California Native Plant Society
Orange County Chapter
|March 1:||Starr Ranch Field Trip|
|March 5:||Board Meeting|
|DOLC Field Trip|
|March 14||Tin Mine Field Trip|
|March 14||Chapter Council RSABG|
|March 19||Chapter Meeting|
|March 22||Cucamonga Canyon Field Trip|
|March 28||At Home with Natives Symposium|
|April 2||Board Meeting|
|April 4||Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary Spring Bird Fair & Art Show|
|April 16||Chapter Meeting--special directions|
|April 18 – 19:||Green Scene|
|April 19||San Gabriel Mountains Field Trip|
|April 23 – 26||SCP Garden Show|
|May 2||Garden Tour|
Location, Time, Contact
UCI Arboretum; Thursdays 10-1; Celia Kutcher, 949-496-9689
Golden West College; Tuesday & Thursday, 10 – 1; Dan Songster, 949-768-0431
Chapter meetings are held at the Duck Club in Irvine on the third Thursday of the month, September through June. Doors open at 6:45PM, Circumvistas allenii (Bob’s Look-around) 7:15 – 7:30, program starts at 7:30. The April meeting is an exception. Please note the special directions for that meeting.
Directions to the Duck Club:
Driving south on the 405, exit on Jamboree, turn right. Left on Michelson to 3rd signal. Right on Riparian View. Pass the IRWD water treatment plant. Follow signs to Audubon House and the Duck Club.
Driving north on the 405, exit on Culver and turn left. At the second signal, Michelson, turn right. Continue on Michelson to third signal, Riparian View, turn left toward the IRWD treatment plant and follow signs to The Duck Club. [Thomas Guide to Orange County, page 859 J-7]
Plant family names may be changing, but we still want to put Genus and species names on the flowers we see this spring, and the regulars—the perennials and the shrubs—that we see all year. For that, key characteristics of each plant have to be carefully examined. But what a myriad of terms there are to describe these characteristics!
Want help? Come to our fun and informative Plant Identification Workshop. Adventitious? Axillary? Dioecious? Disciform? We will try to demystify some of these terms, which are the first step in using a key. Key? Yes, using a key can actually be a fun activity!
We will provide an assortment of local plant material and you are welcome to bring in your own, along with plant guides, hand lenses (if you have one, bring it along), a dissecting microscope for close-ups, and some experts. If you’d like to help, let us know.
This will be an informal meeting, gathered around tables examining plants. What could be more pleasant?
Speaker: Carlos de la Rosa, Ph.D.
Ahhh, Catalina. What a wonderful feeling to be off the mainland, out on this island with its lovely natural landscapes, varied animal and plant population and beautiful vistas. Very enjoyable and what a great place to hike! But what happens when fire takes over the island? Join us as Carlos de la Rosa of the Catalina Island Conservancy gives us a look at the fire history of Catalina, the effect of the two most recent fires including the devastating fire of 2007, which burned about 4800 acres (one tenth of the island!) of chaparral, grassland, rare coastal sage scrub, and oak woodland, as well as the effects of the non-native animals, including tourists, upon recovery efforts and directions.
Dr. Rosa is not a botanist, so his talk will range widely, touching upon all the aspects of fire and recovery. He states, “…the issues surrounding California wildfires are much more than botanical, but have strong social and economic elements of interest to all California residents.”
Carlos L. de la Rosa, Ph.D., is the Chief Conservation and Education Officer of the Catalina Island Conservancy, California. A few of his past credits include: Education Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Management, Pinellas County, Florida; President of the International Foundation for Environmental Restoration; as well as Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve in Kissimmee, Florida. He has been Biodiversity Advisor to the Organization of American States, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and organizations in Central and South America. His most recent book is A Guide to the Carnivores of Central America: Natural History, Ecology and Conservation.newsletters | home | contents
The Helen and Ortho Camp Estate recently gave money to both the CNPS state organization and to our local chapter. Roughly six years after her death it came as a surprise since she had never mentioned it. Nevertheless, the news of her bequest caused a few of us “old timers” to remember with fondness a lady who could out-hike most of us and whose curiosity and enthusiasm for our local native flora was second to none
Helen was an active member the Orange County Chapter of CNPS from mid 1980s through the 1990s. She passed away in 2002. It’s true that Helen’s favorite things did not involve board meetings or paperwork, but she did her part to help the chapter be the organization it has become. She served a stint as chapter treasurer in the early days, volunteered to help with our plant sales, and was pretty regular at our public meetings, but her heart was in the hills and she was always at her engaging best on field trips where her curiosity and enthusiasm proved infectious to all, regardless of their level of knowledge. If you are relatively new to OC-CNPS you probably never met Helen, but you would have liked her.
Helen enjoyed native plants. I mean she really liked them and the puzzle of understanding their identities. She loved solving the mystery of what tiny difference might separate one species (or variety or sub species) from another and the relationships these plants have with each other and the surrounding geology and animals. This was an exciting study she never tired of participating in, talking about, and supporting.
It’s funny what people recall. Fred Roberts, himself a dog lover, stated, “She was a bright and cheerful person to spend time with. Her dog was named Halley after Halley's comet. That was a big thing in 1986.” Also a big thing in 1986 was the botanical work being done on the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park Habitat Conservation Plan. The botanical parts of the plan were authored by Karlin Marsh and were published in 1987. Cataloging of the plants in the park was a big undertaking involving many volunteers. I wonder if Helen was there? If she was a contributor to the HCP then Helen was probably one of the happiest volunteers of them all. I can imagine her on the hunt, eyes focused on the ground as she takes quick but cautious steps, investigating and carefully making one of her lists while finding the natives mixed among the grasses, emerging through a low cover of buckwheat, or tucked near the rubble of a streamside. Comparing notes later with expert friends would have been the perfect day for Helen.
Around 1989 Helen “adopted” Caspers Wilderness Park as her own 8,000-acre botanical refuge. At Caspers she was trying to identify and catalog all of the plants inside of the park’s boundaries. Long time chapter member Bob Allen stated, “She would examine wildflowers, return home and type up a list of what was in bloom that day or week, and then post copies of her list in many places at CWP.” That was before the Internet and that meant physically taking the list to the park and tacking it up on the bulletin boards and in the entry area. Even Orange County’s best botanists would consult her lists before entering the park.
Bob goes on, “She made a number of discoveries at CWP, such as a population of Brodiaea filifolia, Thread-leaved Brodiaea (CNPS 1B.1, CE, FT), and one of Convolvulus simulans, Small-flowered Morning-glory (CNPS 4.2).” Spotlighting the affection botanists and park staff had for her, the small clay hill on which she found Convolvulus simulans is known locally as Helen Camp Clay Hill.
I was new to CNPS around that time and found myself walking along with Helen at Caspers. Perhaps we were originally in a group and had become separated, but I remember it was fall before the rains—when everything was dry and anything herbaceous was completely desiccated. She stopped at a remnant of a plant now resembling a dead pile of straw and spent five minutes searching through the material, jotted down some notes, and folded an old seed head into a piece of paper. I can’t remember if she figured it out completely, but she said something about it being a Gallium species (bedstraw). Before we left, she looked down at the little plant and said to me, “Do you know there are people who can tell you exactly what this is just from its skeleton?" She really respected the people who had studied and made our native plants part of their life’s work. She considered their abilities to identify the species, understand what made them different from their sister or cousin, and appreciate why they grew “here and not over there” an important, almost heroic work.
Next to native plants, I guess she liked plant people best. I always had the feeling that if Helen were forced into a room full of famous politicians, athletes, or Hollywood stars, she would recognize few (if any) of them and although she would be polite, she would have little to say. But I have seen her on a field trip and at our chapter meeting introduced to someone interested in native plants or Orange County wildlands for the first time and after a quiet greeting, the questions would spill out, “Where do you like to hike? What do you find there? Really?” She may have been considered shy by some, but to plant people she was easy going, inquisitive, and cheerful—always yearning to learn and share her discoveries with everyone.
Note: Sworn to secrecy long ago by Helen, Fred Roberts recently reported that she had financed the first edition of his Orange County Checklist of Vascular Plants. Wow! So although Helen is no longer with us, through this tool she still helps many who are interested in studying our local natives, whether they are casual hikers, chapter members on field trips, fledgling botanists, botanical consultants making a living—or you.
The Orange County Board of CNPS is exploring ways to utilize the funds Helen so generously bestowed upon the chapter in a manner that Helen would have agreed with completely. Stay tuned for more information in future newsletters.newsletters | home | contents
FIRE ISSUES: On Feb. 5, Senator Barbara Boxer issued a statement recommending that, “ An important way to fight the serious threat of wildfire and also create jobs is to pay for brush removal.” This brought a storm of emails and calls in protest to the Senator’s office from CNPSers and other enviros who have worked to keep our chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitats from being totally removed (as has been strongly proposed in San Diego Co.) in the name of fire risk reduction. The Senator issued a statement on Feb. 9 clarifying that she didn’t intend wholesale “brush” removal. Rick Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute has subsequently been working with the Senator’s staff on why it is so important to distinguish forests from shrubland ecosystems. He feels that “... we have established an important and productive relationship with the Senator’s office and we’ll be able to help set the story straight the next time around.” But there are still many widespread misperceptions about fuel management that are encased in current laws and policies and that threaten shrubland ecosystems. See californiachaparral.org for the text of Senator Boxer’s statements, detailed discussion of this issue, and copies of their reports Exploiting the Fear of Fire for Economic Gain and Chaparral Preservation Plan.
SADDLEBACK CANYONS: O’Neill Regional Park is 3100 acres of “urban wilderness,” much of it donated to OC by Rancho Mission Viejo (RMV). Ownership of 500-plus acres along Chiquita Ridge at the park’s eastern edge (including vital coastal sage scrub habitat) has been the subject of litigation between the city of Rancho Santa Margarita (RSM) and OC. If the city’s suit had been successful, the land would have been removed from the Southern Orange County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and opened up to possible development.
Recently, the Endangered Habitats League (EHL), OC, and RMV reached agreement with the RSM to permanently protect most of the 500 acres. The result is no net loss of acres for the reserve, a substantial net gain of California gnatcatcher habitat due to restoration, and elimination of future threats. For more details see ehl.sequelsystem.com/Public/Newsletter/.
SAN MATEO WATERSHED: The 1165-acre Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy (TDOLC) encompasses most of the western slope of the Cristianitos Creek watershed, one of the San Mateo watershed's main sub-basins. TDOLC was set up under an agreement between Rancho Mission Viejo (RMV)—which owns TDOLC's land—the OC Board of Supervisors and the City of San Clemente.
Now RMV wishes to dissolve TDOLC and absorb it, and its conservation easement, into the new 32,818-acre, privately-owned, RMV Reserve. RMV has received the supervisors’ approval for the dissolution. In November the San Clemente City Council voted 5-0 against approving the dissolution, in response to 21 speakers advocating against it. The public’s concerns were mainly that there would be no provision for direct public input or comment on what happens in the reserve. The Friends of the Conservancy (FOC) was charged with forming a plan that will be good for TDOLC and include provision for direct public input.
On Feb. 17, after 1½ hours of testimony about FOC’s plan for a new nonprofit TDOLC, the Council unanimously voted to appoint a subcommittee to meet with RMV representatives to discuss the new TDOLC and its future. See OCCNPS’ website for our letter to San Clemente re: TDOLC’s future.
—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair
[As always, you may contact Celia at if you have questions or would like to become actively involved.]newsletters | home | contents
Co-chairs: Joan Hampton and Richard Schilk
A message from the Field Trip Committee
Most of the field trips listed below do not require prior registration—but we recommend that you do so anyway, giving us your name, email, cell phone number, and perhaps a second phone as well so that we can give:
· Notification of cancellations, detours or other changes.
· Extra information—such as directions, maps or plant lists—provided by Rich for some hikes.
· Possible assistance for car pooling.
We use your email only to provide information about OC CNPS field trips, and your cell phone only for last minute field trip updates.
To register for hikes or find answers to your questions, please email Rich Schilk at To contact him about last minute problems the day of the hike, phone him at (714) 351-7688. On field trips where pre-registration is required, directions and other information will be provided only to those who register beforehand.
Leader: Dick Newell
Leader: Lois Taylor
This 1,200 acre wilderness reserve, created in 1990, includes oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub and native grasslands. It is only open to the public for docent led hikes. We will take a loop trail that is mostly on level terrain with a few gentle inclines. Pre-registration is mandatory; email Rich Schilk to sign up and to get directions and the starting time.
Leader: Joel Robinson
This hidden gem is located at the northeastern end of the Santa Ana Mountains, behind Black Star Canyon, where desert and coastal annuals collide. It is hard to believe that such a vast canyon is just minutes from downtown Corona. Highlights include rocky outcrops, evergreen slopes of chaparral, actual mine tunnels, a shady woodland full of bay trees, ferns, and grape, and a spring-fed creek. Email Rich Schilk for directions.
Leaders: Liana Argento, Elizabeth Pomeroy, Bob Muns
We will join the Natural Science Section for a slow paced 3-4 hour plant walk to identify plants and learn about the unique geology and geography of this area.
Directions: Take the 57 freeway north and the 210 freeway east to Upland. Exit at Campus Blvd. Go south to 19th Street, then east on 19th to Sapphire, and north on Sapphire to Almond, Turn west on Almond to the parking area where the dirt road begins. Bring water, lunch, hand lens, and binoculars. (optional $1 for plant list and $1 for hand lens) Rain cancels.
Leader: Joel Robinson
Santiago Creek begins here, upstream from Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the most isolated wilderness areas in the Santa Ana Mountains. It burned in the fire of 2007, but has experienced a rapid rate of regrowth in the creek bed since then. See annuals (such as Fremont Death Camas) that look like they are on steroids. Find evidence of old mining operations. There are chances of seeing a diversity of snake species, including ringnecks and kingsnakes. Email Rich Schilk for directions.
Saturday, April 4—Irvine Ranch Conservancy auto trip (IRC vehicles only)
Leader: Jutta Burger
Pre-registration is mandatory since attendance is limited; email Rich Schilk to register, and to get directions and the starting time.
Leaders: Liana Argento, Michael Hecht, Bob Muns
We will join the Natural Science Section for a slow paced 3-4 hour plant walk to identify wildflowers and learn about plant uses.
Directions: Take the 57 freeway north and the 210 freeway to Claremont. Take the Base Line offramp. Turn west on Base Line to Padua Ave. then north to Mt Baldy Rd. Continue for six miles to Barrett-Stoddard Rd. Park on the highway or in the parking area off to the right (a National Forest Adventure Pass may be required). Meet at trailhead 9:30 am. Bring water, lunch, hand lens and binoculars. (optional $1 for plant list and $1 for hand lens) Rain cancels.
Leader: Jo Kitz
Come on this field trip to enjoy great ocean views, and to explore the interface between the mountains and the sea. The hike will include a walk on the beach and the opportunity to observe shore birds. Malibu Bluffs Park, one of the few remaining coastal bluffs in Southern California, was burned during a 2007 wildfire. Recovery has been slow since then due to the drought which followed. At present, natives predominate in some areas, but invasives in others. After the hike, join us for a picnic lunch in the developed areas or along the coast.
Directions: from Orange County take the 405 north, and then (at exit 53B) 10 west towards Santa Monica. When the freeway ends at PCH, continue north on PCH (CA-1) almost 14 miles to Malibu Canyon Rd. At the intersection with Malibu Canyon Road, make a left turn into Malibu Bluffs Park (you may need to continue past Malibu Canyon Road, make a U-turn on PCH, come back to Malibu Canyon Rd., then turn right.) Since parking is often limited, plan on parking across the street, along Malibu Canyon Rd. To research directions in Google or mapping software, enter the destination as 24250 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. Or see p. 628, grid H7 in The Thomas Guide.
...and coming up later:
Sunday, May 31, 9:30 am
Monrovia Canyon Wilderness Park
Leaders: Liana Argento, Elizabeth Pomeroy, Bob Muns
Saturday, June 6, 10:45 am
Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, San Jacinto Mountains
Leader: Tom Chester, Sunday, June 28, 9:30 am
Evey Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains
Leadesr: Liana Argento, Michael Hecht, Bob Muns
Saturday, September 19, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Bolsa Chica: Drowning in Salt: Common Plants and Algae of Bolsa Chica Wetlands
Leader: Trude Hurdnewsletters | home | contents
See the complete program on our website www.occnps.org
or call Sarah Jayne at (949)552-0691 for more information.
This is a contest for front yard gardens in Orange County that display California friendly principles in their landscape. In short, they retain water on site, use water saving irrigation, appropriate plants for the region (including but not limited to natives) and as of last year, there is now a Best Natives award. Dan Songster has been asked to serve as a judge again and OCCNPS involvement has been requested again to get out the word on sustainable landscapes by supporting this contest.
We are privileged to have the opportunity to visit last year’s California Friendly Garden Contest double winner: The Sarkissian garden in Modjeska Canyon, which won the Best Native Plant Garden Award and Best California Friendly Garden in Orange County! The garden will be open from 10AM until 4PM. Chapter members will be on hand to answer questions and the gardener herself, Sarah Sarkissian, will offer several guided tours.
In order to visit this beautiful garden, we ask only that you make a reservation by emailing your name and email address to . If you can, please tell us when you might arrive so that we can plan guided tours accordingly. Directions to the garden will be sent upon receipt of your reservation. If email is not available, mail to OCCNPS, PO 54891, Irvine CA 92619 or call Sarah Jayne at (949) 552-0691.
Our chapter will once again host a booth at Fullerton Arboretum’s annual Green Scene. This is a grand assemblage of plant and garden people of every sort, with lots of gidgets and gadgets mixed in. It’s a great opportunity to visit the arboretum collections as well. Visit www.arboretum.fullerton.edu for more details.
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Our CNPS chapter offers a meek small voice here for California native plants are among the Cymbidiums. Clematis, Epiphyllums, Plumerias, and all the other exotic plants that thrive in our friendly southern California climate. But as people become more aware of gardening with less water, their interest begins to pique at the sight of our lovely spring bloomers. (We make sure to include a Matilija Poppy in our bouquet!) If you’d like to spend an hour or two at our table, please contact us. It’s a bustling fun scene.
RSABG is pleased to announce the opening of a new sales area, Grow Native Nursery. GNN will be located east of the visitor parking lot, right outside the nursery. It debuted on February 4th and will be open for sales from 9 AM to 4 PM on Wednesday through Sunday. Along with garden-worthy native plants and some unusual specimens too, you will find expert advice on selection, planting and care.
Members presenting their membership card will receive their usual 10% discount at the Grow Native Nursery.
Hello Southern California CNPS Chapter Members,
I am a very recent member of the LA Chapter of CNPS but have been enamoured with California native plants for a couple of years now. As I am sure you are aware the Theodore Payne Foundation is a non-profit California native plant nursery and education center in Sun Valley, which runs a wildflower hotline each Spring. This year the TPF hotline will start announcing what's in bloom on March 6th. I am coordinating the announcements this season and am reaching out to a number of parks in Southern California in an effort to compile a comprehensive announcement for wildflower viewing.
In addition to the parks, I thought members of CNPS might serve as a great resource for wildflower reports. In particular I am looking for a brief report of what is blooming along roads and/or trails in the different parks or natural areas. If any CNPS members or volunteers have reports of blooming wildflowers in Southern California, I would love to include these reports in the hotline announcement.
A new announcement will be recorded on a call-in number and posted to the Foundation's website every Friday morning. I am trying to collect the reports every Wednesday during the flowering season. On the website announcement I am also able to include information about events specific chapters may be having in Southern California as well as a link to the chapter’s websites.
Please contact me if you would be interested in contributing.
Here are the dates of our upcoming Habitat Restoration volunteer events (weeding, planting, and seeding):
3-8-09, 9AM - 12PM, Caspers Wilderness Park, San Juan Capistrano
3-22-09, 9AM - 12PM, Mason Regional Park, Irvine
4-12-09, 9AM - 12PM, Caspers Wilderness Park, San Juan Capistrano
4-26-09, 9AM - 12PM, Mason Regional Park, Irvine
5-10-09, 9AM - 12PM, Caspers Wilderness Park, San Juan Capistrano
5-24-09, 9AM - 12PM, Mason Regional Park, Irvine
RSVP for any events at or (949)509-4787. We will send directions and more info. ALWAYS bring gloves, sunscreen, re-useable water bottle, snacks, hat, and closed toed shoes.
And if you're up for a long term commitment:
Restoration Volunteer Training Program
Back to Natives has partnered with the US Forest Service to provide a 9-month restoration volunteer training program. BTN will educate volunteers in dry restoration practices within the Cleveland National Forest. For more information and to sign up for this FREE training program please contact
. The 2008/9 class has already begun, but we welcome participants to join in at any time. Remaining dates are: March 21, April 25, & May 16 . Visit
http://www.backtonatives.org/usfs.htm for a registration form, and an event waiver.
Back to Natives Restoration
(949) 509-4787 voice/fax
(949) 335-8656 cell
Saving Habitat One Person at a Time
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§ Eco-friendly products and native plants for sale.
§ Art walk featuring local artists.
§ Crafters Alley with local arts and crafts
§ Children’s activities and craft demonstrations.
§ www.tuckerwildlife.org for more information.
newsletters | home | contents
For those interested in our local weeds, two great opportunities to learn more:
Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 8:00 AM to 3 PM
County of Los Angeles
FOCUS: Wildlands & Urban Interface Weeds Control—Science & Solutions, Watershed BMPs, and Collaborative Planning for Regional Stategies
San Gabriel Mountains Regional Conservancy (SGMRC) & Cal Poly Pomona (CPP), AGRISCAPES CENTER at CAL POLY POMONA
Location: Temple Ave exit off the 57 Fwy, west to Univ. Drive, turn south to Agriscapes. Parking at the site.
MORNING PRESENTATIONS 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM
8:00-8:20 - Light Refreshments, Networking,, and Registration
8:25-8:30 - Introductions: Dr. Ann Croissant, President, SGMRC/Board of Directors Welcome: Dan Hostetler, Chair, Cal Poly Horticulture, Plant & Soil Science Department
8:30-9:00 - Keynote: State of the Weeds – Past, Present, Future: Will Harrison, Target Specialty Chemicals
REGIONAL WILDLANDS WEED CONTROL & NATIVES RESTORATION PROJECTS
9:10 - Walnut Creek – sub-watershed regional scale
9:30 - Lemon Creek - urban creek restoration local scale
9:50 - Millard Canyon - community project partnership10:30 (Break & Networking)
10:45 - Wildland & Urban Interface Weed War Needs, Challenges, Strategies & Successes Panel Presentation
11:25 - Introductions to Marketplace of Ideas and Sponsors
11:50 – 12:30 Lunch (Provided)
AFTERNOON FIELD STUDY & MARKETPLACE
12:30 – 2:30 PM Weed Walk: Identification, Collection, Treatment Discussions (materials provided), Cal Poly Field Team with Dr. Gerald Croissant
12:30 – 3 PM Sponsor Tables and Marketplace of Ideas/Materials, including what’s new with demonstrations, treatments, techniques, tools, and books.
PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED by 3/13. ($10 Fee for lunch, materials, costs).
Register by surface mail. INCLUDE: Name, Email, Contact Information, Payment made to SGMRC.
Mail to: SGMRC, P.O. Box 963, Glendora, CA 91740
More details provided when registration received.
§ Mechanical control methods
§ Tools and techniques for effective wildland weed management!
These field courses will train natural resource managers and restoration volunteers on all aspects of invasive weed management.
For 2009 Cal-IPC is able to offer a special discounted rate for restoration volunteers! You qualify as a restoration volunteer if weed management is not part of your professional work and you volunteer for an organized restoration effort.
Upcoming 2009 Field Course Schedule in Southern California:
San Diego - Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch Open Space
April 1 - Control Methods
April 2 - Revegetation Techniques
Pasadena - Audubon Center at Debs Park
November 4 - Control Methods
November 5 - Mapping
Registration and details at www.calipc.org/fieldcourses/index.php.newsletters | home | contents
The need for planting California native plants in our gardens, on our roadsides, and in our public spaces has never been more urgent, and public awareness is growing and becoming more receptive to the idea. All of you who are reading this newsletter are aware of the joys and benefits of planting native plants. We at CNPS need to continue to push to consolidate our gains and make further inroads, and I hope to give you a few weapons to use in the fight. All of you have a vital role to play.
Water, Water, Water – On February 12, 2009 at a Sustainable Landscape Design Seminar, Tim Brick, chairman of the Metropolitan Water District, stated that landscape uses represent 60% of Southern California water, and that Californians use four times more water than Australians, and two times more than Europeans. These are staggering numbers. We have declining water supplies. The answer is obvious. Most native plants require little to no supplemental water. Ta-da!
Ecology – The word is out, and habitat enhancement is an important priority to this generation of homeowners, parents and professionals. Water resources can be enhanced by removal of non-native invasives such as tamarisk and arundo. Public open space can double as habitat. Properly landscaped uplands can both filter water runoff and prevent water usage that results in excess runoff.
Habitat – A recent study cited in the San Francisco Chronicle concluded that bees visit 90% of native plants, and only a small fraction of non-natives. Birds, butterflies and other pollinators flock to yards planted with natives. School gardens are being created all over to help educate kids and bring a little authentic California to the cities and suburbs. Homeowners are increasingly replacing their lawns with simple, lovely and natural designs featuring native plants. Have you talked to one person who took the plunge and removed their lawn, but now wishes they had their grass back? I haven’t.
Native Plants versus “California-friendly” – Our heritage of California native plants is rich and diverse. We need to continue to educate about the uses of these plants in the garden, and of their maintenance requirements. Many nursery and landscape professionals will still claim that drought-tolerant plants from other regions of the world will look better in the garden than natives, and that they are easier to care for. Everyone has their own taste, and a garden is a highly personal space, but lately I’ve been thinking how arrogant that view is, and how misinformed. Just head to the hills and wild spaces this spring and tell me that the typical Southern California exotic landscape looks better than that. “California-friendly” is not good enough; California natives are the real thing.
I challenge you, who love native plants as I do, to continue to share information with your friends and colleagues. The chapter has many opportunities for you this spring to help spread the word. Our symposium on March 28th is the perfect opportunity for a crash course in the potential for landscaping with California native plants. The cost is low and includes lunch, so bring a friend. We will visit the Cal State Fullerton Arboretum for our general meeting on April 16th, bringing our meeting to an important public garden and also giving our north county members a commuting break. And finally, our many field trips this spring are a great opportunity to learn about our ecosystems and gain the ultimate inspiration for the best garden design.
—Laura Camp, President
—Joan Hampton, Field Trip Co-chair
First, an apology to all of you who were not notified of this field trip. It did not become a sure thing until after the deadlines for the January/February newsletter and the January email broadcast. We joined members of our sister chapter, Riverside/San Bernardino, led by Katie and Cameron Barrows.
And what a trip it was…
Whitewater Preserve is located just this side of Palm Springs, off of Interstate 10. It is managed by The Wildlands Conservancy, whose mission is to preserve wild areas with at least two W’s in their name (such as Windwolves and Whitewater Preserve). The interior of the visitor’s a center, paneled in knotty pine, had the feel of a Swiss chalet. It is nestled alongside a striking cliff wall layered in conglomerates and sedimentary rock.
We had no chance to get bored with the weather. It alternated every few minutes among driving rain, high winds, minute snow flurries and rare spells of sunlight.
The morning hike took us up—and up—and up—a winding route and along part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Judging by my labored, gasping breaths, the total gain in elevation was several miles, an altitude comparable to the higher peaks of the Andes. Clearly our guide, Whitewater Preserve Naturalist Charlotte Burns, was mistaken in claiming that the ascent was only 500 feet. The view over the canyon was spectacular, at least during those rare occasions when the rain stopped long enough for me to wipe the water off my eyeglasses.
We saw a few natives on that ascent, such as Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Big Pod Ceanothus (Ceanothus megacarpus), Scale-broom (Lepidospartum squamatum), Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpus), Live-Forever (Dudleya lanceolata) and Bush Poppy, (Dendromecon rigida).
We also saw several clumps of moss growing around two of my favorites: liverworts and Spike Moss (Selaginella sp.).
Returning to the visitor center, we ate our lunches, then started out on a second, afternoon hike. After about twenty minutes of clomping through wet, thigh-high grasses in an adjacent meadow, I wimped out, and went back to the cabin. The others continued on. Doughty Sarah Jayne, made of tougher stuff than I, reported seeing the following plants—none of which I had ever heard of. In her own words, these included:
Lotebush, Ziziphus (she loves that name) obtusifolia a member of the Buckthorn family; Narrow-Leaved Stillingia, Stillingia linearifolia, an interesting member of the Euphorbiaceae; and the locally endemic yellow-flowered Triple Ribbed Milk Vetch, Astragalus tricarinatus.
I wish you had been there with us that day.