Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas read and green...?

Form and colors of larger, non-native "distant cousin", Marina Strawberry Tree, echoed by native cultivar, Louis Edmonds Manzanita.

Some of my neighbors and family members probably think I am Ms. Scrooge. No plastic boughs adorn my mantle, no tinsel hangs from a tree cut down in its youth, no exotic
Euphorbia pulcherrima grace my garden walk or hearth, and no strings of lights glow from roof's edge.

Yet, in our own way, my garden and I are perhaps as Christmas "read and green" as we can be. Ours is a more subdued celebration. And so this blog post is a part of that celebration, maybe even tooting my own flute as if I am allowed.

Reflecting on what in 2010 held my interest most, three things stand out:
  • learning about use of native plants in the landscape
  • learning to design and install drip irrigation systems, especially for gardening with edibles
  • re-learning to play my flute, which I am sharing with my faith community during the holidays
Over the past year, I have attended more than 28 classes or lectures on sustainable landscape design and maintenance, including over 10 classes devoted to California native plants. I have been engaged as a speaker one time for a presentation titled "Enduring Beauty in the Garden: Sustainable Practices." I also tabled at one Earth Day event, sharing a display of native plants and books about how to care for them.

Each day as the Christmas season nears I read even little snippets from the prophets or scriptures to prepare my heart for the approaching, blessed Christmas season. Mindful of the journey of the Israelites, I continue my own journey of faith, following a path where I feel led, hoping to continue learning and sharing lessons of sustainable living. Tomorrow, I will participate in worship services and an afternoon concert, playing my flute publicly, something I had not done in over thirty years.

You see, I am becoming "read" and "green" in and out of the garden. My garden, by the way, sports quite a bit of red (read: pink, burgundy, and rust) and green (read: blue-green, grey-green, even a little true green.)

Who needs to decorate with shades of red and green not likely found in nature, when in one's garden, nature has done this...

And, this...

Even the garden next door, in which I planted over fifteen species of native plants this year, proves lawn-less is more green...

Both gardens no longer require power tools for routine maintenance. Neither mowing, nor blowing, nor hedge-trimming are employed. And, when established, most of the plants in both gardens will use much less water than a typical suburban landscape.

As 2010 draws to a close, I am thankful for all I have learned and grown. Looking forward in the years ahead to help more people find peace and satisfaction in their gardens, nurture native plants, and become true "locavores" by growing some of their own food. And, when winter rains subside and weather warms with advancing spring, I hope my neighbors won't mind too much the sound of a flute wafting through an open window.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Who’s tailing whom? ...

Decided to delay my herb garden post because this was just too funny not to share… And, having spent too much time following this little guy around my house, I still have work to do! Well anyway, I think it is funny. Others might be ready to send in those in white coats.

Sunday morning, I went to check on my herb garden, and to see whether I had any more Persian cucumbers to harvest. I found a small lizard on the back patio next to the herb garden. For the longest time, (s)he just stayed in one place. Walking back and forth, being perhaps not quite awake, I kept stopping myself from kicking it off the patio! In my peripheral view, it looked like a little twig.

Finally, I went into the house, got my camera and an old matchbook from a favorite neighborhood restaurant, and took this photo.

Eventually, the lizard disappeared back to the garden, or so I thought…

Wednesday, I was walking through the front room, and this lizard (same one???) went skittering across the floor in front of me.

It slip-slid into the kitchen. I grabbed a piece of cardboard, and tried to herd it out the side door. Instead, it crawled into an opening between the wall and nearby cupboard. So, I said, “okay, hang out and eat some bugs or something. Make yourself useful.”

Today, I again found it in the living room. This time, it was perched on the ledge of the picture window. Camera was nearby, so I snapped this photo.

Thinking about getting a better photo, realizing I haven’t washed my front window in awhile… (Excuse is garden construction bringing copious quantities of dust, truth is, procrastination… Won’t say how long!)… Grabbed a towel to wipe the window in the process scaring off the lizard.

Later, I found it in the bathroom on the floor behind the toilet, not very well hidden against the white tile. Rustling through a cupboard, I retrieved a jar I use for catching flies and returning them outside. Tried to scoop it into the jar. Had it once, but the tail was draped over the lip. When I touched it with the lid, startled, it fairly flew out of the jar, landing on the floor. Shocked, it ran back behind the toilet. Not having any fresh bugs, I tried baiting it with a piece of kale. Guess it is not an herbivore! In the end, it disappeared into a space under the bathroom cabinet.

Having a very small house, this visitor has managed to occupy every room but the bedrooms. So, I’ll be waiting to see if "Lee Lizard" awakens me tomorrow morning! Now I have a small cloth bag, ready to try to catch it, like those who catch snakes. Honestly, I have let lizards remain in my house – usually under the refrigerator – for much longer. Lee, though, seems to be saying, "out now." (Maybe I am a lizard whisperer? More likely from Lee's perspective a monster!)

Anyway, good thing no one was around to make a video. Too funny to see a grown woman trying to herd a lizard, let alone giving it instructions for being a proper house guest!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blogging natives...

Shamed back into the blogging saddle...

A few weeks ago, Barbara Eisenstein gave my blog an unsolicited plug during her lecture on Parkway Gardens. (Thank you, Barbara.) Still, I procrastinated in getting back to the keyboard. And, now this...

Here is a new blog from Nopalito Nursery. Well, never mind the plants, the Nopalito guys must have learned to clone themselves! They already run a labor-intense, sustainable, start-up business, offer an educational, often entertaining lecture series, and support other sustainable ventures in their community. Now, as they approach the end of year one, they find time to blog! Whew! Nopalito rocks!

Well, it might be nice to be a quarter of a century younger! In my fourth or fifth career, and probably my third childhood, I may not have the stamina of three guys running a native plants nursery, but I can do my little part to spread the word.

Below is a mostly native garden really beginning to grow in after only a few short months. Planted (at the "wrong" time) in late spring, early summer, I think this garden benefitted by luck and our rather cool summer weather. Still a work in progress, neighbors are loving the look -- a huge improvement over the broken fence and dead lawn it replaced!

Pictured are seedheads of Muhlenbergia rigens (Deer Grass) in front of Salvia apiana (White Sage). In the background is Salvia 'Pozo Blue' (Grey Musk Sage), with a row of Festuca californica (California Fescue), a bunch grass, along the sidewalk. Irrigation is by on-line drip tubing, covered by mulch, with an occasional wash-off of foliage by hose-end spray.

Fall planting season is just around the corner, my fellow Angelenos! Rather than worry about odd/even, Monday/Tuesday (how many minutes can my sprinklers run?), check out Nopalito Nursery in Ventura for water-wise, climate-compatible plants. To learn more, follow their new blog. Seriously, let’s quit watering the street, cap off or at least repair those errant sprinklers, and do like the Nopalito Nursery slogan says! Native plants, especially those local to your community, are compatible with soil in which they exist in nature. Free (hopefully) from chemical fertilizers and pesticides in wild lands, they won't need chemicals in your garden either. Certainly, the ocean does not need fertilizer and pesticides, contributed by lawn irrigation run-off. (Thank you on behalf of “Sponge Bob” and friends!)

For more information about effective ways to replace lawn and other water-guzzling plants with appropriate native species, check out these blog posts for more information:

On sheet-mulching: Native Sanctuary

On parkway gardening: WildSuburbia

If you're on the other side of town or you don't fancy a trip to cool, coastal, Ventura to get away from September heat, you can also find lots of great native plants and information at Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, celebrating its 50th year.

In my next post, I'll talk about herb gardening, something really fun to do with kids!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Leave leaves, and other reduced maintenance gardening tips...

On Barbara Eisenstein’s blog “WeedingWildSuburbia”, in her post today titled “But is it really low-maintenance?” in regard to native (lawn replacement) gardening she invited other native gardeners to share their thoughts on creating a low-maintenance garden. Here are a few of mine:

Embrace seedheads! Many, like buckwheat and sages add interest, even soft colors when there isn't a lot else going on in the garden. (Less work if you don't cut them right off, and seeds are probably food for somebody!)

(Seedheads of Salvia clevelandii 'Allen Chickering' at Theodore Payne Foundation.)

Space plants far enough apart so they can grow to full size. Most natives don't need a lot of pruning, shearing, and shaping -- some don't tolerate it.

Drip tubing for native plant establishment: now you see it...

Now you don't...

(Recently installed mostly native garden – THEME: “Woodland meets Sage Scrub”)

Create interest, even drama, with foliage contrasts, interesting plant combinations, rock and other features. When the whole picture is engaging, who cares about a few untidy bits?

(Salvia mellifera 'Green Carpet' with Artemisia californica at Theodore Payne Foundation.)

To me, the naturally occurring litter is not so objectionable as are piles of grass-clippings and hedge trimmings. Much less sweeping and raking to do when you leave leaves!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Clumsy Colossuses...

One could argue this title refers to...

street trees in our Woodland Hills neighborhood;

and/or it refers to

equipment used in removing vast portions of their crowns, while allowing their towering trunks and soaring scaffolding to remain,

and it refers to

City of Los Angeles that may no longer deploy such equipment.

Can any of these collosi be blamed? Aren't they just doing their jobs?

And, didn't we choose to live here? But, who could have guessed, say, 30 years ago so many of our beloved trees would become so diseased, would cause us to be in such an untenable position? And, being a representative democracy, aren't we ourselves the City of Los Angeles. So then, how shall we engage to solve our shared problem?

Poor trees, and poor us who live beneath their colossal crowns...

Can this possibly be called ethical tree care?

How are trees to keep recovering from this treatment? Is it not hastening their decline?

In five-foot (or roughly 1.5 meter) parkway easement (or verge) strips in our neighborhood are planted 80-plus-year-old Eucalyptus trees, some of which the trunk diameter exceeds the planting space. Between cycles of topping by City tree crew, some also attain heights exceeding the reach of most City-owned equipment. They are diseased, they are drought-stressed, and I do not believe anyone knowledgeable would argue against the fact they are the wrong tree in the wrong place. Legacy of a scoundrel of a developer of four score and eight years ago, who called himself "Girard." Yet, having been protected from removal and allowed to mature to gargantuan proportions, while at the same time, repeatedly having been subjected to tortuous topping practices, these trees may soon become the sole responsibility of the owner of the adjacent home. Perhaps I should be glad none remain in front of my home. Yet, I am not unaffected by others in the neighborhood in which I live and garden.

Would it not be better to remove the diseased Eucalyptus trees before they fall on us?

And, plant appropriate somewhat smaller trees in their places? If so, how can we afford to do that? What funds might be available to help with a neighborhood tree planting (including removal and replacement)? And, how can we organize to get it done?

At least two appropriate, low-water-using replacement tree species come to mind: Australian Willow -- Geigera parviflora (Evergreen) and Maidenhair Tree -- Ginkgo biloba (Deciduous.) They would only require training when young to encourage desired form. In maturity, they would not require maintenance pruning other than occasionally removing weak or dead wood.

Now, faced with mandate to balance the budget, according to his "Zine Line Newsletter", Council Member Dennis Zine's staff reports City Council has passed a new budget including "reductions in tree trimming" among other service trimming under the new budget. I understand Zine opposed these cuts.

If the City no longer takes the responsibility for maintaining these behemoths, what then will be the consequences of failure? Meaning homeowner failure to perform timely maintenance, or the tree's demise (failure) or limb failure. Are we just to accept the consequences?

Wrote a letter Thursday expressing my concerns and suggestions to Dennis Zine, Council Member, 3rd District, City of Los Angeles, who represents the interests of our community. I am encouraging others in my neighborhood also to send email and letters to Zine's office. We must share our voices to make our local government work.

Council Member Zine's contact information is available on his website linked here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wildlife and edible gardening...

Just this morning, Google searched name of a shrub or small tree indigenous to southern Africa, Grewia occidentalis. There it is commonly called Cross-berry, here, Lavender Star Flower. Ran across a related blog post from Ross, a designer in Durban.

Then, wandering through Ross's posts of the past few weeks, I ran across this post, which gives a whole new meaning to "wildlife friendly gardening"! Sharing my garden quite unintentionally with occasional coyote -- attracted to small, four legged creatures -- attracted to various crops and/or other visiting critter. Thinking to do more to attract "wildlife." However, thankful I don't have to worry about how to or how not to attract black mambas!

In early morning, when out in my garden, this is as wild as it gets:

And, no, I don't live in a cage, but maybe I should!

In the narrow side yard, atop my block wall, between neighbors' wood fence and my garden gate , there is a passthrough just big enough for a 'possum and her family to quietly lumber through. Or, just big enough for a coyote to trot through when I startled him/her from hiding place behind raised bed, eyeing neighbor's cat meowing from my apple tree. Easy enough to slip back in the house for camera to catch the posing 'possum. Doubt I'll get a photo of a coyote in my garden any time soon, but I see plenty of evidence of their nightly visits.

In early evening, when I am often out in my garden, this is about as "wild" as it gets:

Photo above taken when I shared the last of my navel orange crop for the year, with my rear neighbors. Being a little sister, myself, I really appreciate the triumph of success after saying to myself... you want me to put that whole thing in my little mouth and smile? Are you nuts?

Thank you, neighbors! You are the best sports!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Business launch, long process, network slowly evolving...

Garden Design business in Woodland Hills, CA needs greater exposure in order to succeed, especially in this economy, but find I now need to be selective about the amount and type of free services I provide. Wheels are turning, gaining momentum on the networking front. Feeling my way around this work to find my competitive advantage. Sharing my passion for gardening, especially with edibles, promoting "enduring beauty" in the garden. Continuing to table at "green" events, providing practical information for the community to achieve beauty in the garden, while saving water and other precious resources. Recently presented this proposed design for City of Santa Monica's 3200 Airport Avenue Demonstration Garden Contest...

Many talented, experienced designers entered the contest for (one or more of) three side-by-side plots. Look forward to hearing who won. Remaining hopeful! Winners are to be presented at Alt Build Expo in early May.

April 3 (I know, early) Earth Day Festival in Calabasas drew quite a crowd. Here, at my table for the event, I showcased native and mediterranean drought tolerant plants for Nopalito Native Plant Nursery, Ventura, CA...

Along with the flagstone patio/dry stream model I built for a Design class a few years back...

Lots of folks were interested in the native plants displayed. Many snapped up copies of the coupons for Nopalito Nursery as well as information for their Lecture Series, shown here...

Also, shared tips about using drip irrigation, with a few examples of products and information available from Smith Pipe and Supply, Westlake Village and displayed my signed copy of Robert Kourik's book on Drip Irrigation...

As luck would have it, around 3 o'clock that afternoon, realizing I had not eaten lunch, I finally munched a LaraBar. No sooner did I take a bite, when the crew from Calabasas TV (CTV) showed up to interview me! So, I hid my snack behind one of the plants, and hopefully spoke intelligently.

Next to my table were Tom and Nancy Hawkins of Florasource Ltd. They are the source for UC Verde Buffalo Grass (locally adapted variant of Buchloe dactyloides.) See my post of for more information about UC Verde. Between us, we were able to offer folks real live products they can install in their water-wise home gardens. Florasource also markets modular green roofs, primarily used commercially, and gaining a lot of interest on the LEED building front.

Saturday, April 17 and sunday, April 18 I've been asked to set up a mini display of similar information at the Pierce Farm Foundation table for Ag Days Farm Center event at Pierce College.

Feeling guilty about time away from my drawing board AND my own garden, I'll only make a couple of brief appearances at this weekend's event at Pierce College. It is a busy spring around begarden's neighborhood!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Planting Lesson at St. Luke

We had a fun planting lesson with Sunday School this morning at St. Luke. Spencer Hammon muscled through tree roots, so we could find a few spots to place native and climate-friendly flowering plants. Yea! Kristofer and Niklas were the first student gardeners to arrive. Shortly after, Jennifer came with her mom, Lisa, who was a big help keeping things organized. Pastor brought over Isaac, Joe and Sam, and they all pitched right in. We had a lot of fun planting and spreading mulch. We commandeered another corner by the podocarpus tree, to plant the native iris. Kevin Hausner suggested we get more mulch and eventually rip out all the sod that is languishing under that tree, too. Maybe we can fit another planting lesson into the busy Sunday School schedule next month. Here are a couple more photos showing the handiwork of "God's Gardeners at St. Luke Sunday School"...

Flower bed under Chinese Pistache tree:

Flower bed by Podocarpus tree:

And, another shot of the crew:

We will be sure to keep an eye on our new plants, and water them when needed as they put down roots in our little garden. A big THANK YOU! to Nopalito Native Plant Nursery, Ventura California for contributing many of the plants. Antonio, Rick, and Kenji, you guys are the best!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Earth Day Festival, April 3 at Las Virgenes Creek on Agoura Road, Calabasas, CA

Leaning, learning and leading toward a more sustainable path, I look forward to participate in the Calabasas Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 3 at the Las Virgenes Creek restored site on Agoura Road, Calabasas, CA. Planning a booth display showing how to achieve Enduring Beauty in the Garden. Recognizing a continuum on which folks may place themselves, whether they embrace or do not embrace principles of sustainability, I hope to appeal to all senses and sensibilities! My goal is to help everyone move a little closer to sustainably sharing our precious earth and the resources she gives us.

At my booth, folks may delight in...

Touching, seeing and smelling mostly native flowering shrubs and bunch grasses appropriate to our climate zone --
donated by Nopalito Native Plant Nursery LLC, Ventura

Running fingers through UC Verde Buffalo Grass, a sensible lawn replacement for the eco-conscious lawn-seeker -- compliments of Florasource Ltd

Also, there will be a chance to...

Peruse books and other literature in my collection, and see garden plans and photos of enduring gardens in progress.

Get up-to-date information on professional quality in-line drip irrigation systems and components supplied by Smith Pipe & Supply Inc., Westlake Village

Speaking of drip irrigation... It is one of the most efficient ways to deliver water to the root zone of plants, to avoid run-off, to eliminate over spray, and to contribute less to proliferating weed growth. It can be a little more complicated to install than conventional spray-head irrigation, but it is not rocket science!

Many folks who want to do the right thing environmentally are still married to their green lawns, whether they use them or not. UC Verde may offer lawn-seekers a slightly different shade of green lawn, one that complements the drought tolerant and California-friendly plant palette. My recommendation: go lawn-less if you can. Whatever lawn you keep, make sure it serves a purpose and that it is as resource-efficient as possible.

At the event, I will also happily share design tips and insights, dispell myths and set records straight on the truth about suburban landscape choices, for example:

"Drought tolerant" and "California native" plants:

Myths: Fearsome visions of tumbleweeds and spiney cactus. Dusty, parched and desert-like. Unclean.

Reality: Fragrant, lush, life-giving, enduring beauty. (Can include desert plants if you want them!) Safe and inviting for kids and pets. You can even make a refreshing beverage from berries of some plants! Intriguing!

Weed-free traditional lawns and manicured shrubs in Southern California:

Myths: Reflects a healthful, carefree, easy way of outdoor living. Kids and pets romp on a lush, green lawn, while you relax. Affirms status.

Reality: Toxic dump of chemicals, devoid of life, high-maintenance, noisey, out of balance. Relaxing? Status???

Rather than teaching kids to be afraid and squeamish about dirt and bugs, do them a healthful favor. Teach them to be aware of environmental costs of artificially created and maintained lawns. For goodness sake, don't let them roll on a chemically induced, weed-free lawn! Better to let them find a bird, a bug or two enjoying life in a more hospitable habitat.

Be more squeamish about chemicals than bugs!

Come on out to the Earth Day Festival in Calabasas on April 3, and see just how beautiful and easy an enduring garden can be. Look for the booth with my sign pictured at the top of this blog post, as well as Nopalito's sign. In the meantime, check out, my Garden Design website. On my Events/News page I have posted a link to the flyer for Earth Day Festival in Calabasas.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's a Tree Party!!!

Here is a flyer announcing a tree planting on Ventura Boulevard between DeSoto and Canoga. The date set is Saturday, March 27 at 8 AM, and we are meeting at the Holiday Inn. There is more information on the flyer, and also in the Press Release here.

Very much looking forward to seeing in the 'hood several more trees like this one a few blocks away...

(Ginkgo biloba, Maidenhair Tree)

and, this one, just around the corner...

Below are my thoughts , which I also shared recently in an email to some of my local community...

The Ginkgo tree, featured in this post, is a tough prehistoric survivor, well adapted to our climate, and it is as well behaved as any tree in the urban landscape, as long as male selections are planted. (Female Ginkgos bear rather smelly, messy seedpods or fruit.) It has great potential to meet the need for a strong, structural and unifying landscape design element along the Boulevard, and in maturity to provide grace and beauty. In autumn, the beautiful foliage will turn golden, and politely drop at once for a brief clean-up. Once the trees mature, they will give much needed shade. Let's just be a bit patient, as we hope we are with our children, allowing the trees to grow up. (They can be a little awkward-looking as adolescents.)

Here is a photo of Ginkgo leaves just coming out today -- getting ready to party?

And, the lovely bark texture that develops in age...

The Community will plant a fruitless male variant of this tree. It both qualifies for grant-funding and it is on the existing streetscape plan. (Latter also means it has the approval of the City of Los Angeles, Urban Forestry Division.) This planting of 23 trees is being funded through "Million Trees Los Angeles", and it is co-sponsored by Councilman Dennis Zine's office and the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce.

This is one of the first steps toward improving the streetscape along our section of Ventura Boulevard, which has been targeted for improvement through the Woodland Hills Community Coalition. Members of the Costanso Neighborhood Watch Group and other neighborhood groups are supporting this project. Members of Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee of our WHWC Neighborhood Council have been hard at work reviewing the streetscape plan and looking to the future. Businesses all along the Boulevard, especially Chamber of Commerce members, are joining the effort that is being coordinated by Councilman Zine's office.

I was so happy to be a part of the research and decision-making process that led to this fine tree choice for Ventura Boulevard. Think they'd make a nice choice for our residential streets, too, where we are plagued with failure and breakage of enormous diseased Eucalyptus trees.

A very hearty thank you goes to those who are helping to make long hoped for dreams come true! Hope to see lots of folks with gardening gloves out for the event tomorrow!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eating healthfully…

Breakfast always has been my favorite meal. Just do not get my day off to a good start without a substantial one, however modest.

Over the years, my breakfast has been influenced by many culinary phases. In the 70’s, a yoga teacher shared her “seed breakfast” recipe. Recall it was a blend of flax, chia and sesame seeds (tablespoon of each), ground in a blender with one whole (not peeled) orange. It was topped with a tablespoon of sunflower seeds. Tried that for a few years. My father even bought me a special jar to keep my “birdseed” in. Eventually, commute time got in the way, and I drifted back to boxed cereal. Now that I have my own homegrown oranges, I have been thinking to try the seed breakfast, again. Meanwhile…

Above is a photo of my now typical breakfast -- what I like to euphemistically call “breakfast pilaf”, or in summer, “breakfast sundae.” Suppose it is truly more of a thick, fruited porridge, but pilaf and sundae sound more delectable, don’t they? The base consists of steel cut oats, bulgur wheat, wheat bran and flax meal, seasoned with cinnamon and ginger. I cook a large batch of this on the stovetop, and keep it in containers in the refrigerator, reheating a day’s portion. Then, berries and applesauce are mixed in. It is topped with raisins, nuts, and plain yogurt. (I know, latter is an acquired taste.) In summer, a generous layer of sliced fresh fruit, usually peaches, lies beneath the yogurt. It is a great start to my morning, along with two cups of organic black coffee. No sugar added!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gaining knowledge in the classroom and in the “field” (Part 3)…

Saturday, February 13, I attended a class on "How to Grow Your Own Fruit" with Jon Freeman-Wood (a grower and contractor in Somis, CA.) He was very enthusiastic and encouraging. He rapidly fielded dozens of questions from a large audience. Class was sponsored by Nopalito Nursery in Ventura, and located at the Calvary Chapel next door. Afterward, most of the attendees visited the nursery, which recently stocked fruit trees, in addition to their native and drought tolerant plants. Everything Nopalito sells appears to be very good quality, and they are doing a great job keeping plants looking fresh and healthy. Among others, they are sourcing plants from Native Sons Wholesale and Mountain States Wholesale, and fruit trees from Dave Wilson Nursery via Jon Freeman-Wood.

My fruit tree “field work” and lessons learned:
➢ Keeping citrus canopy as dense as possible to shade limbs and trunk from hot summer sun. Pure luck to have planted most along the (north-facing) south wall, and top of gradual slope over 25 years ago.
➢ Prune trees any time to remove weak, dead, and crossing limbs. Citrus are sensitive, and not as long-lived when pruned severely. Hey, lucky, lazy me!
➢ Don’t plant citrus in strong, full sun exposure – “arms and legs” like some shade (Poor lime and lemons! What was I thinking?!)

Recently, lightly pruned Navel Orange…

Apple tree going bye-bye (way outgrew its space)…

Removal of apple made way for relocation of lemons and lime…

They’re suffering quite a bit, but I hope they survive.

What is left of apple tree will make for some tasty barbecuing next year!

Trying to look on the bright side, but I will miss my homegrown/homemade applesauce. Next year, I may add new, extremely dwarf, low-chill apple and cherry trees along the back of the house. Other thoughts include constructing arbors to support native (or nearly native) grape vines, and balancing desire for “productive” garden vs. drought-tolerant and habitat garden. Or, maybe with careful spacing, I can have it all! Anyone want to weigh in?

Looking forward to attend more classes up at Nopalito Nursery. Check out their website for events listing.

Gaining knowledge in the classroom and in the “field” (Part 2)…

Saturday, I attended an all-day event sponsored by the California Native Plant Society -- "Promoting Sustainability from Nature." It was a day packed with information and inspiration from an impressive group of professionals from the fields of horticulture, landscape, and ecology. It was very well attended and included wonderfully healthy vegan food, a native plant sale and book sale and signings. I was so happy to be there!

Below are a few of my recent book purchases (from event and elsewhere):

Brief conversation with Barbara Eisenstein, one of the event presenters, turned to the wisdom of productive home gardening – what I call seriously local food! This led her to tell me about the vast amount of land turned to tomato growing in Baja California for the U.S. market. She saw this first-hand, on a recent trip there, and wondered how or from where they get all the water needed to grow tomatoes! By the way, in Barbara’s presentation she provided lots of great tips and photos for how to remove resource-intensive lawn and how to plant a native garden. Truly a knowledgeable professional, she has such an engaging way of presenting her topic and making it accessible. Especially enjoyed that she included the challenges and conflicts inherent in lawn removal. Really had to chuckle when she shared that each time her husband goes out of town the lawn shrinks in size!

Some plants for sale at Nopalito Nursery, who also sponsored Saturday’s event…

Agave celsii 'Nova' (shown above -- origin -- Mexico)

Dudleya brittonii (Britton's Dudleya shown above -- Baja native)

Dudleya pulverulenta (Chalk Liveforever shown above -- Coastal native)

Ceanothus maritimus 'Valley Violet' (shown above -- cultivar of native)

Yucca whipplei (Our Lord's Candle shown above -- So Cal native)

Echeveria 'Silver Spoons' (shown above -- California-friendly succulent; non-native)

Echeveria 'Afterglow' (shown above -- California-friendly succulent; non-native)

Artemisia pycnocephala 'David's Choice' (Sandhill Sage or Coastal Sagewort -- cultivar and more cold hardy than native)

Check out the website for Nopalito Nursery, especially for upcoming events and classes.

Theodore Payne Foundation has been the venue for lots of great classes and inspiration for designing with California native plants, since I joined last summer. Check out their website for class/events schedule.

I’ll attend a TPF class, March 13, with Barbara Eisenstein on Gardening with Native Bunch Grasses. She promises we’ll get out in the garden for at least part of the class. (Yea!) Also, looking forward to the TPF native garden tour. Somehow, I have missed this tour in the past. Not going to miss it this time! Blocked out April 10-11, 2010 on calendar several months ago.