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
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.