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Lester rowntree 2014


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Talk on Lester Rowntree. Part of 'Out of the Wilds' lecture series

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Lester rowntree 2014

  1. 1. © Project SOUND Out of the Wilds and Into Your Garden Gardening with California Native Plants in Western L.A. County Project SOUND – 2014 (our 10th year)
  2. 2. © Project SOUND Lester Rowntree: legacy of an unusual California native plantswoman C.M. Vadheim and T. Drake CSUDH & Madrona Marsh Preserve Madrona Marsh Preserve May 3 & 6, 2014
  3. 3. Today’s talk: an English gardener entranced by California’s flora  Introduce you to an unusual California plantswoman – Lester Rowntree  Explore themes that ran through her life and made her extraordinary  Introduce you to some plants she loved – and her descriptions of them  Share just a bit of her native plant gardening wisdom © Project SOUND 1962
  4. 4. Sources of information on Lester Rowntree  Hardy Californians (UC Press, 2006)  Re-printing of Hardy Californians: A Woman’s Life with Native Plants’ (1936)  Biographical chapters by son, grandson; list of articles by and about Lester Rowntree  Chapter by Judith Larner Lowry (Larner Seeds; Gardening with a Wild Heart)  Grandson Les Rowntree’s website -  Slide show: slideshow  Lester Rowntree: California Native Plant Woman - Oral history – Bancroft Library – available on-line  ‘Flowering Shrubs of California and their Value to the Gardener’, (1939). © Project SOUND m/2011/05/hardy-californians.jpg?w=200
  5. 5. Gertrude Ellen Lester  Born 1879 (late Victorian Era) in Penrith (Cumberland, The Lake Country) England - 1 of 8 children  The family had a large walled, formal garden typical of Victorian England  The children each had their own garden, and Lester loved hers and did all sorts of crazy things in it. But it was hers and she could do what she wanted with it.  Garrya elliptica and Ceanothus spp. were grown by Lester’s father during her childhood in Penrith © Project SOUND Penrith_Lake_District_Cumbria_England.html
  6. 6.  She escaped from her home as much as she could to get out into the countryside – wanted to join the gypsies. “I hated the confinement and was continually running away.”  “I think the family did encourage picnics and going places, and Lester made the most of any opportunity that way. So she loved flowers right from the beginning.” - daughter-in-law Henriette © Project SOUND,_West_of_Penrith,_viewed_from_Culgaith.JPG
  7. 7. Move to Kansas, 1889 (age 10)  “In America, running away was more fun — except at Westtown where I was punished severely — for I could get farther and I was always discovering new plants that I had never seen before. It was beautiful in Kansas when the wind blew across the prairie grasses and I could sit and watch the undulating waves, knowing that I was free and in a wild place.” © Project SOUND
  8. 8. Move to Quaker colony in Altadena, California 1891 © Project SOUND  When Gertrude Ellen Lester arrived in Altadena it was to view the famous poppyfields on the slopes of Mt. Lowe, acres so brilliant that they are reported to have provided a landfall for sailors entering the harbor at San Pedro.  As with most English families the love of gardens was pervasive wherever they lived. Native plants were grown along with exotics; the garden was as important as the house.
  9. 9. Boarding school at Westtown Quaker School © Project SOUND  Worked as governess (in teens)  Quaker boarding school (Westtown School PA), late teens  In her journeys across the United States, the train crews cooperated with her in her efforts to collect wild flower seed.  Finishes high school at age 23  College deferred to care for dying father  Never got to attend college
  10. 10. 1908 – marriage to Bernard Rowntree  Live in Oradell, New Jersey (‘The Rowans’)  Garden was somewhat famous – but quite traditional (Victorian influence)  One son, Cedric (1911)  1920 - (in her forties), cancer of the uterus was diagnosed [not confirmed] ; surgery in S. CA  1920 - moved to S. CA (Point Loma, then Altadena) to be nearer her doctors and because she wished to die in her beloved California. © Project SOUND
  11. 11. Health regained in California – 1920’s  1925 – build ‘Big House’ in Carmel Highlands (a few miles south of Carmel)  There, on property overlooking the Pacific, Lester began her career with native plants.  But all was not well with the marriage  1931 (age of 53) Lester and Bernard were divorced © Project SOUND Wherever she went, she gardened.
  12. 12. Gertrude becomes Lester Rowntree  At Westtown School, in the early 20th century, it was convention to call students by their last name and Gertrude came to prefer that to her given name.  Even after marrying Bernard Rowntree in 1908, she called herself Gertrude Lester Rowntree.  In 1931, when they divorced and Lester began her career as a field botanist, horticulturist, and writer, she dropped “Gertrude” and became Lester Rowntree.  That this minor name change masked her gender in a male-dominated world was not unimportant. - Les Rowntree (grandson) © Project SOUND
  13. 13. A new life at age 53  Lester built a little cottage, nursery and gardens in the Carmel Highlands where she lived alone  She also began a life (20+ years) of wandering through the deserts, chaparral, and up into the high Sierra  The garden was an early laboratory and ‘demonstration garden’ using CA native plants and selected non-natives  The home/garden was her home base until her death in 1979, five days after her 100th birthday © Project SOUND
  14. 14. The need to support oneself, however simply  After the divorce, Lester needed a source of income – and to restore her health  Pursued several inter-related activities to this end during the 1930’s through 1950’s (into her late 70’s)  Selling CA native wildflower seeds (and a few plants)  Writing books and articles  Lecturing  Designing gardens (a few)  [? Attracting benefactors] © Project SOUND
  15. 15. Lester Rowntree & Co. – California Wildflower Seeds “I had been exchanging seeds for some time prior to this with Corovan in Geneva. He was the best in the world at that time. Also, I had done just a little collecting and was in correspondence with some other seed people abroad. The local plant nurserymen had encouraged me to start the business, so it was established by the time I got the divorce.” © Project SOUND
  16. 16. Collaboration with Lila Clevenger  After the Rowntrees were divorced [1932], Mrs. Rowntree and Miss [Lila] Clevenger went into the California native plant seed business, and built a nursery up here on the side of the hill. Miss Clevenger was the secretary — she wrote the letters and did the mailings, and watered the plants when Mrs. Rowntree was gone. She followed instructions to the letter and kept everything alive. She was not the gardener, but she could water and could sort seeds, and so forth. She kept the business going.  Mrs. Rowntree did the collecting and then brought the plants and seeds back, and propagated them. They had a flourishing business and mailed seeds all over the world. It was an excellent business, and without Miss Clevenger of course, could never have been possible. This continued for a good many years. Miss Clevenger was always at home. She never had a vacation. She never had a trip; never went anywhere, because the seeds and the plants couldn't be left. [Henriette] © Project SOUND
  17. 17.  "I inhabit my hillside only from November to February, while the winter storms are blowing and the winter rains pouring. In March and April I have long shining days on the desert, in May happy weeks in the foothills, where a chorus of robins wakes me and my morning bath is in a rushing stream of just- melted snow. In June I am in the northern counties scented with new-mown hay and wild strawberries. In July in the higher mountains, and in August and September up in the alpine zone with mule or burro.  "Early in the spring my travels begin, but first I must load the car. There are no large seats in my car, only my own little leather driver’s seat, which stays with me when one model is turned in for the next. Because on rainy or snowy nights I leave the ground and crawl into the car to sleep, it must have a flat floor; and since it is my home for weeks at a time, it must have room for a great many things—flower presses, books, photographic gadgets, canteens, tools and seed bags. " Lone Hunter, The Atlantic Monthly, June 1939 © Project SOUND
  18. 18. Books provided income and an audience  Two books published when she was in her fifties, Hardy Californians (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1936) and Flowering Shrubs of California (Stanford University, California: Stanford University Press, 1939), were well received and brought in needed cash.  Three other book length manuscripts on rock gardens, desert plant life, and Lester's own garden did not find a publisher, and can be read in manuscript in the Rowntree Archive, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.  Fire destroyed her writing studio and the field notes for two books, one on desert flora, the other on California trees. © Project SOUND
  19. 19. Numerous articles on gardening and conservation  The career that Lester started at fifty-three began to peter out in her late seventies as failing eyesight made long, solitary car trips and close botanic observation less and less practicable. However she continued to write – well into her 90’s  She supported herself with writing — over 700 hundred published articles in journals ranging from the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society to local garden club newsletters.  She also gave talks on conservation and native plant gardening to many groups – gardening clubs, plant societies, botany classes, etc. © Project SOUND
  20. 20. Formal honors & positions: contributions to conservation and horticulture  In 1965, lifetime honorary president of the newly-founded California Native Plant Society  1971 - honored by the American Horticultural Society in for her work in preserving California native plants; cited Lester for the "Conservation and propagation of California flora, famous as author, photographer, and lecturer, and children's author. A truly great personality of horticulture.“  1974 - a similar award by the California Horticultural Society  Honorary Secretary of the British Alpine Society  President-at-large of the American Herb Society © Project SOUND
  21. 21. LESTER ROWNTREE: February 16, 1879 - February 21, 1979 Today Lester Rowntree died in her sleep, five days after celebrating her hundredth birthday. Queen Elizabeth II sent a cablegram to her subject (Lester never gave up her British citizenship) in honor of the occasion, but Lester's real celebration had taken place a few days earlier. Some friends had driven her from the convalescent home to spend an afternoon in the sun on the deck of her cottage. They served her tea; there was very little talk. A Mahler record was played, and one by one, early spring flowers blooming in the fugitive February sun were handed to her to smell and savor. One friend said, "I never truly knew what the word absorption meant until I saw Lester absorb her garden." Now the garden will absorb Lester. By her wish, her body will be cremated and her ashes scattered over the Hill she loved and tended. © Project SOUND
  22. 22. So, who was Lester Rowntree?  So unique and multi-faceted she’s hard to label:  conservationist, seed collector, expert on California native plants, gardener, garden designer, writer, lecturer, photographer  Perhaps the quintessential Victorian eccentric – a bit out of her time?  An immigrant who became ‘more native’ than most native-born Californians?  A visionary futurist?  An ecological horticulturalist?  Perhaps a bit of all of these © Project SOUND
  23. 23. Lester Rowntree has been called the ‘female John Muir’ © Project SOUND “You know, Muir is celebrated for having bought ten cents worth of raisins and a bag of tea, and for disappearing in the mountains for a whole summer and fall. She did the same thing. She took a burro and took off into the mountains. She's absolutely the female John Muir. I hope that this is somehow brought out by the people writing about her. They don't parallel her with Muir because she's a woman.” [James Roof]
  24. 24. Like Muir, she loved living simply in the mountains  She toured beyond the state of California into Canada and Mexico and most of the states of the continental United States, supporting herself by lecturing to garden clubs and schools, sometimes subsisting on ten cents a day for chicken feed which she boiled and ate as gruel.  She spurned conventional comfort at home or in the field, but insisted on her daily bath whether in an icy mountain lake, the ocean, or wherever she might be. © Project SOUND Lester and "Skimpy" collecting in the Sierra, 1935
  25. 25. Shared worldview: the unity of nature  She called her central religious principle by different names but the message remained the same - the essential unity of nature in all its forms and the responsibility that each person must assume for his own odyssey. © Project SOUND Sense of responsibility for the natural world shaped the conservation focus and ethic of both Muir and Rowntree – and both loved and closely observed the Sierras
  26. 26. But Lester’s love of the Sierras had a horticultural side ‘Fundamentally she was interested in using plants and trees to enhance the quality of life where people live.’ [Rowan - grandson]© Project SOUND
  27. 27. ‘Hardy Californians’ was written to get Californians – and those from colder climates – interested in CA native plants  Influenced in part by her own troubles with growing CA native plants in New Jersey  But also by her sense of the intrinsic worth – and garden worth – of the plants themselves  She also realized that she would have to educate all gardeners about how to grow native plants © Project SOUND californians.jpg?w=200
  28. 28. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “Another cultural pitfall is the tendency to cosset. More California flowers have been killed by coddling than by neglect. They are distinctly annoyed by too much attention. In looking back over my efforts to grow these species in northern New Jersey I am now sure that over-attention was the cause of many of my failures. I would like to have another try at it.” © Project SOUND
  29. 29. © Project SOUND * Lewis’ monkeyflower – Mimulus lewisii
  30. 30. © Project SOUND * Lewis’ monkeyflower – Mimulus lewisii © Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College,7386,7422  Middle to high elevations of the Sierra Nevada; much of the higher elevations of the Rockies from CO, MT to AK  Plant of moist places: streamside, seeps, riparian corridors, moist meadows, marshes, lakeshores
  31. 31. © Project SOUND Prettiest of Mimulus  Blooms: in spring – usually June-Aug in natural setting; ? earlier in our area  Flowers:  Large for mimulus – up to 1”  Typical shape – but very open  Color: overall usually pink/magenta with yellow throat and darker pink nectar lines & blotches  Blooms at tips of upright stems  Bee pollinated – like purple/pink penstemons  Seeds: very small; eaten by birds
  32. 32. © Project SOUND Mimulus lewisii is usually pink and pollinated by bees (left). One mutated gene, which is responsible for the yellow- orange petals (right), causes the bees to drop their visits and hummingbirds to pollinate the plant. Image courtesy Toby Bradshaw and Doug Schemske. Mimulus cardinalis is usually red and pollinated by hummingbirds (left). The altered version (right) is dark pink and attracts 74 times more bee visits than the type that occurs in nature. Image courtesy Toby Bradshaw and Doug Schemske. A single mutation can recruit a whole new set of pollinators
  33. 33. Lester Rowntree’s gardening advice “Mimulus lewisii makes a splendid garden plant, especially if you keep it neat with consistent pruning. In the garden M. lewisii does best when grown near some high broken shade among other plants which help to disguise its rather weak outline” © Project SOUND ©2010 Jean Pawek
  34. 34. © Project SOUND Moist parts of garden  In bog/wet containers – probably the best choice  Around ponds/pools  Near re-circulating ‘streams’ and ‘waterfalls’  Edges of regularly watered beds, lawns©2003 Hartmut Wisch ©2002 Gary A. Monroe © Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College
  35. 35. Lester Rowntree’s view “What I would like to see is not more (bigger and better) horticultural forms and hybrids but more species” [Helps] © Project SOUND
  36. 36. Annie’s Annuals : Mimulus lewisii x M. cardinalis hybrid  ‘EASY, reliably perennial & not fussy about drainage’  ‘If you have a particularly damp spot, this would be an ideal choice.’  Perhaps better choice for our area © Project SOUND
  37. 37. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “It is by no means an established fact that a plant will flourish under cultivation only if it has a soil and exposure identical with that of its native habitat. Nevertheless, knowledge of these natural inclinations are a guide to the gardener, - also familiarity with a flower’s associates gives a clue which may avert a disaster.” © Project SOUND
  38. 38. ‘Deep understanding’ of plants through self- education & patient observation "I didn’t take up this for the poetry of it. I had no ambition to become a picturesque Lady-Gypsy. I honestly wanted to find out about California wild flowers. There was little written about them in their habitats and nothing at all about their behavior in the garden, so I made it my job to discover the facts for myself" (The Lone Hunter, The Atlantic Monthly, June 1939) © Project SOUND
  39. 39. Completely self-taught, she became an expert on native plants and their requirements  "One starts as an amateur, even with university degrees. And Lester became a professional in the way I think each of us would like to. The continued pursuit, the standards, all in order to find what's going on out there in the real world. She was intimate with her world, and she had that wonderful capacity to communicate that intimacy and knowledge to those who were interested“ [Rowan - grandson] © Project SOUND
  40. 40. Botanical Influences  Willis Jepson – Jepson Manual  Leroy Abrams (Stanford)  Alice Eastwood (CA Acad. Science)  James Roof (USFS Experimental Station, Albany CA) © Project SOUND With James Roof TWOOD.html
  41. 41. © Project SOUND Scarlet Monkeyflower - Mimulus cardinalis
  42. 42. Description from ‘Hardy Californians’ “Mimulus cardinalis is another Monkey-flower well known in gardens. It flourishes in the Canadian zone but one is apt to come across it in moist places anywhere in California. It is a dependable perennial, about two feet tall, with rather sticky green leaves and big brilliant scarlet flowers with erect upper lips and turned back lower lobes. “ p. 76 © Project SOUND J.S. Peterson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
  43. 43. © Project SOUND Love those flowers!  Blooms: Apr-Oct  very showy red-orange “Snapdragon” flowers on stalks above foliage – may have some yellow  Great nectar source for:  Hummingbirds  Insects  Others eat the foliage:  Caterpillars of Common Checkerspot and Buckeye butterflies  Slugs & snails – just love it!
  44. 44. © Project SOUND Uses in the garden  On slopes, as a ground cover  Bordering paths and roads  In planters (probably also large pots)  In informal garden beds  In hummingbird gardens  Wet spots in the garden (low spots; under birdbath; where it receives sprinkler spray)  Beside ponds and streams  It can grow in a pond setting as well, as long as the crown is above the waterline Nov/WildlifeGardens1102/WildlifeGarden11021.html
  45. 45. “I suggest the damp crevices of a rough rock garden as an ideal place for it and you should cut it down to the ground the moment its untidiness out-weighs the beauty of whatever late bloom it may be bearing.” p. 76 © Project SOUND Gary A. Monroe @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
  46. 46. In the 1930’s, gardening with CA native plants was not terribly popular © Project SOUND
  47. 47. In the days when she was practicing, Californians were flamboyant in their introduction of exotics to the state. Santa Barbara was a center of introduction of exotic plants. She entered California… in the days when gardens were rampant with exotic plants from all over. Also, gardeners were trying to — in many cases — reproduce the eastern American landscape, the landscape of the humid East. She of course, was interested in getting native plants introduced into the horticultural field. © Project SOUND
  48. 48. The fickle nature of the gardening ‘industry’  Old and new - when as a girl I was gardening with my father in California we grew many old flowers which are new today. After a wave of popularity recedes, a few puddles remain where certain gardeners find they love a plant enough to keep it - after it may be forgotten by the majority  25 or 50 years later seedsmen and nursery men pull it out of the bag again and it is hailed as a new plant and new it is to the beginning gardener. [helps] © Project SOUND
  49. 49. Lester Rowntree & Co. – California Wildflower Seeds  Seed packages cost twenty-five cents, postage paid; 400 different species  Mixtures for eight different environments were available for fifty cents  Correspondence was invited. "We will be very glad to hear from experimental planters who will report to us on the hardiness of our varieties in the East." © Project SOUND Lester Rowntree & Co.'s California Wild Flower Seed brochures, probably c. 1935.
  50. 50. Some excerpts from Lester Rowntree & Co.  ‘We give or imply no guarantee as to description, purity or productiveness of our seeds, and hold ourselves in no way responsible for customers results.’  ‘Our seeds are carefully selected from native stands, but these stands are exposed to climatic and other conditions over which we have no control. The list is subject to change.’  ‘In our present form of list we cannot give adequate descriptions of flowers and of conditions of growth for each type of plant. We are glad, however, to answer correspondence regarding the cultivation and hardiness both of our listed seeds and of other native California plants.’ © Project SOUND
  51. 51. © Project SOUND  Even in the early years of the 20th century, native vegetation was being lost to agriculture and housing at an alarming rate.  Theodore Payne and Lester Rowntree, coming from England , were acutely aware of this  Lester promoted conservation not only though her seed collecting but also in her writings and lectures spring.html socal-landscapes.html
  52. 52. Ways in which she promoted conservation of California endemics  By providing seeds (not only to the public, but to gardens and preserves)  By writing about the importance of conservation – and teaching people how to grow the natives through her writings  By urging garden clubs and other groups to take action to:  Set aside protected Preserves  Use CA natives for re-vegetation  Educate others about Ca natives © Project SOUND
  53. 53. © Project SOUND * Tricolor monkeyflower – Mimulus tricolor ©2011 Barry Breckling
  54. 54.  Distribution: Inner and Outer N. Coastal Ranges & Great Central Valley/Sierra foothills – CA  Extends into adjacent OR  Grows on the borders of drying vernal pools, often in sandy, volcanic soils © Project SOUND * Tricolor monkeyflower – Mimulus tricolor,7386,7451
  55. 55. Lester Rowntree gently teaches  “Mimulus tricolor is one of our California annuals which is willing to use, even prefers, a heavy soil. It is a dainty dwarf with lanceolate leaves and enormous flowers, rose-color heavily blotched with deep crimson, on half-inch stems.  Grow it where it will have plenty of moisture during its growing season. In its native regions the plant is spent by the time the ground has baked dry and hard. Nothing is perceptible where the blooms have been flaunting but a dried mud puddle where potential beauty will lie hidden in minute seeds until a mysterious warning stirs them to begin next spring’s life cycle.” © Project SOUND ©2011 Barry Breckling
  56. 56. © Project SOUND Flowers are fantastic  Blooms: in spring - usually Mar- May depending on when vernal pools dry up.  Flowers:  Big in comparison to plant  Typical monkeyflower shape (fused petals; trumpet/funnel shaped corolla); very open  Colors: pink with yellow, white and magenta blotches – very lovely – like garden flower  Insect pollinated (bees)  Seeds: very small ©2010 Vernon Smith
  57. 57. © Project SOUND Tricolor monkeyflower in the garden  Any area with moist soils through bloom period:  Edges of lawn  Rain garden/vernal swale  Other sunny moist, low spots in garden, with natural associated like Stachys ajugoides var. rigida, Mimulus cardinalis, Juncus xiphioides, Rumex salicifolius var. salicifolius, Eleocharis macrostachya, Mimulus guttatus  Good choice for containers  Bog containers  Glazed ceramic pots that can be kept moist
  58. 58. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “The effect of your wild flower planting is more interesting and the situation more satisfying for the plants, if you choose an unevenly contoured place. A hillside is ideal, or a rocky irregular area with some groups of low wild shrubs or herbaceous plants in it… Do not be too meticulous in clearing the land of old logs, dead plants and decaying vegetable matter, for many flowers enjoy being near old wood and the stems of dead plants shelter the young seedlings from birds and weather… Don’t be too careful about your arrangements; Nature’s seeds are often wind-sown; she does not go out of her way to put a row of four inch annuals in front of a row of eight inch ones.” © Project SOUND
  59. 59. © Project SOUND Seep (Common Yellow) Monkeyflower Mimulus guttatus
  60. 60. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “Anyone who roams the country knows that while a plant may be 12” by 12” or more in the low hills, it is quite likely to be 1” by 1” on the mountaintops. The more one sees of plants the less one likes to dogmatize about absolute size and color and the less one inclines to criticize other people’s descriptions of them” p. xxxi © Project SOUND
  61. 61. Description from Hardy Californians  “Mimulus guttatus is a most adaptable Monkey-flower, seemingly able to change its foliage with its location, which causes me some bewilderment when I am naming my specimens and photographs and writing up my notes.  In the lowlands it is an ubiquitous species, two to three feet tall, leafy-stalked, lush and attractive when young, a bit raggy as it begins to go off, perfectly contented to endure summer drought if it may have spring and winter moisture.” © Project SOUND
  62. 62. © Project SOUND Consider using Seep Monkeyflower  Edges of ponds (or in them)  Regularly watered flower beds  Under the bird bath; near fountains  Naturally damp areas of the garden; use with sedges (Carex) and rushes (Juncus)  In the wildflower garden/ prairie  In the vegetable garden – leaves & flowers are edible http://www.s-
  63. 63. Gardening tips from Hardy Californians “M. guttatus and its varieties are some of the easiest of plants in cultivation, although they are usually biennials and indeed are best treated as annuals. Seed should be sown early, the plants watered all summer to prolong the bloom and then pulled out. They grow well at sea level and are contented with either sun or shade and almost any soil.” © Project SOUND
  64. 64. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “I want to say a kind word for the native California Buckwheats (Eriogonums) – a genus to stimulate interest and wake the imagination, but probably the least appreciated of any of the California flowers. Yet among its seventy-odd species, with a plethora of varieties, there is a Buckwheat, often a fragrant one, for every conceivable climate, exposure and position.” p 91 “People who travel the California roads fall, sooner or later, under the spell of the Eriogonums and become champions of their beauty.” “So often in the autumn when at dusk and early dawns I am lazily scanning the country surrounding my sleeping bag, I feel grateful to the Buckwheats for the beautiful form of their plants, the tenaciousness of their browning flower heads and their nice foliage. When the plant has quite finished blooming, is dry and a bit weary, it often adds a red or pink tinge to the gray-green or silver of its leaves’ © Project SOUND
  65. 65. © Project SOUND * Sulfur-flower Buckwheat – Eriogonum umbellatum
  66. 66.  Southern British Columbia south to California, and eastward to CO, WY, MT, and NM  ~ 40 different varieties; in San Gabriels (vars minus (alpine form), munzii & subaridium); in Mojave Desert mtns (var. juniporinum)  Usually on dry, rocky slopes © Project SOUND * Sulfur-flower Buckwheat – Eriogonum umbellatum gonum_umbellatum © 2006 Steven Thorsted,5994,6185
  67. 67. © Project SOUND var. minus (rare alpine form; San Gabriel & San Bernardino mtns) © 2010 Gary A. Monroe var. munzii – sometimes available in nursery trade © 2008 Thomas Stoughton var. subaridum (San Gabriel, San Bernardino & desert mtns) ellatum_var_subaridum_2.jpg var. juniporinum; Mojave Desert mtns
  68. 68. © Project SOUND Flowers: sulfur yellow  Blooms: summer: usually May-July or August in Western L.A. County  Flowers:  Typical size/shape of native buckwheats  Many dense ‘balls’ of flowers in umbels (hence name)  Color: bright yellow w/ hint of green  Attracts butterflies, many other insect pollinators  Infusion of flowers used to treat skin sores/infections  Seeds: small, dry © 2003 Christopher L. Christie
  69. 69. © Project SOUND Plant Requirements  Soils:  Texture: well-drained best; gravelly in wild  pH: any local  Tolerates salty soils well  Light:  Full sun to part-shade  Water:  Winter: good rain/irrigation  Summer: drought tolerant to occasional irrigation: Water Zone 1-2 to 2 (well-drained soils)  Fertilizer: none; likes poor soils  Other: be sure to choose variety suitable for your conditions © 2003 Michael Charters
  70. 70. © Project SOUND Spot of yellow  Usually used as a groundcover or edging plant  Also used in rock gardens  Fine on dry slopes  Perhaps in containers  Excellent choice for butterfly/pollinator habitat© 2008 Thomas Stoughton
  71. 71. Description from ‘Hardy Californians’ “The type E. umbellatum does for the rock garden what the Pompom chrysanthemum does for a perennial border. With the rich sulphur of its buds, the lemon-yellow, sulphur- yellow or yellow-gold of its umbels of bloom, and the tawny reds and russets of its aging flowers, it provides those shades so satisfying in late summer and autumn.” © Project SOUND d=4066&srch_term=Eriogonum
  72. 72. Eriogonum umbellatum var polyanthum 'Shasta Sulfur'  The perfect groundcover and/or edger for dry gardens; Great choice for a dry sunny border or rock garden  Quite possibly the best “Buckwheat” for maintaining year-around good looks!  Handsome sage green, silvery-edged, spoon shaped leaves form a tidy, compact, evergreen mound 1-1/2 ft. tall by 2 ft. broad.  Lovely bright lemon yellow clusters from late Spring till end of Summer  Heat tolerant, long lived & reliable © Project SOUND one of the best for bees, butterflies & an amazing host of pollinators. d=4066&srch_term=Eriogonum
  73. 73. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “All native California perennials require a period of rest. During this time many of them take on a mangy and woebegone look, which is one reason why California wild flowers are not fitted for the formal garden. In California this shabby period comes in late summer and is a good time for you to go off fishing. But before you go, prune the sleepers hard.” [cmv note: only do this once temperatures have cooled in S. CA] “They will be glad later and so will you. Most California plants are short-lived under cultivation and pruning is valuable in aiding to longevity as well as in making the plant neat enough to appear within the garden walls.” [cmv note: take your pruning cues from nature; what eats this plant – when and how?] © Project SOUND
  74. 74. Lester Rowntree’s ideal garden was natural in appearance © Project SOUND
  75. 75.  RR: Can you describe an ideal plant landscape?  “The contours are important; this gives a "feel" to the place. It's nice if there are several exposures. You look at the site and decide what should be kept. Try to produce something that won't stick out like a sore thumb. It must harmonize — blend with the surroundings . Like this garden here.” © Project SOUND
  76. 76.  "[S]he placed value on native plants. She valued things that were natural — things that were in their place — things that fit“  She didn't violate [the natural] form at all. She tried to work with it, even as she introduced plants from outside of the Monterey County region to her garden.” [Rowan – grandson] © Project SOUND In her garden design, Lester used mainly native plant material in conformity with existing contours, an approach … well suited to the rugged California coastline.
  77. 77. © Project SOUND * Yellow Bush Penstemon – Keckiella antirrhinoides © 2003 Charles E. Jones
  78. 78. © Project SOUND Good substitute for Scotch Broom  As a showy accent plant – looks nice with natural associates like Salvias, wooly bluecurls  In the scented garden or habitat garden – good nectar plant  As a hedge plant  On steep, rocky slopes CA Dogface Butterfly
  79. 79. Wisdom from Lester’s ‘Helps’ “Go to the wild when setting trees and shrubs” © Project SOUND
  80. 80. From careful observation & garden experiments emerged an ecologic view of horticulture  “She began looking at the ability of the semi-arid environment to sustain certain plants. She began looking ecologically at horticulture and landscape architecture.  Lester was not the only one who was doing this, but she placed value on native plants. That's saying something more than just the fact that you ought to use native plants because they'll grow better, take less water. She valued things that were natural — things that were in their place — things that fit.  There's almost a teleological foundation to much of this in that things ought to be this way and ought to be that way. She thought she knew, and I think she did, what kinds of plants ought to be growing where.” [Rowan - grandson] © Project SOUND
  81. 81. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “A plant is more susceptible to its surroundings than we think. Root companionship, plant associates, and gregarious proclivity are not mere phrases. The standards for good wild flower gardening are as obvious as those for the growing of exotics. It is even more important when dealing with wild flowers, to group together plants of like feelings. Even though we know that wild plants from unlike locations can be made to dwell together, the innate instincts of good plantsmanship rebel against it.” © Project SOUND
  82. 82. © Project SOUND Grape Soda Lupine – Lupinus excubitus var. hallii
  83. 83. © Project SOUND Grape Soda Lupine in Santa Monica Mtns  Gravelly and sandy places  Chaparral & Sagebrush scrub to 4500‘  Often on banks & hillsides
  84. 84. From Hardy Californians  “Lupinus excubitus is one of the best of the Southern California Lupins and has some good varieties. Vast amounts of it often grow on west-facing inland hills in sandy gravelly soil where in full sun it makes intensely brilliant patches of bright purple-blue.  There are a good many silky silvery long-petioled leaves around the woody base of the plant, above which the three foot flower stems rise and spread, covered with flowers for much of their length, for like most Lupins, L. excubitus is a profuse bloomer.  The banner of the flowers has a central strip of bright yellow, which like similar markings in other species, turns purple with age (or is it after fertilization?)” © Project SOUND
  85. 85. © Project SOUND Grape Soda Lupine has lovely flowers  Blooms:  Mid/late spring at higher elevations  Probably Mar-May in western L.A. Co.  Flowers:  Similar in color & size to Dune Lupine  Range from silvery violet to light magenta-violet  Scented – reminiscent of grape soda  Attract bees, butterflies, even moths & humans!
  86. 86. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “We gardeners must conform to the requirements of air and soil and location. Every plant which is made unhappy through our arbitrariness, detracts just that much from the success of our plan. In wild flower gardening more than in any other phase of gardening we must work with Nature. And Nature won’t be forced. If we can’t or won’t go her pace and adopt her manner we might as well give up all idea of wild flower gardening.” © Project SOUND
  87. 87. Wisdom from Lester’s ‘Helps’ “And if you must have rock garden's theme song The right plant — the right place — let that be the motto on the rock garden shield — indeed let it be the motto of all gardeners.” © Project SOUND
  88. 88. Holistic worldview shaped by Quaker faith  I know that Lester believes that the Being, as she calls it, is in every rock, in every tree, in every leaf. The Quakers believe this also. [Henriette – daughter in law]  She was able to convey so well, as I look back, an almost mystical view of nature, which I'm sure you picked up from some of her writings… She conveyed to us that everything in nature not only had its place but its rights, and we as humans, really were secondary to this and we must walk softly in nature. [Les – grandson] © Project SOUND
  89. 89. Children and nature  To her, it was simply dreadful if children grew up in urban surroundings and never experienced nature.  She made a great effort to see that her grandchildren really knew about nature.  And, as her eyes were going bad, she wrote 4 children's stories – about children out in nature, learning about their place in nature.  Ronnie. 1952. Viking.  Ronnie and Don. 1955. Viking.  Little Turkey. 1955. Viking.  Denny and the Indian Magic. 1959. Viking © Project SOUND 531Lw2fQBtKmlHr8mg.jpg
  90. 90. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “It is said that native California plants are hard to grow. They are – so long as we insist on putting the wrong plant in the wrong place. Nothing can be more pig-headed than a California wild flower under uncongenial conditions, nothing so amenable and satisfying if happily placed” © Project SOUND
  91. 91. © Project SOUND * California Primrose – Oenothera californica
  92. 92. © Project SOUND Characteristics of CA Primrose  Size:  Usually < 1 ft tall  Usually 2-4 ft wide; more in favorable locations (with more water)  Growth form:  Sprawling sub-shrub or herbaceous perennial  Foliage initially in basal rosette – then becomes almost vine-like  Foliage:  Lance-shaped; may be incised  Drought & cold deciduous  Roots: 2-4 ft
  93. 93. Wisdom from ‘Hardy Californians’ “Transplanting should always be done while the plants are very young. A wall-motto with “Transplant early” in large letters should hang near the bench where any grower of California wild flowers works. These species have a mania for tap- roots and it is almost impossible to move them successfully after the root is developed and settled in its ways.” © Project SOUND
  94. 94. © Project SOUND Flowers are the reason to plant native primroses  Blooms:  In spring - usually Apr-May in our area  Flowers open over long period – individual flowers short-lived  Flowers:  White, becoming more pink  Fairly large (2 inch) and definitely showy  Sweet, slightly musky fragrance  Seeds: many tiny seeds in a capsule  Vegetative reproduction: sprouting from roots © 2003 Lynn Watson
  95. 95. Description from Hardy Californians  “Among the several species of large white fragrant-flowered Oenotheras which carpet the high hot plateaus of southeastern California are O. californica and O. caespitosa. Both Evening Primroses are hardy and both must have good drainage.  O. californica sends up ten inch slender stems bearing lanceolate leaves as well as nodding buds and large flowers. You find it frequently on sandy plans and in dry washes.  Please remember that when these silver-leaved plants from hot, sunny gravelly places are brought into cultivation, shade, overly rich food and too much moisture tend to turn the silver into green and thus do much to destroy the charm of the plant.” pp 175-6 © Project SOUND
  96. 96. Wisdom from Lester’s ‘Helps’ “Don't sacrifice the sense of freedom and naturalness to the craving for neatness and order” © Project SOUND
  97. 97. Lester Rowntree also introduced many gardeners to the joys of CA bulbs/corms © Project SOUND
  98. 98. Description from Hardy Californians congers up a picture….  “Calochortus albus has the apposite common name of Fairy Lanterns. The glistening, almost transparent petals overlap at their apex something like the tip of a parrot’s bill. They have a pearly look and are thickly fringed with white hairs. The convex gland below the center of each petal is yellow or pink and quite noticeable. The pendant buds which precede the flowers and the dangling three-sided green seed-pods which follow them add to the beauty of the branching drooping spray which may carry twenty-five flowers or more.” © Project SOUND
  99. 99. © Project SOUND White Fairy-lantern – Calochortus albus
  100. 100. © Project SOUND White Fairy-lantern: enchanting flowers  Blooms:  Later spring: usually Apr-June in coastal L.A. County  Flowers:  Truly like a little ‘fairy lantern’  White tinged with pink  Flowers hangs from stem; nod in the breeze  Seeds:  Dark brown seeds in hanging winged capsule  Fairly easy to grow; plant fall-winter (with the rains) in pots or in ground  Vegetative reproduction: offsets from bulbs
  101. 101. Lester Rowntree’s tips  “A slope in partial shade containing humus or rich light earth with some shale or broken stone in it exactly suits their esthetic as well as their physical qualities. The sight of them in bloom will be enough to lift you out of the deepest depression.”  “Bear in mind that all California Calochorti [and other bulbs] should be kept from drying out during their growing period. After that they should be dry while the bulb is maturing. The leaves generally give the signal for rest by beginning to wither.” © Project SOUND
  102. 102. © Project SOUND Garden uses for White Fairylantern  In a pot – alone or with other bulbs & native wildflowers; allows you to treat plants as Zone 1  With native dry grasses (Melica imperfecta; Koeleria macrantha) & annual wildflowers – have same water & light requirements  Take a tip from Mother Nature – these look great when massed!  Great bulb for under native oaks; place where gets part-sun.  Protect the bulbs from rodents, including squirrels, gophers; native Californians roasted bulbs tus_albus/C.albus.html
  103. 103. Many excellent biographies © Project SOUND
  104. 104. Better yet, read her books or interviews I think that no one has ever approached her writing style. She has a style that looks upon native plants almost anthropomorphically and gets away with it. She doesn't attribute human traits to them and she doesn't write purple prose about them, but she can certainly conjure up beautiful writing about native plants without being maudlin. Her style is easy to read — leads you on through one of her books, leads you through her articles — lots of articles for little magazines, like the Journal of the California Horticultural Society. I don't think anyone's ever written the way she does. [James Roof] © Project SOUND
  105. 105. Contribution to CA native plant horticulture and conservation  Writer and horticulturalist Judith Larner Lowry comments on Rowntree’s legacy: “Today, it would be hard to find a professional in the field of native plant horticulture who was not, at some point, inspired by Lester Rowntree. The model of her double focus, wildland exploration and landscape use of plants, is followed by numerous California native plant horticulturists, from arboretum directors to landscapers to nursery professionals, who make regular trips into the wild for the pleasure of observing plants in their homes and to collect seeds and cuttings for propagation.” © Project SOUND
  106. 106. "One never knows how good an idea is until it has appeared in [print] public. In the mind of its originator it may appear a brilliant star but when thrown to meet the reader's eye it becomes drab and bereft of sparkle" © Project SOUND