Echiums - aka Pride of Madeira - are in bloom now and the other morning I stopped to look and admire this clump that grows a few blocks from my house. The light lavender color is unusual. The close-ups of the flowers are beautiful, aren’t they? Echiums can be considered invasive because they are not native, get very large, and reseed pretty easily. They are pretty plants, but do need a lot of space to grow into. I had one in my front yard for a couple of years, but I finally removed it because it was a monster, and it made me itch every time I rubbed into it. Fortunately, I can enjoy it in other yards, and down by the waterfront where they grow prolifically.
The San Diego Audubon Society is hosting a Native Gardening Workshop on Saturday, February 4th, 11th and 18th from 10 am – 2 pm.
Learn how to design a water saving, bird friendly garden in your own yard. Work on projects that you can take home. Learn from experts that work with native plants and garden design. Experience hands on activities to develop your skills and knowledge. The workshop is free.
Participants should come in clothes if you don’t mind them getting dirty, sturdy shoes and wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. We will provide work gloves, tools, snacks and water.
Please RSVP to Beckywilbanks@cox.netor 760-295-1548. Volunteers under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian.
Can’t make it Sat.? The Anstine-Audubon nature preserve is looking for tour leaders. We need a volunteer or two to help Public relations and marketing! There are other opportunities as well! Please contact Becky Wilbanks at 760-295-1548
The Anstine-Audubon nature preserve is located at 2437 Hutchison Street in Vista, CA 92084.
On Tuesday at the monthly Master Gardener meeting, our guest speaker was former Master Gardener, Nan Sterman. Nan is now the weekly garden columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune as well as drought tolerant planting guru. I first heard Nan speak at a Master Gardener seminar many years back. I signed up for her class because I needed to fill my first class space and went in with no expectations. Turned out that Nan’s class was the highlight of my seminar day, and was a complete shift in thinking for me.
Nan’s talk yesterday was about Mediterranean gardens. She had a nice slide show that highlighted low water gardens around San Diego. She stressed that any style house can have a beautiful low-water garden that would be appropriate for the style of the house. Another statement she made which brought a wave of giggles around the room, but it SOOOO true, was “You only have a low-water yard if you don’t water!” Amen.
The biggest industry in California is the movement of water. Nan cited a statistic that really gnawed at me. Turning on your water spigot and letting the water run for 5 minutes is the equivalent of burning a 60W lightbulb for 12 hours. It took me a while to get my head around that. But think about all the entities involved to bring water to your house with the turn of a knob. It takes manpower, infrastructure and energy to move water.
Most of the water we use in California is for irrigating our landscapes. Still, we pay very little for something that is vital to live! It’s the best deal going. Unfortunately, we take it for granted, and we shouldn’t. It really irks me to have my neighbors, who rarely set foot in their front yard, running their sprinklers every morning just to keep the grass green. Their yard, and so many others, would be sooooo much interesting with interesting, less thirsty plants. I’d even plant it for them! (Yard Envy!) But first, a nice, cool glass of water.
I rarely water this Lion's Tail (Leonotis leonurus) and it is thriving!
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), or as it’s more commonly known, Christmas Holly or Christmas Berry, is a common perennial shrub native that adapts to a wide range of growing conditions. It is a drought-tolerant native, growing from the ocean to the middle Sierras, from northern California to northern Baja. It thrives on full sun, tolerates part shade, is drought-tolerant but tolerates some water if drainage is good. In fire-prone areas, it can be fire-resistant if watered a bit every couple of weeks during spring and summer to build up a little moisture content in the plant.
Toyon can grow up to 20’ tall, but generally grows as a large shrub to small tree. The leaves have little sharp teeth along the edges, almost looking like holly leaves. It has white flowers in summer, but is more famously known for its red berries in winter.
The berries are edible but don’t taste very good. They are acidic and astringent but, if cooked down, can be palatable. They contain cyanide compounds so you would only want to eat in small quantities, if you could even stand the taste.
Berries were eaten fresh or dried to used or used for tea by Native Americans who also used the leaves and berries for dyes. Settlers used the berries in a variety of ways for food, from making jelly and custard, to wine. Personally, I will let the birds eat them and, instead, would use them for decorations.
Interesting side note: It is said that Hollywood derives its name from the Toyon bushes that grow on the hillsides there. In the 1920’s, in Los Angeles, the collecting of toyon berries at Christmas time became so rampant that a law was passed that prohibited collecting on public lands.
[caption id="attachment_2688" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Toyon aka Christmas Berri
Okay, I finally got the November Garden Chores list posted on ‘This Month’s Garden Jobs’ page. And it’s still the first half of the month! Go to the page and check it out….
This is as close as we get to autumn colors in SoCal
Water Conservation Garden Festival at Cuyamaca College – Gardening lectures, Plant sale, Ask The Expert, Kids activities. FREE! 9:00am-3:00pm. For more info call 619-660-0614 or www.thegarden.org.
Here are some informative websites for water conservation. We know it’s bad, and it’s going to get worse. Not to mention that water is going to get expensive. From water saving tips to drought tolerant plant ideas and lots of other resources. these two sites have a wide range of good info.