Water for Wildlife

Rainfall has been scarce in Southern California in 2022. After a rainy December, we’ve had warm weather and windy conditions for most of January and February.

And although California native plants are drought-tolerant, they rely on winter rains to get them through the dry summer months that lie ahead.

MP rotator sprinklers add moisture to a new installation. (E. Wallace)

As we near completion of a landscape restoration at Vera’s Sanctuary (shown above), we are caring for about 1,500 newly-installed California native plants. Vera’s Sanctuary is a five-home compound in Trabuco Canyon where women who have been subject to human trafficking and homelessness can go to heal.

Last December at Vera’s, rainfall totaled 5.5 inches, but since then, it has been dry, hot, and windy. To help the new plants get established, we completed a three-day deep soak at the end of January.

We did have a terrific thunderstorm in mid-February that dropped almost a half inch of rain and hail. Below is a photo taken yesterday of hail still lingering in Vera’s Avian Garden the day after the storm. The new plants are growing nicely and are becoming established.

Hail lingering after a winter storm. (E. Wallace)

The winter warmth has encouraged many of the plants to bloom. One of the most beautiful California native plants is Santa Rosa Island Sage (Salvia brandegeei). This fast-growing shrub is covered with lavender-colored blossoms right now.

An Anna’s hummingbird dipping in for some nectar on a Brandegeei sage. (E. Wallace)

Hummingbirds and bumblebees are feasting on the Brandegeei sage blossoms’ nectar. This plant seems to be a favorite among the local wildlife.

Hummingbird silhouetted by nearby foothills. (E. Wallace)

Water sources are also especially important during the dry 2022 winter season. Below, a hummingbird bathes and drinks from the fountain in the evening light.

Hummingbird taking a 10-minute bath in the three-tiered fountain. (E. Wallace)

The Niguel Shores Garden Club has invited me to give a presentation about Vera’s Sanctuary at their February 21st monthly meeting. I will be discussing the origin story: how we became involved at Vera’s and the journey we have traveled over the past three years, transforming the once-abandoned site from a weed-filled acreage to a healing California native plant garden sanctuary.

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