Newsletter 2009 July – August

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

July/August 2009



July 11: All Day Board Meeting
July 15: our day at the OC Fair
Sept 17: Chapter Meeting
Sept 19: Bolsa Chica FT
Oct 24: Plant Sale at TOLN



Location, Time, Contact
UCI Arboretum; Thursdays 10-1; Celia Kutcher, 949-496-9689
Golden West College; Tuesday & Thursday, 10 – 1; Dan Songster, 949-768-0431
Fullerton Arboretum; any day, 8:30-12; Chris Barnhill,
Irvine Open Space;
Bolsa Chica; 3rd Saturday; 714-846-1114
Upper Newport Back Bay; 4th Saturday; contact Matt Yurko
Orange County River Park; Tuesdays 10 – 1; call 714-393-3976
Chapter Meetings are held the third Thursday of the month September through June. There are no chapter meetings in July and August.
Directions to the Duck Club:
Driving southon the 405, exit on Jamboree, turn right. Left on Michelson to 3rd signal. Right on Riparian View. Pass the IRWD water treatment plant. Follow signs to Audubon House and the Duck Club.
Driving north on the 405, exit on Culver and turn left. At the second signal, Michelson, turn right. Continue on Michelson to third signal, Riparian View, turn left toward the IRWD treatment plant and follow signs to The Duck Club. [Thomas Guide to Orange County, page 859 J-7]
President’s Message
I’m fortunate to work at Tree of Life Nursery, and I have gained most of my knowledge about native plants in a nursery setting, where the plants are growing in pots or in planted gardens, in inherently unnatural conditions. This spring, we grew the annual Mentzelia lindleyi, aptly named “Blazing Star”, for the first time in my working experience. I had never seen that flower before, and it’s stunning even in a pot.
Then I had the chance to drive through Kings Canyon National Park in early June, and to my delight there on the side of the road was the great Blazing Star. Wow. The flowers in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks that I saw on my trip surely must be at their peaks in late May and early June, or if that is not peak then, who cares? They are eye-popping.
The point that I’m gradually making is that observing gardens and native plant nurseries contribute to learning and growing in our knowledge of natives, and can enhance our experience in the wild. During the summer months Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Golden West College Native Garden and others are available to study native plants. We have many lovely places to visit in Orange County, and other areas of California are rightfully renowned as among the most stunning landscapes in the world.
Gardening and observing native gardens contributes to understanding plants, and then seeing plants in the wild enhances our gardening. It’s an endless but productive circle. Sequoia National Park had so many white and cream-colored flowers—why is that? Do the pollinators prefer that color? Does it have to do with elevation or is it a coincidence of the time I was traveling? Then there’s the always-popular question—What is That Plant? The observations and resulting questions are literally endless, and it’s this curiosity and expanding horizons that fuels my enthusiasm and brightens my days. Observing plants contributes to a sense of place like no other, and wouldn’t it be nice to translate that sense of place from the wild into the garden?
In our developed landscapes, we at CNPS promote a sense of place. Learning and understanding the local ecosystems is the first step to appreciating the beauty that was intended around us. Once we learn about it, we can carry it in miniature back to our yards and set examples for our neighbors. Friends have been hiking with me, and they see the gorgeous manzanitas and bush poppies and want to have them in their yards. Who wouldn’t once they get exposed to them? Sharing the enthusiasm, translating that into action on conservation and promotion of regionally authentic planting in public and private spaces, this is our challenge, this is our privilege as those who care and know about native plants.
—Laura Camp
not stained glass windows
but oak leaves
scatter sun rays
in this sanctuary
Chuck Wright

Please send your three-line glimpses, Poemsis trilineata, (or other works) to Visit. Thea’s website at



ALISO CREEK WATERSHED: The US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) has begun the next phase of their positive ecosystem restoration feasibility study of the Aliso Creek watershed. A previous phase studied English Creek in Mission Viejo; this phase is studying Aliso Creek roughly between Pacific Park Dr. and the ocean, i.e. mostly the creek within Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. ACE’s goal is an implementable alternative that will restore the watershed’s riverine functionality and value. Contact:
EL TORO/GREAT PARK: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has reinitiated the decade-old proposal to create a new National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on approximately 890 acres in the northeasterly corner of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. The site is contiguous with the Great Park and other preserved lands and is a key component of the Nature Reserve of Orange County (NROC).
The proposed new NWR would protect the site’s rare low elevation coastal sage scrub, extraordinary concentrations of California gnatcatchers and coastal cactus wrens, and mosaic of grasslands and vernal pools. A key regional wildlife corridor runs through the site, connecting the Central and Coastal portions of NROC.
More than a decade ago, the federal government committed to bringing the site into the Orange County Central/Coastal Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP) Reserve. Indeed, it was the greatest new conservation benefit of the NCCP/HCP and the resultant NROC.
In the interim since that commitment, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) accepted the property from the Department of Defense and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FWS that provided the framework for the El Toro NWR to be established as an overlay refuge on those portions of the lands not constrained by existing uses. Existing uses include the FBI’s small arms firing range and storage bunkers. The overlay refuge includes two closed landfills.
The transfer conditions and subsequent interagency agreements prohibited any new development beyond existing uses. Now, the FBI and FAA are seeking to break those commitments and conditions and expand development to include large outdoor rifle ranges. The ranges’ proposed locations would cause irretrievable loss and fragmentation of habitat and block regional wildlife movement. Not to mention the danger that stray bullets would pose to nearby parks and communities. Public access, educational uses and scientific research would be effectively eliminated. And the expanded development would impact grasslands that host a population of OC’s own Allen’s Daisy, Pentachaeta aurea ssp. allenii, CNPS 1B.
ACTION NOW: A draft environmental assessment (DEA) and conceptual management plan are expected in the near future. The official comment period for the DEA ended June 30, but comments sent SOON should still be considered. Email comments to: Andy Yuen, Project Leader, and Richard Smith, Natural Resource Specialist, at Enter “El Toro NWR” in the subject line. Cc your Congressperson, especially if you live in District 48 (John Campbell,
Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair
Awards Received…
Dan Songster and Rod Wallbank
During the “At Home with Natives” symposium on March 28, 2009, long-time CNPS member Rod Wallbank of Golden West College was presented with an award from the Golden West College Native Garden. Bonnie Roohk, Science dean at GWC and a long time garden supporter presented the award. We would like to acknowledge Rod’s contribution as Co-Director of that inspirational garden, and also to thank Rod for his valuable contributions and vision that helped shape the symposium. Here is the text of the award:
“This award is presented to an individual of engaging character, contagious humor, and inspiring leadership who, for over last two decades has been responsible for making the Golden West College Native Garden a truly unique place on the Golden West College campus. Rod’s accomplishments as Co-Director of the Garden are far too numerous to list. His hard work, imagination, and vision are seen throughout the Garden.
Although he has retired, it is hoped he will remain an ambassador of the Garden and continue to inspire faculty, staff, and all Garden visitors. His regular presence in the Garden will be missed, but we remember him each time we stroll the pathways he laid out, use the amphitheater he built, or admire the grove of Engelmann Oaks he planted. From now on this graceful grove of Oaks will be known as the “Rod Wallbank Oak Grove”.
It is in recognition of his many contributions to the Garden that we, the executive Board of the Golden West College Native Garden, offer Rod Wallbank our heartfelt thanks and honor him with the first “Oak Award” for outstanding service to the Golden West College Native Garden and hence to the College itself.”
At our chapter celebration in June, Dan Songster was presented with our third Native Perennial Award, which honors a person whose consistent support of our chapter year after year enriches the understanding of and pleasure in California native plants. The award reads:
“To many, Dan Songster is the face of OC CNPS. He has always been a modest, unassuming, friendly, and patient role model who has incredible knowledge about gardening with native plants and our wild ecosystems, and who performs with amazing competence in everything he does. The garden at Golden West College stands as a monument to his horticultural skills.
Dan’s consistent hard work over many years—as an officer and a board member, getting great speakers for our chapter programs, being the super salesman at our plant sales, and more—has contributed to the very survival of the Orange County chapter, and we are thriving today because of these efforts.
A terrific speaker, Dan is also the author of many articles on horticulture published in our newsletter and beyond. In addition, he has been active with and a link to the state organization.
All of Dan’s good qualities were fully evident in the preparation for the first “At Home with Natives” symposium in March 2009. His talks and tours at the symposium were just the latest in a long list of accomplishments. It is with great pleasure that we present the 2009 Native Perennial Award to a true California native perennial.”
BOARD RETREAT—July 11, 2009
How do we want to grow and change as a native plant society? Thanks to Sandy & Pete DeSimone and Starr Ranch, we will be gathering there as a chapter board for our second all-day planning session. It’s a good time to step back and think about the big picture that can sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of our regular activities. If you have thoughts about a field trip you’d like to take, an activity we should pursue, something we are not addressing adequately, or anything else at all, please contact any board member. We’re eager to receive your input.
The Board
Our Day at the Orange County Fair
On Wednesday, July 15, OC CNPS will be “manning the booth” at the Orange County Fair, the Friends of Harbors, Beaches, and Parks booth, that is. We’ll be there from opening (9:30 AM that day) to closing (11 PM), so do stop by if you happen to be visiting the fair that day.
Fall Plant Sale To Be Held October 24
Our annual Fall Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, October 24, at Tree of Life Nursery. By that time, native plant gardeners will be chomping at the bit to get on with the fall planting season after months of collecting ideas from visits to wilderness areas, botanic gardens, or wherever summer’s journeys took us. We’ve checked our gardens for an open spot where we can try something new. Or if it’s a brand new garden, the desire to plant is almost overwhelming since we’ve been preparing for so long. Living in an “authentic landscape” is our goal. In the words of our chapter president, “…this is our challenge, this is our privilege….”
Dear Members,
Some of you use your place of work for the address, phone and email for your OC CNPS membership. The problem with this is if you change jobs, we no longer have a way to get in touch with you. Contact problems also happen when you replace phone numbers or email addresses without notifying us. Please inform us of any changes so that we don’t loose touch!
We would like to clarify how we use your membership data:
-No data is shared with outside organizations.
-We never call to solicit donations. Unless you are among our pool of valued volunteers, we never call for other assistance. Your phone number is only used if there is a question or problem with your membership.
-We do use your email in sending out our monthly notices, which contain information about chapter meetings and other events
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Joan Hampton, Membership Chair