Tanya Kucak / Special for the town crier
Searching for a good reference can spark an interest in gardening.
Whether you are an aspiring local gardener or an old hand, knowing more about what you grow can increase both your enthusiasm and knowledge.
Browsing through a good reference is an underrated pleasure. Most useful printed reference, “California Native Plants for the Garden” by Carol Bornstein et al. is out of stock, although Larner Seeds (larnerseeds.com) currently has it in stock. It may also be available from the Native Sons Nursery (nativeson.com) or local departments of the California Native Plant Society (cnps.org).
Another basic reference is “Growing California Native Plants” by Marjorie G. Schmidt and Katherine S. Greenberg.
For inspiration, the following books can be as exciting as a good novel.
• • “Hardy Californians” by Lester Rowntree. A hundred years ago, Rowntree began traveling solo across California to find native plants, collect seeds, and grow them in the garden.
• • “Nature’s Best Hope” by Douglas R. Tallamy. This book describes how home gardens with keystone natives can trigger ecological renewal.
• • “Secrets of the Oak Woodlands” by Kate Marianchild. The highlights include exciting chapters on plants and animals in connection with California oaks.
Devoted gardeners will also enjoy books on Ceanothus, Manzanitas, Oaks, Conifers, Grasses, or Onions, as well as the following.
• • “California Native Gardening: A Month-to-Month Guide” by Helen Popper. Read practical advice on what to do each month, poetically written.
• • “California Bees and Blooms” by Gordon W. Frankie et al. Learn about native bees and what flowers attract them.
• • “Native Treasures” by M. Nevin Smith. An experienced horticulturist writes about his many favorite plants and how to propagate them.
An unexpected benefit of the property is that it offers lectures, workshops, and garden tours from across the state. Many CNPS chapters continue to hold online lectures, some of which are archived. Search the local chapter resources online at cnps-scv.org/education/youtube.
For answers to questions, active forums like the CNPS Facebook page or the Growing California Natives email list are invaluable. Subscribe by email [email protected]
However, the best way to learn about plants is to grow them and observe them. February is not too late to sow wildflowers or add a herbaceous perennial or two to your garden. Any seasonal rain can lower your water bill and help the locals establish themselves. When planning a new garden, keep an eye out for locals blooming in your neighborhood and make notes of what you enjoy year round.
Calflora (calflora.org) and Calscape (calscape.org) are established websites that give you information about the flowering times, what is native to your area, which plants attract the most butterflies – the birds help by providing caterpillars for nestlings – and which nurseries might have certain plants. More photos and growing information can be found on kindergarten websites like the aforementioned Native Sons, Las Pilitas (laspilitas.com), Monrovia (monrovia.com), or San Marcos Growers (smgrowers.com).
At less than $ 5 a pack, seeds can be an inexpensive way to try something new. In addition to many interesting and unusual varieties, Seedhunt (seedhunt.com) has six native buckwheat, eight leaf clover, 15 lupins and 13 clarkias. Both Seedhunt and Larner offer seeds from native perennials, shrubs, trees, and even bulbs, as well as annual wildflowers.
A native plant that is already growing is even faster. A native from Annie’s Annuals (anniesannuals.com) along with her enticing description highlighting her beauty and uses may inspire aspiring and seasoned gardeners alike. Local garden centers stock some plants, or you can order directly from their website.
Tanya Lap Gardens organic. Email to each horse [email protected]