Two Surprise Appearances!

Layia single           This Fall, the GNG staff planted some individual pots of known wildflowers, but they also broadcast some wildflower seed mixtures whose composition was not exactly known by the staff.  We knew what we would probably see in the Spring, but in the latter case, we might be in for some surprises.  The latter case prevailedHere are our discoveries, so far.

Tidy Tips                                                                                                                             Layia cluster           Tidy tips (Layia platyglossa) is one of the later-blooming native California wild- flowers — later, that is, than the earlier blooming goldfields, lupine, fiddleneck, baby blue eyes and five-spot that were featured in our previous post (see “Return of the Wild- flowers”, posted on March 19, 2015, archived in March, 2015).  It hangs around for a long time during the late winter and early spring, and competes favorably in identify-ability with goldfields. You can figure out why someone once named it “tidy tips”!  (Remember, you can enlarge most photos by clicking on them.)

Mountain Garland                                                                                                              Mountain garland           This is one form of the genus Clarkia that was featured in an earlier post (“Clarkia – A Native Flower with a History”, posted on May 4, 2014, archived in May, 2014).  The flower has its petals arranged in a fan-like arrangement, rather than a cup-shape.  The Clarkias bloom later in Spring, but the mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata) blooms earlier than the later-blooming “Farewell-To-Spring” (Clarkia amoena).

“Bush Poppy?  I Have To Have One Of Those!”                                                                         Recently Willi and her young charge, Madison, stopped at the GNG for their lunch break.  Afterward, they toured the Garden and noticed the different plants that were in

Madison (on the left) and Willi

Madison (on the left) and Willi

bloom, and studied the ID markers that told them about the plants.  Willi spent a lot of time admiring the bush poppy (see “The Ever-Blooming Bush Poppy”, published on February 3, 2015 and archived in February, 2015).  It’s bright yellow flowers prompted her to find one for her yard too.  (Bush poppies are not readily available at all native nurseries, and might be a bit hard to get established, but they are surely worth the try.)                                          At this time in the Granada Native Garden, the early blooming wildflowers are be- ginning to shut down for the season.  Soon they will mature and release their seeds for next year’s display, but are about to be replaced by the red, pink and white Clarkias (the mountain garland was first noticed in bloom on March 30; the farewell-to-spring should appear very soon), and the tidy tips seem to want to hang around well into Spring.  Hopefully the evening primroses, and the one (currently) buckeye tree will be in bloom.  We have seen monarch butterflies searching for the milkweed, buckeye butterflies and lots of bees visiting the holly-leafed cherry, and pairs of lesser goldfinches are breakfasting every morning on the ripening seeds of the fiddleneck.  The flannelbushes are in full bloom now.  There is always something going on there!

Quote du Jour                                                                                                                               “As we passed below the hills the whole plain was covered with great patches of rose, yellow, scarlet, orange, and blue.  The colors did not seem to mix to any great extent.  Each kind of flower liked a certain kind of soil best, and some of the patches of one color were a mile or more across.  My daddy had traveled a great deal, and it was not easy to get him excited about wild flowers or pretty scenery.  But he said that he would not have believed that such a place existed if he had not seen it himself.”                                              – From the journal of Jeff Mayfield as his family first encountered the San Joaquin Valley in 1850; quoted from the website of the Larner Seed Company.

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The Return of the Wildflowers

A hillside of California poppies

A hillside of California poppies

The first explorers in California marvelled at the display of wildflowers that illuminated the landscape every Spring.  On record are reports of vast fields filled with golden poppies and bright yellow goldfields.  “Early California was a massive flower garden.  Densely growing native wildflowers and grasses of hundreds of varieties at one time covered large areas of ground, not just in open grasslands but also in the forests, oak woodlands and chaparral.  John Muir dubbed the state ‘the Pacific land of flowers’.”      (M. Kat Anderson, Tending the Wild).

A hillside of European mustard

A hillside of European mustard

Vast fields of yellow can still be found on California hillsides.  But it’s a good guess that they are not the native California poppies and goldfields, but the invasive non-natives field mustard (from Europe) and oxalis (also called Bermuda buttercup, but it’s from South Africa) which have hijacked the California landscape.                                                                 California native wildflowers are still plentiful, but you have to know where to look.  One of those places is the Granada Native Garden, where we are successfully establishing populations of wildflowers that re-seed themselves year after year, depending somewhat on the weather.                                      The wildflowers are short-lived, and they go to seed and dry up as soon as the weather gets warm – that’s part of their survival mechanism during the hot, dry summers.  So visit the GNG very soon to see them in their glory.  Several of the flowers are identified with markers that not only tell you their name, but also describe some of their interesting features, history and ethnobotany.

Current Attractions Now Showing!                                                                                  ID Markers           Here are a few of the native California wildflowers that used to be common features of the California landscape.  Many are in bloom now; some will bloom in a few weeks, or later in the evening.  Remember that most photos can be enlarged just by clicking on them.  When you visit the GNG, you will notice identification markers in front of many of the plants (like the photo at the left).  The long, tube-like markers tell you more information about the plant than just its name; you may lift the marker off its support post if you are interested, then put it back on its post.   If you don’t see an ID marker in front of something that attracts your attention, continue strolling around the Garden and look for another location of the same plant.

Goldfields (Lasthenia glabrata)
The seeds of goldfields were a highlyGoldfields nutritious traditional food for the Native Amerticans of California.  Reportedly the seeds were ground up and mixed with water and seasonings to make a tasty pinole, either as a beverage or as a cereal resembling oatmeal.  In the Spring, extensive fields of goldfields created “a vast acreage of heavenly yellow.”  The blossom is also a nectar source for the endangered checkerspot butterfly.

Five-SpotFive-Spot (Nemophila maculata)
Wonder why this flower is called “five spot?  Look closely at one of the blossoms, and you will see!  Five-spot is one of the first flowers to appear in the Spring, and it produces seeds abundantly for the next year’s crop.  Birds relish the large black seeds.  And it’s an excellent choice if your child is inspired to start a garden of his or her own!

Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii)
Fiddleneck is one of the earliest and mostFiddleneck common of the Spring flowers.  It gets its name from the shape of the yellow flower- head, which gets longer as it matures and curves downward – resembling the neck of a fiddle!  Native Americans harvested the seeds of the plentiful fiddleneck as a source of food.  Fiddleneck is also a host plant for the painted lady butterfly, and goldfinches visit the blossoms every morning.

Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii)
Baby blue eyesThe explorer John C. Fremont wrote in his journal, “The blue fields of nemophila and the golden poppy represent fairly the blue skies and gold of California”.  Baby blue eyes is one of the first flowers to appear in the Spring, and it pro- duces seeds abundantly for the next year’s crop.  Reportedly, sometimes the flowers are pure white or dark purple.  Birds relish its large black seeds.

Evening primroseEvening Primrose (Oenothera hookeri)
Unlike most flowers that open in the  morning and go to sleep at night, the evening primrose is so-called because it opens at dusk.  This allows the nocturnal sphinx moth to pollinate the flower as well as to obtain nectar for itself.  The flower remains open for a while in the morning, and is also attractive to bees and butter- flies.  By noon, the flowers wither and the next set of buds gets ready to open.  This is one of the flowers that isn’t quite ready to bloom yet.

Clarkia, or Farewell-To-Spring (Clarkia amoena)
ClarkiaClarkia is named after William Clark, of the 1804 Lewis & Clark Expedition, who brought back specimens for President Thomas Jefferson.   Its common name is Farewell-to-Spring, because it flowers just around the time Spring is about to segue into summer.  In addition to their bright and showy blossoms, Clarkia seeds were a favorite food of the Native Americans – toasted and ground to make a cereal-like pinole or a beverage.  Thousands of charred Clarkia seeds were found in a late prehistoric cremation site in Pleasanton.  Native Americans also used fire to increase the abundance of Clarkia (and other edible and otherwise useful plants).  This is another one of the flowers that isn’t quite ready to bloom yet.   (For more information about Clarkia, see the post “Clarkia – A Native Flower with a History”, archived on May 4, 2014.)

Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus)                                                                                         The name “lupine” comes from the Latin “lupus”, which means “wolf”, becauseLupine lupines grow in deficient, low-nutrient soil, and they were (incorrectly) blamed for the low quality of the soil!  Actually, lupines are legumes (members of the pea family), and like most of the members of that family, their roots have nodules that contain very unique bacteria that are able to convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrate, a form that can be absorbed and used by the plant.  For that reason, legumes are commonly planted as a “green manure” crop in order to renew the nitrogen content of the soil in a garden.  So rather than depleting the soil, lupines actually restore it, especially for growing crops that have a high nitrogen requirement, such as cucumbers, squash, broccoli and spinach.  (For more information about lupine, see the post “Lupine – Friend or Foe?” archived on April 29, 2013.)

California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica)
Last but not least, and in need of no introduction, the California poppy is the state flowerPoppies of California!  It was named by a German botanist in honor of another botanist, Johann von Eschscholtz.  The flowers close at night, but open again in the morning when the sun is up and the evening chill is gone.  Native Americans used the leaves medicinally, the seeds in cooking, and the pollen as a bright yellow cosmetic (For more information about poppies, see the post “Celebrating Poppies” archived on March 15, 2013.)

Ceanothus 'Dark Star'

Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’

Also Now Showing . . .                                                     While you are visiting the Garden, there are a number of other native plants that are currently in bloom, in addition to the ones pictured above.  Maybe some would look good in your home landscaping!  Among the most memorable are the Ceanothus varieties, also named California lilac; see the photos below.  The others aren’t pictured here, but there are ID markers at each one to tell you something about it.  Here is a list:  California lilac ‘Dark Star’, California lilac ‘Snow Flurry’, California lilac ‘Yankee Point’, Golden currant, Bush poppy, Flannelbush, Purple sage, yarrow, snowdrop, and last but not least, the lowly June grass.  Explore the Garden and find things you’ve never seen before!

Ceanothus 'Yankee Point'

Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’

Ceanothus 'Snow Flurry'

Ceanothus ‘Snow Flurry’

 

More Help Needed at the GNG!                            The Granada Native Garden could use an extra set of hands and feet to do whatever needs to be done at any time of the year – preferably on Monday mornings when Jim is there irrigating plants.  Currently weeding is the priority.  If you are interested in volunteering on a fairly regular basis, please contact Jim at < JIMatGNG1@gmail.com >.

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The Ever-Blooming Bush Poppy

Bush poppy blossom 3           The bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) really is a poppy (Family Papaveraceae),  it just doesn’t look like the poppies we are accustomed to seeing.  And, strictly speaking, it’s supposed to bloom from February to May or June.  But the bush poppy (also called a tree poppy) at the Granada Native Garden doesn’t know that — it seems to be in bloom all year round, more or less.  More during its assigned blooming season.                                            The bush poppy is one of those plants at the Granada Native Garden that never receives any water (once it is firmly established) outside of the rainy season — no summer water.  It grows well in both sun or shade, but seems to prefer sunny locations (which match its brilliantly sunny blossoms!), as long as the drainage is very good.  The only care we give it in exchange for its colorful addition to the Garden is to remove the older, dead leaves, which are slow to fall off and need to be removed by hand from time to time.Whole Dendromecon                                                              The bush poppy is  also a “Fire Follower” (see the July 10, 2014 post for more about fire followers).  Our bush poppy was touched on its right side by the June 1, 2014 fire, which ruined its otherwise perfect symmetry.  Ironically, occasional fire is good for bush poppies — fires that sweep over ground where their seeds have fallen seem to enhance their ability to germinate.  In fact, one tool that nursery personnel use to germinate bush poppy seeds is to plant them in flats, then put some leaf litter on top of the flats and set the litter on fire.  (Note:  You can usually enlarge photos by clicking on them.)               Another variety, the Island Bush Poppy, (Dendromecon harfordii) is almost identical to D. rigida, but is reported to be somewhat more difficult to grow.

Coming Attractions! Lupine                                                                          During the past two years, the GNG staff has tried to add a wider selection of native wildflowers to the Garden.  Among the additions are more lupine (Lupinus succulentus, at the right → ), as well as five-spot (Nemophila maculata, below ↓ at the left), baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii), goldfields (Lasthenia Five-Spotglabrata), and evening primrose (Oenothera hookeri).  Planted last year and spreading on their own this year in considerable abundance are lots of farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena, below ↓ at the right) and fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii).  The five-spot and the goldfields are already showing signs of blooming.  If theFarewell-to-Spring weather helps out (that is, with a little more rain), we should be able to enjoy an exciting display of native California wildflowers this Spring, primarily in March and April.  Along, of course, with the California poppies, which are perennial show-stoppers.  Don’t miss them, beginning now, thru March and April!

Quote du Jour                                                                                                                             Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
                                                                                                                   – Albert Einstein

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Water Management at the Granada Native Garden

           Recently, the Granada Native Garden staff was asked to explain how watering issues are managed at the GNG during the current drought situation.  This is a good question, because there are several hundred plants at the Garden, and many of them were planted just this Fall, and if natives ever need water the most, it is when they are newly planted and need both time and water to become acclimatized to their new environment.  And, to make it more fun, there is no water supply at the Garden!                                                   Mary Ann suggested that this explanation of the watering procedure would make a useful post in the GNG Newsletter.  The following is an adaptation of the paper that was submitted.

Southwest Entrance, Oct 2011Water at the Granada Native Garden                                                                                        The Granada Native Garden is a 1/3-acre plot in Livermore, California, completely landscaped with native California plants.  Wedged between Murrieta Blvd. and a popular bicycle and walking trail which parallels the Arroyo Mocho, it is roughly the shape of a long scalene triangle about 275 long and about 100 feet wide at its base.  This particular area was a barren, trash-strewn lot before it was adopted by an army of volunteers to become a native plant garden in 2004-05.  A testimony to the way a neglected piece of land can be transformed into a community asset with both aesthetic and educational value with environmental overtones, the Garden was primarily intended to be a demonstration of the kind of native California landscaping plants that can exist in the Livermore area using little or no summer water, only water that falls as rain in the winter or is present in the under-ground water table.  (Note:  Photos can usually be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Toyon (Christmas berry) – no summer water

Toyon (Christmas berry) – NO Summer Water

Inasmuch as the original vision of the garden was to demonstrate California native plants that could survive without any summer water, it lacks a source of water for main- taining the plants.  Water that was originally needed to start the Garden was brought by means of a fire hose stretched across the arroyo from nearby Granada High School.  Therefore any water that is needed at present to maintain the plants, or to install new plantings, must be brought in from other sources, or carried up from the arroyo by the bucketful when water happens to be flowing in the arroyo. Now, 10 years later, many native buckwheats, California lilacs, currants, oaks  and other natives still occupy a prominent place at the Garden, and receive no summer water.  The Garden is alive with California poppies in March and April.  Nevertheless, many specimens originally planted there no longer exist there.  This is chiefly because they did not receive the kind of regular care that any landscape plant requires in order to thrive.  Mainly, the care we refer to here is that of water management.  Every living thing, no matter where it comes from, requires some degree of water management, because every living thing consists mainly of water, without which it cannot survive.

Buckwheat, in bloom – NO Summer Water

Buckwheat, in bloom – NO Summer Water

Buckwheat, in the fall – no summer water

Buckwheat, in the fall – NO Summer Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Much Water Is Needed at the Granada Native Garden                                                    When water is at a premium, as during times of drought, it is important to know what kind of water regimen a plant needs in order to thrive, or at least to survive until better times.                                                                                                                                    At the Granada Native Garden, we routinely research the specific water require- ments of each plant we plan to add to the Garden.  This is especially true with specimens that are used to fill in empty spots, or to replace specimens that have not survived due to natural attrition or inadvertent neglect, or as a result of a recent fire that spread to the Garden.  It is characteristic of native plants that they require a considerable amount of water in order to get them established, but in general they require little or no water to maintain them after that.                                                                                                                  At the time of this writing (November, 2014), we are maintaining over 100 individual plants that were installed within the past year or two.  These plants need to be watered about once each week, or in some cases every two weeks.  The water requirement for this effort amounts to about 75-100 gallons per week.  Once they are established (the usual standard for this is two years in the ground and double the size), the water requirement will be reduced to biweekly, monthly, or not at all after the rainy season — depending on the needs of the plant and the amount of water that is believed to be available from the water table or from the atmosphere in the form of fog or natural humidity.  Keep in mind, however, that the water table is continually dropping because water is drawn from it to support local homes and businesses, and the lack of abundant rain in the winter doesn’t allow the water table to be replenished.                                                                                           I would like to point out that the number of individual plants we are maintaining is substantially greater than the number of plants likely to be found in a residential garden.  Some plants require more water than others, depending on their initial size, specific requirements, or location in the Garden.  And while 100 gallons per week seems like a lot of water, it is actually less than 5% of my family’s weekly water usage during October-November, 2014 — which goes to show how much water a typical family uses in a week!   I estimate that the cost of this water is about $5 per week.

Drip Buckets

One-gallon & 1/2-gallon drip buckets

How Water Is Supplied to Plants at the Granada Native Garden                                            Because there is no source of water that can be tapped into at the Granada Native Garden, all water must be brought in from other sources, and administered to each plant by hand.                                                                                                                                          Keep in mind that none of the established plants at the Garden need to be watered at all during the summer (although we feel that a few could profit appearance-wise by occasional summer water, such as once or twice a month).  But because of the large number of new plants that have been added, we spend about 2-4 hours per week manually carrying water to each plant that requires it in order to get it established.  Irrigation is facilitated by means of one-gallon and half-gallon buckets that have three or four small (1/8-inch) holes drilled near the bottom of the bucket.  Once the apparent water requirement of each plant is estimated, a bucket of appropriate size, or sometimes two or more, is placed at or near the base of the plant.  Water is then carried in 1-gallon con- tainers to each plant and poured into each bucket.  The holes allow the water to be slowly released into the soil, rather than trickling along the surface and away from the plant where it would not reach the roots.  We call them “trickle buckets” or “drip buckets”, as they roughly simulate drip irrigation.                                                                                                         In the case of recently planted specimens, some of the water is poured directly on the base of the plant in order to irrigate the center of the root ball; the rest is poured into the bucket.  As a plant grows, the buckets should be moved farther from the plant base in order to encourage outward expansion of the root system.  Often more than one bucket is placed at the base of a plant, as needed to distribute water more uniformly around the root ball.  For some larger plants, 3 or 4 one-gallon buckets with holes drilled directly on the bottom are placed over the root zone to provide wider coverage.                                                    Once a bucket is filled, it can be left to drain while the worker moves on to other plants.  Drainage usually takes 5-10 minutes.  Once a week is generally enough to irrigate a specimen, as most native plants usually like to go dry between waterings, rather than be kept constantly wet.  Daily watering is never necessary.

Golden currant – NO Summer Water

Golden currant – NO Summer Water

How Practices at the Granada Native Garden Can Be Adopted by Homeowners                                       It should be obvious that the method of irrigation described above requires a good deal of involvement on the part of the gardener, as well as a knowledge, or a good estimate (i.e., an educated guess) about the needs of the plant.  However, this task should be dramatically easier for a homeowner with a landscape of typical size, as opposed to a native garden one-third of an acre in size, planted entirely with natives.  Furthermore, most of the inconvenience in carrying out this procedure consists of setting out the buckets and collecting them afterward.  Often a homeowner can efficiently fill the buckets from a garden hose equipped with a hand-operated shutoff nozzle.                                                           One additional advantage of hand-watering over an automatic irrigation system is that it gives the gardener the opportunity to observe each plant individually once a week and see how it is doing.  That way, signs of stress (usually not enough water, too much water, or water in the wrong place) can be noticed and addressed before the plant suffers irreversible damage.

Bush poppy – NO summer water

Bush poppy – NO summer water

On the other hand, it is likely that many home gardeners do not have the time or inclination to water their plants individually, as described above.  Furthermore, for the same reason, they are unlikely to have a satisfactory knowledge of the water requirements of each plant (which can easily be had by researching the plants, but again that requires both time and the inclination).                  To address this issue, one suggestion is that those native plant advocates who have an above-average knowledge of native plants be willing to donate time, free of charge and within reason, to any home gardener who requests it.  Free, because charging for such advice is a disincentive to ask for it.  I personally would be pleased to have someone solicit my knowledge and experience, limited though it is, without charging them anything; but of course I don’t depend on that for my living.  A professional native gardener might simply offer, for example, one hour of free advice (and maybe encourage more business).                        Finally, if the drought persists, the water management at the Granada Native Garden might need to be revisited.  The current plan is to decrease watering as the plants mature, but the lack of an underground water reservoir might make the work of sustaining the plants burdensome and unmanageable.  Time will tell.  Adapt or perish.

Martha & Kerry, hard at work building the Garden

Martha & Kerry, hard at work building the Garden

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Why Should We Plant Natives?

The Granada Native Garden in April, 2014

The Granada Native Garden in April, 2014

For Beauty and Color                                                                                                                   For many years, Jeff’s mother felt that native California plants just wouldn’t look right in her garden in Orange County, California.  She had planted a lush non-native landscape to remind her of her Pennsylvania childhood, and she resisted incorporating even one California native.                                                                                                               Then, she discovered the Matilija poppy, and her resistance evaporated.                              Now, Jeff’s mother takes joy in the Verbena lilacina, Penstemon Margarita BOP and Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ which showplace in her garden.  She delights in the gulf fritillary and monarch butterflies that sip nectar from her flowers and lay eggs in her garden – things she had never noticed before.  Goldfinches feed the caterpillars to their young and feast on the seeds produced by her now-California garden.                                                             This is the kind of paradigm change that needs to happen in our California gardens and yards.  Small changes in many yards will make a big psychological impact.

Matilija Poppy

Matilija Poppy

A Sense of Place                                      We often travel to other places to experience the people, culture, customs and environment in other parts of the country and the world.  How boring it would be if every place were the same!                         And yet, globalization is allowing this to happen.  A traveler to France recently commented that many of the front and back yards there looked the same as those in Southern California.  Go to a Home Depot or Lowe’s in Southern California, then to a Botanic or Jardiland in France, companies with extensive market presence, and you will find them selling many of the same plants from all over the world:  hydrangea, lantana, oleander, photinia, pittosporum, and many others.                                           One writer reports that he has even found the famous drought-resistant California native, matilija poppy, growing in Cheshire, England, where the climate could not be more different.  If you spend good money to travel to Europe or anywhere else in the world, do you want to see California transplanted there?                                                                                 California became known as the land of flowers from the time the first explorers set foot here.  Others who followed were amazed by the wide range of plant types, including trees, shrubs, perennials, bulb plants, vines, succulents, grasses and non-flowering plants.  While some of these plants were similar to those of their homelands, many were new to them.                                                                                                                                   Now, if you walk around any typical California neighborhood, it will be hard to find many, if any, of these California natives growing there.  Is California becoming like any other place in the world?  Have we lost our sense of place?                                                          On a deeper level, social psychologists believe that the environment which children experience while growing up influences their environmental preferences as adults.  This sense of place forms part of their identity and forms a basis for them to consider, evaluate and appreciate subsequent places later in life.                                                                                    (Note:  Most photos can be enlarged just by clicking on them.)

The same scene, April, 2005

The same scene, April, 2005

The Granada Native Garden in December, 2002

The Granada Native Garden in December, 2002

                                                                       Environmental Compatibility                                                                                                       Native plants have evolved to live within the local climate, soil types and water supply.  Simply stated, native plants grow well in the climate in which they have evolved – better than those that evolved in Asia or South Africa.  Furthermore, native bees, butterflies, birds and other animals have co-evolved with the same native plants, so that both native plants and native animals depend on one another for food, shelter and reproductive success.  When one part of this collage disappears, the rest of it is irretrievably affected.

The Garden in June, 2012

The Garden in June, 2012

Resistance to Pests                                                                                                                      Because native plants have evolved alongside native pest organisms, they have developed resistances to the pests and are less likely to be affected by them.  The loss of native plants in the environment, and their replacement by plants that have evolved in a different environment, disrupts this natural balance between plants and animals.  Plants that have the potential to become invasive, and animals that can turn into pests, no longer have the natural controls that keep their populations in check.

A golden digger wasp – great for pest control!

A golden digger wasp – great for pest control!

As a result, humans resort to artifi- cial herbicides and pesticides which further degrade the environment, get into our bodies, and kill off both the pests and the beneficial insects as well.                                                        The re-introduction of more native plants can help restore the balance between native plants and animals.

Low Water Requirements                         In general, plants that evolved in the Caifornia environ- ment have adapted to wet winters and dry summers.  It is true that native plants need a considerable supply of water at first in order to establish them.  But for the most part, once they have been in place for two years and have doubled in size, they don’t require year- round irrigation (altho many of them are adapted to dry summers and go dormant, but a little summer water often helps them look better even in the dry months).                                         Nonetheless, homeowners who have sacrificed their thirsty lawns with an attractive, well-planned array of native California plants report that their monthly water bills are much lower, while their home landscaping remains both attractive and something to be proud of.  Moreover, the science and technology of water-wise irrigation has come a long way in the last 40-50 years.                                                                                                                  (Remember, most photos can be enlarged just by clicking on them.)

Native irises, Santa Barbara daisies, and California poppies in Cindy's garden.

Native irises, Santa Barbara daisies, and California poppies in Cindy’s garden.

Minimal Maintenance Expense                                                                                                   California native plants have evolved to thrive in the heavy, dry, clay and gravelly soils that characterize the Livermore-Amador Valley.  If properly selected and sited, native plants should flourish with a minimum of attention.  Fertilizing, spraying and pruning can be reduced or eliminated – a healthy layer of mulch provides as much slow-release fertilizer as the natives require.  Appropriate strategies help create a self-maintaining ecosystem that will attract in beneficial bugs to out-compete and devour the unwelcome ones.  Occasional pruning, shaping and dead-heading, which is routine with any landscape or garden, is all that is needed.

Lilac verbena, California lilac and Idaho fescue in Cindy's garden.

Lilac verbena, California lilac and Idaho fescue in Cindy’s garden.

Habitat Preservation                                                                                                                    Non-native plants often mean trouble for natives.  They might simply be more competitive than native species for nutrients, light, space, water or food.  At the Granada Native Garden, the first winter rains produce fast-growing non-native grasses and weeds that smother the natives which are just emerging, unless our volunteers aggressively evict the weeds as they appear.                                                                                                               If a non-native species has evolved to survive competition from other plants or from predation, it might have no competition in its new environment.  Some non-native weeds produce chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants in the same vicinity.  The root systems of some species might enable them to reach water unavailable to the surrounding natives, thus crowding out the natives.  Others are better able to resist fire and to recover after frequent, intense fires.  The invasive species eventually grows larger and denser as it adapts to its new location, thus displacing the natives.                                                                    Furthermore, the loss of native species results in the decline of native birds and insects that have evolved to rely on these plants.  It is happening all over the world.

Hummingbird fuchsia greets visitors in Kerry's garden.

Hummingbird fuchsia greets visitors in Kerry’s garden.

Attracting Wildlife                                                                                                                         Birds and pollinators are essentials, not luxuries.  Birds provide natural pest control, watershed protection and re-forestation services.  And the Audubon Society says that the best way to attract birds is to plant natives.

A gulf fritillary butterfly in Jim's garden.

A gulf fritillary butterfly in Jim’s garden.

Insect pollinators guarantee our supply of fruits, nuts and vegeta- bles.  Without insect pollinators, we would have to resort to artificial, tedious and expensive means of pollination.                                                   But wildlife is also important to humans on a different level.  As Raymond Dasmann has explained:  “Anyone who has not been blind to the world around him knows that life for people can be enriched by the presence of wild creatures in man’s environment.  The enjoyment of watching wild animals in wild places adds a savor to life, even if it is but a casual encounter.  The knowledge that wild nature still exists adds a dimension of freedom to an otherwise restricted life – leaves open the possibility for escape from the narrow confinements of civilization.  If we create in California a world with no space left for wild animals, it will prove to be a world with little space for human freedom.”  (Raymond F. Dasmann, The Destruction of California, page 58)

A mama California quail and her children, out for a  stroll.

A mama California quail and her children, out for a stroll.

Historical Uses of Native Plants                                                                                                  Susan and Andy were thinking about replacing their water-thirsty landscape with something else to save water and make it more California-like.  But what?                                      One Sunday morning, they happened to take advantage of a program at Sycamore Grove Park, and native California plants was the topic.  The ranger explained how, for example, acorns from native oaks were a major food staple for the Native Americans, and how the acorns were processed to make them edible.  They were fascinated when the ranger explained how the comely fruits of the California buckeye could be used to sedate fish and make them easy to catch.  Acres of purple needlegrass produced an enormous amount of edible seeds.  Large clumps of deergrass were harvested to make baskets of many shapes, sizes and uses.  Native edible elderberries also had many medicinal uses, and even the dried stems of the elderberry bush were fashioned into flutes.  It gradually dawned on Susan and Andy that a landscape full of native California plants would be the perfect addition to their California home!                                                                                          Knowing something about the natural history of plants – that is, the role they play in the environment – definitely contributes to our enjoyment of native plants and helps us to feel as part of nature, not apart from it.  The original inhabitants of California had no supermarkets, drugstores and hospitals, hardware stores, department stores and factories to supply their needs.  Everything they needed was obtained, or created by them, from the plants and animals around them – food, clothing, medicines, shelter, tools and equipment, even toys and musical instruments.  And don’t forget how important native plants are to native birds, insects and mammals.                                                                                                 “The first European visitors to California found a park-like landscape that was the result of a long history of land management.  Indigenous people practiced tilling, sowing, weeding, pruning, burning and selective harvesting to manage plant populations and shape their natural environments.  They gathered wild plants for food, medicine, basketry, clothing and other uses.”  (Marjorie G. Schmidt & Katherine L. Greenberg, Growing California Native Plants, 2nd ed., pp. 3-4)

A buckeye fruit (upper left) and its nut (below)

A buckeye fruit (upper left) and its nut (below)

Almost everything growing at the Granada Native Garden was useful to the indigenous people in one way or another.  Many of the plant identification markers at the Granada Native Garden include notes about the historical uses of native plants.  Check them out!

Quote du Jour                                          “Just because it will grow in your garden, doesn’t mean you should plant it.”                                 Anonymous

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What Are Oak “Apples”?

A Frequently Asked Question                                                                                                    Visitors to the Granada Native Garden often ask about those golf ball- or tennis ball-size globes in the branches of our California white oak trees, or valley oaks (Quercus lobata).  These growths are often called “oak apples”.  But real apples don’t grow on oak trees.  Actually, the growths that we see are called oak galls.  Not apples at all, they are caused by tiny brown California oak gall wasps which parasitize the oak tree, altho without actually harming the tree.  (Just click on the photos to enlarge them!)

New galls in the spring

New galls in the spring

Oak apples in the fall

Oak apples in the fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An oak apple gall wasp

An oak apple gall wasp

Galls are common features on other plants as well, such as poplar and cottonwood, but they are more readily noticed on the valley oak.  The California gall wasp (Andricus quercuscalifornicus) inserts fertilized or unfertilized eggs under the bark of oak twigs.  Larvae which develop from the eggs are thought to secrete chemicals that cause the oak tree to respond defensively by growing plant tissue around the infection site, eventually forming the round growth, the oak “apple”.  The galls are green in the spring, and turn to brown in the summer and fall.  Each gall may contain one or more wasp larvae.  The larvae mature and nourish themselves with the nutritive tissue of the galls, and eventually tunnel their way out of the gall as adults.  In the meantime, the styrofoam-like interior of the gall functions as a cozy habitat for the developing wasps during the hot summer months.                     Eventually, the galls fall off, and the tree doesn’t appear to be harmed in any way.

Oak apples on a tree in winter

Oak apples on a tree in winter

Inside an oak apple gall

Inside an oak apple gall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Elder Statesman” of California’s Oaks
The California white oak, or valley oak, made a big impression on the Europeans who first explored this part of the country.  Some sites contained hundreds or thousands of these huge trees, which commonly rose to 40-100 feet in height and 9 feet in diameter.

A stately valley oak at Sycamore Grove Park

A stately valley oak at Sycamore Grove Park

The Franciscan missionary Narcisco Durán described the environment of the Sacramento River as “like a park, because of the verdure and luxuriance of its groves of trees”.  After viewing an expanse of valley oaks in the Santa Clara Valley, the English explorer George Vancouver recorded his impression:  “For about twenty miles it could only be compared to a park which had originally been closely planted with the true old English oak; the underwood, that had probably attended its early growth, had the appearance of having been cleared away and left the stately lords of the forest in complete possession of the soil which was covered with luxuriant foliage.”                                                                                       But the dramatic character of the valley oak was no match for the effects of “civilization” which followed the European invasion.  Altho the valley oak tolerates cool wet winters and hot dry summers, it is a riparian species that requires a year-round deep source of ground water.  As a result, when the water table is lowered because water is pumped out to supply the needs of ever-growing human populations, the oaks are unable to reach the water they need to survive.                                                                                           On the other hand, when California oaks are planted in landscaping projects along with other plants that need constant summer water, such as non-native grasses, ivy, azaleas and rhododendrons, these plants develop thick mats of roots which inhibit the exchange of air and water that the native oaks are accustomed to.  Furthermore, when oaks are watered in the summer, they are likely to die from the oak root fungus, Armillaria, which is common in the root systems of most oaks in California.

Native Americans and the Valley Oaks                                                                             “To native people, these regal trees marked the seeming timelessness of the earth and also the continuity of life.  They were massive fixtures on the landscape bearing witness to many generations of humans.” (from Tending the Wild, by M. Kat Anderson).                 Acorns are rich in protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and niacin (vitamin B3).  While they are an important food source for birds and small mammals, humans can eat them too.  One advantage of acorns as food is that they could be stored over the winter when food was scarce.  Acorn flour and recipes using it are easily available thru the Internet.                                                                  But the acorns themselves also contain tannins, which are bitter and can consti- pate the digestive system and interfere with the metabolism of protein.  Different animals have evolved ways to use the nutritional value of acorns and avoid these indelicacies.  One way that Native Americans made use of acorns in their diet was to chop them up, put them into porous baskets, and set the baskets in running water until the water no longer turned brown and the tannins were leached out.  Then the acorns could be dried and pulverized and turned into a nutritious porridge (unappetizingly called acorn mush) or a soup.  John Muir reportedly was fond of a black, hard bread that was made of acorn flour.           In addition, dye for decorating baskets and clothing was made from the bark, and the tannin of acorns was used for curing animal hides.  If the ground acorn meal got moldy, either by chance or intention, the penicillin-like mold could be used to treat boils, sores and inflammations.  Whole acorns could also be used to make musical instruments, necklaces, toys and trade items.

Another Delightfully Interesting Gall!                                                                              Hershey's kisses galls            A different wasp species, Andricus kingi, produces galls of a different and very interesting sort.  The red cone gall wasp creates galls affectionately called the Hershey’s Kiss gall, because of its shape, altho it is much smaller and bright red.  Look for this common gall on the leaves of the valley oaks.  Andricus kingiThey are much smaller than oak apples, but hard to miss because of their bright color.                                          These are only two of many types of galls found on oaks and other trees.  Each one has its own story.  Search the Internet for yourself to learn more about these fascinating organisms, and keep your eye out for growths on California native plants that might be galls of one type or another.     (Thanks to Joyce Gross of U.C. Berkeley for the use of this photo of Andricus kingii).

Quote du Jour:                                                                                                                              “A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.”
            – D. Elton Trueblood, author and theologian, former chaplain to Stanford University

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About “Fire Followers”

Bush Poppy Is a Fire Follower!Bush poppy          At the end of May, we were working on an article about the bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) which resides at the north end of the Granada Native Garden.  The bush poppy is interesting for a couple of different reasons.  For one thing, it has bright yellow flowers that remain on the bush for several months, well into summer, and they contrast nicely with the grayish-green foliage.                       But also, the seeds that fall from the mature flowers are difficult to germinate into new plants.  They need to be brushed by fire in order to stimulate the germination process, and so the bush poppy is among the first to appear after a fire.  That’s why the bush poppy is called a “fire follower”; but there are many other plants that also require fire in order to prompt their appearance.  (Click on a photo in order to enlarge it.)

Bush poppy after the fire

Bush poppy after the fire

Coincidentally, on June 1,  the GNG was impacted by the fire which was started along the west side of the Arroyo Mocho.  The bush poppy was toasted on one side, not severely, but it will be interesting to see if any seedlings pop up (oops, excuse the pun!) when/if the winter rains occur.  (For a summary of the fire’s effects on the Garden, see the article “Fire! at the Granada Native Garden” posted in the June, 2014 Newsletter.)

Why Is Fire Important?                                                                                                               The natural ecology of many native plants enables them to survive, and even flourish, after a fire.  If they lack the needed conditions for their growth, many native plants may lay dormant in the soil for many years until a fire or some other disturbance triggers the plant’s survival mechanism.                                                                                                                      The tough seed coat of some seeds often protects them from being destroyed in a fire.  But the fire also may crack open the seed coat and allow water to penetrate, giving the seed a chance to germinate.                                                                                                    The ashes of burned wood are rich in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and other plant nutrients.  The bodies of  insects, worms and other invertebrates and microbes that have been killed by the fire decompose and gradually release nitrogen into the soil.  Thus, fire creates a slow-release fertilizer available to nourish newly sprouted seeds.  Likewise, fire may destroy plant pests, such as bark beetles, root-eating grubs, and diseases such as anthracnose.  Native Americans used controlled burns precisely to accomplish these goals.                                                                                                                The fire burns off underbrush and allows sunlight needed by seedlings to reach the forest floor.  There is also evidence that smoke itself contains chemicals from combustion products that induce germination.  Finally, annuals and perennials that emerge soon after a fire provide the vegetative cover that helps to reduce the heavy erosion possible on steep mountain slopes after the protective cover has been burned off.

Other Fire Followers

Whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora)

Whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora)

Fire poppy (Papaver californicum)

Fire poppy (Papaver californicum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys nothofulvus)

Popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys nothofulvus)

Golden eardrops (Dicentra chrysantha)

Golden eardrops (Dicentra chrysantha)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cleanup Continues                                                 The worker bees at the Granada Native Garden have been busy removing sage, roses and currants that have been damaged by the fire.  Amazingly, the deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens), golden currants (Ribes aureum), box elder (Acer negundo), wild roses (Rosa californica) and matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) are already showing recovery, only one month after the fire.                              Of Meenakshi & Malvikaimmense help in the effort of clearing the debris have been Meenakshi and Malvika, both Granada High School students, who have spent several hours toting burned debris to the brush pileIt’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it, and Malvika and Meenakshi, along with other GNG worker bees, have stepped up to do it!                                                   

The Adopt-A-Creek Spot Program                                                                                            Closely related to the Granada Native Garden in reclaiming the natural character of this section of the Livermore Valley is the Tri-Valley Adopt-A-Spot Creek program.  The Friends of the Arroyos have adopted a 700-foot section of the Arroyo Mocho which runs alongside the Garden.  The Livermore School District owns the creek, trail and garden property as part of Granada High School.                                                                                      Adopting a creek spot allows the participants to help improve water quality and aquatic habitat in neighborhood creeks.  The removal of trash and litter helps improve the aesthetic beauty of our neighborhoods, while helping to reduce trash loads from the Davemunicipal storm sewer system.  In fact, over the past year, GNG worker bee Dave has collected 1,253 gallons of trash left behind by careless people or carried by the wind into the arroyo and its environs.  Believe it or not, this amounts to 1,942 pounds, almost one ton, of trash and debris!                            The Adopt-A-Creek Spot program is a great way to help improve our local environment and community.  Join us, or learn more at  http://www.TriValleyCreeks.org.

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Fire! at the Granada Native Garden

Before the Fire

Before the Fire

After the Fire

After the Fire

Location of the Homeless Encampment

Location of the “Homeless” Encampment

On the late afternoon of June 1, 2014, a fire started, or was started, in the vicinity of a homeless encampment along the Arroyo Mocho, downstream from the Granada Native Garden.  Within minutes, it had spread upstream until it was no longer prevented by large trees from letting the wind carry it across the bike path.  That’s when it jumped the path and began spreading into the north end of the Garden.  (Note:  Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Soon the blaze raced southward up the arroyo.  That’s when the wind carried embers across the bike trail and dropped them into the dry, vulnerable grasslands in the Garden.

The most serious damage was sustained by the redbud and elderberry where the fire first struck at the north end, and in the chaparral alongside Murrieta Blvd.  Interestingly, the center of the Garden was not damaged as much as the chaparral area, the section farthest from the arroyo.

Redbud & elderberry

Redbud & elderberry

Damage to the chaparral

Damage to the chaparral

More chaparral damage

More chaparral damage

A burned buckwheat

A burned buckwheat

Fire and Nature                                                                                                                           It’s been pointed out that fire is part of the natural world.  While that is certainly true, as M. Kat Anderson states in her book, Tending the Wild, “Legends about destructive fires reflect the almost universal belief among California Indian tribes that catastrophic fires were not a regular, natural occurrence, but rather a rare punishment for a serious violation of religious and social rules.”                                                                                                              In order to avoid uncontrolled fires, the Native Americans took steps to manage their environment — not only to lessen the chance of such fires, but also to decrease brush, recycle nutrients, control insects and pathogens, increase forage for game animals, and  reduce competition from weeds to favor plants needed for their food and daily activities.  They often did this by means of controlled burns.  The indigenous peoples considered these activities to be vital elements of their religious and social responsibilities.                              Anderson also quotes a Miwok elder about the relationship of brush to the availability of water in drought-prone California:  “They burned to keep down the brush.  In those days the creeks ran all year round.  You could fish all season.   Now you can’t because there’s no water.  Timber and brush now take all the water.  There never were the willows in the creeks like there are now.  Water used to come right out of the ground.  There were big oaks and big pines, and no brush.“                                                                                                Recent discussion among some of the Garden staff has concerned the amount of brush that accumulates along the arroyo, not just in the vicinity of the Garden but along the entire length of the Arroyo Mocho.  The presence of this brush encourages and hides homeless encampments, and it is well known that such encampments are becoming endemic in the TriValley area.  Also, it is obviously a serious fire concern!  Hopefully the fire will initiate a change in our relationship to the natural areas that are part of the Livermore environment, a change in thinking and management that encourages the constant removal of non-native weeds along the arroyo and the re-establishment of native species.

Damage in the central grassland

Damage in the central grassland

An unlucky coast buckwheat

An unlucky coast buckwheat

Linda, Dave & Cindy cleaning up

Linda, Dave & Cindy cleaning up

When You’ve Got Lemons, …                               … make lemonade.  The staff at the Granada Native Garden have already begun to clean up the burned parts of the Garden.  While the fire is something we could have done without, a number of optimistic people have pointed out what can be learned from this tragedy.                                                             For one, it’s an opportunity to learn and observe how the native plants react to fire damage.  While we expect some plants to regenerate by themselves in the winter and spring, we will see which ones survive the best.  Further, this information will be of interest to Cindy, who has started her own landscape design company, when she is asked by her clients how native plants with their low water needs might increase the fire hazard in the vicinity of their homes.                                                                                                                   We know that the seeds of some plants need fire in order to germinate.  One of those is the bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida and Dendromecon harfordii).  The single bush poppy at the GNG was briefly touched by fire, and we will be watching for seedlings sprouting up in that area.  Nutrients released by the fire and washed into the ground by winter rains should help these little fellows along!                                                                 Dave            Finally, while many of the plants were toasted above ground, they will readily re-sprout and spread from underground rhizomes (even to the point of being considered invasive).  The currants (genus Ribes) and roses (genus Rosa) are especially good at this.                                                 So the fire can be a learning       opportunity.  Maybe that’s why Dave can manage a big smile on his face!

Quote du Jour:                                                                                                                            “The white man sure ruined this country.  It’s turned back to wilderness.”                                                                                         – James Rust, a Southern Sierra Miwok elder

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Clarkia – A Native Flower with a History

The Voyage of Discovery                                                                                                  

Clark & Lewis with Sacagawea

Clark & Lewis with Sacagawea

         In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on a Voyage of Discovery across the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase.  While the primary purposes of the trip were political and strategic, secondary purposes included a survey of the plants and animals found west of the Mississippi and to learn about the culture and practices of the Native Americans living there.                                    One of the specimens Clark brought back to the President was a unique flower, which subsequently was named “clarkia” in his honor.  At the Granada Native Garden, you can find one of several Clarkia species, Clarkia amoena.  Its common name is Farewell-to-Spring, because it flowers just around the time spring is about to segue into summer (or maybe earlier, if we have an early spring, like this year; or later, if the winter is dry.)                                                                                                        Clarkia

Clarkia w: bowl-shaped petalsClarkia w: wheel-shaped petals          The Clarkia blossoms come in two forms.  The species present at the Granada Native Garden, C. amoena, has cup-shaped blossoms, pictured above and on the left.  Other species have a unique wheel- or spoke-like arrangement, like the C. concinna, on the right.  Both are lovely, in mauve to pink to white, often with blotches of a contrasting color.  (Hint:  To enlarge a photo, just click on it.)

More Than Just a Pretty Face!                                                                                                  In 1895, Will Green, the surveyor-general of California, reported having seen Clarkia flowers of different hues covering the plains.                                                                                  In Pleasanton, California, a late prehistoric cremation site was discovered containing tens of thousands of charred Clarkia seeds, as reported by archaeobotanist Eric Wohlge- muth.  They were placed there by Native Americans as offerings, along with remnants of other plants.                                                                                                                                  Altho the seeds are very small, 20-30 pounds of the seeds could be gathered in one day for use as food.  They could be eaten dried, or cooked into a form resembling oat- meal, or blended with water and other ingredients to make a pinole-like beverage.  Large patches of Clarkia, along with milkweed (Asclepias) and yampah (Perideridia) supported vast populations of butterflies and insects that, alas, no longer exist in these numbers.

Tending the Wild                                                                                                                         Native Americans employed several strategies, mainly burning, coppicing and selective pruning, to increase the health and vigor of many of the plants they depended on for their needs.  These included food, medicine, tools and utensils, weaponry, and even toys and musical instruments and trade with other tribes.  Fire was an especially critical tool used to increase the abundance of Clarkia and other edible and otherwise useful plants.  In addition, fire was used to control insects and disease that could damage plants that were used for the above categories, and to re-seed patches for future growth.

A Good Choice for a Child’s Garden                                                                                Child in garden 1          If your love of gardening and native plants has inspired your little one to start his or her own plot, Clarkia is a good wildflower to start with.  A high percentage of the seeds will germinate in 5-6 days, if sown indoors in early January.  Just sprinkle a few seeds over some dampened planting mix in small pots, cover with a little more soil, and don’t let the soil dry out.  When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, they can be transplanted directly into the ground where they will get full sun, or sun most of the day, and keep them watered.  Remove weeds as soon as they appear.  And maybe protect the seedlings from slugs, snails and earwigs with a sprinkling of environmentally safe iron phosphate, until the seedlings get big enough.                                       Or, if you prefer, you can sow the seeds directly on the ground in the fall and wait for the autumn rains.  They will bloom in March or April.  After the spent flowers are trimmed off, they may re-bloom a second time.  You may plant more seed in early spring for blooming in late spring.  Clarkia re-seeds itself readily, so you can expect to see more seedlings coming up in the same place the following year.                                                             Or plant some in pots and some in the ground, and see what works best for you!
Child in garden 2Seeds can be purchased inexpensively from the Larner Seed Company in Bolinas (www.larnerseeds.com), although there is a minimum purchase of $20 if you order by credit card.  However, you might want to order seed packets of a couple of other Clarkia species in order to see the variety, and/or other types of California native wildflowers.  California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is another good choice for a child’s garden, and Larner’s can suggest other wildflowers you might want to try.  Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) doesn’t have an impressive flower, but it does have an unusually cute perfoliate leaf, and it is edible, resembling butter lettuce or spinach in a salad.  And it re-seeds itself freely, from year to year.                                                   A list of suggestions for a child’s garden is too long for this edition of the Granada Native Garden.  If you would like to see the list, just email Jim at  JIMatGNG@gmail.com, and he will forward it to you!

Other Current Attractions                                                                                                          Visit the Granada Native Garden soon, and see if you can locate these two flowers that are currently in bloom.  Or better, let your little one(s) explore the Garden and find them for you!  (Maybe he or she will want to start a California native plant garden!)

Yarrow, white variety

Yarrow, white variety

Yarrow, pink variety

Yarrow, pink variety

 

California wild rose

California wild rose

Quote du Jour:                                                                                                                            “I’ve been obsessed with plants since I was 8 or 9 years old, particularly the plants I found in the woods and fields around where I grew up on the Connecticut River.  I used to drive my family nuts, because it was all I would talk about.  I remember my mom once raising her hands in frustration and saying ‘Can’t you talk about anything besides plants?’  Now, they’ve just kind of accepted it and we all talk about plants a lot when I’m visiting them.”                                                                                                                                                                       – Peter Veilleux, owner of the East Bay Wilds nursery, Oakland, CA

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Current Attractions – Earth Day, 2014

 

Smith School 3Smith School Discovers the Granada Native Garden!                                                            Recently, a class of 5th Graders from Emma C. Smith School stumbled upon the Granada Native Garden when they stopped to have lunch during a mini-field trip:  “We never knew it was here!“.  There they learned some things about the importance of plants to the native people who lived in California before the Europeans arrived – such as how gumplant (Grindelia sp.) had many medicinal uses, in addition to being a cheap substitute for chewing gum, owing to the sticky substance that collects in its young flowers and coats its leaves.  And many of those plants are growing at the Granada Native Garden, waiting to be discovered.

Speaking of Discovering …                                                                                                        William Rasor, a biology teacher at Granada High School, recently visited the Granada Native Garden with his camera, and found these attractions which are currently in bloom there.  He generously shared his photos with us.  They speak for themselvesBut the Garden is constantly changing, so they might not be there for long.  (Hint:  To enlarge a photo, just click on it.)          

Rasor 1

Early buckwheat flowers

Buckeye flowers, just before they open

Immature buckeye blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late-season California poppies

Late-season California poppies

Poppies with lupine

Poppies with lupine

 

Redbud flowers

Redbud flowers

Flannelbush blossom

Flannelbush blossom

 

Bush poppy

Bush poppy

Yarrow, first of the season

First yarrow of the season

 

Smith School 2

Thanks for the memories, William And thanks to the students and teachers at Smith School — come again soon, and bring friends!

 

 

 

A Reminder to Visitors to the Granada Native Garden …                                                                              Holly-Leafed Cherry ID

         You might find some white tubes next to some of the plants at the Garden.  No, they are not sprinkler heads – they are identification markers that tell you what the plant is and why it is important.  You may lift the tube off its support to read it, then put it back when you are done.

 

 

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