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 http://afanto.com/ansg/.

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

pond medReturning 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.

Location City Hall, Council Chambers
232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
Contact 626-355-7135


Chliopsis linearis, Theodore Payne Sales Yard

Desert Willow, Chliopsis linearis, Theodore Payne Sales Yard


I’ll be teaching the Three-Part Design Class at The Theodore Payne Foundation starting this Friday, September 12.

Friday, September 12, 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Theodore Payne Foundation
10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley, CA 91352 (map), 818-768-1802
Here’s what TPF says about 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.

P.S – Not all California native plants are desert plants – this is only one of many sections of Theodore Payne’s sales yard.  Dry Shade and Riparian (riverbank, or moist areas) are two of my favorites.

Salvia pachyphylla
Rose Sage, Salvia pachyphylla

 I was at Hunter’s Nursery as usual for the 12th Annual Big Bear Xeriscape Tour, providing information about the many native plants for sale at Hunter’s.  Hunter’s still has some natives for sale, including lots of Arctostaphylos patula – a high-elevation Manzanita,  Rabbitbrush, Yarrow and other great plants.  The tour was created by the Sierra Club Big Bear Group, and co-sponsored by the Big Bear DWP.

“Xeriscape” basically means drought-tolerant in Greek.  It’s an easy word to make fun of – think zero – so I like to say drought-tolerant instead.  But it was originally developed by a high-elevation water district in Denver, so it makes sense in Big Bear.

The BBDWP created a beautiful Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, and these photos are from the garden.  Everything was in bloom and gorgeous, and kudos to the gardeners!

Penstemon eatonii

Firecracker Penstemon, Penstemon ssp.

Penstemon spectabilis

Showy Penstemon, Penstemon spectabilis

Penstemon spectabilis close up

Penstemon spectabilis detail

Solidago ssp

Goldenrod, Solidago ssp.

Aquilegia formosa

Western Columbine, Aquilegia formosa


Native Wildflowers at Learning Garden.jpg

Native Wildflowers and Shrubs at the Venice Learning Garden


I will be giving a presentation on Getting Started with Native Plants during the City of Monrovia’s Monrovia Area Partnership 5th Neighborhood Conference.  The  Conference is free.  It features 24 speakers on many topics, including  Solving Stormwater Runoff, Immigration Outlook, Therapy Dogs and the Wild Side of Monrovia.

My presentation will start at 10:30.   Here is their blurb for me:

“Native plants support more birds, butterflies and
pollinators than non-native plants and use up to
75% less water. Attend to learn how to get started.”

When and Where:

Saturday, August 9, 2014, 9:30am – 3:00pm
Monrovia High School Event Center
845 W. Colorado Blvd.
(Enter on Madison Ave)
Childcare provided for ages 6-16.
Classes will be also given in Español.