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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count Bird Walk at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area

My good friend, Keri Dearborn of Animalbytes.net, led us on a great walk around the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife area this morning in honor of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend. We spent 2.5 hours spotting all sorts of birds, including 2 new one's for my life list, a Downy Woodpecker and an Osprey and also an up close look at a vulture.

Below are 6 embedded videos streamed live and recorded with my iPhone. I hope it gives you a bit of a feeling of what it was like to be out with us this morning.

Keri's husband, Michael Lawshe, took some great photos on the walk, too.

Photos of today's Great Backyard Bird Count Walk

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

A buzzing in the garden

Ash tree "flowering"Taking a few moments in the garden this morning, I heard a gentle and general buzzing throughout. It seems the large ash tree in the back garden is flowering and the bees are taking great advantage of this bright sunny day after all our rain. More rain is expect tomorrow, so it is good they are so industrious. They may be stuck in their hives for a few more days.

I have been following a lot of beekeeping info these days and seriously thinking of getting a hive of my own. I think it would be simpler than trying to keep chickens, the other big backyard farm animal, and fit better in my smallish garden.

What do you think? Are you interested in keeping bees? Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Do It Right! LA City Christmas Tree Pickup and Recycling

My friend, Keri Dearborn, over at Animalbytes has pointed out this great information for City of LA residents about Christmas tree pickup, dropoff and recycling.

In the past, many Christmas trees were simply dumped curbside, on lawns or in empty lots. They would often site there for a month or more until someone decided to clean them up.

The best action to take, of course, is to cut up, or chip/shred your tree for use as mulch in your garden or compost pile. While I have the ability to do that here, I realize some other city dwellers might not be equipped for such things.

If you can't mulch or compost your tree, the City of LA has 3 different ways to dispose of your Christmas Tree.

  1. Cut it up and place it in your standard green garden bin

  2. Leave it curbside, if it is too big to fit in the bin (or you are unable to dismantle it)

  3. Take your tree to a long list of drop-off sites around the city incuding various Parks and Recreation and Fire Station locations. This is a limited time option, though. You will only be able to do this on Saturday, January 2, 2010 and Sunday, January 3, 2010.

Here is complete information on City of Los Angeles Christmas Tree Recycling Program. Dispose of your Christmas tree properly!

Photo Credit: Flickr picture by Shira Golding

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wind damage in my area

These pictures are a good reminder that if you don't prune the dead wood out of your trees, a good wind is liable to do it for you.

Wind Effects in LA - 4 Wind Effects in LA - 3 Wind Effects in LA - 2 Wind Effects in LA - 1

We had a strong, cold Santa Ana Wind this week and any tree that had a bit of deadwood, or weak limbs, quickly shed them into streets, yards and even on top of a couple of houses. Sometimes you can't really tell if you have dead limbs higher up in the tree, but if you see them, it is best to remove them on your terms, and not the weather's.

Here in Los Angeles, we have the additional issues of dead palm fronds. These can look light, but they can come down with surprising force on unsuspecting cars and pedestrians. I wasn't able to grab a picture, but one street I passed was almost entirely buried in palm fronds, making it difficult for cars to even get down the street.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Los Angeles Watering Restrictions

Update: (July 25, 2009): "Councilman Greig Smith introduced a motion Friday, July 24 seeking to change the Department of Water and Power's (DWP) two-day-per-week lawn watering restrictions to three days a week in an effort to help homeowners save their lawns and save additional water.

"The twice-a-week restrictions are turning people's lawns brown, which hurts home values in our neighborhoods," Councilman Smith said. "For more than a decade we have had a policy of greening, not browning L.A."

The motion would change the restriction from Monday and Thursday, 15 minutes per day, as it is currently, to Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for 8 minutes per day. This would help lawns, trees and shrubs survive while still meeting conservation goals. It would even reduce watering by 6 minutes per home per week, saving many thousands of gallons of water.

Read entire article: Councilman Smith Seeks to Change Lawn Watering Restrictions from Two Days to Three Days a Week to Help Homeowners Save Their Lawns and Save More Water

EMERYVILLE, CA - MAY 13:  A sprinkler waters a...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I don't use sprinklers very much in my garden, but even alternative methods like soaker and drip are effected by the watering restrictions passed by the City of Los Angeles on June 1, 2009. After getting conflicting answers on the subject, I went to LADWP.com and got the word from the "horse's mouth". (LA Water Restrictions PDF Flyer)

It is illegal to...

• Water using sprinklers on any day other than Monday and Thursday
• Water landscaping – including lawns - between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Water using sprinklers for more than 15 minutes per watering station, 10 minutes for other irrigation systems
• Use water on any hard surfaces such as sidewalks, walkways,driveways or parking areas
• Allow runoff onto streets and gutters from excessive watering
• Allow leaks from any pipe or fixture to go unrepaired
• Wash vehicles without using a hose with a shut-off nozzle
• Serve water to customers in restaurants unless requested

Source: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Malibu Garden Club - May Meeting

Honey Bee on Winter Aconite, Eranthis hyemalisImage by Tie Guy II via Flickr

You may have heard about the Malibu Garden Club recently in this LA Times story, Malibu Garden Club trowels for new members.

Link: Malibu Garden Club Web Site

When I read this story, I immediately thought that there might be some ways to use New Media to gain visibility (and hopefully, new members) for the group. I even wrote a blog post about it. (Can New Media Save a Gardening Club?)

I am planning to be at this next meeting both to meet the members and learn more about the group and also because I think I will really enjoy the speaker.

Why don't you join me?

Malibu Garden Club - May Meeting

OUR WILD BEES: Ode to Flight Season

Back by VERY POPULAR DEMAND! If you missed Frances Night last year, you won’t want to miss her talk this year. Frances is a bee expert who will speak about Bees & their relationship with plants, nature and our Gardens, and how to plant a Bee friendly garden.

California is home to a great diversity of native bee species, whose role in pollinating plants is ‘foundational’ to the life of our ecosystem. Sudden declines in honeybee and wild bee populations around the world have set off alarms about the sustainability of wild lands, the reliability of our food crops, and the quality of life. There is new urgency for habitat preservation and more responsible use of pesticides. Learn how we can identify these fascinating and gentle insects, and how we can provide nectar and pollen plants, and nesting materials for them in our home gardens.

Frances Night
May 6, 2009

The Club House
Pt.Dume Club
29500 W Heathercliff Rd.
Malibu at 7:30 PM

Guests always welcome. Refreshments served.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's happening in my garden?

inflorescenceImage via Wikipedia

It has been a rainy week here in Los Angeles. Thank goodness, as even with substantial rain in the last 2 days, we are still running behind our yearly average. This is always a big deal here in LA as it effects everything from our gardens to overall water rationing.

Checking out the garden during a break in the rain, I notice that there is a lot going on. Some of the azaleas in the front garden are blooming and this is beginning of an overall bloom throughout that area. All the azaleas and 2 planting of raheolepsis are all pink and bring a cheerful note to the garden.

The paperwhites are almost finished at this point, with the snowbells blooming in different areas. The showiest display right now are the large daffodils I planted a few years ago. It is always great to see them return year after year. A few pop up among the purple lantana and lavender plants giving a boost to the local UCLA fans. The purple and gold theme is one of the few planned effects I created. Nearly everything else is haphazard or the produce the previous owner's hard work.

The wisteria went from buds to leaves in about one day, as the rains arrived. I would have liked to neaten it up a bit before it left dormancy, but I guess I will have to make do with with a mid-season pruning after it blooms.

The mature elm tree in the front garden is also showing signs of life again. While it does enter a dormant period, it doesn't seem to last that long. The ash trees go dormant for an even shorter period, though. They often don't lose every last leaf before budding and sprouting new foliage.

Every rain may be our last for the season and it is always surprising when we look back and remember that the last rain occurred 6, 7, 8 months ago. Growing up in Ohio, rain was a year-round occurence, so even after 23 years, I am still amazed at the near-desert conditions in my adopted home.

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