California natives in UCD plant trial

Field trials identify more native plants suited to urban landscaping
S. Karrie Reid, University of California, Davis
Lorence R. Oki, University of California, Davis

"...Ten unused or underused California native plants were screened in open-field conditions for low water tolerance during summer 2006. In all cases, there were no significant differences in the summer growth or physical appearance between four irrigation levels. Six species maintained a favorable appearance throughout the season and were advanced to demonstration gardens in seven climate zones throughout the state, where Master Gardeners are performing further assessments on their performance...."

link to complete abstract

link to paper

Without further ado, here's the list of native plant winners and losers.

(Maybe it's just me, but that sounds humorous.)

LOSER! Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) Evergreen woody perennial Eliminated: untidy appearance and free-seeding

LOSER! California beach aster (Lessingia filaginifolia)Herbaceous evergreen groundcover Eliminated: froze in winter 2005

WINNER! California lilac ‘Valley Violet’ (Ceanothus maritimus)Evergreen woody perennial

LOSER! Coast gum plant (Grindelia stricta) Low-growing herbaceous perennial. Eliminated: died in heat or froze in winter 2005

LOSER! Creeping sage (Salvia sonomensis) Herbaceous ground cover Eliminated: rotted in spring transplant 2005 or froze in winter 2005

WINNER!! Eyelash grass or blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) Warm-season bunch grass. Advanced

WINNER! Serpentine columbine (Aquilegia eximia) Evergreen herbaceous perennial. Advanced

WINNER! Rosy coral bells (Heuchera rosada) Evergreen herbaceous perennial. Advanced

WINNER San Diego sedge (Carex spissa) Sedge Advanced

LOSER Seaside daisy (Erigeron ‘Wayne Roderick’) Low-growing herbaceous perennial. Eliminated: froze in winter 2005

I have (loser) Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' and (winner) Bouteloua gracilis in my garden. I'm more impressed with the Erigeron after 1.5 to 2 years.

I'm back

A whirlwind tour of the former east Germany had me back in LA on Wednesday night, just in time to bill by 63rd hour this week on Friday.

I'll post some pictures and a brief write up later, provided I have time.



United Airlines Flight Number: 904
Class of Service:Coach Class H
Depart: LOS ANGELES,CA 5:35 Pm
Arrive: FRANKFURT, W G 1:25 Pm
Total Flight Time: 10 Hours 50 Minutes Non-Stop


Cultivation trend

The LA Times has an article on no till gardening today.

This is but one of a spate of recent articles across many media that have focussed on home food gardens. I noted signs of a resurgence in home food cultivation earlier this year after following an apparent media uptick in gardening stories. It's nice to be in the vanguard of a trend.


Dad, How come you know it all?

Son: "Dad, How come you know it all? I mean, not in the bad way, but everything you say comes true. "

Me: "I have a lot more life experience and I just put myself in your situation and try to remember or imagine what could happen."

Son: "Is that wisdom?"

Blog doldrums

Not much going on here in fun land. Work is extremely busy, tiring, and sometimes rewarding. My personal life has some pressure on it too. Yep, I'm busy all around. Too busy to blog much.

I'll be traveling again to Germany later in the month, so perhaps the best thing to do in terms of my personal goals is to look ahead into July for some concrete progress in the home improvement area. I could still pull a rabbit from a hat and get something done when I return. We'll see. The month of June was supposed to be the month of the French doors in my bedroom, but now it seems like it's been the month of recovering from the work week and travel.

Speaking of concrete progress, I did have one of the local Samoan stone workers come by and give me an "estimate" to replace my driveway. It's waaaay high, of course at $6500, but we might come to an agreement eventually. This guy does quality work. When I first moved into the neighborhood he redid a bunch of the driveways with interlocking concrete pavers and they still look flat and true today. I watched them go in with envy since I couldn't afford them at the time. I'll look at the available permeable paver options again and have him price those out versus poured-in-place concrete pavers. I have my own poured pavers in the side yard and it might be nice to match their dimensions.

The vegetable garden is growing very well. I took out one of the two Koval's Giant (seeds from buddy M. Koval) pumpkin plants because together they threatened to overrun the entire rest of the squash and melon area. Squash are usually pretty vigorous, but these are outgrowing everything by leaps and bounds. The one remaining plant I can contain. I hope.

Tomatoes are getting closer and closer to ripe. Some of the Sweet 100s are tasty right now, but I know they'll be even better in a week.

After a large and furious harvest, the Olallieberries are coming to an end. Some years they've still been ripening at this time. I have enough in the freezer to make jam.



Weekend wrapup

Dinner out on Friday with Juli and my son - Great food from Buona Vita in Hermosa. I had the ravioli arrogosta. It wasn't as stunning as the first time I had it, but it was still far better pasta than I've ever had elsewhere.

Camping with the Scouts Saturday night at El Dorado Park.

Nothing much else accomplished after that.


Weekend in review

Last weekend was a recovery weekend, with Saturday spent catching up on the farmer's market (first summer stone fruits!) and chores (immense piles of laundry). The Ollalieberries are coming on strong and early this year. I have a whole large Ziploc freezer bag full, ready for jam and plenty fresh to put on cereal in the AM.

I ate three of the first four Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. The plant in the pot ripened before the one in the ground, but it's 1/3 or less the bulk - I guess that in-ground planting is really the way to go. Nonetheless, they were delicious.

Sunday I moved some stuff around in my project room with Juli's help and managed to clear half the room out. This is good, since I will need the room to put my clothes while I install the French door in my bedroom this summer - only weeks away. I'll need to organize and pare down more before then.

Sunday I used an amalgam of recipes to create a North Carolina style pork BBQ. I rubbed a 10 pound bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt, or just butt - don't get the picnic ham) with a blend of spices inspired by this recipe here, then cooked it slowly off the heat in my Weber kettle for 7 hours, feeding the coals every 30 minutes or so until cooked mostly to perfection. I then let it rest, pulled the best parts with two forks, and sauced it with a cider-based BBQ sauce inspired by this recipe. Traditional pulled pork sandwiches are served with coleslaw in the sandwich, and I used the second recipe to build a slaw that is a necessary foil for the rich pork.

North Carolina BBQ is highly regional, and I'm sure my recipes would fit in someplace, provided I could remember all the ingredients and quantities. I will say that a pint bottle of apple cider from Ha's Apple Farm (from the farmer's market) made a notable difference in taste from the usual grocery store cider. Also, surprisingly, it was only barely enough by the time I sauced two slaws (hot and not hot) and the meat.

The meal was capped with watermelon slices.

This was enjoyed with an old vines Lodi Zinfandel that wasn't an incredible match. Perhaps it was the American oak. Beer might be a better match, as might an austere Rose. Yep - my mouth is watering for that rose.

I'll continue to enjoy the pork for at least the next week.


CNPS meeting roundup

I went to my local California Native Plant Society (South Coast Chapter) meeting tonight and listened to a lecture about beneficial insects in the garden by Ann Barklow, owner of Garden Magic gardening service in Manhattan Beach. Ann's a founding member of Manhattan Beach Botanic Garden and maintains gardens (of all sorts) in the beach cities to pay the rent.

From the advert, "Ann is very involved in the Manhattan Beach Botanic Garden which emphasizes native and drought tolerant plants. She strongly believes in earth friendly gardening techniques. Her talk will be about beneficial insects in the garden . . . how to identify and attract them. She will also speak about I.P.M. (integrated Pest Management) which will include other non-chemical ways to control pests."

Ann's lecture was chock full of comedic moments, such as her comment that she moved over the years from pesticides, to pest management, to her current position, pest acceptance. The lecture didn't really focus too much on native plants other than to mention a few that attracted beneficial insects. Of course the natives aren't too vulnerable to insect predation, either. Gophers were covered, along with my favorite box-style traps, but no one mentioned that they are actually a native pest. Nor did anyone mention how to set the traps, a skill I refined at my father's knee for $1 per dead gopher.

I ran into Tony Baker at the meeting (link at left) who helped me with my very first native garden - the butterfly garden at my son's school. He helped me take it from a wedge-shaped pile of weeds and invasive grasses to a beautiful garden. It's all bulldozed now, but I did manage to save some plants from it before its demise.

Cabrillo butterfly garden before

November 2005:
June 2006:

I questioned what these meetings would be like early in the life of this blog. I'm happy to report that it wasn't snooty at all. I was the third youngest attendee. My son was the youngest. It's odd to be precocious so late in life.