Posts Tagged ‘native plants’

Native plants are fantastic choices for landscaping your yard.  Perfectly adapted for the climate, they are hearty, water and nutrient efficient, and provide habitats for local fauna.  In San Luis Obispo, residents are fortunate to wander amongst some of the most beautiful and unusual plants in the country.  Drought tolerant, aromatic, and attractive, our sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodland, dune, and riparian ecosystems produce incredible specimens that would be the pride of any garden.  Sadly, due to over-development, many of these habitats have been destroyed and are at risk of disappearing.  Fortunately, there are a number of organizations and individuals committed to preserving and propagating the flora of SLO.  Many of them have native plants sales and educational seminars throughout the year.  Here are a few opportunities to take home new additions for your home!

Nipomo Native Gardens- Located between Camino Caballo and Osage streets in the community of Nipomo, the Nipomo Native Garden will be holding a plant sale this Sunday, October 7.  Plant-lovers and green thumbs will have the opportunity to get their hands on indigenous species and cultivated hybrids, and to talk to experts. In addition to the sale, the Garden also holds workdays every first Saturday of the month from 9am to noon.  For more information, contact Greg Doudna at (805) 929-6649.

CNPS- The California Native Plant Society will be holding its plant sale on Saturday, November 3 from 7am-2pm.  CNPS is a state-wide nonprofit that focuses on preserving California native plants.  Members enjoy talks, field trips, and regular informative newsletters celebrating the incredible botanical diversity of the Golden State.  They are currently looking for volunteers to host the fundraiser, and interested participants should sign up for a shift via their website.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden- The 2012 plant sale held by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden begins this September 29 and will run throughout the month of October form 10am-4pm.  Just in time for the planting season, start off autumn with a new native or Mediterranean plant.  Choose from over 5,000 plants and 400 varieties.  The Garden stands as the largest retail offering of natives on the Central Coast, and is worth the drive to view the site and support the Santa Barbara Botanic fund by making a purchase of a new potted pal.

Growing up near a watershed in Northern California, I was fortunate during my childhood to have had direct and constant contact with nature. I would spend hours outside, observing native plants and animals, digging in the dirt, and making a general mess exploring my backyard. The smells, sounds and textures of the landscape wove themselves into my everyday experiences and became a powerful influence over my decision to pursue a career in science and conservation.  While parks and nature preserves are wonderful to visit, there is something very profound about being able to sustain a dialogue with the environment on a daily basis.  Now that I live among housing developments and manicured lawns, how can I bring a little wildlife back to my home without having to pitch a tent in a forest?

The National Wildlife Federation provides tips for creating a backyard habitat that draws wildlife and promotes sustainable gardening practices. The organization even offers official certifications for homes that have met their guidelines through the NFW Certified Wildlife Habitat Program. Planting native species with a minimum of pesticides and fertilizers will help attract local fauna as well as reduce water consumption and pollution from runoff. Removing lawns and replacing them with vegetation that animals can use for food, cover, and places to raise their young helps to establish a thriving ecosystem.

Backyards can be customized depending on the types of wildlife you wish to attract. Bird lovers can contact their community’s Audobon Society for information on how to become a way-station for migrating fowl and a home for year-round residents. Many branches of the Society also offer certifications as official backyard or balcony sanctuaries.

Flower enthusiasts should encourage pollinators by growing their favorite nectar-rich plants, setting out bird feeders, or even keeping a hive of bees. Butterfly admirers here in California make sure to include the milkweed on which Monarchs lay their eggs and the caterpillars feed as well as hang hummingbird feeders.  Small ponds provide a place for animals to drink, bathe, and feed on the algae and insects that inhabit them.

Apartment and condo dwellers without yards can take advantage of balconies and roofs to add a little nature back into their living spaces. The online article  “Geek Gardening: A Wired Guide to Domestic Terraforming” offers some examples of how to transform lounging areas into productive gardens.  While most of “Geek Gardening” is focused on food production, the blueprints laying out how to best maximize the use of a limited area are great sources of inspiration.  Plants best suited for your area’s climate can take the place of the fruits and vegetables, although any amount of green is good for the soul and health of wherever we hang our hats.

As for my patch of earth, I have decided to start planting drought tolerant species native to California.  Luckily, there are a number of nurseries nearby that specialize in regional flora close to where I live.  Alongside my herbs, fruits and veggies are sages, buckwheats, fuscias, lupins and a couple of baby oaks.  I have already begun to see insect, lizard and bird activity, and am hoping to catch some glimpses of a mammal or two.  As a nature nut, it’s nice to know that I’m not only official, but certified.