cd63904e90a1d88a680dd28e0689a555
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

Tomorrow morning I'll set off early in the morning. Soon, I'll be rolling down Laguna Canyon Road, then heading out with my pack, a couple of quarts of water and a sandwich.

rvanderhoff

I'll hike up Bommer Ridge and then drop down into Emerald Canyon for the long, slow, beautiful walk all the way to Laguna Beach – then back. During those ten miles on the trail I'll re-connect with where I live and where I garden, California.

In the gardening paradise of California it's easy to forget where we are. Our gardens are hosts to plants from Africa, Asia, South America and Australia. Tropical and desert plants co-mingle in this botanical Shangri-la that we call home. How fortunate we are.

Sisyrinchium bellum

Trumpet vines, boxwoods and lavenders are fine. Fuchsias, begonias and geraniums pay the bills. But, just so I remember where I am when I wake up each day, a little dose of sprouting fiddleneck, California sunflower and blue-eyed grass will be well received tomorrow. I will welcome the sight of elderberry, toyon and sugarbush, something like the smile and good feelings I get when reacquainted some old friends; friends who I haven't seen in a while.

The resinous aroma of sagebrush filling the air, the coarse touch of scrub oaks brushing my arms and legs, the sticky foliage of monkeyflower on my fingers, the twisted architecture of old sycamores; the lush, soft greens of polypody ferns and the taste of miner's lettuce will be talking to me. They speak a language that is unique and sometimes subtle, but needs no interpreter. The conversation will be silent, but the message will be clear . . . This is California's Garden.

Right now is the perfect time of the year to plant California's native plants into your own California garden and re-connect with where you live and where you garden. The cool, moist months which lie ahead will ensure their planting success, allowing the young native plants to be thoroughly rooted before our warm, dry summer arrives.

If you are considering incorporating some of California's plants into your own garden here are a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Plant in the fall and winter. Since our local native plants are predominately cool weather growers, this is the best season for planting.
  2. Mulch liberally. A surface mulch is useful for just about all the plants in your garden and our native plants are no exception. Shredded redwood or cedar bark is certainly my favorite. Use it liberally, about three or four inches over the surface of the soil.
  3. Eliminate weeds before you begin. Eliminating weeds before you start is the best strategy. With heavy mulching, seeds won't have much of an opportunity to sprout.
  4. Disturb the soil as little as possible. This may surprise many of you, but most California native plants do not need or want their soil amended. As long as your earth drains reasonably well and you've chosen the right plants, just dig a hole and plant. No planting mix, no rototilling, no back breaking work. It's hard to believe, but it's true.
  5. Fertilize lightly - or not at all. Native plants are accustomed to low fertility. At most, a light application of a mild organic fertilizer toward the beginning of their growing season should be all they need; any more could actually do more harm than good.
  6. Combine plants that have similar water and other needs. Our native plants grow in a huge array of environments in California, from moist meadows to dry hillsides. Soils range from rocky washes to lowland clays or moist streamsides. Organizing natives, along with other compatible plants, into communities that enjoy similar soil, water and sunlight will eliminate failures and make your native experience more rewarding.
  7. Do not over water. Most local native plants are accustomed to receiving water in the cool half of the year. Applying too much water during our warm summer months is a recipe for problems.
  8. Start off with foolproof but beautiful plants. By choosing wisely, you will find many native plants that are incredibly adaptable to a wide range of garden conditions and can easily be blended with other plants already existing in your garden. Begin with easy, foolproof natives, saving the challenging species for a later time.

One of the fastest growing segments of gardening is the incorporation of native plants into our gardens. Water conservation, wildlife opportunities and significantly lower maintenance costs, are all reasons native plants are becoming more popular in home gardens. A few of our native plants incorporated into your garden will help give your garden a sense of place.

So if you're hiking down Emerald Canyon in Laguna Beach and you see someone talking to the oaks or smelling the sage, that might be me. I'm not peculiar, I'm just saying hello to some old friends. I'm reminding myself of where I live and where I garden - in California.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar and his profile can be seen at www.theMulch.com/my-profile/userprofile/Ron Vanderhoff.

Questions from Readers November 4.

There are some spectacular trees with bright orange flowers in the median strip of PCH in Corona del Mar, just a little south of MacArthur Blvd. What are they?

Brooke, Corona del Mar

Answer:

I get this question often at this time of year. They are African Tulip Trees (Spathodea campanulata). As their name implies, these originate from tropical African and are sensitive to frost. The clusters of huge orange flowers are upturned and cup shaped. In their native environment these open flowers collect rainfall and thus provide a source of fresh water to the areas native birds and other wildlife. Although uncommonly grown here, African Tulip Trees are essentially evergreen and are relatively easy to grow in a warm coastal garden..

Assembly_7-24-10_4

Articles about Natives on the Mulch (Click for Full List)

Valley Oak
Natives Ron Vanderhoff

A Rare Tree and an Old, Long Lost Friend is Re-Found - Valley Oaks (Quercus lobata)

There are several rare plants in Orange County.
Native Plant Society Meeting
Natives Ron Vanderhoff

An Invitation to My Garden

In about an hour I am visiting a friend’s garden in Newport Beach.

How to Sow Wildflowers, like Poppies - and Succeed

10359 Ron Vanderhoff
California Poppy Seeds
So you want to sow some wildflowers; like a modern day Johnny Appleseed, traveling about,…

Learn How to Create a California Friendly Garden

5272 Ron Vanderhoff
Creating a California Friendly Garden
I’m convinced - gardeners love the outdoors, love nature and love the earth more than…

Matilija Poppy a California Plant Icon

41337 Ron Vanderhoff
Matilija Poppy
As most gardeners know, the California Poppy is the official state flower of California. 

My Native Plant Garden, err Laboratory

5338 Ron Vanderhoff
Srctostaphylos 'Howard Mcminn'
It’s a few minutes before 7 o’clock in the morning, the neighbors are asleep and I’m…

Native or Introduced, a Gardener's Debate

4247 Ron Vanderhoff
Eschscholzia californica 'White Linen'
The debate between which plants should prevail in gardens, native plants or introduced…

Orange Counties Wild Orchid - Epipactis gigantea

23465 Ron Vanderhoff
Epipactis gigantea
I’ve been gardening in Orange County for a long time and I’ve been hiking and exploring…

Plant a Native Wildflower Garden

14708 Ron Vanderhoff
Phacelia campanularia
Spring used to mean wildflowers. I remember, as a young boy, exploring the hills around…

Sage Advice for California Gardeners

28990 Ron Vanderhoff
Salvia clevelandii 'Winidred Gilman'
Southern Europe is well known as the lavender center of the world.

Featured Plant Care

Siberian Iris

Iris sibirica - (Siberian Iris) - Monthly Plant Care Reminders

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

Wisteria spp (Wisteria) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

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

Oncidium Orchid Plant Care

Orchids are as easy as A - B - C!

Latest Articles

Giant White Sea Squill - Urginea maritima  - photo courtesy Carlyn Schaffner

Drimia maritima (syn. Urginea maritima) - Giant White Sea Squill Plant Care

Drimia maritima (syn. Urginea maritima) - Giant White Sea Squill What: A Mediterranean…
Echeverias roots

Echeveria: How to Slice and Re-root Large Echeverias

Widely known as the “Queen of Succulents,” Debra Lee Baldwin is the award-winning garden…

Plant Care Reminders List of Links By Botanical Name

Plant Care Reminders List of Links By Botanical Name. We have monthly regional plant care…

Popular Articles

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…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

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

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)