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California native plant Myths 2014 - notes


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California native plant Myths 2014 - notes

  1. 1. 12/6/2014 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) 2014: Bringing Nature Home - Lessons from Gardening Traditions Worldwide © Project SOUND Many cultures, same message: the best gardens are both beautiful and sustainable © Project SOUND Myths, Magic & Madness: common myths about CA native plants and gardening C.M. Vadheim and T. Drake CSUDH & Madrona Marsh Preserve Madrona Marsh Preserve December 6 & 11, 2014 © Project SOUND
  2. 2. 12/6/2014 2 Myths about California native plants © Project SOUND Myth 1 : ‘California natives are invasive ‘weeds’ that will take over the garden’ © Project SOUND Boutique-Shop-Fine-Art-Prints-Oil-Painting-Vintage-Portrait-Retro-Alien-XL.jpg Co-myth: ‘Roadside ditches and vacant fields/lots usually contain native plants’ © Project SOUND Origins of the myth? Mistaking invasive non-native ‘weeds’ or garden escapees for native plants Observation of some natives: some grasses & other native naturalizers and spreaders © Project SOUND
  3. 3. 12/6/2014 3 The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) Some grasses (needlegrasses in particular) do spread via seed; others spread by runners – this is true whether native or not Annual native wildflowers, some Salvias, buckwheats and other plants ‘naturalize’ – but is that necessarily bad? © Project SOUND Re-seeding plants: sign of garden health and a boon to busy gardeners © Project SOUND Naturalizing plants are a natural part of garden succession Practical ecology: fill ‘empty’ spaces in a new garden with annuals & short-lived grasses © Project SOUND ‘Spreader’: just another word for ground cover Some plants (native or non-native) spread via rhizomes Use them as ground covers - they do just what you want In general, native groundcovers will be limited by some resource: shade; water; etc. The most invasive ground cover plants are common garden non- natives: the ivies, asian honeysuckles, iceplant, Vincas © Project SOUND
  4. 4. 12/6/2014 4 Myth 2 : ‘Native plants attract vermin and undesirable insects’ © Project SOUND Where did the myth originate? ? Observation of more insects (including native pollinators) on native plants ? Observation of lizards, snakes and other reptiles/ amphibians associated with native plants in the wilds (or possibly gardens) Association with the word ‘wild’ ? The horticulture industry (which wants you to plant their ‘garden’ plants) © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/ sustainable gardening) Native plants do attract more native insects, birds, lizards and possibly snakes & other small critters (depending on how close you live to a wild area). The majority of these visitors (particularly the native ones) do not harm the plants – they ‘grew up together’ and hence ‘play nicely’ Many native plants attract beneficial insects, birds – those that keep harmful insects in check (IPM) Less water = fewer snails, slugs, mosquitoes © Project SOUND Plants that often provide habitat for flea- carriers in S. CA gardens include: Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis) Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spp.) California and Mexican fan palms (Washingtonia filifera, W. robusta) Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) Creeping fig vine (Ficus pumila [= F. repens]) Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) Natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa [= C. grandiflora]) Oleander (Nerium oleander) Sydney golden wattle (Acacia longifolia) Yucca (Yucca spp.) Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) Non-native fruit trees & their fruits © Project SOUND Non-native – many invasive
  5. 5. 12/6/2014 5 Other things that attract ‘undesirables’ Rotting fruit on the ground Uncovered or overflowing compost or trash bins, particularly with meat or dairy products (don’t use these in compost bin) Pet food/uneaten bird food Buildings with easy access – seal gaps, openings Trash/utility piles (wooden pallets; furniture; firewood; pipes; etc.) © Project SOUND cORBzzR5ENo/UHO9Xp98tZI/AAAAAAAABLQ/bDuOZL_gK2s/s1600/sknks.jpg Myth 3 : ‘Native plants will spontaneously combust – they are a serious garden hazard’ © Project SOUND Origins of the myth? © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) Vegetation fires need a spark Lightning Sparks from wildfires Open fires that ‘get away’ or aren’t extinguished Downed power lines Tossed matches & cigarettes Sparks from brush-clearing equipment (including chainsaws) Deliberately set (human) Prescribed burns that ‘get away’ Sparks from bullets hitting rocks Fireworks © Project SOUND How many garden fires have you heard of? How many home kitchen fires?
  6. 6. 12/6/2014 6 Dry plants will burn – native or not If you live in a fire-prone area: Plan a ‘defensible zone’ and keep it green (native or non-native) Don’t do mechanized brush clearing in hot, dry times Urban/suburban gardens Consider keeping ‘public’ areas relatively green: areas near streets & sidewalks, alleys Don’t plant trees that spread flames from house to house: Eucalyptus Palms © Project SOUND live/img/sections/4/zonesmap.jpg Consider the likely spark sources in your neighborhood – if serious problem, plan ahead Conclusion: Myth partly correct Native plants don’t spontaneously combust However, some native plants make great fuel, particularly when dry Fire is not an important threat in many urban/suburban home gardens Consider the real threats in your neighborhood. If you need to: Choose plants that are evergreen – and keep them so Consider preventive pruning and watering during high risk times © Project SOUND garden?gid=148&idx=35 © Project SOUND Myth 4 : ‘Native plants are hallucinogenic, poisonous or otherwise downright dangerous’ The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) Some plants (native or not) have thorns, prickles, sharp edges, etc. Some plants (native or otherwise) are poisonous – they are often the basis for effective medicines © Project SOUND Rose Oleander Larkspur/Delphinium
  7. 7. 12/6/2014 7 The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) Some plants (native or not) can cause skin or other allergic reactions in sensitive people And yes, some plants are hallucinogenic – and can kill you if don’t take the correct dose © Project SOUND ©2002 Charles E. Jones Bottom line: need to consider the properties of any plant before you choose it © Project SOUND Whether it’s native or not – really makes no difference Conclusion: myth equally correct for native and non-native plants Myth 5 : ‘Everyone should plant native plants in most of their garden’ © Project SOUND Where did the myth originate? Native plant enthusiasts Native plant nurseries (who of course want to sell more plants © Project SOUND
  8. 8. 12/6/2014 8 The reality: native plants do poorly in some situations There are urban areas where many native plants don’t survive (or do so only with substantial maintenance). Such areas can include parking strips, traffic circles, and parking lots: in short, areas with limited soil area and lots of environmental stress. © Project SOUND Characteristics of sites that may be challenging or unsuitable for native plants Significant compaction and other physical disturbances as a result of continuing animal, pedestrian, and vehicular traffic Alkaline pH due to leaching of lime from surrounding concrete Lack of adequate water in summer months Increased heat load from asphalt/ concrete reflectance and absorption High air pollution exposure © Project SOUND content/uploads/2011/01/EmeryvilleDoyleHollisPark20110206_29.jpg Site considerations should always dictate plant selection. For sites with limited, alkaline, and/or poorly drained soils, choose species from environments with similar soils. Consider especially those species that tolerate clay soils. For sites exposed to increased heat load, choose species adapted to hot, dry climates that can also tolerate cool, wet winters. © Project SOUND Myth 5 : ‘Everyone should plant native plants in most of their garden’ © Project SOUND
  9. 9. 12/6/2014 9 Myths about gardening with California native plants © Project SOUND Myth 6 : ‘Always double-dig/rototill and amend the soil prior to planting’ © Project SOUND 554D7584C7F5_files/rototilling.png Where did the myth originate? Agriculture: ‘plow the fields’ before planting Emphasis on high productivity Climates with cold, heavy, damp soils (think PA; Great Britain) Some plants (often those from very different climates than ours) have special needs The horticulture industry: selling products – Big $$$$$$$$ © Project SOUND amendments/ The ‘reality’ (for sustainable gardening) Some plants do need ‘special growth medium’ (if you choose to grow them): Vegetable garden plants: high productivity requires high nutrient levels, friable soils Acid-loving plants (including some N. CA natives) If the medium is very different from your native soil it’s often easiest to containerize: Raised beds Containers Planters © Project SOUND
  10. 10. 12/6/2014 10 The ‘reality’ (for sustainable gardening) Best in the long run to choose plants suitable for your soil conditions, rather than the other way around. Most locally-native California natives don’t need a lot of soil prep if well-chosen Goal: sustainability not high productivity Downsides to moving soil: Brings up buried weed seeds Disrupts soil structure and soil ecosystem (yes, there’s a whole ecosystem down there) © Project SOUND Sub-Myth: ‘Add sand to soils to improve drainage’ Reality: add sand to clay soil and you get concrete Better options: Choose plants that like clays Add some micro-topography to increase drainage Container garden for plants requiring ‘excellent drainage’ © Project SOUND tpprodcontainer/hf9/h61/8820825980958/H0247_220112_00_PP_300Wx300H Sub-myth: ‘You have ‘terrible soil’ - you need to add some mycorrhyzae’ The myth: all plants need mycorrhyzae to grow well The reality: Mycorrhyzae are often site/plant specific – ‘generics’ won’t help Your soil likely already has some natural species Many plants from dry, alkali places (like ours) don’t have mycorrhyzal partners © Project SOUND Myth 6 : ‘Always double-dig/rototill and amend the soil prior to planting’ © Project SOUND 554D7584C7F5_files/rototilling.png
  11. 11. 12/6/2014 11 Myth 7 : ‘California native plants need less water than their non-native counterparts’ © Project SOUND Alternate myth 7: ‘Native plants need no supplemental water – plant & ignore’ © Project SOUND Alternate myth 7 : ‘Puppies need no supplemental water – bring home & ignore’ © Project SOUND That sounds like puppy endangerment to me! Where did the myth originate? Northern California native plant nurseries/gardeners The Water districts and others that promote ‘water-wise’ gardening The ‘we live in a desert’ myth © Project SOUND
  12. 12. 12/6/2014 12 In western L.A. County we do not (and probably never will) ‘live in a desert’ © Project SOUND We do not (and hopefully never will) ‘live in a desert’ © Project SOUND • breezes from the ocean • mountain ranges to east • temperature moderation by ocean • vegetation Sunset Climate Zones ZONE 11. Medium to High Desert of California and Southern Nevada Growing season: early April to late Oct. Summers are sizzling, with 110 days above 90 degrees F/32 degrees C. Balancing this is a 3 1/2-month winter, with 85 nights below freezing and lows from 11 degrees to 0 degrees F/-12 degrees to -18 degrees C. Scant rainfall comes in winter. © Project SOUND ZONE 13. Low or Subtropical Desert Growing season: mid-Feb. through Nov., interrupted by nearly 3 months of incandescent, growth-stopping summer heat. Most frosts are light (record lows run from 19 degrees to 13 degrees F/-17 degrees to -11 degrees C); scant rain comes in summer and winter. files/image/climate-zones/wgbmap- cadesert-w-m.jpg In western L.A. County we do not (and probably never will) ‘live in a desert’ CA Desert Precipitation: Generally < 5 inches Rain + snow  Precipitation pattern: winter/spring except Sonoran Soils: mostly very well-drained; alkali Temperatures: Winter: lows 0-20° F Summer: highs usually > 100 Our mediterranean climate Precipitation: Generally 10-14 inches (up to 20+ in wet years Rain  Precipitation pattern: winter/spring Soils: variable, including poorly draining clays Temperatures: Winter: lows in 40’s Summer: mostly 80’s-low 90’s © Project SOUND
  13. 13. 12/6/2014 13 The reality: using CA/Baja Desert plants in local gardens can present a challenge Mojave Desert plants Dry conditions for the most part (3 to 10 inches) except for desert riparian Need summer dry Need well-drained Sonoran Desert plants Very dry conditions (2 to 6 inches ) but variable Summer monsoons Great Basin Desert plants Many need colder winters Some need summer monsoons © Project SOUND Of course, as more plants are replaced with hardscape, the more desert-like we become – that’s why we need plants The ‘reality’ (for S. CA sustainable gardening) California native plants are as water-wise as their native habitat: desert to rain-forest Know where a plant hails from – then follow the rain patterns for that geographical place © Project SOUND © Project SOUND How to we know what plants will be most water-efficient for our area? Consequences of water-wise choices © Project SOUND impressus-victoria-blueblos-2.jpg
  14. 14. 12/6/2014 14 Compromise: some green/some not © Project SOUND Most of us need some green Aesthetics Necessity – curb appeal; covenants/regulations; etc. Using a combination of evergreen and seasonally dormant plants: Can be done with CA native plants Makes Water Zone gardening a necessity What will our future climate be like? © Project SOUND My recommendations for plant choices At least 1 tree Several evergreen shrubs as evergreen backdrop: S. CA chaparral species best Evergreen; provide height, habitat, interest Hardy: take drought, heat, water Plants from Zone-spanner list: tolerances from water zone 1-2 to 2-3 Zone 1 to 1-2: many of the local natives – may have more tolerance to wet years than we think! © Project SOUND The time to prepare is now: climate change is here © Project SOUND Myth 8 : ‘Never use drip irrigation or overhead watering with native plants’
  15. 15. 12/6/2014 15 Origins of the myth? Native plant nurseries – particularly those from Central and Northern CA (where over-watering is more of a problem) Gardener’s experiences, particularly with older technologies – killing plants by over- or under-watering © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA sustainable gardening) Most gardens need some supplemental water, at least in drought years and while they are becoming established Whether ‘no overhead water’ is an option depends on the garden Rain water is overhead water – what makes it different (in S. CA) is that it comes in the cold months Overhead watering: done prudently: Only when needed, based on soil conditions, Water Zone requirements In conditions that mimic natural ‘wet days’ – cool days; late afternoon/early morning © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA sustainable gardening) Drip irrigation (or buried soaker hoses) can be a godsend in some situations: Water Zone 3 areas (vegetable garden; tropical ornamentals; etc.) Pots on a patio Newly planted gardens – provide supplemental water until established This type of irrigation requires regular monitoring and maintenance: Water only when the soil indicates a need Check for breaks/malfunctions Reposition as root systems develop In many cases, view as a temporary measure © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Myth 8 : ‘Never use drip irrigation or overhead watering with native plants’ S. CA is drier – use these with caution
  16. 16. 12/6/2014 16 Myth 9 : ‘California native plants are difficult to grow’ or ‘California natives are easy to grow’ © Project SOUND Sub-myth 9 : ‘Native plants are not as tough/vigorous as exotic plants’ © Project SOUND Origins of the myth? Gardeners experiences with native plants (particularly those new to gardening with native plants) Horticulture industry (growers, sellers & designers) – who have cherry-picked the easiest to grow & install plants from around the world Native plant enthusiasts/ nurseries, who want to promote native plant gardening © Project SOUND Queen palm – way over-used in S. CA gardens The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) We think that tropical plants are ‘vigorous’ because we water and feed them all the time (we baby them) Tropical plants with too little water (i.e., drought) are just as dead as native plants with too much water. © Project SOUND 5QvgyRIzAKs/UYmvg2F0z2I/AAAAAAAAD94/hoEsqReG_vc/s1600/P1018112.JPG Current U.S. Drought Monitor 80% of CA in ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ drought
  17. 17. 12/6/2014 17 Which looks more like S. California? © Project SOUND 32472978-1024-768.jpg hV0oSj7_Ak/UDl7dfwfgOI/AAAAAAAAGCM/SGELjxtGd0o/s1600/Plants-for-tropical-gardens+3.jpg The ‘reality’ (for S. CA sustainable gardening) Many local native plants need less water, fertilizers, etc. than traditional garden plants; that can take some getting used to. © Project SOUND Conclusion: both myths are partly correct California natives are no more difficult to grow than any other plant with proper selection, installation and maintenance. You do need to choose plants appropriate for your conditions: plant choice and placement is more important than in a conventional garden And you do need to know more about each plant group to know how to maintain them © Project SOUND Most gardening services currently do not employ persons with native plant experience We need to encourage the development of training opportunities for local ‘gardeners’ - to turn the ‘mow & blow guys’ into the true gardeners of the future © Project SOUND Some native plant gardeners would like to use a landscape service
  18. 18. 12/6/2014 18 Myth 10 : ‘Natives belong here so they won't need any care’ © Project SOUND ‘Common sense’: if they grow here naturally then they’ll just grow Wishful thinking © Project SOUND Origins of the myth? The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) You likely want your garden plants to look a bit more garden-like than the same plants in the wild; gardens are transitions between the wild and the tamed Your garden and the wilds are different in some important ways: No/few animals to do the pruning Extra heat from urban hardscape Other (supplemental irrigation, etc.) You are trying to create an ecosystem (mature garden) much faster than Mother Nature does – and that has consequences for maintenance © Project SOUND The maintenance is different… More weeding (in the beginning) Yearly mulch renewal – where appropriate Summer pruning (chaparral shrubs) Fall/winter pruning © Project SOUND to-mow-your-lawn/ The first few years (of any garden) require more work. Once the garden is established, many native plants require less maintenance than conventional garden plants
  19. 19. 12/6/2014 19 Sub-myth 10 : ‘Native plants generate less garden waste’ The waste is certainly different The waste (clippings/prunings) tends to be concentrated at certain times of the year Much of the ‘waste’ can be used? Use as mulch or compost Use for garden crafts Use for edibles © Project SOUND But do native plants actually generate less waste? CtrvpfVI/AAAAAAAAAZw/2g94RlO5Hws/s1600/Bag+grass+clippings.jpg Garden/Garden — A Comparison in Santa Monica In 2004, the city of Santa Monica constructed two 1,900-square- feet demonstration gardens on two adjacent front yards. The “Traditional Garden” incorporates commonly used exotic species/lawn. The sustainable “Native Garden” uses exclusively native California plants. © Project SOUND Garden/Garden — A Comparison in Santa Monica © Project SOUND Maintenance is required – but the tasks and timing are different. Established native plant gardens likely require less maintenance © Project SOUND Conclusion: myth partly correct
  20. 20. 12/6/2014 20 Myth 11 : ‘Leaves should always be raked up’ © Project SOUND Origins of the myth? Concern about fire danger Concern about spreading leaf- attacking diseases, particularly fungal diseases Appearance: ‘fallen leaves look untidy’ © Project SOUND Rose black spot The ‘reality’ (sustainable gardening) Gardens that are drier have less disease than those that are watered more regularly Diseased leaves (from native and non-native plants) should be raked up and disposed of. Leaf litter provides food for lots of soil critters and returns soil nutrients (more in February, 2015) Leaf raking is an important task in very formal gardens (remember the formal Japanese gardens) © Project SOUND Myth 11 : ‘Leaves should always be raked up’ © Project SOUND Conclusion: myth partly correct; situational
  21. 21. 12/6/2014 21 Myths about garden design related to California native plants © Project SOUND Myth 12 : ‘Native plants are not as showy or ornamental as exotic plants’ © Project SOUND Alternate myth 12 : ‘California native plants look scrawny, scraggly, and ratty’ In truth, there are also plenty of non-native plants that look pretty bad © Project SOUND Alternate myth 12: ‘Plant a native landscape and you will be scorned by your neighbors’ © Project SOUND
  22. 22. 12/6/2014 22 Origins of the myth? Observation of native plants in the dormant season The horticultural industry, including traditional designers © Project SOUND chaparral_lanscape.jpg Beauty is in the eye of the beholder The reality: many showy CA native plants Why else would people around the world go to great lengths to grow them? © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) You are likely to get to know more of your neighbors Some will like the flowers Many will like the butterflies and birds Some will just be curious © Project SOUND The importance of signage: what you’re doing is different, so think ‘educate’ © Project SOUND California Native Plant Society has a great new sign
  23. 23. 12/6/2014 23 The ‘reality’ (S. CA sustainable gardening) Some CA natives are pretty year- round (evergreen and other) ; others are seasonal stars You can choose the mix that’s right for your garden © Project SOUND The dormant season has magical beauty © Project SOUND We need to cultivate our taste for the subtle beauties of life California natives: plants for the sophisticated palate © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Myth 12 : busted – CA has some of the prettiest plants around
  24. 24. 12/6/2014 24 Myth 13 : ‘California native plants/gardens are too expensive’ © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/ sustainable gardening) Good non-native plants really aren’t that cheap any more, even at the big box stores – $15-$40+ for shrubs, trees Native plants can be obtained inexpensively Plant sales & featured plants End of season (May/June) Grow your own from seed Many of the more expensive natives are long-lived Long-term costs of natives are often less than non-natives © Project SOUND Depot-Garden-Centers-stop-neonics.jpg Garden/Garden — A Comparison in Santa Monica © Project SOUND The native garden cost $16,700 to install compared $12,400 for the traditional garden. Conclusion: Myth 13 mostly busted Native plants can be obtained at prices comparable to non- natives You need to figure total costs over the life of the plant(s) for a true comparison © Project SOUND
  25. 25. 12/6/2014 25 Myth 14 : ‘Native plants grow too slowly’ © Project SOUND The myth’s origins? Observation of native plants and non-native, tropical plants and annuals (by just about everyone) The horticultural trade Cultural: need for instant gratification; ‘time is money’ © Project SOUND c7x5dLWrpWHA/phl_garden-614x443.jpg Instant Butterfly Garden!!!!! ‘Slow Gardening’ movement Gardens develop like nature, taking their time The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/ sustainable gardening) Many locally native shrubs and sub-shrubs grow remarkably fast (even in the past two record drought years) © Project SOUND 2012 2013 2014 The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/ sustainable gardening) Larger shrubs/trees take longer to establish (2-4) years – hence the saying ‘first they sleep, then they creep and then they leap!’ 5-8 years for large hedgerow; 2- 4 years for smaller hedge © Project SOUND 2008 2012 2014
  26. 26. 12/6/2014 26 Espalier wall © Project SOUND One year Two years Three years Plants grow at their own speed, whether native or non-native The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/ sustainable gardening) Slow growth = long life (seems to be a basic principle of life) Some things are worth waiting for We all should be planting water- wise trees right now © Project SOUND Sub-myth 14 : ‘Bigger is better – buy the 5- or 15-gallon instead of the 1-gallon’ Most large plants have their own growth schedule (pre-programmed growth rate) Some reasons not to buy large: $$$$ Cost $$$$ Exposure to bad habits in the nursery setting (too much water, fertilizer, etc.) Smaller sizes develop better root systems – they have room to grow naturally (in the ground) when young Younger plants are more adaptable; become better acclimated to your microclimate © Project SOUND Reality: in several years the 1-gallon will likely outperform the larger size native shrub/tree Myth 15 : ‘All California native plants require full sun’ © Project SOUND
  27. 27. 12/6/2014 27 Origins of the myth? Many people think Coastal Sage Scrub or Chaparral when they think ‘native’ Many local native plant gardens feature these plants This is what ‘drought tolerant’ plants are ‘supposed to like’, right © Project SOUND We need to plant shade trees: how can I use native plants? © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) Several local Native Plant Communities feature many plants that thrive in shade: Southern Oak Woodland (dry shade) Yellow Pine and Mixed Evergreen Forest (medium moisture shade) Riparian Forest Even the sunnier communities have plants that like a little shade Those that grow in canyons Those that grow on North-facing slopes © Project SOUND Gardens with a little shade are so much more interesting © Project SOUND
  28. 28. 12/6/2014 28 They are cooler and often more water-wise © Project SOUND You can grow natives under existing trees – even oaks, eucalyptus and citrus © Project SOUND Don’t rip out a good ‘heritage’ shade tree just because it’s not native Conclusion: myth busted Not all shade is dense shade; many native plants do very well in part-shade There are plenty of native choices available for dry shade, moist shade and everything in between Review last month’s talk (container plants for shade) and the Aug. 2010 talk (woodland wonders) Look at the ‘Dry Shade’ plant list. © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Design a little shade in your garden – for health and beauty
  29. 29. 12/6/2014 29 Myth 16 : ‘Nursery tags are an accurate indicator of final plant size’ © Project SOUND Many factors affect final plant size Plant’s genetic makeup Soil structure Soil nutrients Water Light Other plants Pruning Gophers Dog pee Etc. © Project SOUND Add 10-20% to largest size on plant label – it’s better to choose a plant that’s a little too small than too big Myth 17 : ‘You can’t plant native and non- native plants together’ © Project SOUND Origins of the myth? Native plant enthusiasts – who think native plants are the only thing anyone would ever want to plant Native plant nurseries, who want to sell you their plants The idea that CA native plants are somehow different from other plants in their basic biology © Project SOUND
  30. 30. 12/6/2014 30 The ‘reality’ (for sustainable gardening) There’s no law – biological or otherwise – that says that native and non-native plants can’t be grown together The plants do need to be compatible (light; soil; water requirements; etc.) © Project SOUND Conclusion: myth busted Combine or not – the choice is yours, as long as plants have compatible requirements Some needs cannot be filled by native plants alone If choosing non-native species, be sure they are life-friendly: Not invasive, disease-prone Provide added value: food etc. Provide habitat Some good plants to combine with CA natives: Mediterranean plants, herbs Citrus, olives, dry climate fruits Plants from surrounding states © Project SOUND Myth 18 : ‘Native plants cannot be used formally’ or ‘MUST be naturalistically arranged’ © Project SOUND Sub-myth: ‘Native yards and gardens look like the forest, or are too wild and messy’ © Project SOUND Garden featuring CSS plants Garden featuring Coastal Prairie plants
  31. 31. 12/6/2014 31 Origins of the myth? Many current native plant gardens are naturalistic: Designed by homeowners – designers are late to the table in terms of using CA natives They’ve been designed by nature lovers – having a garden that looks like nature is fabulous! © Project SOUND,0s776x518.jpg garden-in-weekend-long-tour/ garden?gid=176&idx=9 Origins of the myth? Many public gardens with native plants have a naturalistic appearance because they’ve been designed to teach people about native plants or about nature © Project SOUND Garden of Dreams – CSUDH Designed to introduce children to a locally native ecosystem - in a ‘safe’ , discovery garden environment. Maintained more naturally to give kids a sense the seasons, experience wildlife, etc. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Formal garden - traditional © Project SOUND This was the type of garden that classy/wealthy folks had; a source of inspiration and something to aspire to It was also a style for much wetter places than S. CA The formal-informal continuum: contemporary © Project SOUND 20130314-001/600/600x399 Garden-600x383.jpg outdoor-spaces/
  32. 32. 12/6/2014 32 The ‘reality’ (for sustainable gardening) You can use native plants in very formal plantings (after all, our natives are so used in English gardens) IF Plants are chosen carefully for their formal appearance (this is true whether plants are native or not) – shape, density, growth speed and habit, evergreen (at least backbone plants) You are willing to take the time to maintain the plants/garden; regular pruning, sweeping, etc. You spend a little water (usually) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND No reason to use non-native plants Apparently no one told European gardeners that native plants cannot be used formally  Native American plants are used frequently in formal European gardens. They are also used in American gardens such as the Centennial Flower Garden in Denver, which is a replica of the gardens of Versailles. ‘On a recent trip to the Netherlands to look at gardens, I was repeatedly surprised how well and how often Europeans use our native plants.’ © Project SOUND Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) hedge Secrets to making a garden look more formal: Use formal hardscape and/or planting design Limit plant choices Mass plantings/ repetition Plan contrasts carefully © Project SOUND getty-center-olin/
  33. 33. 12/6/2014 33 Sub-myth 18: ‘Native plants can’t be massed (or any other design principle)’ Why not ????????? © Project SOUND from-the-gardenista-gallery © Project SOUND Conclusion: myth 18 busted You can use native plants to create a formal garden. It may take extra planning and maintenance, but the choice is yours. © Project SOUND Centennial Gardens, Denver – modeled after Versaille gardens Myth busted: native plants are not an excuse for ignoring the principles of good design © Project SOUND
  34. 34. 12/6/2014 34 Myth 19 : ‘I’m just one person. Why garden responsibly when my neighbors don’t?’ © Project SOUND Border=0&Visalia-City-Council-plans-vote-more-stringent-water-use-rules The myth origins? The chronic nay-sayers The horticulture industry Discouraged water-wise and life-friendly gardeners © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) We’ve all seen it: build it (habitat) and they will come Habitat destruction & climate change make gardens even more important: home, school, church and business landscapes © Project SOUND The ‘reality’ (for S. CA/sustainable gardening) Giving up doesn’t get the job done We need to work smarter – using all the ‘tricks’ of marketing © Project SOUND
  35. 35. 12/6/2014 35 And here’s where the magic comes in… © Project SOUND Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Keep on truckin’ – blue skies ahead 2014: Bringing Nature Home - Lessons from Gardening Traditions Worldwide © Project SOUND
  36. 36. 12/6/2014 36 2015: Sustainable Living with California Native Plants © Project SOUND