The Wildlife Nursery


  Gardening often provides the closest encounters we ever have with wild creatures.  It is a solace and a distraction in bad times, and a shared joy in good ones.  ~Ursula Buchan     When you establish a wildlife garden, you need to be aware that at some point in the spring, summer or fall you will […]

Smooth Sumac


  Just a couple weeks ago, some of the bushes along my woodland edges were abuzz with pollinator activity. The flowers of Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, were the magnet.   Butterflies, including this Red-banded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops, were part of the crowd.   Honey Bees, gathering nectar, to help some bee keeper with his honey supply were also attracted. […]

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 […]

Vital Velvet Mesquite II

Desert gray fox_Urocyon_cinereoargenteus_by R. Shantz

  In this summer month when the mesquite pods begin to ripen, I have been discussing mesquite in a number of my blogs (see list at the end of this article). The naturally sweet seed pods of the native velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) are a valuable source of food for numerous desert dwellers. Two-legged desert […]

Native Fireworks

Monarda didyma, beebalm

As we celebrate the American Independence Day holiday, several native flowers appear to be celebrating with us. These summer bloomers are bursting out with tempting floral sprays that beckon insects to them. Here they are in all the colors of our traditional fireworks: red, white, blue … and yellow/gold. All blooming now! The happy splay […]

Watering Your Native Plant Garden

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

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 […]

Whose Feeder Is This Anyway?


  “Small birds throw seeds out of the feeder; large birds pick them up off the ground, but the squirrels try to muscle in.” ― Lilian Jackson Braun         It has been a typical free-for-all in our wildlife garden this spring.  We had the battles for prime nesting sites.  Then the red-winged blackbirds and […]



A gift from my son, some years ago, has turned into quite the pollinator magnet. Virginia Sweetspire, or another common name, Tassel-white.  Itea virginica.  Three small bushes have grown into a lovely mound of cream colored, cascading blooms. These cascading blooms have become tantalizing lures for pollinators in the vicinity of my central Virginia mountain […]

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