944455b937e9526a0d9084862ee506aa

I’m fired up. Mainland California's most polluted beach of 2008 was right here in Newport Beach.

 

This week the Natural Resources Defense Council released their 19th annual summary of the nations’ most polluted beaches, titled "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches". It’s a 453 page nation-wide summary of coastal pollution and it was Vaughn’s Launch at the edge of Newport Back Bay that took home top honors.

The state of California establishes daily maximum bacterial standards for beaches and, according to this report, Vaughn’s Landing exceeded those standards on 50% of its samples.

According to a 2005 County of Orange report, the principal cause of this pollution headache is from contaminated runoff going into the bay. In the report, the source of polluted runoff was described as follows, “There are few data on the exact sources of the coliform in this runoff. Coliform has diverse origins, including: manure fertilizers which may be applied to agricultural crops and to commercial and residential landscaping; the fecal wastes of humans, household pets and wildlife; and other sources.”

The byproduct of residential and commercial landscaping is certainly a primary contributor to the polluted condition of Newport Bay and many of our other local coastal waters.

bluffs.jpg

Home gardeners and homeowners associations need to change their ways. Bacterial pollution is only one of the unfortunate results of homeowners and gardeners who aren’t paying attention; who aren’t adapting; who aren’t educating themselves and assuming responsibility for their decisions. Improper use of fertilizers and pest products, over-irrigation, and landscape runoff are not difficult problems to fix.

Our gardening activities should leave a positive impact on our communities. A garden that is thoughtfully designed and properly cared for should be an asset, not an obstacle; improving our individual emotional health as well as our neighborhood appearance. Gardens and landscapes should offer opportunities for birds and wildlife, absorb pollutants, balance temperature extremes and provide oxygen.

Vaughn’s Launch is a small, unsigned turnout along Back Bay Drive. It lies at the base of Big Canyon, on the east side of the bay. Above it, lie the communities of East Bluff, Big Canyon, The Bluffs and others. These are terrific communities and desirable places to live, with excellent schools, great weather and strong communities.

These communities are filled with great gardens and with great gardeners. They are gardeners who want to do the right thing. I know they do; I talk to them every day. None of them want to pollute the bay. They’re gardeners – good gardeners. Good gardeners enjoy nature and they always have a strong connection and sensitivity to their environment.  

So let’s make some changes. Let’s water only when needed; and when we do, let’s keep it out of the storm drains. Let’s clean up our dog and cat feces. Let’s feed our gardens intelligently; and when we do feed them, let’s use a product that has the least likelihood of ending up in the bay. Let’s put this fertilizer onto our gardens and onto our plants carefully, not with an applicator that throws it onto the walkways and driveways. When we need to use a pesticide, fungicide or snail control, let’s ask for one that is sensitive to the environment and then let’s carefully follow the label directions.

For our professional gardeners that we hire, let’s have them do what we want. Let’s tell them what to use. Let’s not allow them to apply fertilizer inappropriately, wash down the sidewalks or apply any product into ours gardens that we don’t approve of. If they can’t do this, or won’t do this, let’s get a new gardener.  

Let’s get involved in the landscape committees of our HOA’s. Let’s go to a meeting and make our expectations known. Let’s take back control from the companies that maintain our common areas. Let’s expect changes. If status quo is the response, let’s start interviewing for a new maintenance company.

Let’s not just ‘want’ to do the right thing – let’s do the right thing. We’re gardeners. Let me know how I can help.  

Questions from Readers August 2, 2009

Question:
 
I want to grow a Heliconia, but I am having a hard time finding one at a nursery. Any suggestions?
 
Judy, Corona del Mar
 
Answer:
The vast majority of Heliconias are too tropical to survive for long in Orange County, even along the coast. Very rarely, a rogue plant will survive in a local garden, but that’s a very rare plant indeed. One species with smaller, less spectacular flowers than its showy relatives is Heliconia schiedeana, particularly a hybrid called ‘Fire & Ice’. It will handle winter temperatures down to about 30 degrees, but still needs some coddling. Most nurseries should be able to order one for you.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens , Corona del Mar.


Plant Care Reminders

Baseball Field Maintenance
Lawn Murray Cook

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this document).

Fruit Trees with No Fruit

24418 Ron Vanderhoff
Pruning Fruit Trees
Do you have a fruit tree in your garden, but no fruit in your garden?

Poinsettia Pointers

74683 Ron Vanderhoff
Poinsettia tips
Last year, about 41 million poinsettias were sold in the United States.

Marigold - Pot (Calendula officinalis)…

13997 Coastal Sage Gardening
Pot Marigold Mohtly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Yvonne Savio
Expert Bios Yvonne Savio

Yvonne Savio - Southwest

Region: Southwest
Matilija Poppy
Natives Ron Vanderhoff

Matilija Poppy a California Plant Icon

As most gardeners know, the California Poppy is the official state flower of California. 

Composting With Worms - Everything You Wanted to Know

8277
Red Wiggler Worms
Everything you wanted to know about composting with worms, but were afraid to ask:

APLD International Landscape Design Gold Award Winner: Matthew Cunningham

5514
Le Petit Chalet Makeover
APLD Names 2011 Landscape Designer of the Year

Sleeping Beauties

8946
Default Image
Dreaming in Technicolor In late summer, glossy bulb catalogs arrive harkening spring and…

Plant Recommendations

Jim Threadgill
Plant Recommendations jim threadgill

Bullet Proof Bulbs - Southern California

Jim Threadgill's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Bullet Proof Bulbs for Southern California.
Worley's Butter Cream
Plant Recommendations Tom Piergrossi

Shrubs - Southern California

Tom Piergrossi's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Shrubs for Southern California.

Biennials for Birds & Butterflies -…

4438 Maureen Austin
Alcea rosea
Maureen Austins' Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Biennials for Birds & Butterflies for…

Cut Flowers - Southern California

9396 evelyn alemanni
Argyranthemum frutescens 'Fireball Red'
Evelyn Alemanni's Top Plant Recommendation: Fresh Cut Flower for Southern California. 

Salvias - Southern California

5707 Tom Piergrossi
Salvia lanceolata
Tom Piergrossi's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Salvias for Southern California.

Featured Plant Care

Agapanthus Monthly Plant Care

Agapanthus orientalis (Lily of the Nile) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Rose Plant Care

Organic Rose Care

in Roses
Roses prefer a full day of sun. Give roses at least 6 hours of sun a day when possible.
Phormium Monthly Plant Care

Phormium spp. (Flax - New Zealand) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Star Jasmine Monthly Plant Care

Jasmine - Star (Trachelospermum jasminoides) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Vines
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Peach Leaf Curl

Peach Leaf Curl - Information Hub

Peach leaf curl is a common problem found on leaves of Peaches and Nectarines (and their…
Avocado Information Hub

Avocado - Growing and Plant Care Information Hub

in Edibles
We're bringing relevant information about Avocados (Persea americana) to one fantastic…

Popular Articles

Using the Mulch for Home Gardeners

Home Gardener: Using All The Great Features on the Mulch

You Can Use The Great Features on the Mulch For Free!
Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)

Upcoming Events

View All Events

Who's Online

We have 6034 guests and no members online