California Native Plant Week (CNPW) is upon us, but it always seems like it's late to me. In northern California where winter seems to hang on a bit longer, I think the timing might be more apropos, but for me in the Los Angeles area it's always seemed like the garden has hit its peak several weeks ago.
Not that CNPW isn't a good idea. As a state-wide acknowledgement of the richness of our natural environment, it's an excellent advertising tool. Still, pity the naive Joan Q Public who admires a native plant in bloom during CNPW then tries to plant it in the following week in mid-April. She is near certainly doomed to failure for a multitude of reasons.
Mostly, Joan may not fully realize the long game that one plays as a native plant gardener:
April, year 1: It's CNPW. First lay eyes on a plant you admire. Plant your selection in your garden Ah, satisfaction! You ought to be enjoying that plant soon, right?
June, year 1: Plant dies more often than not and dissatisfaction ensues. If not, then it doesn't grow much in summer anyway so you might as well have waited until Oct-Nov.
Oct-Nov, year 1: Replant, if you are dedicated or a glutton for punishment. If you are patient and haven't lost the inspiration since April, then plant for the first time.
April, year 2: It's CNPW, but your plant has only just settled in after a nice winter, and it's not an abundant bloomer after only 6 months in the ground. Don't rip it out in disappointment. Wait some more.
June, year 2: Plant has to make it through the summer. You are careful and it does. Hurray!
November, year 2: Plant establishes and grows due to winter rainfall. Ahhhh. Almost done.
April, year 3: Plant blooms. Double Hurray! You are done after only 3 years.
At this point the reasonably patient Joan Q Public may ask, "Why plant a Toyon when a Cotoneaster will fill in so much more quickly?"