2014-12-24

Even the young ones

Just in time for Christmas, this little tree is starting life crooked like a dog's hind leg.

2014-12-17

Bent more than twisted


1.01" rain; season total 5.12"

In my back yard, 0.98" fell, followed by 0.03" in the next day and a half




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2014-12-13

0.92" rain; season total 4.11"

12 Dec 2014 0.89"
13 Dec 2014 0.03"

The San Pedro annex reported about 0.75". I think that it must be shadowed by structures nearby.


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2014-12-12

Noel's is mostly twisted

Noel's favorite tree is bent and twisted too.  It's located in El Segundo, Ca.

2014-12-11

LA Times on water



The LA Times has three articles on water in California.

The first, "As wells run dry, Central Valley neighbors find common ground" talks about ground water pumping in the Central Valley, the rise of almond farming as a last ditch financial gambit despite its heavy water inputs. Its accompanied by some nice black and white photographs. Perhaps this caliber of article is what we can (happily) anticipate with the Times new publisher?


A second article, "Climate change won't dry up Southern California, study finds" takes a more local approach and summarizes recent UCLA climate predictions.  Contrary to earlier predictions, average rainfall in S. Ca. is not expected to change all that much due to climate change.  However, the pattern of rain may shift. This sort of modeling is important because planners need to know how to build water infrastructure now for the decades to come and local planning is all about doing ground water recharge with local rainfall.  All good stuff, until the next model comes along that upends it all.  Still, I think that the model fidelity generally improves with time so this is, for now, the most believable scenario.


The third, Gardeners, nurseries struggle to adapt as drought cuts their business: In four decades of tending people's yards, this year has been [gardener] Ortega's roughest: Clients put off landscaping projects, scaled back his duties or simply let their yards go altogether, costing him thousands of dollars. As one of California's worst droughts continues, gardeners across the region have been faced with a choice: Become more water-savvy or risk being left behind. 

The story continues that gardens are transforming to drier landscaping and gardeners have to stay current or risk losing their livelihood. How long is this going to take?
"The change will be gradual, but soon, you're going to see more and more people transition their yards," Muir [spokesman for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District] said. "And those gardeners who don't adapt will see their opportunities become more sparse." It's tough to say how long it will take to phase out the ideal of a lush, thirsty garden; water policy experts say it could be decades.

native plants...lawn removal rebates...design firms specializing in drought tolerant...intransigent plant growers and nurseries that would rather go out of business than adapt...Payne Foundation... It's all there.  Have a read. 

Actually, it's the intransigent grower/nursery owner that is the most interesting to me. Their interviewee is willing to watch his business evaporate rather than change, even though he knows what to do. Why? Because "It would take too long to grow the seedlings, too much effort to relearn all the plant names and growing habits."  Don't let the door hit you on the way out, gramps. 

2014-12-05

I felt all cool and science pioneerish

Arriving by email:

Dear Brent,
 
 Thank you, again, for your contribution
 to the Lost Ladybug Project. Your submission 
 can now be viewed in the Contributors section 
 of the Lost Ladybug Project website, here: 

http://lostladybug.org/contributors-images.php?id=2180
 
 This Coccinella alta is fantastic! 
 The first for the LLP!
 
 Sincerely,
 The Lost Ladybug Project
 www.lostladybug.org
 

The Lost Ladybug Project says, "28577 ladybugs contributed as of December 5, 2014"

2014-12-04

2.47" rain; season total 3.19"

What a nice storm! The first half dropped slightly in excess of 1.5" and the second half slightly less than the remaining 1".

4 Dec 2014 2.47"


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2014-12-02

2014-12-01

0.03" rain; season total 0.72"

30 Nov 2014 0.03" rain

While rain was comparatively heavy in other locations of the South Bay, my house didn't see much at all.

I was outside watering to augment the natural rainfall and stimulate grown on some of my newly planted natives.


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2014-11-26

Twisted trunk

If you were a tree, you'd find better strength if you could grow in a spiral.  The trunk on this one seems to be doing just that.

2014-11-21

Ahhh. Sunset...

 Ahhh. Sunset at Point Vicente on October 16th.  What could be more beautiful?

2014-11-20

Log jam

This was jamming up a stream in the Sierra.  When it finally breaks free, it will be a doozy.

2014-11-19

Let's install sprinklers...

...and use them to water our trees.  Of course magnolia trees are shallow rooted by nature, but with our watering regimen we can get them all on the surface.  Then let's plant ivy to cover them up.

This is unaesthetic and not very environmentally friendly.  Folks, don't do this.

2014-11-18

Useless on top of the ground...

He is useless on top of the ground; he ought to be under it, inspiring the cabbages. -Mark Twain

What's that new planting around the mailbox? It's a bit shaded by the out of place ficus tree and I can't see it clearly.


Rain 0.05"; season total 0.69"

14 Nov 0.05"

This late report languished while I did other important things.

2014-11-04

0.54" rain; season total 0.64"

0.37" on 1 November (0.25" at the San Pedro annex this day)
0.17" on 2 Nov.

This added to an earlier 8-Sep-14 rain of 0.10" for a total of 0.64".

After that 8-Sep-14 rainfall I read in the popular press about the start of the water year, and it seemed that I was a month off from what they were reported.  I use Sept 1 and they seemed to be saying that Oct 1 was the water year start.  I'm not motivated enough to track it down and straighten it out right now, but I'm making this note for future reference.

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2014-10-29

I'm voting no on Proposition 1, California's $7+ billion water bond

Some good might come of the bond, but I'm willing to wait until policy makers have it right, or at least better, before I say yes.  Here's the reasons that resonate with me to say no, based on my reading:

Using general obligation funds rather than ratepayer funds to pay for water supply is inherently a subsidy and often sends the wrong cost signal to consumers. Paying the full cost of water supply through one's utility bill provides a better incentive for conservation and efficient use. There are exceptions to this statement, and the one I would have liked to see addressed is the the Delta Conveyance, but that is explicitly prohibited from being funded by the terms of the bond (probably because it is so controversial in N Ca.  Voters at some remove can see that the way the state currently gets water from the Delta ought to be fixed, somehow.)

No one knows how the California Water Commission would evaluate proposals to spend the 2.7 billion dollars allocated for the "public benefits" of new storage (surface or groundwater). While there is significant political pressure to allocate the funds for certain proposed (and controversial) surface storage projects, including Sites and Temperance Flat reservoirs, many believe those projects cannot pass any reasonable economic hurdles. 

Requirements of the bond can be read to favor improvement of or new surface water storage facilities rather than ground water storage, desalination, or waste water reuse.  This is an area in which the bond is not very clear and we will only learn the criteria against which proposed facilities are ranked after the bond is approved, if ever.

The bond doesn't do enough for conservation of water, arguably the most effective approach to the current drought.

The bond doesn't address our current drought in any other meaningful way.


2014-10-10

New bent and twisted series

I have a recent interest in the odd shapes of some of the plants I come across. I plan on putting my observations into the category of bent and twisted.


bent and twisted pine tree with Dan and David Gutierrez

A recent hike in the San Gabriels with my buddy Dan and his brother David.

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2014-10-09

Urinate in the shower to save a wee bit of water

This is not my personal recommendation; the BBC is reporting this water saving approach.

University students are being urged to urinate in the shower in a bid to save water.
The Go with the Flow campaign is the brainchild of students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.
They want the university's 15,000 students to take their first wee of the day while having their morning shower.
Mr Dobson, 20, said the idea could "save enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 26 times".
The pair want those taking part to pledge their allegiance on Facebook and Twitter and have offered gift vouchers to the first people to join the challenge.

2014-10-04

Hedge Nettle (Stachys ajudgoides)

I picked up Hedge Nettle (Stachys ajugoides) at the monthly White Point Nature Preserve native plant sale. I've been twice and it seems the sale is usually quite small - perhaps they are selections left over from plants grown for restoration. People tend to hover and swoop in for the few that they want. Still, there's some interesting possibilities even after the swooping is done.


I got it in the ground right away on the small north-facing slope next to my driveway. My hope is that it will fill in between the Iris 'Canyon Snow' with which I am gradually replacing the agapanthus.




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2014-09-29

"...endangered by climate change and manly and shit"


On The Public Record is back with a three part commentary on California water issues.  Recommended reading.
Are farmers in the SJV more deserving of my sympathy than the failing restaurateur down the street being squeezed by food prices? He and his family work 14 hour days too. Do they deserve my sympathy more than Syrians drawn into a civil war started when Syrian farms started failing from drought? Do SJV farmers deserve my sympathy more than migrating birds that are starved of food and resting places as they migrate this fall?

...You could [write about] rugged resource extractors on boats that their grandfathers built, idled by drought, pulling up to some nostalgic ice cream parlor in the Delta. The story could be the exact same, only with mournful ship bells clanging for atmosphere. That group is the direct competition for water with growers, equally picturesque and endangered by climate change and manly and shit. Why care about one and not the other?

2014-09-25

Artemisia douglasiana

I planted the very smallest bit of Artemisia douglasiana (California Mugwort)on this slope adjaent to my driveway earlier this year.  It's gone crazy.  Here it is towering over the two year old Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud) and the Agapanthus (slated for removal).  Mexican sage in the background.

The brown flowers in this photo are all A. douglaisiana.
Up close they look like this. 

2014-09-24

Grasshopper on Arctostaphylos refugioensis

This grasshopper looks like he's sleeping on a young Arctostaphylos refugioensis (Refugio Manzanita).

2014-09-18

Fox and coyote?

While camping with the Scouts I camera trapped these two critters.  I thought they were the same animal, but one of my leaders pointed out the time difference in the photos and suggested one was a coyote and the other a fox.  The motion in the second photo makes it so blurry that it's hard to tell.  I'm leaning towards thinking it's the same animal both times.

Fox: (?)
 Coyote: (?)

A skunk, a raccoon, and about 60 cats

I set up my new game camera in the side yard and I was gratified to find that it works! I had about 100 photos over the course of more than a month, but only 1 skunk and 1 raccoon in that time.

Here's the skunk's tail
A good shot of Ricky Raccoon (aren't they all named Ricky?)
Just one representative cat photo (of the tens in the camera):

2014-09-09

0.10" rainfall; New weather year and a tropical storm gives us an early start

Sept 1 is when the "weather year" starts for the upcoming (2014-2015) season and we had an early rainfall on 9/8/2014 to kick off the year. This is the earliest that I've recorded rainfall since I've been keeping records. The next earliest was 2007-08 rainy season when I started on 22 Sep. All others have been in October. 8-Sep 0.10" Update: An earlier report of 0.07" in this blog post was taken from a nearby weather station. Actual accumulation in my back yard was greater. Just shy of 0.10" was what was left in my rain gauge a couple days after this storm came through so that's the total that I'm using in my updated report.

2014-08-28

Backwards Beekeepers will relocate hives in Los Angeles

Backwards Bee Keepers might remove your hive themselves (if a member needs a brood) or, if not, then they have a list of companies that do live removal for a fee. I've always liked the idea of a back yard beehive. I recommend exploring their web site for more information. Nice.
(moments later) Oh wait. It looks like they are defunct. Still, there seems to be some useful links and contacts there. For example, http://honeylove.org/rescuebees/

2014-08-20

Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the CNPS videos

Everyone must either know this or be able to search for it by now, but in case there is one person who doesn't, the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has a web page where they host a number of pertinent videos.

http://cnps-scv.org/index.php/education/presentations

That's all.

2014-08-18

Pete Veilleux - native plant gardens on Pinterest

Follow Pete's garden pins at http://www.pinterest.com/ho2cultcha/california-native-gardens/.

I guess that many of the photos are his own.  This one jumped out at me because it seemed a signature container style of his. see https://flic.kr/p/o5Gw7v



Pete is the owner of east bay wilds.

My pins (not of Ca native plants, yet) are located at http://www.pinterest.com/brentamorgan/

2014-08-14

The Fifth Season

Sent to me via email from Jake Sigg.  I think this is an eloquent restatement.

The old complaint about California not having seasons is, of course, wrong.  The dry season is California's winter, its plant dormancy period.  For some reason, though, our culture doesn't really want to acknowledge the dry season.  Millions of people swear by cold winters, and like nothing better than to put on down parkas and romp in the snow.  Very few revel in cavorting through the chaparral and dry grass on a blazing California August day.  The very idea seems perverse, although dry-grass cavorting is actually the more "natural" of the two pursuits according to generally held theories of human origins.  A biped ape of the African savannah would certainly be happier in a California August than in an Ohio January.  Perhaps modern humans are repelled by the dry hills because it reminds some forgotten corner of their brains of a time when there were leopards and baboons in the tall grass.

Californians tend to treat their dry summers as though they were embarrassing lapses of taste.  They cover them up, sweep them under the rug.  Cities are full of evergreen plantings and painstakingly watered lawns.  For every garden of native grasses, chaparral plants, and oaks, there are thousands of artificial edens of hibiscus, banana trees, and tree ferns.  Freeway borders are carefully, almost obsessively, planted with evergreens--eucalyptus, oleander, redwood, pine--anything to avoid showing the traveler a bare branch or a patch of dead grass.  Somehow the barrenness of a snowscape is considered pretty, that of a bare landscape ugly.

I think we lose something important by covering up the dry season--the element of change.  Change is the one universal attribute of life, and it is often very frightening; but attempts to avoid it usually turn out worse than letting it happen.  The green and white California cities look a little like cemeteries during the dry season.  There is a similar preoccupation with an eternal springtime.  Like most easterners (I grew up in Connecticut), I was favorably impressed with eternal springtime when I first came to California in 1968, but I've since come to view it with suspicion.  There's something embalmed about it.  The wrinkled body of the old, unwatered California may be a little scary, but it is the true source of renewal here.

There are difficulties about coming to terms with the dry season and giving it an honored place beside the four traditional Anglo seasons.  For all its harshness, the California dry season is actually quite fragile.  It very quickly shows the marks of mistreatment or neglect.  A golden meadow of dry grass and tarweeds turns into a dusty trash heap when subjected to any degree of trampling or littering.  The native perennial grasses are beautiful plants perfectly adapted to living through dry summers, but they've been largely wiped out by livestock grazing and competition from introduced annual grasses.  The native oak trees seem to be headed in the same direction, since the heavy grazing that goes on in most areas makes it difficult for them to reproduce.

David Rains Wallace, The Untamed Garden

2014-08-11

Goodbye, Canada

I learned that there's a Mediterranean climate in Canada's coastal islands in the vicinity of Victoria. A Garry oak woodland on many of the islands is in decline. It shares characteristics with oak woodlands in California.




2014-08-05

0.09" rain; season total 5.59"

It's rare in southern California to have significant rainfall after April, yet that's exactly what we had earlier this week. I was away and didn't get to my rain gauge until a couple days had passed.


date   amnt(in.) Tot(in.)
27-Oct 0.15 0.15
20-Nov 0.54 0.69
29-Nov 0.4 1.09
7-Dec 0.27 1.36
29-Jan 0.001 1.36
2-Feb 0.19 1.55
6-Feb 0.28 1.83
7-Feb 0.02 1.85
26-Feb 0.83 2.68
27-Feb 1.5 4.18
1-Mar 1 5.18
25-Mar 0.02 5.20
2-Aug 0.09 5.29

While I measured 0.08", I'm booking 0.09" to allow for evaporation effects. A quick search for nearby weather stations suggested that was a close enough number.  For purposes of rainfall accounting, our rainy season runs September 1 to August 31 of the following year, so I suppose we could always get a bit more.

August monsoon season

While I was away, we got some exciting monsoon weather.  My local rainfall I estimate at 0.09", but local mountains had lots of rain.  The LA Times reported that,

A tropical rain storm that caused deadly floods and destructive mudslides in the San Gabriel Mountains on Sunday was the kind of weather event seen only once about every 500 years, the National Weather Service said.

Starting at about 2:45 p.m., the storm dropped nearly 4 inches of rain onto Mt. Baldy in a single hour, triggering mudslides and floods that killed one motorist and severely damaged more than 30 homes.
The deluge also cut off the community of Forest Falls after mudslides of up to 10-feet high buried the town’s lone road connecting it to California 38. San Bernardino County firefighters were still assessing the damage Monday and Tuesday, but said about 100 buildings had sustained damage.
...
The storm was the product of an “orographic flow” -- when moisture-saturated air is pushed up by a mountain’s natural topography and is squeezed like a sponge. A wave of tropical air blown north from Central America gave the storm extra ammunition, climatologists said.


I drove by Forest Falls on Highway 38 out of Mentone on Monday, and although I saw evidence of rainfall such as small pebbles and sand on the road, I didn't see any evidence  that rainfall was present in amounts of concern on the highway (about 1/2 to 1 mile away from the community of Forest Falls).  Clearly, the community of Forest Falls didn't have that experience, which is a lesson in how localized weather and weather effects can be, particularly in the mountains.

Alaskan trip

Vicinity of Anchorage. Doesn't look much like home.








- Posted from my iPhone

2014-07-28

Bugs

There were plenty of mosquitos in the Sierra. I had countermeasures.


Fortunately, mosquitoes weren't omnipresent.  More pleasant critters abounded:

2014-07-26

Kings Canyon

I take a lot of photos when I backpack but then the question is what to do with them. I guess I'll share a few.

This looks like Paradise Valley. We backpacked up it on the outbound leg. At the point I took this photo, we were on the return leg and I finally got to see the valley from a distance.


- Posted from my iPhone

2014-07-25

Remember that hot spell we had? II

Recall the heat damaged new garden install at the neighbor's house? It shows no signs of a hard start in life. What you see below are Encelia for the most part, planted because the neighbor requested "sunflowers". What he really wanted is in the background in this photo. Sharing is caring they say.





- Posted from my iPhone

2014-07-01

Garden design series at Mother Nature's Backyard

There's been a lot of information posted over at Mother Nature's Backyard blog since I last visited.  Mother Nature's Backyard is particularly relevant to me, since they write about California native plant gardening in back yard location mere miles from my house.

To my chagrin, it was dropped from my list of blogs to visit regularly.  However, in a way it's fortunate that I've gone so long without a check in since they are now on part 11 of a garden design series that I think is quite insightful, giving me plenty of reading and thinking material to digest in one go.  I might have found it frustrating to wait for the installments if I were following along, so perhaps it's a lucky thing that I was able to catch the design series late in the game. I'm not quite through with it, but it seems thorough so far - more like approachable class material than a casual blog post. No specific author is listed, but I suspect that Dr. Connie Vadheim (CSU Dominguez Hills) is the main author of the design series, so it should be no surprise that the series is as thorough as it is. 

So far as I can tell, they don't have a stand alone table of contents to the design series, so here is one:

http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/07/designing-your-new-california-garden-1.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/07/designing-your-new-california-garden-2.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/08/designing-your-new-california-garden-3.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/09/designing-your-new-california-garden-4.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/11/designing-your-new-california-garden-5.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/11/designing-your-new-california-garden-6.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/12/designing-your-new-california-garden-7.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2014/01/designing-your-new-california-garden-8.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2014/02/designing-your-new-california-garden-9.html (Part 1)
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2014/03/designing-your-new-california-garden-9.html (Part 2)
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2014/05/designing-your-new-california-garden-10.html
http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2014/06/designing-your-new-california-garden-11.html

2014-06-21

Red Buckwheat

Eriogonum grande var. rubescens (Red Buckwheat)
This is the first year of bloom for Eriogonum grande var. rubescens (Red Buckwheat) in my garden.  This photo was taken June 4 and shows the one plant that has spent a year in the garden.  However, others that I installed in fall are also blooming to a lesser degree. 

2014-06-20

Iris funk

Earlier this year I decided to install some Iris 'Dark Clouds'adjacent to my 1 year old Iris 'Canyon Snow'.  My experience is that Iris are hard to initially transplant and establish, but once they have taken hold in the garden they are robust.  Additionally, Iris can look ratty after they bloom, but it's been my experience that if they have any strong and healthy growth, that they will survive and come back the following year.

One of my more established 'Canyon Snow' had about a 50% die back, but I wasn't too upset, since the remaining growth was strong.
Iris 'Canyon Snow' with 50% die back
However, two of three newly installed Iris 'Dark Clouds' had a significant amount of die back with little corresponding strong growth.  I'll continue to baby them, but they may be goners.

2014-06-18

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (common iceplant, crystalline ice plant) at Portuguese Bend



Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (common iceplant, crystalline ice plant)

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (common iceplant, crystalline ice plant) found adjacent to the road in at Portuguese Bend.  I had thought since I first observed it that this was a native, due to the tenacious way that it clung to seaside crevices and novel appearance of dew drops on its leaves.  I was wrong.  It's actually an invasive plant.  Wikipedia has useful information.

The plant usually uses C3 carbon fixation, but when it becomes water- or salt-stressed, it is able to switch to Crassulacean acid metabolism. Like many salt-tolerant plants, M. crystallinum accumulates salt throughout its life, in a gradient from the roots to the shoots, with the highest concentration stored in epidermal bladder cells. The salt is released by leaching once the plant dies. This results in a detrimental osmotic environment preventing the growth of other, non-salt-tolerant species while allowing M. crystallinum seeds to germinate.

2014-06-16

Saltbush (Atriplex Brewerii) galls at Portugese Bend

Atriplex lentiformis Breweri (also Salt Bush, Quail Bush, and formerly Atriplex Breweri) grows abundantly on the Palos Verdes peninsula.   Out on a hike the other day I noticed what appeared to be galls on it:
gall on Atriplex lentiformis Breweri

2014-06-12

Garrya pruned

I asked in my previous blog whether I ought to prune my new Garrya elliptica 'Evie'.

I did and here's what it looks like.
Time will tell whether this was good choice or not.  I sort of think that it was, based on the principle that pruning early in life sets longer term growth patterns, and given that this is a potted plant, I need to keep it a somewhat compact.

I Googled some interesting commentary from the California Native Plant Society about this genus. G. elliptica is not actually native to LA County; it is naturally found in Ventura county north.  Perhaps a better choice for my leeward side of Palos Verdes in the generally more arid Los Angeles county would have been as indicated in this except from the CNPS web page on Garrya.

In Southern California, G. elliptica likes extra watering, but it also needs well-drained soil. Plants grown in insufficient drainage can be prone to water molds. The species in general is also susceptible to Botryosphaeria, a fungal disease that can result in branch dieback. Pruning in summer months and with proper hygienic practices will help deter the spread of this pathogen.

If you are not on the coast, seek out the species of silk tassel bush like G. fremontii or G. flavescens that grow in inland areas. G. flavescens is native to chaparral areas in Southern California, and lights up like a Christmas tree when in bloom. These species can be much more difficult to find than the more readily available G. elliptica, but your search may be rewarded with an unusual specimen of beautiful native shrub.

2014-06-10

The garden in May and a 100+ year glimpse of history

Photos of selected plants in the garden on 5/28/2014 and commentary.

The Ribes aureum var. gracillimum (Golden Currant) had a brief bloom and then headed straight to ripe fruit.  These taste good.  I'm surprised the birds and other critters haven't discovered them.
Ribes aureum var. gracillimum (Golden Currant)

2014-06-07

Remember that hot spell we had?

Remember the small native plant garden that I installed in the neighbor's yard at the San Pedro Annex? It's shown below after install on Sunday 5/18.

I had the misfortune of installing it right before a series of unprecedented hot days and the plants suffered for it.  I thought that I would be replacing many plants, but it turned out that at least the Encelia (Brittlebush, goldenhills, incienso) have made a recovery.  I think it helped that I clipped the branches back about 1/3rd, though not soon enough to prevent loss of nearly all their leaves.

The recovery was first evident to me on 5/24 with the releafing shown below:
By 6/1 recovery was in full swing:

6/8 even more growth:

I wasn't so fortunate with the strawberries (Fragaria) and was forced to replace all but one. Still, I felt fortunate and I'm surprised by the strong recovery of the Encelia.

2014-06-04

Heat island miniatures

It's about time for another in my irregular feature, Don't Do This.

Let's start with a close up of 2011's and 2012's trendy plant, a succulent.  This one looks like a Dudleya.  So far so good. 


Now pan to the full expanse of yard and to see the full glory...

2014-06-02

Rain catcher design proves too costly

I'm looking at arbor / pergola and trellis designs that I like and collecting them over on Pinterest.

Follow Brent's board Arbors and Trellises on Pinterest.

This one from Lowes caught my eye because it is simple and has a number of design elements that I might like to consider.  It also has a bill of materials and costs for each part of the construction.  Overall, this is just the sort of useful garden construction advice that I like to see online.  Bravo to Lowes.

However, one of the design features of the arbor is a "rain catcher" which is a section of 6" PVC pipe stood on end and fed by a downspout.  Go to the article linked above to see the construction details or just take my word for it. The BOM is reproduced below showing a total price of $125!!

2014-05-29

Turf Terminators -

"A new company, Turf Terminators, will replace high water usage yards with low water, drought tolerant yards at no cost to homeowners, " according to the LA Daily News.

The plan is to use rebates from the water company to fund the conversion.  OK so far, and a reasonable way forward for many homeowners.  However, looking through the photos the design and plant selection don't seem that inspired.  Plant materials seem to be exotics (I noted oleander, kangaroo paw, a flax and perhaps one California native, Giant Wild Rye) all crowded too close together in a field of decomposed granite in this photo.  A Facebook photo shows shrubs with ground cover mulch around their bases.  Since their web site doesn't give me an easy way to see the details of their process without "getting started", I don't know if their landscapes always look like that.  They do say, "Turf Terminators' landscapers will replace your lawn with California Friendly plants and ground cover over the course of 1-2 days" which begs the question of exactly how well the lawn is removed.

Given the attention that many homeowners give to their gardens, this company might have a success on their hands.

Turf Terminators has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/turfterminators and a web site at http://www.turfterminators.com/.

2014-05-20

My garden in May

I'm pleased with how this prostrate Chamise (Adenostoma fasiculatum can't remember the exact name) and “Santa Barbara Liveforever” (Dudleya traskiae) have grown in these clay pipes that I've placed on end.  I'll have to get some more.  I liberated the larger from underneath my parents' house where it was forgotten for a long time.  The smaller also came from their house where it was part of some yard drainage.

 prostrate Chamise (Adenostoma fasiculatum can't remember the exact name) and “Santa Barbara Liveforever” (Dudleya traskiae)
Click through to see more photos.

2014-05-19

New native plant garden

At the San Pedro annex the upslope neighbor rents, but he is an avid tomato gardener, so we've bonded over that experience.  After after coordinating with the landlord and the neighbor, Stephen, we all agreed to remove some ivy and install a new garden.  Our stalwart gardener Saul Jaramillo did the heavy work of removing most of the ivy.  I redug the garden and removed the roots that he has missed.  (He did a good job, but having done this before I can attest that it's a hard task to get all the roots.  Ivy lovers - rest assured that it will spring back from some overlooked root pieces.  Ivy haters - rest assured that we'll rip it out until it gives up.)

Juli and I had long ago decided that if the opportunity presented itself, we'd put in Cercis occidentalis (western red bud) and that was the bulk of our plant investment (about $80) in 5 gallon pots.  Everything else was in about 4" pots. Neighbor Stephen had requested sunflowers, so we ended up with Encelia farinosa (brittlebush).  We added Fragaria chiloensis (beach strawberry or sand strawberry native just up the coast from LA.  I think that we purchased 'Chaval', which Native Sons suggests is not the exact right match for us, 'Aulon' being better for the care exposure this will get. ) and Sisyrinchium bellum (blue eyed grass, forgot the selection) as targets of opportunity since they had done well in a nearby garden with similar exposure (the strawberries more so.  In fact wild strawberries are some of the tougher ground covers  and I'd give them the edge in any native plant fight.)

Read on for additional pictures and a lesson learned.