Narrow hedged or espalied California natives

To espalier a plant is to train it into a plane of growth such as on a flat trellis or a wall.  This cultivation technique lends itself to privacy screens and other narrow spaces such as property line plantings adjacent to a walkway or driveway.  Frequently, the same purpose is served by narrow hedges, which tend not to need the support of a trellis or wall, so I'll try to summarize both in this blog post.  Fruit trees such as citrus, apples, pears, and quince (yum) are frequently espaliered with success and are a delight to see.  Depending upon your garden sensibilities, a fruit tree espalier might be just the thing.  I won't dwell further on those here.

California native discussion after the jump break.


About 5" of rain in the last week; 8.98" total this rainy season

There were two significant storms this week in my area and together they brought us just over 5" of rain. Today, Los Angeles was ringed with mountains covered in snow - a rare and beautiful view.
12/23/2019 3.29
12/24/2019 0.04
12/26/2019 1.69


TPF purchases

I just learned that you can get email receipts for current purchases from TPF and historical receipts (if you are a member) back to 2016 or so. However, my requested emails haven't shown up, so I'm still hand-entering my purchases.

These are from 11/23/2019. During that visit, I stumbled upon a bunch of 2" plants that were left over from propagation and they were clearing them out at 6 for $6. They weren't root bound, having not spent much time languishing on the nursery shelf, so I grabbed some manzanitas, Leptodactylon californicum (Prickly Phlox), and Datura which I planted out or potted on (manzanita). 

Calystegia macrostegia 1G 2 $18.00
Malva 'Black Heart' 1D 1 9.00 planted on slope
Sambucus nigra ssp caerulea 2" 1 $2.70 potted on, for now
Stipa coronata (Achnatherum coronatum) 4" 3 $16.20
Lepechinia fragrans 'El Tigre' 1G $9.00 Planted on slope
Adenostoma fasciculatum var. fasciculatum 1G 10.80 Planted in front of house to replace one that was shaded to death by an adjacent plant
Carex preagracillis (seed) 1 Oz $25.60
Papaver heterophyllum seed 2 $9.00 - The lovely Wind Poppy, which is a fire follower, so perhaps I will soak in
Wind Poppy seed 2 $12.60
Including the $6 six pack, tax, and my member discount I was out of there for $136.66. They aren't giving this native plant stuff away, that's for sure. Also for sure is that the smaller plants are super cost-effective compared to the larger.

3.81" of rain so far this year

The first rains have come and gone and we are off to a good start for the rainy season. It's raining more as I type this, so I'm happy for the garden.

Date RecordedAmount (in.)

Timber post supplier

I've had a hard time finding poles or landscape timbers longer than 8'.  I can easily get dimensional lumber that is more than 8' in length, but for certain garden construction projects it really improves the project aesthetics to have a more rustic or natural look.

For example, in England we observed that climbing roses were often trained up a solitary pole, a practice I subsequently learned was called pillaring. Yes, it's a verb.  The poles resembled branches or trunks of small trees, which added to the naturalistic effect.  The major big box stores (HD, Lowes) have landscape timbers (flats on two opposite sides, curved on the adjacent sides) and poles in 8' lengths.  Armstrong had stakes (~2-1/2" diameter pressure treated round lumber) in 8' and 10' length.  These were all deemed too short (about 1/3 of the above-ground height should be in-ground for stability) and too thin (a substantial look is desire, so maybe a minimum of 4" diameter was wanted).  Ganahl had a similar 8' (max) selection, but referred me to my new favorite garden supplier C & E Lumber (CElumber.com).  They _specialize_ in posts.  Who ever heard of that??!  I can't wait to visit.


Manzanita bitters

Hunter & Co's
Celebrated Very Justly

Los Angeles Star newspaper, February 18, 1960 and March 10, 1860
If you want to drink an exceedingly pleasant and healthy Tonic and at the same time Encourage Home Manufacture, Try this splendid article.  It has never been advertised, and is comparatively new, but its own merits have already caused it to be so widely known and so immensely popular, that the thousand and one kinds of TRASH imported and purporting to be imported from the States and palmed off upon the public as good HEALTHY Bitters, are being driven from the market.

Nearly all old California miners are acquainted with the virtue of the MANZANITA bush, from EXPERIENCE, besides which, it has been pronounced to contain rare medical properties, by some of the first physicians and chemists of the age, and we assure the public that it has lost nothing in the compound.  Aside from it, one of the principle ingredients being CALIFORNIA WINE.

HUNTER & CO., Sole Proprietors
Market Street, SAN FRANCISCO
For Sale EVERYWHERE  de24m3

Los Angeles Star newspaper, February 18, 1960 and March 10, 1860 found at the LA County Library


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden purchases

I was up in Santa Barbara on 5 Oct and made a stop by the SBBG.  I thought hard about not buying anything, but come on!  How fun would that be?  They had a great selection which they plan to maintain throughout the month of October.

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama Grass) species 4x1 gal $8 ea - I realized that I had some planted already when I got home.  This grass has a cool-looking seed head that looks like an eyelash and it's been on my mind to try it mixed in with the Carex pragracilis that defines a garden path.  It's also a UC Davis Arboretum all star plant (meaning adaptable and hard to kill). 

Calliandra californica (Baja Fairy Duster) 1 gal- A previous inhabitant of the garden, I lost it when I tried to transplant it.  It was so beautiful and successful in its previous location that I need a do-over.

Chilopsis linearis (Desert Willow) 1 gal- The one I have has been in a pot and I think that it's compromised.  This will hopefully go in the ground

Oxalis oregana (Redwood sorrel) 1 gal- I have a shady, damp, spot for this to nap all summer long on the north side of the house where the condensate from the AC is sent.

The last three were 9 or 10 each, but I lost track of which had the highest price.

Total 60.00 plus tax


2018-2019 rainfall total 25.32"

Here's all the data that I recorded during the last rainy season. There are certainly a few minor errors, since I wasn't as attentive as in previous years, so consider this total a lower bound.  The overall take home message was that we got plenty of rain.

Date RecordedAmountCumulative



Miss Rhumphius

I received a recommendation for a children's book the other day. 

Miss Rhumphius is a woman who scatters lupine seed all around town. Written by Barbara Cooney, it has very nice illustrations.  Available at the usual places one buys such things, you can read it to a child in kindergarten or they might read it on their own in later grades.

The book seems apropos because of the native Arroyo lupine that grows all over Palos Verdes, despite the tendency of the city to treat it like a common weed. Someday I fear it will all be gone in favor of non-native grasses. A lupine explosion might wake a few people up to the beauty that we have already for free in our back yard.


TPF 2/16/19

In years past, this is the sort of thing that a gardener would tape into their garden notebook. I'll just leave it here.

For later search:

Lepechinia cardiophylla 1 9.00
Diplacus (Mimulus) 'Trish' 2 16
Calystegia macrstegia 1 9.00
Styrax redivivus 1 9.00
Cirsium occidentale 4" 3 13.50
Carex pansa 4" 12 54.00
Seeds 2 9.00

Brent - via iPhone

Fwd: New California Roadkill Observation System!

I previously noted to good work of the CROS.  Although somewhat morbid, roadkill is certainly a definite way to identify wildlife. Identifying is the first step to managing (perhaps with a view to alleviate roadkill?).  Tagged this with the camera trap tag while tongue firmly in cheek.

Some time ago I received this nice update on the new Roadkill Observation System from Fraser Shilling:

Dear CROS Team,
We are happy to announce a new version of CROS!
New CROS offers the following:

* Support for smartphones and tablets (mobile devices). You can now enter data with your smart phone more easily.
* Single photo upload to create observation. If you setup your phone to allow location to be shared (called geotagging), uploading only the photo will create the whole record. This saves lots of time, and you can optionally enter more details, like the species, at a later time.
* More streamlined user interface for entering data.
* You can still view all of your data on a map, or download it to a CSV file.

If you have entered at least one observation into CROS, we transferred your account to new CROS, and all you need to do is setup a new password. Here are the steps.
1. Go to this page:
2. Enter your email address and click submit. Then check your email and click on the link that will help you reset your password.
3. Enter your new password and you should be all set to use it next time you want to login.

If you have any problems, just email Fraser & Dave (fmshilling@ucdavis.edu; dwaetjen@ucdavis.edu) and we can help you.

If you signed up for CROS but never entered an observation, you will need to create a new account (or enter observations anonymously). Follow this link to create an account:
Thanks for your interest and contributions,
The CROS Team at the Road Ecology Center


The plant sales start early

Made the following purchase at Annie's Annuals at sale prices.  While this is clear-out-the old type of sale, the bring-in-the-new type of native plant sales are just around the corner.  I hope I can bridge the end months of summer with these plants into the cooler establishment months of autumn. 

With shipping, I pay the same price at Annie's as full retail in my neck of the woods (Los Angeles area) but I don't have to put up with traffic.  Also, I figured out a way to filter Annie's web site sale items for California Native plants, so it made my selection easier. (As a side note, having decided that I will garden with Ca native plants exclusively actually makes my gardening easier.  Imagine the analysis paralysis that I would have if I could choose outside that slice of the plant world.) 

I already have one successful 'Margarita BOP' Penstemon but two others failed in nearby locations.  I'll get a retry with this order.  Also, I'll have a similar set of P. 'Blue Springs' to play with - maybe I will plant them together in a big drift or two. 

The Monardella 'Marian Sampson' is an experiment.  I think that underneath the Encelia where it will get occasional summer water would be a good place.  Apparently it's hard to establish, so I will improve my odds with two.

Annie's received the following order on 08/20/19
Order Information:
Order #235504
Item ID Product Name Quantity Unit Price Total
4611 Penstemon heterophyllus 'Margarita BOP' 2 $6.71 $13.42
5062 Monardella macrantha 'Marian Sampson' 2 $5.96 $11.92
818 Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs' "Foothill Penstemon" 2 $6.71 $13.42
Subtotal $38.76
Sales Tax (9.50%) $3.68
Shipping $13.95
Total $56.39
Credit Card $56.39


5.54" of rain; season total 20.78"

We had 5.54" inches of rain this last couple weeks and the mountains around LA were covered in snow  - a beautiful sight in winter.  For those is less Mediterranean parts of the world, this is a really bountiful rain year for us.  The garden was of course full of weeds, but the natives have responded well too.

2/21/2019 0.02
2/17/2019 0.07
2/16/2019 0.04
2/15/2019 0.82
2/14/2019 3.50
2/12/2019 0.30
2/10/2019 0.20
2/9/2019 0.29
2/5/2019 0.30


10.42" rain over the past 30 days; 15.24" season total so far

Over about the past 30 days, I've accumulated 10.42" of rain in my back yard as shown below.  The dates are the dates that I read the rain gauge.  

2/4/2019 0.20
2/3/2019 1.75
1/31/2019 0.74
1/16/19 1.80
1/15/2019 1.61
1/14/2019 1.85
1/13/2019 0.02
1/12/2019 1.28
1/7/2019 0.77
1/5/2019 0.40

This is good news for us, considering that last year we had in the low single digits of inches of rain.