.  Sometimes, we go to botanical gardens to get ideas or look to see what’s […]

Monarchs for President’s Day

Monarch Nectars on Willows, Santa Monica Mtns, CA photo by Kathy Vilim

The long President’s Day weekend, 2015 found me camping at a favorite spot in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Beach. This campground at the far north end of Malibu includes its own private beach, a pristine cove on the Pacific Ocean.  To the east of CA’s Route 1 (known also as the […]

The Undisclosed Location

Planting a Living Christmas Tree, photo by Kathy Vilim

I love January in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. Recent rain has brought new life to the drought-stricken soil, and new spring green seedlings are sprouting up everywhere. Trails are still wet one week after our 1-day rainstorm.  After waiting all year for rain, native plants waste no time in asserting themselves. This month, the air […]

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 […]

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