Thursday, October 02, 2008

Native Garden - Lili Singer

Last night, I attended a lecture at the Pasadena Public Library about native gardens by Lili Singer of the Theodore Payne Foundation. I truly have a black thumb so reading a book about plants just won't do for me. This lecture was perfect. Here are some things I jotted down...
  • In California, a native plant is one that grew without human intervention before the Europeans came.
  • We have 2 springs in Southern Cal - one in the spring and one in the fall. Most native plants are dormant in the summer, then with the moisture in the fall, come back to life again.
  • LA County has a Medditeranean climate - similar climates include Southern tip of South Africa, southwest Australia, west facing Chile, North Africa, and the Medditeranean part of Europe so plants native of these regions can work for us here as well.
  • Xeriscape = dry landscape. This was the trend during the drought in the late 1980's-90's
  • Lawns provide no habitat for insects and animals and don't do much for the environment - they are great for kids, but kids can also be taken to the park, parks will then become more popular preventing the rif raf that hang out. They had a Kill Your Lawn Workshop!
  • A healthy garden has a lot of anthropods (bugs!) Lady bugs will, for example, eat afids. Just gotta let nature do its thing. It will take care of itself. Also, if you don't have insects, you don't have birds - the food chain.
  • Best to just keep leaves on the ground to create a natural mulch.
  • Regarding the recent fires, the bottom line is to keep your your foilage moderated, not overgrown.
  • How to plan your native garden: access your site, soil type, sunlight exposure, wind, overall climate, the microclimates.
  • Group plants that have similar needs for water, sunlight, etc.
  • Soil ammendments are not encouraged because the plant sort of becomes spoiled and then will overgrow too fast and potentially have a shorter lifespan. "Better to grow your plants hard."
  • For erosion needs, natives are best!
I couldn't stay for the whole lecture, but I was impressed by the attendance and Lili Singer's following. Will try to make it to the Theodore Payne's annual Fall Festival Oct. 3-4 and Oct 10-11 where everything is at least 10% off.

pic: the plants I've managed to keep alive - these plants give me hope that I can make a native garden work!

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