Tom Parker, author of the Field Guide to Manzanitas, with Michael Vasey and Michael Kauffmann, will speak at the Southern California Horticultural Society in Glendale tonight, January 14, at 7:30 pm at the Friendship Auditorium.

The title of his talk is So Many Manzanitas, So Many Little Apples, clearly a joke on Tuesday’s LASMM CNPS talk entitled, So Many Manzanitas, So Little Time. Parker is the lead author for the treatment of the genus Arctostaphylos in both the Jepson Manual, 2nd Ed., and the Flora of North America, so he knows his little apples.

The Field Guide contains beautiful photographs from Jeff Bisbee showing details of leaf, berry, inflorescence, hairs and other key characters that help distinguish between species and subspecies. It will be for sale at the talk.

Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles, CA  90027


tpf salvia

Salvia clevelandii hybrid at the Foundation

I’ll be teaching the Three-Part Design Class at The Theodore Payne Foundation starting this Friday, January 8.

Friday, January, 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Theodore Payne Foundation
10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley, CA 91352 (map), 818-768-1802

There are a few openings in this  high demand hard-to-get-into class, but there is a prerequisite of their native horticulture class.
Here’s how TPF describes the class:
“This comprehensive  three-session course for home gardeners offers a sound foundation in design styles and process, the importance of sustainability and how to model a garden after patterns in nature. Students will devise a base/plot plan, implementing knowledge of hardscape materials, irrigation, soils and more. Prior to the class, students will complete a preliminary questionnaire and warm-up exercise for their site. In addition, students are asked to bring photos of their site and a baggie of the site’s soil to the first day of class.”

Theodore Payne classes fill up quickly, so you may want to preregister by calling them  at 818-768-1802.

Here is their Calendar.


It is a beautiful cool morning. Now that the heat has stopped for a few days, it is time to deep water your natives and especially your trees, native or not. Because natives mostly don’t like hot wet feet, it is best to water now before the next heat wave arrives. This helps heat-proof them.

How to deep water natives? If you have irrigation, turn it on before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. – it’s the law. Watering between 5 a.m. to 9 a.m is the best time. I prefer morning watering as most plants take up water and transpire it during the day. Some desert plants such as Cactus, Sedums and Dudleyas transpire at night through the CAM mechanism, but most – 93% – use water during the day.

Water for at least 20 minutes, and then check the soil moisture.

I know some of you prefer to water at the end of the day after work, and this is ok for the quick watering that rinses dust of the leaves of natives, or to rescue a plant, but it isn’t best for deep watering. Note that some plants will wilt in the hot afternoon and bounce back. Do not water to “rescue” these plants as it can kill them with kindness.

Checking soil moisture: Use an old screwdriver to dig a small hole to a depth of 2”. You can also use a core tool or an inexpensive moisture meter. Check for moisture at the bottom of the hole. If no moisture has reached the bottom of the hole, keep watering. Make a new hole to recheck (I know you know this, but…).

If you don’t have irrigation, an overhead sprinkler that attaches to the hose is fine for natives. Soak everything for at least 20 minutes, then check. Add water if necessary as above. If you have newly planted natives with planting wells or bowls around each plant, fill each bowl at least three times with a hose, then check.

To deep water trees, put a hose closer to the drip line than to the trunk. The drip line is on the ground where the canopy of leaves ends. Set the hose to drip once every second or two. Leave the dripping hose for 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the tree. Again, check the moisture 2” down.

“But, but…we’re not supposed to water!” Many water agencies are now trying to get the word out to keep watering the trees, especially if the lawn is allowed to go dry.

I heard noted climate and weather expert Bill Patzert of JPL speak about the drought last year. He pointed out that the current drought is not 3 (now 4) years old, it is 13 (now 14) years old. Because of this, trees are running out of reserve water. This year I’ve gone to many sites where trees are stressed or dying that just need a drink of water. Time to give it to them!

pond med
I am reprising my water talk for Sierra Madre on Friday, April 24 at 7:00 pm at City HallThe next morning, April 25 at 9:30 am, we will be digging some swales at a Sierra Madre residence. The demonstration will only make sense in the light of the talk the night before, so please come to both!

Returning Rain to the Aquifer Beneath Us: Simple Water Infiltration for Sierra Madre

We do get rain in Sierra Madre, and when it comes, we throw most of it into the storm drain. Our wells are running dry, so we’re drinking imported water. Meanwhile, the cost of cleaning up pollution in stormwater is projected to cost the County $120 billion (SGV Tribune), which will be passed onto cities. “It will be millions and millions of dollars for each city…” (Monrovia Mayor Lutz, chairwoman of SGVCoG’s water committee.”
We can do better. This program will show simple ways to detain water on site and infiltrate it back in to the aquifer. Orchid will show examples of swales, earthworks, cisterns and other rainwater harvesting methods that can be used to store water on site, creating a better environment for plants to grow and helping to re-fill our aquifer and our wells.

Talk Location City Hall, Council Chambers
232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
Friday, April 24, 7:00 pm
Contact 626-355-7135
Demonstration Location
285 W. Grandview Ave.
Saturday, April 25, 9:30 am

Wildflower Meadow in Sierra Madre GardenJennifer LaPlante and Steve D’Auria’s Sierra Madre garden will be on the Theodore Payne Garden Tour for the 4th year this Saturday!  The Tour runs from  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The Theodore Payne Garden Tour features 47 gardens across the Los Angeles area during two days, Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd.  This garden is number 7.

Here is what TPF wrote about the garden:

“This foothills landscape showcases unusual plants from the San Gabriel Mountains and local wilderness. The steep, narrow 4,000-square-foot garden, begun early 2011, includes terraces of local stone, rock water features, permeable paving, drains and swales, and formal and woodland plantings.”

At this point, the garden is more than 8,000 square feet of local native plants and hosts goldfinches, woodpeckers, scrub jays, squirrels, deer, bears and bobcats! It features a wildflower meadow ringed by coast live oaks.

Restoration of the local ecology was an important purpose in creating the garden. It features local native plants and 90% are species local to the area. Many are rare. It features plants such as the Humbolt Lily, Lilium humboldtii, Dudleya lanceolata and D. cymosa, the local Coral Bells, Heuchera caespitosa, and the Soaproot, Chlorogalum pomeridianum.

Several beautiful fountains by Stonemason Bruce Goss evoke the many streams, rivers and seeps of the San Gabriel Mountains.  See his Flickr Gallery, and find more photos on Facebook.

To see beautiful photos of the work in progress by artist/photographer A. Fanto, go to

bfly on mona_sized

Swallowtail on Monardella, courtesy TOLN

I’ll be speaking this Saturday at Tree of Life Nursery to kick off their new Habitat Gardening Series.

“Planting native plants provides new life to your garden by providing a food source and living space for pollinators like birds and butterflies. Make it easier for them. They struggle to find food and shelter in our urban areas filled with what to them is utterly useless – lawn, flower beds, hyper organized over-maintained “landscapes.”  With the right plants, it is possible to invite a host of hummingbirds, songbirds and beneficial insects to the garden. In addition to attracting these delightful visitors, you will find you draw something else – yourself! You may just find yourself out in your garden more – enjoying these delightful critters every day!”

These lectures are free and open to the public. The nursery is open, and staff are available to help you choose the best native plants for your wildlife habitat garden.

Future speakers in the series include:

Feb 28 – Jim Semelroth, Southern California Bluebird Society
Attracting Bluebirds into your garden
March 7 – Bob Allen (CNPS Appreciation Day, member discounts)
Attracting amphibians and reptiles to your native garden
March 14 – Monique Rea, Jewels of Nature Hummingbird Rescue
Attracting Hummingbirds into your native Garden

Tree of Life Nursery
33201 Ortega Highway,
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

New, Rare and Unique Native Plants or your Garden
with Antonio Sanchez at Eaton Canyon Nature Center

Native plants are growing in popularity, and it seems you can find a few common plants in almost any nursery. Names like Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’, Island Snapdragon and Deer Grass are quickly becoming familiar to many gardeners around the state, but what about the other over 5000 native plants that have either never been tried in landscapes or have very little history of being used in gardens? In this lecture, Antonio Sanchez (Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden) discusses many new and unique native plants for the garden. From hard to find California desert and alpine plants that are only now becoming available in nurseries to plants from Northern Baja California that only a few folks have had access to, Antonio will discuss dozens of plants and their possible uses in your garden.

CNPS San Gabriel Mts. Chapter
Eaton Canyon Nature Center
1750 Altadena Blvd.Pasadena, CA 91007


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