Flowers in Bloom as Summer Wanes

Spring in southern California is the biggest and showiest blooming season for native plants. Poppies, verbenas, and penstemons are strutting their stuff after a cool, rainy winter. But by late summer, the plants are pulling back, waiting out the long dry season and protecting themselves from the 90 degree days. How do our pollinators, birds,Continue reading “Flowers in Bloom as Summer Wanes”

Summer Blooms for Butterflies

You may be aware that milkweed is the only food that monarch caterpillars eat. Monarch butterflies, however, need more than just milkweed to sustain them. Monarchs and other butterflies need gardens that have different species of summer-flowering plants to provide nectar. Today’s post features five terrific summer-blooming California native plants for butterflies that are greatContinue reading “Summer Blooms for Butterflies”

Late July and the Woolly-Pod Milkweed

Every year in late July, I hike along Vista Trail in O’Neill Regional Park to observe two healthy populations of wild milkweed growing along the trail. Last year at this time, the woolly-pod milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) plants were in full flower and bustling with bumblebee activity and hungry caterpillars.

What is Milkweed?

Milkweed is a flowering plant named after a milky latex substance that is exuded when the plant tissues are damaged. Milkweed’s scientific name (genus) is Asclepias, named after Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs because the caterpillars rely solely on milkweed for food. The latex in milkweed plantsContinue reading “What is Milkweed?”

A Chemical-Free Garden for Monarchs

Is it possible to have a beautiful garden without using pesticides and herbicides? In my experience, it has been easy to have a healthy garden that doesn’t require chemical pest control. Reducing our reliance on chemicals protects butterflies, and invites wildlife to step in and manage the unwanted insect population. Birds feed their offspring mostlyContinue reading “A Chemical-Free Garden for Monarchs”

Monarchs Arrive for Summer

Have you noticed monarch butterflies flying around your California yard this summer? Western monarch butterflies are an iconic butterflies that delight us with bright orange plumage, black stripes, and white polka dots. They are so large, they cast a shadow when they fly overhead. After hearing about the historically low overwintering monarch butterfly count lastContinue reading “Monarchs Arrive for Summer”

Buckwheats Around Town

A Buckwheat in Every Garden was created with the hope that sharing a free native plant with gardeners would help improve habitat for birds and pollinators in home landscapes throughout Orange County. We recently reached out to people who picked up a free buckwheat to see how their new buckwheat plant is growing. Here’s aContinue reading “Buckwheats Around Town”

Powered by Insects

Did you know that most birds gather insects every day to nourish themselves and feed their offspring? Many people believe birds can survive eating seed from bird feeders, but most birds need insects to provide digestible protein for energy, migration, and breeding. A baby bird’s tender digestive system needs soft, fat-filled proteins from insects andContinue reading “Powered by Insects”

Garden While Spring is Here

Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano and Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach are open and have free buckwheat plants available for pick-up (while supplies last). When you go to pick up your free buckwheat, consider buying a few extra native plants to install in your garden this spring. Tree of Life Nursery isContinue reading “Garden While Spring is Here”

Befriending the Bumble Bee

Did you know that honey bees were imported from Europe and are not native to the United States? In California, we have about 1,600 species of native bees, and 26 of these are bumble bees. The bumble bee is the largest and gentlest of all the known species of bees. The queen bumble bee hibernates in the winter,Continue reading “Befriending the Bumble Bee”

My Interview with the LA Times

Jeanette Marantos, garden reporter for the LA Times, called me in mid-February as I was returning home from a landscape restoration project I work on in Trabuco Canyon. Marantos asked me to provide a short list of the best native plants Southern Californians can plant in their home landscapes, and also why it is importantContinue reading “My Interview with the LA Times”