Fun learning about native plant landscaping….

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.

Part of the workshop consisted of the nineteen participants using plans and photos of their own yards to design new landscaping. People did a lot of sharing of their own situations with the hopes they had for their new gardens. It was exciting to hear all their ideas and challenges. A side bonus was that the workshop attracted twelve new CNPS—Alta Peak Chapter members, including two who came all the way from Fresno! The timing is perfect for participants to order plants for their projects from the upcoming Alta Peak Chapter annual native plant sale coming on October 1, 2016.
Happy Planting!
swallowtailonsalviaclevelandii
Swallowtail butterfly enjoying native Clevland Sage (Salvia Clevelandii)
photo by Melanie Keeley

Sources for native plant horticulture tips…from the CNPS State organization
Gardening with Natives: cnps.org/cnps/grownative
Calscape Native Plant Data Base: calscape.org

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