Newsletter 2006 November – December

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

November/December 2006





One of Fall’s Flowers—Telegraph Weed

UCI Arboretum


Dec 8-10… Chapter Council Mtng Nov 2……….Board Mtng Nov 4……… Nix Center Dedication Nov 4-5…….RSABG Plant Sale Nov 16……..Chapter Meeting Dec 7………Board Mtng Dec 14*……Chapter Meeting

Weed and Seed:

Thurs 10-1…..UCI Arboretum

Any day, 8:30-noon……… Fullerton Arb

2nd Sat………..Irvine Open Space

3rd Sat…………Bolsa Chica

4th Sat……….. Upper Newport Backbay


Chapter meetings are held at the Irvine Ranch Water District headquarters at 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. Doors open at 7 PM and the meeting begins at 7:30. Wildflower posters and a wide variety of books are available at the meetings.

Directions: From the Santa Ana Freeway (I 5) exit on Sand Canyon Road west. Pass Irvine Center Drive. Turn left at the next light onto Waterworks Road, then left into the IRWD parking lot.

From the 405 exit east on Sand Canyon/Shady Canyon, turn right on Waterworks, left into the parking lot.

The Irvine Ranch Water District neither supports nor endorses the cause nor activities of organizations that use the district’s meeting rooms that are made available as a public service.


Annual Fall Plant Sale

Following in the experienced footsteps of the San Diego chapter, we completely revised our plans for setting up the plant sale this year. Imagine asking our good volunteers to appear at 6 AM on Saturday, September 30, 2006. Wow! But they came, numbers of them, and in no time at all, plants were arranged—directly on the ground and in alphabetical order by genus—and ready for our 9 AM opening. Many plant types had completely disappeared before noon. Should we have ordered more of this or of that? It’s so hard to guess right.

Throughout the day, our customers were ably assisted by knowledgeable volunteers, some of whom stuck it out through the whole day. Sincere and hearty thanks go to:

Mary Arámbula Brad Jenkins Gene Ratcliffe
Mina Brown Celia Kutcher Christiane Shannon
Jeanne Carter Laura Lyons Francis Shropshire
Chris Donahoe Tom McCranie Dan Songster
Thea Gavin Monique Miller Elizabeth Songster
Joan Hampton Shirley Price Beverly Weber-Fow

…and anyone else who helped out but didn’t sign-in. Celia and I went to Tree of Life Nursery the day before to label all the plants. What a pleasant place to spend a morning!

Thanks to all of you who purchased plants. Let us know, well in advance, of course, if there are plants that you would like to see at our next plant sale. Let us know how we can better serve you. Proceeds of the plant sale fund chapter activities such as scholarships, conservation efforts, and education. It is our most important event of the year.

—Sarah Jayne,


Chapter Meetings

Thursday, November 16

Life on the Wild Side: Searching for, growing, and introducing California’s native plants

Speaker: M. Nevin Smith

Join us, as long time native plant explorer, nurseryman, speaker, writer, and all around “plant nut” takes us on a remarkable journey, finding exceptional native species and cultivars, propagating, promoting, and introducing them to a not always receptive public! Nevin will present a lighthearted personal account of discoveries in the wild, coupled with rich images and practical advice about the growing of natives in our gardens.

Perhaps for us native gardeners it will be his decades of direct experience successfully growing these plants and all the feedback he has received from gardeners throughout the state that makes this talk one that should not be missed. He will describe the use of natives in a variety of landscapes and gardens, introduce some less-known native plants, and possibly rattle one or two preconceived ideas we might have with his maverick opinions. Nevin is a charming storyteller with a wit to match.

Nevin Smith is Director of Horticulture at Suncrest Nurseries Inc. in Watsonville, California and an occasional columnist for Fremontia, the journal of the California Native Plant Society. He grew up exploring the hills and native landscape of Sonoma County. He followed a Master’s Degree at John’s Hopkins School of Advanced International

Studies with a “summer job” that led to the life of a nurseryman. He developed interests in unusual and native plants found in his travels, launching a career introducing new plants to gardeners and reviving forgotten but garden-worthy plants.

Nevin Smith has spent his life growing plants and exploring the wild California landscape. A highly respected horticulturalist and practitioner who is also a gifted writer, Smith shares his years of experience growing native California plants in this lively, informative book. Rather than being a systematic “how-to” manual, Native Treasures combines Smith’s personal thoughts, sometimes maverick opinions, and matchless expertise with practical advice on selected groups of native plants and their culture. The author explains how California’s diverse terrain, climate, and geology support a wealth of plant species–more than 6000–and offers suggestions for designing with most of the major natives in cultivation, as well as with some more obscure but garden-worthy groups. With an engaging narrative and a wealth of illustrations, this ode to beauty and diversity celebrates California’s rich store of native plants and encourages readers to visit them in their native haunts and invite them into their gardens.

We will be selling copies of Nevin’s book, “Native Treasures: Gardening with the plants of California,” and the author will be graciously signing them. Don’t miss this opportunity!



*Thursday, December 14—Please note: this is one week earlier than our usual meeting date!

Holiday Potpourri

Speaker: anyone who has some interesting plant pictures to share!

Just as we are entering the jubilee time of the year, so are our native plants with rain coming soon. In the spirit of the season we will once again be hosting our member-participation evening. You are invited to share ten to fifteen—maybe twenty if they’re spectacular—of your favorite shots. What types of pictures will be of interest? A plant you’d like to have identified (no guarantees…), one you’ve seen out of its known range, an interesting plant and bird/butterfly/insect relationship, good field trip slides, pictures of your garden, a plant that keeps dying on you (or one that does unexpectedly well), just a lovely picture, or a slide that just makes you laugh! We will provide equipment for both the slide and digital formats. If you don’t have pictures you’d like to share, just come and enjoy the variety and surprises. Your board members will provide an especially festive spread on the hospitality table to make the evening a relaxed and pleasant one. Remember, it’s a week earlier than usual—December 14.





Several propositions on the November 7 ballot are environment-friendly, giving enviro-minded voters a great opportunity to show our strength at the polls.

PROPOSITION 84, Water Quality, Safety and Supply, Flood Control, Natural Resources Protection, Park Improvements: A “YES” vote will provide essential monies—a total of $5.4 billion—for land and water conservation, as well as water quality and flood control. Prop. 84 is a follow-up to 2002’s Props. 40 and 50, whose funds will be nearly expended by July 1, 2007. If Prop. 84 does not pass, further funding will not be available for many critical conservation projects. To learn more, see

PROPOSITION 87, Alternative Energy, Research, Production, Incentives; Tax on California Oil Producers: A “YES” vote will direct $4 billion to reduce California’s dependence on fossil fuels and to fight global warming. It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, bring cleaner air and cheaper energy to California, and help move the entire country a giant step in the right direction. This effort will be funded by oil drilling fees, not by consumers. The measure includes incentives and funding for research to bring clean, renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies to the marketplace more quickly. To learn more, see

PROPOSITION 89, Political Campaigns, Public Financing, Corporate Tax Increase Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Limits: A “YES” vote will create a fair and level playing field for California elections, open up the ballot to more good candidates, and stop political corruption by making elected officials accountable to voters, not big money donors. It will set up a voluntary “Clean Money” system for full public funding of election campaigns, modeled on successful programs in Arizona, Maine and Connecticut. With the ability to “opt into” public campaign dollars, pro-environment candidates can be competitive. To learn more, see

PROPOSITION 90, Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private property (AKA “The Taxpayer Trap”): A “NO” vote will save California from this disastrous, costly and deceptive measure, one of the most significant pieces of environmental law to reach the ballot in decades. Under the guise of eminent domain reform, Prop. 90 is a radical, full-blown “regulatory takings” scheme that would effectively abolish our ability to pass or enforce the basic laws that protect our coastline, open space, farmland, air and water quality and other natural resources. Prop 90 would force local communities to pay developers not to pave over open space or harm wildlife. It would force taxpayers to pay polluters not to pollute and pay timber companies not to strip their land of trees. It would hurt the property rights of most Californians by tying the hands of local and state government to regulate unwise and speculative land uses. To learn more, see

Orange County Measure M, Extension of Transportation Sales Tax: A “YES” vote will extend until 2041 the existing half-cent sales tax that has been funding transportation improvements since 1991, including public transit. Successful collaboration with the resource agencies (US Fish and Wildlife and CA Dept. of Fish and Game) allowed a team representing 36 local, state and national enviro groups to “call out” mitigation money that was already included in the freeway component of the measure. This includes $243.5 million for Programmatic Mitigation, which allows for acquisition, restoration and management of habitat on a large, biologically meaningful scale. To learn more, see,

In addition to the propositions, a number of OC city races have an enviro element. To learn more, see


Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair


One of Fall’s Flowers—Telegraph Weed

It’s fall and the fall-blooming wildflowers are in high gear. Prominent among them is telegraph weed, Heterotheca grandiflora, a plant so common that we often ignore it. Observe one of its flowers. Note the many slender ray florets that encircle its flowerhead. It also has numerous disk florets, each with yellow anthers. With all the yellow parts of the same tone and no contrast, it is actually a difficult flower to photograph clearly. When looking at it in the field, remove any glare from the sun by shading it with your body and taking a look, especially with a hand lens, camera lens, or close-focusing binoculars.

In addition to its aesthetic value as a wildflower, think of it as a resource for other forms of wildlife, particularly its pollen and nectar. Right now, one can find native bees and flies taking one or both. If you’re careful and patient, you can watch these critters without disturbing them. Riley Wilderness Park is host to hundreds of these plants right now. They’re all easy to get to, right along the trails, and are being visited by hoards of bees.

You’re also looking at a head-on image of a native metallic sweat bee (in the family Halictidae, just under 1 cm long) using its long “tongue” to probe disk florets for nectar. Look closely and you’ll see that it carries pollen on its body, specifically on branched hairs that do a great job of trapping pollen. As it moves from flower to flower, it drops some pollen, pollinating the flowers.

To learn more about pollination & native pollinators (illustrated with lots of local photos), visit my website at

—Bob Allen

LOCAL PARKS AND NATURE PRESERVES—See September/October newsletter or visit



Some 200-300 tons of rocky soil were recently spread over a 1/2-acre area in the Arboretum and shaped into a gradual slope cut by a couple of ravines; a new path meanders along the slope. The rocky soil will provide a hospitable substrate for a small grove of Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia) that will be planted in November. The oaks have been grown from acorns that were wild-collected by Arboretum Curator Mark Elvin. OCCNPS will provide appropriate plants to fill in between the oaks while they are small. The “filler” plants will die out as the oaks’ canopies spread with maturity and form the conditions for a true oak woodland understory.
If you’d like to help install the estimated 100+ new plants in the new Oak Woodland, please contact Celia Kutcher. We’ll be doing planting during our usual Thursday work sessions; a planting day may be held on a Saturday in December or January as well. Join us!


Gardening with Natives Workshop Session Added

The workshop has three meetings, 9 AM to noon, Sun., Jan. 21 & 28 and Sat. Feb. 3, 2007. They will take place at residential gardens in north Orange County and other locations in San Juan Capistrano and Claremont. Each workshop is limited to 15 persons. A donation of $30 or more per person is requested Contact Diane Bonanno, or 714-572-9911 to reserve a place. (See Sep/Oct newsletter)


Field Trips

We have no Field Trips scheduled for the remainder of the year. The Donna O’Neill Reserve, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve, and Crystal Cove State Park all offer docent-led hikes on the weekends. See Local Parks for more information.