Report from Barbara Brydolf and Denise Griego —
The Alta Peak Chapter held a fun and successful landscaping workshop at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia on Saturday, August 27. Taught by Alta Peak Chapter native plant horticulture experts, Melanie Keeley and Cathy Capone, the workshop focused on techniques for converting lawns and more thirsty landscaping into drought tolerant native plantings. While many Mediterranean plants around the world are grown successfully in our area, they don’t have the conservation and habitat values that our native plants provide. In at time when many animal species are in decline, providing habitat for insects, birds, and other animal species is more important than ever. Additionally, many native plants originating from outside our area or grown elsewhere and brought in, fail to thrive in our hot, arid climate.
A favorite part of the workshop was a slideshow presented by Melanie, where she showed us her favorite plants that have done well in the local area. For example, she mentioned a barberry, Berberis aquifolium ‘Compacta,‘ a low growing plant successful in dry shade. In addition to being a good plant for under our native oaks, the plant in different seasons is attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies (flowers) and other birds (fruits). Fall foliage color change is an added bonus. Another favorite mentioned was St. Catherine’s Lace, Eriogonum giganteum. Although a California native not from our local area, it has proven successful here and provides an extraordinarily long season of bloom.
photo by Melanie Keeley