Planting native plants

There is so much information on the web and some of it is contradictory. How can one know what to believe? This is a truly difficult question – whether we are talking about plants or anything else. As an example consider these two videos on planting native plants. The first video, by the Palos Verdes […]

Drought and the garden

The news reports on California’s drought are dire. However, the drought did not happen overnight, we are now in our fourth year of drought. Nevertheless, for years my city, South Pasadena, like many others, did not take a proactive role on water conservation. The lushness of South Pasadena is apparent every time one crosses into the city. Designated […]

It rained – time to plant

Trying to catch the moment between the all day drizzle yesterday and the forecasted heavy rain tomorrow, I went to the nature park with the following ten new plants: 1 – 1g white sage (Salvia apiana) 1 – 1g buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliosum), collected from Verdugo Mts. 1 – 1g monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus var. […]

How to water established trees

I have been doing some online research on watering established trees. It is amazing how much contradictory information is out there! Some say water once or twice a week for twenty minutes, others suggest monthly for several hours at a time. As always, the reason for the spread is partly due to the fact that […]

Oaks in Garfield Park

A week ago last Sunday, on June 16, another mature specimen oak went down in Garfield Park. It was a sunny day, there had been no wind, no rain, no extreme temperatures, it was beautiful. I noticed the tree early in the morning and by afternoon city workers had removed it. I stopped by while […]


Good habitat requires more than a group of native plants. To understand what makes good habitat it is important to look at the garden from the perspective of the wildlife you wish to attract.Habitat provides conditions in which animals can live, reproduce, and raise their young. These include: 1) food, for both adult and young, […]

When and how much should I water?

When working at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden on the “Garden Hotline” one of the questions that I found most vexing was: How often and for how long should I water my native plant garden? The problem, you see, is that there are so many questions that need to be answered before a satisfactory reply can […]

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The music has been going through my head all day. This morning I decided the irrigation system was due for a tune-up. Starting early, I worked and worked, moving, lifting and adjusting sprinkler heads. And then after hours of work, I got to conduct the irrigation system, using my iphone, no less. It was so […]

Summer hydration

At the risk of sounding like a complete geek – oh, I forgot, I am a complete geek – I want to talk about summer hydration. In some of my horticulture talks I discuss summer irrigation. The tip given is to water deeply a couple of times during the summer to keep plants – and […]

Water Basics

Families enjoy warm sunshine at a park in February. It’s all about water – living in Southern California, that is. The sun shines brightly almost every day of the year. Temperatures are, for the most part, moderate, and due to low humidity, even the hottest days are followed by delightfully cool nights. Weather – meaning […]