Archive for the ‘natives’ Tag

There Are Native Plants, And Then There Are Native Native Plants   Leave a comment

Okay, the Sacramento Valley California Native Plant Society fall plant sale is coming up September 24-25, and it’ll soon be time for me to get that native plant garden in the ground to replace the outer third of our lawn (aka the dead third). I have a grand plan that I’ve been developing all summer and a great plant list. Oh, wait a minute, I have done NOTHING. So instead it’s crunch time to develop a plant list, and I think I’m going to do the “wing-it” landscaping design strategy.

The hang-up on this yard project is the fact that I’m picky (I know, shocking). I don’t just want plants native to the US, or native to California, but plants native to right where I live! It’s a genetic diversity thing. Plan communities are local communities. Plants within a given area are different genetically than even the same species of plants living in a different area because they adapt to their local climate. And when selecting specific plants, if it is native to the specific place where the garden is located, accounting for the various microclimates even on a small lot, it will likely survive and thrive with less work/inputs. Unfortunately, the only way to get local cultivars is to propagate cuttings or seeds collected locally. I know I’m certainly not going to do that, and I’m assuming most people feel the same. Plus there may be legal issues with collecting from wild plants. The next best thing is a local native plant nursery that propagates locally collected cuttings and seeds. Fortunately, in Sacramento we have Elderberry Farms Native Plant Nursery, a project of the Sacramento Valley CNPS. I think that most native plant nurseries probably have a mix of local natives and broader-area natives.

You do have to be smart when it comes to a native plant list, though, and check what their native ecosystem is. This is especially true in the west where we have big states that have many different ecosystems. A plant native to shady mountain forests isn’t going to thrive in an open desert garden, at least not without a lot of water. So my plant list will be developed first from the list of plants found at Mather Field, then from a broader central valley list, then from anywhere in the state. And there will be at least a few non-natives that will probably find their way in, especially since I have a 5-gallon bucket of paperwhites that need to go somewhere!

Posted September 15, 2011 by mayakey in environment, gardening

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Sacramento’s First Native Plant Garden Tour   Leave a comment

This weekend was the first (that I know of anyway) native plant garden tour for Sacramento, put on by the Sacramento Valley chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Hopefully there will be another one next year, and it will become a regular thing. The lack of native plant/xeriscape garden tours in the Sacramento area has been one of the things that has really bummed me out since moving here. Having grown up going on native plant or xeriscape garden tours, and eco-home tours, with my mom I can say that they are a vital part of the movement. These garden tours are showcases, inspiration, education, and community all in one. The tour this weekend was free, but they can also be a form of fundraiser.

Many of the pictures in my head that I draw from when planning my landscaping come from all those tours my mom and I enjoyed in my teenage and early twenty-something years. Seeing something in place is much more memorable than looking at a picture. Unfortunately, all of those pictures were from New Mexico, so while the structures are still applicable, the plants less so to the grasslands of California’s Central Valley. Since I’ve been really struggling to figure out plants and an overall look for the third of the front lawn that will be converted to native plants, I was hoping that this tour would help provide not just inspiration but plant list help.

The tour itself was ok, but not fabulous. Several gardens on the tour were in the early stages, and the plants had not been in the ground for more than a year. Several gardens were also really small, as in only a few plants. Thankfully there were also a handful of established gardens, or it would have been really depressing to think that native plant gardening is so far behind in Sacramento. It does inspire me very much to get my yard converted, because apparently the real-world education about how beautiful xeriscape and native plants can be is desperately needed here.

Posted May 1, 2011 by mayakey in environment, gardening

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