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California Native Plant PR

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Januar 2006 Los Feliz Ledger Column - "Sensible Substitutes, Part One - Vines, Groundcovers & Grasses"

The New Year has arrived! What better way to celebrate than turning over a new leaf in your garden? Literally!

In December’s Native Harmony, I unveiled the truth about invasive plants in our midst and listed some of the worst offenders actively destroying our ecosystem and driving out native species.

Now is my chance to share with you tips on what to plant instead.

Since my personal plant nemesis is morning glory (Ipomoea indicia, not our native morning glory), I will begin with invasive vines and groundcovers.

I find nothing glorious about this type of morning glory and in the morning it is the last thing I want to see. Some people are still hooked on the flowers and speedy growth whereas I, knowing all-too-well the damage it wreaks, have no pleasant thoughts about it whatsoever. My husband and I are constantly battling this beast; it never stops infesting our backyard and basement from the neighbors’ yards around us.

It is with great pleasure that I offer several sensible substitutes to non-native morning glory, ivy, lantana, periwinkle, red apple, iceplant and mint – all of which should be removed post haste.

Depending on your sun exposure (research each plant before purchasing), the following native groundcovers and vines will be more suitable to our climate and thus behave more appropriately: Arctostaphylos edmundsii (manzanita) ‘Carmel Sur’, ‘Bert Johnson’ & other low-growing cultivars; Artemisia californica ‘Canyon Gray’; Asarum caudatum (wild ginger); Baccharis pilularis (coyote brush) ‘Pigeon Point’; Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape) & repens variety (creeping barberry); Calystegia macrostegia ssp. macrostegia ‘Anacapa Pink’ (Anacapa Pink California morning glory); Ceanothus (California wild lilac) ‘Anchor Bay’ & ‘Centennial’ & other low-growing cultivars (there are many); Clematis lasiantha (chaparral clematis); Eriogonum fasciculatum (California buckwheat) & cultivars; Fragaria vesca & chilensis (woodland & beach strawberry); Salvia (sage) ‘Bee’s Bliss’, S. leucophylla ‘Point Sal’ & Point Sal Spreader’, S. mellifera ‘Terra Seca’ & more; and Vitis californica & cultivars (California wild grape).

Pampas grass, fountain grass and other non-native grasses are spreading aggressively and choking out natives in our area and throughout the state. Give them the heave-ho immediately. Keep in mind that wind, birds, animals and humans can disburse the seeds from these and other exotics so don’t even keep them in pots.

California is graced with elegant and stately native grasses and plants that resemble grasses (sedges, rushes and certain shrubs, subshrubs and succulents). They are integral to maintaining increasingly rare bio-diversity.

Try the following for a flowing meadow effect, an upright, dramatic architectural element in your garden or in a container: Aristida purpurea var. purpurea (purple three-awn); Calamagrostis foliosa (Cape Mendocino reedgrass); Carex spissa (San Diego sedge); Festuca californica (California fescue); Hesperoyucca whipplei (Our Lord’s candle) is prickly and should be kept away from walkways; Juncus patens (wire grass) & cultivars; Leymus condensatus straight (giant wild rye) and the ‘Canyon Prince’ cultivar; Muhlenbergia rigens (deer grass); Nasella species (needlegrasses); Nolina species (beargrasses); and Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton). These beauties will cover just about every height, width, color and shape you’re looking for. Each plant needs varying amounts of sun and water so make sure your conditions match its requirements.

As illustrated by the extensive list of sensible native plant substitutes laid out before you (this is just scratching the surface), there can be no excuse for not replacing the invasive plants that plague our native flora and fauna. Possibilities abound. We can easily transform our gardens into refuges and, in so doing, preserve a sound environmental future.

I’ll tackle invasive perennials, shrubs and trees next month.

New Indispensable Native Plant Resource

For all you native plant gardeners and enthusiasts:

Here is the latest and greatest resource for you from three of California's top Horticulturalists - Carol Bornstein, David Fross and Bart O'Brien.

It's called: "California Native Plants for the Garden" and it is wonderful. Extremely comprehensive and filled with lots of beautiful photographs, this book will become your best gardening friend. Go get one now and start marking it up with your notes. Bring it to the nursery and out into your garden to make sure you put your native plants right where they should be.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Green for the Holidays

Upon visiting Whole Foods in Hollywood last week, I discovered their green lifestyle store offshoot of the grocery chain. I have to say, it took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it; I was only intending to shop at the market for a friend's baby, who is turning one soon. I have been eyeing these cute clothes that are made from organic cotton, and I thought I'd check multiple Whole Foods for some more style options.

I happily stepped into the lifestyle store and began browsing. The selection was not that extensive and the variety was somewhat limited. The baby clothes were all pretty similar, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Nothing in the mix of clothes, shoes, bedding, bath and trinkets really jumped out at me. And then I saw the wrapping paper. I have been searching high and low for wrapping paper made of recycled or non-tree materials. Here it was: "Paporganics, Hemp Wrap." Like a beacon in the night, this gorgeous paper (available in several different original designs) was the answer to my virgin wrapping paper woes.

As a bonus, they were also selling the biodegradable "natural ribbon" made by the same company. After wrapping a few presents with this stuff and tying them up with the ribbon, I can attest to their claims that you can "tie it, shred it, curl it." It curls beautifully.

The cellophane that surrounds the paper is biodegradable too. I loved all the info such as that on the packaging.

Curious for more about Paporganics, I visited their website: www.paporganics.com. There, you can find out fascinating facts about paper. The most startling to me was: "If just 1% of U.S. households used this gift wrap instead of the conventional kind, in one year we'd save 11,457 fully grown trees, 1,981,830 gallons of water, 2.6 billion BTUs of energy, 210,263 pounds of solid waste, and 407,773 pounds of greenhouse gases."

Wow! That's reason enough to me to buy it. Thank you, Paporganics, for making this holiday season a little greener for those of us who are lucky enough to find your sustainable products!