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Friday, February 28, 2003

Books/Native Plants


Native Landscaping From El Paso to L.A.

I came across this book on my visit to the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants on February 20th.

When it comes to gardening, I prefer books that deal with fairly specific areas of the country. Having moved to the Los Angeles Area from Ohio nearly 17 years ago, I am quite aware of the differences in gardening and landscaping between different states and regions. This specialized knowledge is just one thing that makes this book special.

I am also impressed with the breadth of this book. It has basic tips on using natives in your garden, detailed garden diagrams of existing properties and a large section devoted to charts of plants by soil type, water needs, climate areas and more. I am sure that gardener's of the Southwest will find a wealth of information here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


I came across this book in the March 2003 Country Living and it seemed a perfect gift for the "big kids" who love houses and gardens.


Great American Houses and Gardens

Crape Myrtle springs to life

I could have swore that only yesterday our small Crape Myrtle in the back garden was nothing but dry twigs. This morning, though, it was covered in new, red leaves. It always seems to catch me by surprise.

Our Japanese Maple is also starting to leaf out. It is always so pretty at the beginning and end of the years when the red in its leaves are most prominent.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

A Visit to the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants

Today turned out to be a wonderful day with blue skies and bright sunshine even if the winds were a bit blustery. My son, Joe, and I decided to visit this wonderful native plant nursery, seed store and bookstore in Sun Valley, California. We heard about the foundation from a friend who refently became interested in using native plants in his garden. I had vaguely remembered hearing about the foundation many years ago but never had an opportunity to visit.

The nursery has a wide selection of California native plants, including many different varieties of the same species. I counted at least 10 different varieties of Ceanothus alone. They also have a wide variety of native grapes, currants, grasses, trees and much, much more. The signage, which is very detailed, contains information on water usage, sun requirements, soil type and average size of the plant when mature. Different plants are available at different times of the year, so if you're looking for a particular variety, he would be well advised to call ahead and check on its availability.

Joe and I had a wonderful time strolling through the nursery, which is tucked up a small canyon very near La Tuna Canyon Road. Except for a few jets departing Burbank airport in the distance, it was quiet and filled with wildlife. We saw several different varieties of butterflies and birds and thousands of honeybees making great use of the nursery plants. The grounds of the foundation are also planted with a large variety of natives so you may see how the plants would work in your garden when they're fully mature. There are picnic benches available, too, if you want to come and spend a few hours in a beautfiul environment.

The foundation bookstore is well-stocked with a variety of materials and hosted by knowledgeable docents who can give you further information on any plants you might be interested in purchasing. They also provide a large variety of seed packs including single species and a large selection of mixes. We purchased their "shady mix" for use in a problematical corner in the back garden. Native plant seeds don't require a lot of preparation. You simply disturb the soil, scattered seeds, tamp them in lightly, and keep them moist until they sprout.

If you have an interest in using native plants in your garden, I highly recommend visiting the foundation and nursery. Prices range from $7-$20 depending on a size of the plant. I made quite a few notes about some plants that I want to add to my garden, but I need to think about where I want to place them first. It also gives me a great reason to go back and browse some more.

The foundation is located at:

10459 Tuxford Street

Sun Valley, California 91352


818-768-3533 Wildflower Hotline



Tuesday through Saturday 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and major holidays

Summer hours may vary, please call ahead.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Recent Books


Finding God in the Garden: Backyard Reflections on Life, Love and Compost

An interesting combination of Gardening and Christianity.

Sunday, February 16, 2003


Sunset Birdhouse Project

Sunset Magazine has an excellent birdhouse project to do by yourself or with your kids. I know it may seem like there are thousands of projects like this, but I like seeing how each person has put their house together.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Recent Garden Books


Outdoor Woodwork: 16 Easy-To-Build Projects for Your Yard and Garden

Several excellent projects, including a Potting Bench that is calling my name.


Annuals for Every Purpose

I am always looking for new plants, but never really cared much for annual plants. I garden by benign neglect and couldn't see myself replanting each and every year. Of course, here in California, many annuals can be grown as perennials. So I think I might try out a few of the suggestions from this book.


Garden Stone: Creative Ideas, Practical Projects, and Inspiration for Purely Decorative Uses

Whether you are considering a simple garden path or moving large boulders about your yard, this is a great place to start. Excellent photos, text, and detailed drawings.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Finally some rain!

It is amazing how welcoming a bit of rain can be when you haven't seen it in months. We Californians are often accused of being sun worshippers, but I live for these rainy days. Not only does it cut down on my regular watering bill, it also gives a much welcome change in the weather. 100 days of sunshine wear on me as much as 100 days of snow did when I lived in Ohio. I like some variability to my weather.

I am hoping that today's rain gives a boost to some of my plants. They have been putting out new buds and growth for most of the month, even without the usual rainfall. In past years, this early growth without a steady supply of rain has left them tired and gangly by the middle of the summer.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Recent Garden Books

These are the first books in my review of gardening holdings at the Los Angeles Public Library system. I believe it should give a fairly good impression of what might be available at other large libraries around the country and might even give you a few items to recommend to your own local librarian.

Both of these books were published in 2002.


McGee and Stuckey's Bountiful Container

It is a simple truth that not everyone has or desires a large garden. I remember working on the 1/2 acre my grandmother "farmed" back in the 70's and often thought that perhaps she was over-doing the whole gardening concept. Bountiful Containers is a wealth of information on growing a garden anywhere you might be, regardless of how much space you have available.


Accenting Your Garden: Creative Ideas from America's Best Gardeners

I believe the most beautiful gardens are those where the lovely plantings are set off against the most beautiful gardens paths, ornaments and accents. I have found several ideas in Accenting Your Garden that have made their way into my garden "wish book" for future implementation. There is information on everything from paths fencing and urns to sculpture and how to use them in your garden.

Thursday, February 06, 2003


Gardening Month-by-Month in Washington and Oregon - Available Feb. 2003

This looks like a promising title about to be released. I really like Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening: A month-by-month guide and it sounds like this might be a similar book for those of you in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003


Cherry Trees at Lake Balboa

While they aren't blooming yet, the cherry trees at Lake Balboa in Encino, will soon be showing their vibrant and colors. Due to the recent warm temperatures, I expect to see blossoms within the next two weeks. The park is absolutely gorgeous during the bloom, and is almost unrecognizable to a regular visitor.

Click on the picture for some photos of the 2001 bloom.

There are also more pictuures here.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Getting out of the garden

Sometimes I like to get out of the admittedly artificial confines of my garden and take stock of what is happening in the real world.

With that in mind, as well as a desire to exercise my nearly atrophied hiking muscles, I headed out to one of my favorite parks, Rocky Oaks.

Even with our lack of usual rain, Spring is beginning to make a showing. The red leaves at the tips of the Laural Sumac (Rhus laurina) shows that they are beginning to stir. Wild Cucumber, (Marah fabaceus) with its trailing vines and white, surprisingly fragrant flowers, is everyone. It is more visible now due to its bright green foliage against the duskier colors of those plants that have yet to realize it is Spring.

The Ceanothus are covered in their tiny blue-white blossoms. When the lighting is just right, the plants almost look like they are surrounded by a fog or somehow glowing from within.

The black sage (Salvia mellifera) is just beginning to show its tiny, blue flowers and the Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is blooming with its distinctive vanilla/butterscotch scent.

There were even a few small patches of Deadly Nightshade (Solanum Xanthi) , its purple flowers with yellow centers making it easy to spot.

The lack of rain will probably make this a poor year for wildflowers, but there will be a always be a few to please the eye.