...brought to you by the CNPS San Diego Chapter's Native Gardening Committee.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Anybody know anything about Red Flaky Wheat Bran?

Vincent Lozaneo is looking for information about the safe use of Red Flaky Wheat Bran on native plants. Here is its chemical composition:

He is looking to use it as a treatment for brown snails.

Any anecdotal or published information about the product, its effect on native plants, its runoff dangers, etc. Would be great! Post here or email me at gardening@cnpssd.org

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I was preparing a test of photo transfers using Dropbox and noticed this image from the 2012 Garden Tour - it is so beautiful. I love that poppy color - one of my favorites on the whole planet, so I thought you all might be interested in seeing it.

Cindy Burrascano is putting together a gallery of photos for posting at the web site and we hope to be publishing the link to it very soon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fire and Flora

The most recent email from The Chaparralian had a link to this fun resource: Fire and Fauna - an educational game for ages twelve and up.

They are building a game that will be fun and is designed to share and promote an understanding and an appreciation of nature.

The site says, "...the game plays like a cross between Pokémon and Settlers of Catan. It's a casual, resource-management game, where the goal is to build healthy and beautiful landscapes."

I had no idea what either of those terms really meant - I vaguely remember my nephew going through a Pokémon phase....but what is "Settlers of Catan"?

Enlightenment comes from Google: "Picture yourself in the era of discoveries: after a long voyage of great deprivation, your ships have finally reached the coast of an uncharted island. Its name shall be Catan! But you are not the only discoverer. Other fearless seafarers have also landed on the shores of Catan: the race to settle the island has begun!" So, it must be some sort of role-playing game.

Fine, I am looking forward to seeing Fire and Flora come to life.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

An old list

Cindy Burrascano was cleaning out our CNPS storage space at the Balboa Park meeting place - and she handed me a stack of stuff from the 90s. It has been fun glancing through it all and I plan to do more - maybe tonight since it is a rainy day. Perfect for a cup of tea and a stack of cool old stuff.

I did come across one nice artifact: a 1990s Rare Plant List for San Diego County. I scanned it and sent it to Frank Landis, our Rare Plants guy.

Here is a sample of the data:

If you would like a PDF of this, please send me an email at gardening@cnpssd.org

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Propagation Space

Propagating native plants is a great learning experience. It is also something that I am not very adept at. Connie Mack is one key resource - she runs the Propagation Committee for the San Diego Chapter. She is so knowledgeable - no matter how many times I hear her present, I want more!

The first problem I've always had with propagating is: finding the space to do it in anything other than a casual, luckless way. The second things is: consistency.

Since I am on the go a lot, I don't always manage to take care of my small, easily damaged cuttings.

So, a solution like this greenhouse would make things a lot easier.

This one, in particular, has some benefits that home-made and other solutions can't provide easily.

It is a totally self-contained, self-tending greenhouse that requires no additional power supply to maintain temperature and watering systems. This is great for households like mine where there isn't a gardener home all the time.

The automatic ventilation is controlled by a thermostat. One side of roof lifts off the frame, drawing the cooler air in, while hot air escapes through the roof peak.

They control this with one 12v battery and a solar charger. Isn't that great! Even, controlled ventilation is crucial to keeping the cuttings and seedlings moist but not soaked.

That was always my biggest challenge: the constant, daily adjustments to ventilation and moisture.

Now, back to challenge #1 - where could I put this?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Growing a Tecate Cypress in a pot

I love Tecate Cypress trees. Cupressus forbesii. Beautiful scent. Beautiful shape. Fast-growing. Architectural. Fits so many situations and conditions.

And I am growing a bunch of them in pots. I have about a dozen in pots ranging from clay to glazed ceramic. The Cupressus plants are about eighteen months old and came from a batch I bought from a restoration effort overstock at the University of Idaho.

To get some height into a formal layout in my back garden, I put four Cupressus into four Thai copper-glazed rectangular, tall pots. The soil is a mix of a bit of the native soil (mostly clay), some compost, some decomposed granite and perlite. It was an experimental mix and seems to be working quite well. The pots are about 18 inches across. The Cupressus started as seedlings and they are now about three feet tall.

Eventually, I will replant them into the soil directly - nothing like this can live forever in a pot. I have tons of space, so finding new homes for them will not be a problem!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Famosa Slough Native Habitat Talk

Here's the announcement for next week's session -  about Native Plants and Habitat:
Tuesday, December 11th, 7:00 PM
“ Native Plant Gardening for
Beauty & Habitat “
Speaker: Susan Krzywicki
Susan Krzywicki, Native Plant Landscape
Consultant, will discuss the role of native plants in
environmental stewardship. Native plants provide aesthetic
pleasure while enhancing habitat for use by birds and other
animals. Home gardens are watershed habitats that can
establish benefits through decreased chemical and water
use. They show a deep respect for our natural heritage.
Susan will introduce concepts that homeowners and
gardeners can implement to improve our local habitat.
Jim Peugh, Chairman of FFS Board of Directors,
will give an update on the latest developments at Famosa
The public is invited.
Light refreshments will be provided.
Location — Loma Riviera Condominium
Clubhouse, 3115 Loma Riviera Drive

Monday, December 3, 2012

Riparian Cleanup Opportunity

Lots of events coming up!

I received this through Surfrider Foundation. I can't figure out how to embed PDF's in here, so if you want the PDF, please email me at gardening@cnpssd.org.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Attached please find a brochure and agenda for the Subject Riparian Clean-up Event and Program (“Event”) scheduled for December 7, 2012 at the Rancho California Water District in Temecula, California.  The Event is a joint public service effort between the ABA Water Quality and Wetlands Committee (which I co-chair),  the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), and the Rancho California Water District.  The clean-up and tree planting event, and the education program/lunch that will proceed it, will be held in Temecula, California at the Rancho California Water District Boardroom (and subsequently the Temecula Gorge) on Friday, December 7, 2012, from 11:30 to 3:00.    A write up about the Event is also provided on page 7 of the attached brochure for ACWA’s Fall Conference in San Diego.
As you can see from the attached, not only is this event a great way to give back to the environment in one of Southern California’s beautiful riparian locations, but it is also an excellent way to learn about Southern California watersheds and their policy, legal and technical challenges.  In addition to a free lunch, we will be offering up to one hour of free Continuing Legal Education Credit (CLE) for California attorneys in attendance,  and free transportation, between San Diego and Temecula (on a first come, first served basis), and from the Rancho California Water District to/from the cleanup site at the Temecula Gorge.  For those of you who coordinate large organizations (e.g., County Bar Association leadership; Environmental Group leaders; IRWM coordinators; GMs/Utility Directors, Watermasters, etc.), please pass this invitation on to anyone that you may think have an interest in attending within your respective organization(s).  Individuals interested in participating should RSVP to me directly so that I can get a consolidated count and ensure we have sufficient transportation resources and food available.  Please RSVP as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 P.M. on December 5, to jjungreis@rutan.com or at (714) 338-1882.  RSVPs should include information on whether you will require transportation from the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego (details in the attached brochure), and whether you will require CLE credit.
            This will be a fun event, rain or shine, that brings people who care about watersheds together from all sides of the political and interest spectrum to do something good for the environment (and to learn about our shared SoCal watersheds).  I hope you can join us.
Jeremy Jungreis
Co-Chair, ABA Water Quality and Wetlands Committee

Jeremy N. Jungreis
Rutan & Tucker, LLP
611 Anton Boulevard, 14th Floor
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714-338-1882 Direct
714-546-9035 Fax
760-277-4690 Mobile

Sunset Cliffs Native Plant Garden Planting Day

David Kimball sent out this message: 

"We will have the first of three planned work parties at the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park garden area on Saturday from 9 am to noon.  There are about 350 native plants that we'll be getting into the ground along the east side of our garden area.  We'll be working near the Ladera Street parking lot (see map below).   

I'll be there before 8 am if you'd like to start early.  We've got gloves and tools but extra shovels would be welcome.  Bring drinking water and sunscreen.   We'll work unless there is really heavy rain

Another 300 native plants are on order that we will plant on Saturday January 19th.  We'll be there again on February 9th to weed and plant a few remaining plants."

If you are interested, just show up! If you have questions, email me at susankrzywicki@mac.com

Friday, November 30, 2012

Can we give them our perspective?

Sue Marchetti brought this to our attention. She wrote:

Civita, as you probably are aware, is a huge new development of houses in Mission Valley where the quarry used to be.  They will have 60 acres of parks!  And they are inviting people to come to a workshop on Dec 1, to help plan the parks.  Glen Schmidt will lead the workshop.  A quote from Maarco Sessa of Sudberry Properties which is the developer:  

"We're looking for ways to make Civita parks jewels of the city."  The workshop will be led by Glen Schmidt, (whose firm Schmidt Design Group specializes in the sustainable design of public places and parks) "The general lframewok of the parks has been approved and now they are looking for the refinements that will make Civita parksworthy of affection by the whole community", per Glen Schmidt.  

According to the article, the central park will be one of the largest public parks to be built in decades in metropolitan San Diego.

Seems as if this would be a great opportunity for those who know the plants intimitely to put forward ideas for specific plants to be used.  And I nominate you all to carry the ball - if you have time to make this meeting.

It is Saturday, Dec 1, 10:00 a.m. at the Circa 37 Leasing Center, 7800 Westside Dr, SD.  I think that is in Mission Valley. 

RSVP's are requested to anne@sudprop.com.  I am going to try to go also. 
If you can think of others who might/could/should go, please forward to them also.

Map courtesy Civita web site

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gardening Committee Meeting tonight

We are meeting tonight at the Cardiff-by-the-Sea library. Six PM. The library is located at:

2081 Newcastle Ave
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
(760) 753-4027

We will be discussing planning for 2013, recent activities and will continue to select topics for the Gardening With Natives program that Sue Marchetti runs so successfully - Sharron May's topic last month was a Wow! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A report on a new Native Public Garden

Betsy Cory is a CNPS member and came to the board several months ago with a request to sponsor a Public Library Native Plant garden in Chula Vista. South Bay has seen some good projects lately, and here isBetsy's report on how her garden is progressing:


Yesterday was the last step in the installation of the Fragrant Garden at the Chula Vista Library.  A Native American elder, Randy Edmonds, blessed and dedicated the garden in a traditional ceremony.  He burned a white sage smudge and wafted the smoke up to the Creator with an eagle feather fan.  With the smoke went our hope and trust that the small plants will grow into an aromatic garden that will be a comfort and source of appreciation for native plants to people of all ages.

In the months before, everything had gone like clockwork.  The soil was analyzed by a laboratory and found to need iron and sulfur.  Those minerals were purchased and dug into the soil by the Chula Vista Garden Club. Kay Stewart selected the plants and designed the garden to make the most of the challenging site, which is a small triangular interior courtyard surrounded by 20-foot walls.  The 27 plants of 11 different species were purchased at the CNPS-SD plant sale and planted the same day.  (Two Artemisia dracunculus were unavailable and were purchased from Recon.)  Kay also printed labels, so that each plant is clearly identifiable.  A poster was placed at the entrance with photographs of the plants as they will look when mature, along with the common and botanical names of each, and acknowledgment of the CNPS-SD funding.  The Chula Vista Parks Maintenance Department adjusted the irrigation system and spread mulch after the plants were installed.  The Chula Vista Garden Club is prepared to do the necessary weeding and pruning at the proper time.

It is fitting that the blessing took place during Native American Heritage Month.  The plants in the garden are native plants that were so important to the native wildlife, as well as to the Native Americans who lived in the area--and still live here.  Thank you for the grant which made this garden possible.  

Betsy Cory
CNPS-SD Member
Chula Vista Garden Club Member

Chula Vista Library Cardholder

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Join a lecture on Birding...

Of course, as we garden with natives, we get more birds. Would you like to learn a bit more about how to educate people, especially children in the art of identifying birds?

Try this:

SAN DIEGO NATURALISTS, Tuesday, December 4, 1-3 pm.  
In the past year, naturalists have been meeting to coordinate training, learning, and ways to engage more children (and adults) in nature. This meeting will feature three of the five segments in a Birding for Naturalists training module (I. Importance of Birds, IV. The Tools of Birding, and V. Bird Identification). This module has been developed by about ten birders, educators, and others who have met monthly since May. It builds on critical observation and critical thinking skills, without naming a single bird! An interpretive module for naturalists was developed and presented on July 11, focused on leading interpretive walks and thematic interpretation, and got mixed feedback. This meeting will invite input on the needs for training on interpretive skills, then the module will be revised in early 2013.

This was from San Diego Children and Nature - check out their web site for more info.

You're invited to attend this and other December meetings with naturalists, citizen science network, and early childhood educators (instead of general SDCaN meeting), all at Girl Scout program center, 1231 Upas Street.

DIRECTIONS:  The Girl Scout program center is at 1231 Upas Street, on the southwest corner of Richmond and Upas Street at the northern edge of Balboa Park,Girl Scouts of San Diego program centef.  From 163 south, take Washington Avenue east, very soon turn right on Richmond, and follow that about 10 blocks.  Cross Upas and take the first driveway to the right.  From 163 north, take the Richmond Avenue exit and take the fourth driveway to the left.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reverse invasion?

Garden Design Magazine published an article online about a new monkeyflower (mimulus) that was discovered in Scotland. This photo accompanied the article:

The really interesting aspect is that the mimulus is a cross with a California native, apparently. The article states, "The ancestors of the new species were introduced from the United States and South America's Andes Mountains in the 1800s."

And it is not  a sterile hybrid, because, for some reason, it duplicated its entire genome, due to some quirk. Cindy Burrascano says, "To me this is just another example of a potential invasive species with unknown consequences for the habitat it is invading."

Every bit of change in the universe has consequences. None of which we can fully predict or even begin to think we can control. And I find that exciting.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Rebates - City of San Diego

Garden Contessa sent an email: The City of San Diego has launched a new voucher program to provide deep discounts on compost bins, worm bins and red worms. The program is for City of San Diego residents only. Find the details here: http://www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/recycling/residential/composting.shtml

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

City of San Diego Rain Barrel program:

I received this note from
Lana FindlayPublic Information Officer

1:48pm Nov 9

Hello CNPS - SD!

I am one of the Public Information Officers for Think Blue San Diego, part of the City of San Diego's Storm Water Division.

Rain barrels help to reduce the demand on the drinking water system to irrigate gardens and reduce storm water runoff which flows untreated into our rivers, bays and ocean.

The rebate is simple, residents can get $0.50 for every gallon of water their rain barrel holds up to $200! We would really appreciate your support spreading the news about our residential outdoor rebate programs.

Here is a link to our Facebook note with information you can share:

Or our rain barrel rebate photo album:

Or you can go to the City's rebate webpage directly at:

Did you buy a rain barrel yet? Please do. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Up the coast, they get serious about water retention

Landscape Online showcases projects that are of interest to people in the horticulture industry - mostly contractors. The Central Coast area has been forward-thinking about this issue. Check out this short article about their new programs for bioretention.

We can create these sorts of benefits for all major public works, and that would help solve cliff erosion, beach pollution and save water. Good benefits, worth the cost in many situations.

Image: landscapeonline.com

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rockin' in the Garden

A lot of native garden efforts incorporate rocks for a number of aesthetic and practical reasons such as drainage paths, areas to recharge water from downspouts, or a 'thematic' statement.
Unfortunately, in this author's opinion (occasionally a rant!), these are not always treated with good, naturally-based design forethought, which should include:

  • A variety of rock sizes,used with a 'planned randomness". The best suggestion: find a local canyon or streambed and observe what Mother Nature did! Achieving this may even involve obtaining rock sold or separated by uniform size and mixing 3-4 sizes, with the suggested observations as your guide.
  • A stream bed  in a yard without any other rocks tends to look imposed; consider at least a few other 'out croppings' of similar rock, partially buried to avoid "dinosaur eggs".
  • There are lots of other garden organization benefits to these efforts including providing natural protection for offsets in elevation, accents for natural-looking paths, accenting certain plant forms in a natural way, plus the fact that rocks are a good water-retention mulch.
...rock on!

A big bioretention effort

In undeveloped coastal areas, the average amount of runoff is about fifteen percent but when we pave, roof, cement and make other impermeable additions to the landscape, that runoff number rises to between fifty and seventy-five percent.

That extra water burdens the system. The old philosophy was to push the water towards the ocean as quickly as possible. It seemed that the ocean was capable of absorbing this. Now, we see that the volumes are overwhelming the natural cycle. The best way to deal is to retain water on property.

Landscpeonline.com, a trade press for landscape contractors, showcased this project at the San Francisco 49ers stadium. Their bio-retention system collects and treats runoff for a five acre parking lot.

This was a huge project: it involved five workers and they completed the work in over three hundred hours.

Of course, most suburban and urban gardens won't require such extensive solutions. The first level is to use native plants. Their water profile can be so much lower than conventional planting.

So, plant natives! Conserve and retain water!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rain and requests to not water

We are having a normal entry into our rainy season - here it is November, and we are into our first rainstorm. A mild one, seemingly.

The San Diego Union-Tribune published an article today, asking us to voluntarily cut water use. Some people would say: But it's raining!

Yes it's raining today, and it will continue to rain in approximately ten day cycles, if we are on track with our usual patterns. Then, in May, the rains will stop. And that is why we are asking people to pay attention to conservation now.

"Key California reservoirs measured an average of 63 percent full..." and here is a picture from San Vicente Reservoir:

For those of you more data-oriented:

If you'd like to calculate  the right amount of water to give your landscape or garden - try this tool:
Water Calculator

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Theodore Payne wiki

Have you all seen this resource? The California Native Plant Wiki - Theodore Payne Foundation. What a great treasure trove!

If you have a question about a particular plant, they have the info...for example, look up Matilija Poppy - you can see Mr. Payne is holding one in the picture above.

You can type in "matilija" or "Romneya coulteri" and that will lead you to a page that looks like this:

I love the icons at the bottom that indicate special conditions or affinities. Try one today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hot days coming to an end?

I see rain is predicted. We were at a client's yesterday and re-set the water budget to bring it down pretty low - 20% of the summer number. We'll run this for a couple of months and see how the rains go. Of course, she has a rain sensor, so that if it does rain, the system won't add artificial irrigation to natural sources. But sometimes at this point in the year we don't know how much rainfall we'll be getting. Will it be a wet winter?

Have you turned down the water budget on your system? Or turned it off?

Maybe we should start a campaign like the smoke detector companies: Fall, when we set our clocks back, is the time to change detector batteries and turn off the watering system.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eucalyptus trees are now "Rain Forest"

This New York Times article about the locally-maligned eucalyptus tree, is an eye opener.

The eucalyptus had been classified as a special category of tree because of how it germinated after fires inits native Australia.

With further study, scientist suggest it has more of an affinity with rain forest vegetation, and that should help to protect it in its home lands. Apparently they were under threat from over-harvesting.

Ironic, no?

Water Issues

Don Wood, who has been interested in water topics for years, recently sent this link:

Cadiz Water Project suit filed

Native plants and water issues are connected - backwards and forwards, so any information about what our water authorities are planning is of interest to those who wish to protect native plants and garden with them.

First: often people get introduced to native plant gardening because of the water-savings potential. It's about the money. Tracking what will happen with future rates means we can track a certain amount of the attention to native horticulture: when people feel rates are going higher at a rate that skips above inflation, then notice goes up.

Even if the inquisitiveness is not purely monetary, then the overall conservation message resonates. We have a strong affinity for a way of gardening that is in line with the natural resources, so we care about water use, in general.

And there are some powerful forces at work: desalinization (a battle about how projects are financially structured s well as about the science), endangered species and the Delta, sourcing water from new places, converting agriculture to domestic use.

For these and other reasons, we'll bring you more information about water as we see, investigate and learn about water in Southern California.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Plant Info Pages - lots of good stuff

When Carolyn Martus’s Plant Sale committee puts together signs for the Fall Plant Sale, they use a one-page informational sign per plant. 

You've seen these: the row of plants sits in front of a metal stand with  a printed page attached. The page has a photo and a description. See the sample below. 

It even indicates whether the plant is in the rare plant list. 

Did you know you can download these? Go to this page, then click on the plant you want to learn more about. The format is a handy PDF. 

I think a three-ring binder of these, kept at your potting bench, would be a fun way to start on your cataloging efforts. There’s plenty of white space for your own notes, and the type size is quite large, so you can read it with ease. 

And, if you are a photographer, and see a plant that has no photo, please feel free to take a shot and submit it for consideration to plantsale@cnpssd.org - see your work published!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

South Bay Botanical Garden

Clayton Tschudy and I will be teaching a Master Class at the South Bay Botanic Garden - that's at Southwestern College, in Chula Vista. The class is November 10th.

The class is a combination of lecture and hands-on. We'll actually be in the garden, pruning, showing how to propagate and pointing out the many species that are thriving in this great South Bay resource.

Please join us. Email me at susankrzywicki@mac.com to get more details.

Barb Hebel took the above picture as part of the April San Diego Native Plant Garden Tour. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

More Events

Jeremy Sison, John Corning and the crew at Surfrider Foundation will be running the Hands On Workshop at a local home in Ocean Beach area this Saturday. It is 9 AM to noon. We will be demonstrating, on a real-live garden, what the Ocean Friendly Gardens principles mean in action:

  • Conservation - here is where we use Claifornia native plants!
  • Retention - how to build bioswales
  • Permeability - find out how to make driveway cuts
If you'd like to join us, email susan@surfridersd.org

Friday, October 26, 2012

Moving Along...

The San Diego CNPS Chapter just completed the Fall Plant Sale and everyone should have all their goodies in ground by now. I know I don't, but I'm hoping all of you will...

Other upcoming events: RECON nursery is having a plant sale on November 17th at their site in South Bay.

Mike Evans at Tree Of Life Nursery, is speaking on November 10 about Manzanitas.

Clayton Tschudy and I are giving a class at the Casitas Municipal Water District tomorrow - it is already sold out, but we hope to do more soon.

Susan Krzywicki