California Native Plants: Beautiful – Fragrant – Drought Tolerant

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sept-1I have written a number of blogs and newsletters concerning California’s drought, sustainable landscape design and the use of drought tolerant plants, the ways one can save water and save money, as well as how to help protect your property against wildfires.

All of this material has now been collected, including available down-loadable PDFs, on my website page, Sustainable Green Landscape Design, which I encourage you to check out and download. However … I’ve never looked specifically at California Native Plants and what a wonderful natural resource they are, particularly as our current drought looks like it’s becoming a permanent reality.

logoThe Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flower and Native Plants, located in Sun Valley, is dedicated to preserving, propagating and promoting California native plants, seeds and wild flowers – native treasures that conserve water and other resources, provide habitat for wildlife, and add color and fragrance to the garden.

The Foundation operates a year-round, retail nursery – should you decided to go native – offering the region’s largest and most interesting selection of California native plants – hundreds of different species and cultivars, many of which are drought tolerant and low maintenance. Their Education Center and Outreach programs offer classes and field trips for adults and children. You can easily spend a day there learning what California natives has to offer.

What follows are some pertinent thoughts and ideas I’ve selected from the Foundation’s California Native Plant Database.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Pets and Toxic Plants

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English Springer Spaniel

While I’m not normally asked about the toxicity of the plants that I add to a client’s landscape, this question did come up recently regarding the back yard I was re-designing.  The owner wanted to know if any of the plants that were being considered would be harmful to their two Springer Spaniels. I said that I didn’t believe so, but that I would check to see if any of them were considered toxic to animals.

The Sago Palm I knew to be quite toxic to dogs and I have always been judicious in its use. However, I wanted to be sure that nothing I selected or anything else on the property was toxic, so I checked with the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine website and here is what they had to say. Needless to say, none of these were used in the landscaping.

A surprisingly large number of common garden and household plants are toxic to pets, and reactions to toxicity range from mild to life-threatening. Pets, like young children, explore the world with their senses, and they are therefore vulnerable to accidental poisoning. Many of these plants make wonderful additions to the garden, but it is important to know which plants are toxic. If possible, avoid planting these where pets (or children) will have frequent unsupervised access to the plants.

The 12 plants listed below are responsible for the majority of calls to our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) about possible plant poisoning. The list was compiled by Director of Pharmacy Dr. Valerie Wiebe. The toxicity of the plants below varies according to the species of animal exposed (cat, dog, bird, etc.), the amount of the plant that was ingested, and the specific variety or species of the plant.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the plants below, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not wait to see if symptoms appear, because in some cases of poisoning, by the time symptoms appear it is too late to save the animal.

  1. Day Lillies
    Day Lillies

    Lilies (Lilium, all spp.): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause complete kidney failure in 36-72 hours. First symptoms appear in a few hours and may include appetite suppression, lethargy, vomiting. Cats are especially sensitive to lily poisoning, so be very careful to keep your cats away from liliies of any kind, including the Amaryllis, Easter lilies, and Stargazer lilies so often found in homes around the holidays.

  2. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause cardiac dysrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, weakness, and even death. (Photo courtesy of freebigpictures.com web site).
  3. Anemone (Anenome and Pulsatilla, family Ranunculaceae): Irritating to the mucus membranes, and can cause blisters, hemorrhagic gastritis, shock, convulsions, and death. (Photo is Japanese Anemone).
  4. http://blog.garden-of-eva.com/?p=1789 Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.
  5. Amaryllis (family Amaryllidaceaea, incl. Hippeastrum spp.) All species, including Belladonna Lily, are toxic, and especially dangerous to cats. The bulbs are the toxic part of the plant. The “Amaryllis” commonly seen during the December holidays are Hippeastrum species. Symptoms include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hyper-salivation, anorexia, tremors. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Zagory, UC Davis Arboretum).
  6. Asparagus Fern (family Liliaceae): Allergic dermatitis, gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea.
  7. Daffodil (Narcissus): Vomiting, diarrhea. Large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, cardiac arrhythmias.
  8. Philodendrons: Irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips, tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
  9. Jade Plants (Crassula argentea): Vomiting, depressions, ataxia, slow heart rate.
  10. Chrysanthemums: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, incoordination, dermatitis.
  11. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum): The tubers or rhizomes contain the toxic glycoside cyclanin, a terpenoid saponin. Ingestion can cause excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, or even death in rare cases.
  12. Cycads (including Sago palm; cardboard palm; etc.): The “Sago palm” is a cycad, not a true palm, and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, melena (black “tarry” feces), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver failure, and death. A northern California police dog, a patient at one of our Companion Animal Memorial Fund donor clinics, died in November 2011 after ingesting parts of this plant.

For more information about plants that are toxic to dogs and cats here is a link to Southern California’s Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. 

Add A Stream To Your Drought-Tolerant Landscape

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House-w_streamThe New Normal

As California’s drought continues with no end in sight, I have had a substantial increase in client interest in turning front and back yards into drought-tolerant or Xeriscape landscapes.

The reason for this is obvious; it saves an enormous amount of water since grass can easily consume over half a gallon of water per square foot every time you water. To put that into perspective, a 100′ x 100′ lawn uses 6,230 gallons of water every time your sprinkler heads pup up. In addition to saving water and saving the cost of all of that water, it saves substantially on the amount of time and energy needed to maintain the landscape – no grass to cut and most native and drought-tolerant plants require little or no maintenance.

But What Will It Look Like?

This is the question every client asks after they acknowledge the importance of saving water. My answer is to tell them that drought-tolerant, Xeriscape landscaping has been done for centuries all along the Mediterranean, although it wasn’t called that; it was just the way folks created gardens when there was very little available water. And the gardens of the Costa Del Sol, the South of France, the Italian Riviera, and the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Malta and Greece are filled with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the in the world and with nary a blade of grass in sight.

Add A Stream – Wet or Dry

There are a number of ways to turn a grassy front and/or back yard into a stunning drought-tolerant garden. Any well-designed landscape takes into the consideration the confirmation of the property and the architecture of the structure. It’s not just about ripping out the grass and sticking plants in the ground.

If you have the space and a little elevation, a stream can be created that can turn a boring piece of property into a stunning garden.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Tips to Help Trees Survive Drought

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Our California drought is not going away. In fact, given the current weather and worsening drought conditions, this fall will probably be the worst forest fire season in the state’s history. In addition, the state and local communities are significatly increasing regulations regarding the use of water for lawns and have added substantial fines for its misuse.

I came across this info graphic on ways to help your trees survive the drought. Even if you allow your grass to die or decided to replace it with drought-tollernat and native plants, your trees are not only a significant investment in money and time, they add substantial value of your property and provide a number of environmental contributions.  Providing the correct amount of water and right nutrients can help trees and plants survive through severe droughts. If you would like to print this out and keep it handy to refer to, please Click Here

Prepared by the California Urban Forests Council and Invest from the Ground Up to help landscapers and property owners help trees not only survive a drought, but thrive in one. 

Drought-infographic_Trees

Additional Information

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to articles I’ve written on the subject :

Birmingham Largest Green Wall in U.S. Airport

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When I saw this article in the blog,  Total Landscape Care, I thought, “What a brilliant way to greet passengers coming off a claustrophobic  flight.”

Birmingham Airport Garden-Wall
Birmingham Airport Garden Wall

While I love to travel, I, as I am sure most of you who don’t fly First Class, have come to dread the prospect of getting from here to there shoe-horned into those sardine cans in the sky. And when you do get to where you’re going and join the rest of your cabin mates pouring into the terminal, you’re most often greeted by a noisy, advertising-filled environment you can’t wait to get out of.

I am a great advocate of green walls whether you want to cover a boring piece of concrete or make a statement in your entrance hall. Green walls can be constructed in any number of ways, out of a range of materials and can host a diverse selection of plants.

The Blog

Flowers-Green-WallThe first thing travelers see when they get off of a plane at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, might not be welcoming faces. Instead, they will be greeted with the largest green wall in a U.S. airport.

The 1,400-square-foot living wall, called “Earth, Wind and Water: The Landscape of Alabama,” features 8,000 plants belonging to 60 species indigenous to the state, according to AL.com.

Living-WallDuring the past few years, the airport has undergone several renovations, and the wall goes toward the $201.6 million terminal modernization project. The green wall ties together themes from four regions in Alabama, showing plant life from the North Alabama uplands through the state’s river valleys and farmland to the coast, according to the site.

A few inches thick, the wall is covered with a layer of recycled fabric and an auto-irrigation system. Some of the species include orchids and insect-eating plants.

They also added hybrid pineapples, which will be harvested. The wall will be open to the public this month in Concourse C. 

One Of My Walls

Recently installed, this green wall was designed for full sun and uses a range of drought-tollerent plants. It serves as the visual backdrop for a fountain and  sculpture, helping to focus the eye in what is a large and very bright terrace.

Garden of Eva-2
Los Angeles Office of Homeland Security

 

SWIMMING POOLS – Ready To Take The Plunge?

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leanderWith summer now in full force, I thought this might be the ideal time to bring up the subject of swimming pools. Of course, this being Southern California a majority of my clients already have pools, but for those of you who don’t and are considering putting in an in-ground pool (above-ground pools I’ll leave to the vendors), here are some things to consider.

malibuMake A Plan

Adding an in-ground pool is not only a major expenditure, it’s time consuming and will disrupt you, your yard and your life. It is a permanent feature of your home and will be an important consideration should you ever decide to sell. So if you’re serious about taking it on, the first step is to review the following and make a plan:

  • Choosing The Site: take into consideration it’s orientation to your home – exits – decks – windows, the view, the sun, the trees, existing hardscape, accessibility for construction equipment, the type of soil and the slope of the land
  • Create A Budget: create a realistic budget detailing all of your desired features and what you think they might cost
  • Review Building Codes: while the details of your community’s building codes should be left to your contractor, it would be wise to get a general understanding of what the codes cover and how they might impact the construction and cost

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

California Approves Mandatory Water Conservation

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Folsom Lake Reservoir
Folsom Lake Reservoir

While this may not be news to some of you, it’s important that as many people in California are made aware of how serious a drought we are facing and how little is being done to conserve water. “People really don’t understand the gravity of the drought, particularly in urban California, where people are hundreds of miles from their water source,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, which voted on Tuesday (7/15/14) to impose the following regulations, which are scheduled to take effect around August 1st.

Water Regulations

  • outdoor watering limited to two days a week
  • washing of sidewalks and driveways prohibited
  • washing cars banned without a shut-off nozzle on the hose
  • fountains using non-reciruclated, potable water are banned outright

Violations may be punished with fines of up to $500 per day

Beverly Hills Landscape
Beverly Hills Landscape

South Coast Region Water Use Has Increased

While none of the state’s 10 hydraulic regions have conserved as much as the governor asked for, most cut back at least 5 percent in May. The biggest exception is the South Coast region, which includes the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, as well as Orange County. There, water use increased 8 percent over previous years.

Almond Orchard
Almond Orchard

80% Of California In Extreme Drought

New National Weather Service data show that more than 80% of California is now in an extreme drought and is probably headed into a deeper drought this summer, making it harder to escape in the future.

The drought has already pummeled farmers in California, which is home to the nation’s largest agricultural sector. So far this year, about a third less water than usual has been available to the state’s farmers, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. The report projected that the drought would cost about $2.2 billion in statewide revenue this year, and that 17,100 farm-related jobs would be lost.

Drought-Tolerant Landscape Design
Drought-Tolerant Landscape Design

What You Can Do

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to articles I’ve written on the subject :

California’s Extreme Drought, Explained

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California-Drought-ExplainedIf you’re interested in learning how California’s drought is and will impact not only us but our entire country, take a minute and watch this excellent, short  NY Times Video on what has happened, is happening and will continue to happen to this state. You might also consider what you can do to cut back on your water usage or rethink how you’re home is landscaped.

This drought isn’t going away and every one of us needs to consider how we’re going to deal with this as it continues to worsen. In addition to the impact this drought is having on our agricultural production, it has also  made wild and forest fires year-round events.

While there is nothing we can do about the rain there is something we can do about our water consumption.

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to articles I’ve written on the subject :

And here are downloadable PDFs on the subject:

Water Conservation Information

Drought Tolerant Plant Selection

Pergolas For Summer Shade

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Encino-10There is nothing quite as relaxing as sipping a gin and tonic (or your favorite beverage) with friends, sitting in the shade of a vine-covered pergola, on a late summer’s afternoon. I have just completed the construction of two pergolas that are designed for this very purpose, although it may take several years before their vines provide the requisite shade.

During their construction, one of my clients asked me where the term “pergola” came from. I wasn’t sure; I said, “I believe it’s Italian but I’ll check and let you know.” I did and found a lot of very interesting information not only about the derivation of the name “pergola” but where the design was first used and how it has evolved over time.

I was right with my guess as to pergola’s derivation; it comes from the Late Latin word “Pergula,” which refers to a projecting eave; and the English term was borrowed from the Italian “pergola,” which means “a close walk of boughs.”.

According to Wikipedia, a pergola, arbor, or arbour is a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway, or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support crossbeams and a sturdy open lattice. As a type of gazebo, it may also be an extension of a building or serve as protection for an open terrace.

 To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Plant Hardiness Zone Maps – Southern California

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USDA_Zone_Map_CA_SOne of the many services the US Department of Agriculture provides are Plant Hardiness Zonal Maps.

These maps include: state, region and country and come in a variety of resolutions from 72 ppi for viewing on a screen to 300 ppi for high quality printing. They also provide interactive maps that can tell you what the plant hardiness is for your particular zip code and audio for the hearing impaired.

Whether you’re just curious to know what plants can live in your neck of the woods or someone who is planning on putting in a vegetable garden or a residential or commercial landscape, this is an invaluable resource that you might want to check out before you start purchasing plants or digging holes in your garden – and don’t forget to  included it in your gardening bookmark file.

Knowledge is power, particularly in plant selection.  Here is where all this valuable information resides: USDA Agricultural Resource Service

“But tho’ an old man, I am but a young gardner.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

To the beauty of nature.