Newsletter 2008 March – April

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

March/April 2008



Directions to the Duck Club
Garden Tour
Restoration Ecology Presentation
Chapter Field Trip Schedule
Wilderness Park Volunteer Training


Rains soaking our wild lands and great things are happening. Our Field Trip Committee has a superb roster of field trips to take us into the wild to enjoy the show. Gardens are enjoying the rain too. We have some terrific new gardens on our garden tour this year, and…

Natives Join the 2008 California Friendly® Garden Contest!

The California Friendly® Garden Contest begun last year by Roger’s Gardens and a coalition of public agencies, environmental groups, and the private sector, encourages proper water use, reduction of water runoff, efficient and innovative landscape designs, and the use of plants that are well suited to our climate. After a very successful first year, Ron Vanderhoff, Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, recently added a new “Best Native Plant Garden” category to the contest after approaching our chapter to gain its participation in the contest’s second year. See Natives p. 2

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March 29 –Santa Ana Mtns North FT
April 10 – Board Meeting
April 12 – San Diego County FT
April 17 – Chapter Meeting
April 19 – Green Scene
April 19.. Santa Ana Mtns South FT
April 24-27 – South Coast Plaza Garden Show
May 3 – Upper Newport Bay FT
May 3 – Garden Tour
Weed and Seed:
Thursdays 10-1…………. UCI Arboretum
Any day, 8:30-noon……….. Fullerton Arb
2nd Saturday…………. Irvine Open Space
3rd Saturday…………………… Bolsa Chica
4th Saturday.. Upper Newport Back Bay

Chapter meetings are held at The Duck Club in Irvine. Doors open at 7 PM and the meeting begins at 7:30. A wide variety of books and posters are available.

Directions to the Duck Club:

Driving south on the 405, exit on Jamboree and turn right. Turn left on Michelson, the first signal. Stay on Michelson. At the 3rd signal turn right onto 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, which is Michelson, turn right. Continue on Michelson to the 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]


Thursday, March 20—Whispering Hills: Restoration of Coastal Sage Scrub

Speaker: Marty McPhee

Whispering Hills in San Juan Capistrano, a mitigation site for the new San Juan Hills High school, is 75 acres of ridgeline that had been overgrazed by cattle for over 50 years. Marty McPhee and Jim Italiano will describe the process of re-establishing a coastal sage scrub community. Eliminating the infestation of invasive weeds, primarily cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) and mustard (Brassica species), and the seed banks of these weeds, was an extreme challenge that was overcome in this project.

Has it been restored to a functioning Coastal Sage Scrub Community? Our speakers feel it has. One of the USFWS permit goals was to attract two nesting pairs of California gnatcatchers. The site is currently inhabited by seven pairs (or more) and is a habitat for many other species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects. How was this achieved? Means and methods, trials and tribulations will be discussed! Questions? Bring them!

Marty McPhee is Executive Vice President of Park West Companies, a local Southern California company in operation for 30 years. In 2002, Park West Companies started a division called Park West Rescom, which focuses on mitigation/revegetation. Marty’s educational background includes an A.A.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture from the State University of New York at Farmingdale. After transfering to Cal Poly Pomona in 1978, he got an introduction to California native plants at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens; he has not looked back.

Jim Italiano of Concorde Development is the Project Manager for Whispering Hills and developed the presentation we will see this evening.


Thursday, April 17—Arthropods of the Orange County Coastal Sage Community: An Ecological Perspective

Speaker: Lenny Vincent

The little critters, the insects and the arthropods that crawl around under, over, and above our native flora are equally important to the ecosystem. Come learn about our commonly seen arthropods in this absorbing presentation. View them close up and in excruciating detail. Dr. Vincent will share many interesting anecdotes about their anatomy, their behavior, and their relationship to other members of the coastal sage scrub community.

Lenny Vincent is an active member of the ecological community in Orange County. Since 1995, he has been a member of the Laguna Greenbelt Board of Directors. He is the author of numerous scientific papers on spiders and other arachnids. He earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from U.C. Berkeley and has been teaching Entomology, General Biology, and Human Biology at Fullerton College since 1987.


You are Invited…

Saturday, March 8, CNPS Afternoon Seminars at RSABG!

Nine seminar sessions are scheduled for CNPS members and friends on Saturday, March 8, at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens. This event is part of the quarterly statewide Chapter Council meetings that rotate through different parts of the state during the year. Member access has been greatly extended this year and is free. For directions to the gardens visit

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
1:00 Sessions
Online Tools for Plant Conservation Location Research CNPS Policy Committee Meeting How to Host Major Native Plant Education Events—Lorrae Fuentes
2:30 Session
Conserving Rare Natural Communities CNPS Horticulture Committee Meeting Great Hikes to See SoCal Natives
4:00 Sessions
Meet the New CNPS Conservation Director (tentative) CNPS Membership Committee Meeting Reality vs. Myth: Cultivars, You, and Native Plant Communities—Bart O’Brien of RSABG

Arriving early? Visit the gardens, the herbarium (9-4), gift store (9-5), and Discovery Carts (11-1). Many plants are in bloom. For more information see


Native Plant Garden Tour May 3, 2008

A Joint Venture with Sea & Sage Audubon

Gardens are always a work in progress. The gardens on this year’s tour range from freshly planted to mature. Several are new to our tour, while those on last year’s tour will show what a difference a year makes. In some, native plants are integrated into an established landscape. In others, the transition to drought-tolerant, mostly native plantings is complete. Do you need ideas on how to plant a steep hill? Two of the gardens offer some really good solutions—elbow grease required! Want to attract birds, insects, and other wildlife? Several gardens were designed with that in mind. Along with the diversity of plants used, hardscape is an important feature in many of the gardens. All of them are great idea gardens.

This year our gardens are clustered in south county and north county. They will be open from 10 AM to 4 PM; it would definitely not be sensible to attempt to see them all. The descriptive brochure will help in selecting gardens of greatest personal interest. The brochure listing the gardens and their locations will be available after April 1.

There are several ways to obtain a copy:

  • Send a written request with a self-addressed stamped envelope to OC CNPS, P.O. Box 54891, Irvine CA 92619-4891.
  • Visit our website at and click on the Garden Tour link to leave your email address for a PDF copy. The brochure will be posted on the website on May 2 and 3 only.
  • Brochures may also be picked up at the OCCNPS and Sea&Sage April chapter meetings, Audubon House, and Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano.

Our goal is to demonstrate to as many gardening folk as possible that natives can work in the home garden. To help defray our costs and support the activities of both organizations, we are suggesting a voluntary donation of $10, which may be left at any of the gardens or mailed to the P.O. Box along with the request for a brochure.


Natives, cont.

Ron stated, CNPS participation in the contest is a natural. It will help further the aim of the contest by promoting and encouraging landscapes that require fewer resources, attract our native pollinators, and use less water—which is what it’s all about. Encouraging Orange County Gardeners to use native plants as part of a Southern California plant palette really makes sense from a lot of viewpoints.”

Ron approached Dan Songster, past president of OC CNPS and current Horticulture chair at the state level, about our joining the contest as a sponsor. Since helping Orange County gardeners appreciate the many beautiful and practical natives that can be used in local home gardens is part of the CNPS mission, the Chapter Board approved our official participation. Dan has agreed to be one of the nine judges and commented, “After last year’s contest, people chatted about whether OCCNPS would consider being a part of the contest on some level. Of course, we loved the focus on increasing sustainable landscapes in our region and Roger’s Gardens had already worked hard to bring together a well-respected group of landscape and irrigation professionals and sponsors. When Ron talked about adding the “Best Native Plant Garden” division and invited CNPS to join as a contest sponsor, we really did not hesitate.”

While saving water and other resources is the contest’s primary focus, there may be side benefits to increasing the use of beautiful, tough, and interesting native plants in Orange county landscapes. It will likely boost the amount of local “backyard habitat” for our birds and butterflies, but it could also trigger an appreciation for the native plants out in the nearby hills and valleys still untouched by development. As Dan puts it, “We tend to love what we know and after growing some of the plants that thrive in our local woodlands, coastal sage, and chaparral, an Orange County gardener will have a little closer attachment to what’s out there. Perhaps they will be more likely to appreciate and help protect our Orange County wild landscapes. Now that really would be California friendly!”

Native Category: The California Friendly® Contest’s new “Best Native Plant Garden” division is not expecting a 100% native garden, rather one that is comprised by a majority of native plants. More important than having a “pure” native garden is the proper use of the plants in the landscape design. Dan states, “For this category, we are looking for a garden that uses native plants as an integral and functional part of the design itself.”

If you have a native garden in your front yard, don’t wait—enter the contest! Nominations will be accepted through April 4. There is the chance of winning the Division Award of $500 and that garden then becomes eligible for the grand prize of $2,500. To see the contest rules and other information, check out the website at



A TALE OF TWO STATE PARKS: San Onofre State Beach, located just over OC’s southern border, encompasses the lowest reach of the San Mateo Creek watershed. Chino Hills State Park, straddling OC’s northern border, encompasses a large part of the Chino-Puente Hills’ eastern end. Each of these parks was established to protect open spaces that have many natural values, and each is a popular part of the State Park system. Each is also threatened by proposed roads that have nothing to do with their purpose as parks. This makes each an example of the next enviro phase: convincing society that protected natural open space is just that: protected for its own sake. It has not been set aside for some future man-made use, but to remain natural in perpetuity. Its “highest and best use” is as natural open space.

SAN MATEO CREEK: On Feb. 6, after a mammoth 12-hour hearing that had a record-setting 3000-plus attendees, the Coastal Commission voted 8-2 that the proposed toll road route, which would bisect the inland portion of San Onofre State Beach, is inconsistent with the California Coastal Management Program. This is a great enviro victory! Thanks for it go especially to Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation; several other heavyweight enviro groups also worked long and hard to defeat this proposal.

The hearing was an event, a scene, a happening! See the archival video at Fast forwarding through will give a flavor of the day. Highlights: Commission staff’s report at time 1:04, Executive Director Peter Douglas’ eloquent summing-up at 2:27, and the Commission’s final deliberations at 9:10. CNPS was represented by Barbara Sattler, South Coast Chapter, at 8:35, Celia Kutcher, OCCNPS, at 8:37, and Fred Roberts, San Diego Chapter, at 8:38.

Despite the Commission’s vote, the route is not dead. Project proponent TCA promptly filed an appeal with the Secretary of Commerce, who has about 350 days to research the issue and decide whether to override the Commission’s decision. If the override is granted, TCA will still need a Coastal Development permit—so will need again to face the Commission, and the enviro community.

CHINO-PUENTE HILLS: On February 12 the Metropolitan Water District Board approved the Diemer North Access Road, a new access to its Diemer Water Filtration Plant, located on a ridgetop that borders the southern edge of Chino Hills State Park. The 1.3-mile road would climb diagonally across a steep slope on which grows a fine stand of walnut woodland, a now-rare habitat. The entire route of the new road would be within the State Park, and start next to the park’s new entrance on Carbon Canyon Road.

In contrast to their strong opposition to the toll road through San Onofre State Beach, State Parks seems willing to accept the MWD road’s incursion into Chino Hills State Park—perhaps partly because MWD has offered a sizable sum to build and staff a new visitors center at the park’s new entrance.

Hills for Everyone, which has rallied the enviro community to strongly oppose this road and State Parks’ acquiescence to it, is currently assessing whether to engage in a lawsuit.

—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair



Restoration Ecology and Ecology at the Orange County Great Park

Friday, March 14th, 2007, 7 – 9 PM

Irvine Ranch Water District, Multipurpose Room, at 15600 Sand Canyon, Irvine

Speakers: Dr. Peter Bowler, Senior Lecturer in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCI, Director of the UCI Arboretum, Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Global Sustainability (UCI), and Academic Coordinator for the UC Natural Reserve System’s San Joaquin Marsh Reserve and Burns Pinyon Ridge Reserve.

Dr. Milan Mitrovich of Green Shield Ecology, a landscape restoration firm. Milan is the Senior Wildlife Biologist for the Great Park Design Studio.

Dr. Bowler will discuss restoration ecology, how it meshes with plant ecology and ecological restoration, and what we can and cannot expect to be able to do. He will use local upland examples in coastal sage scrub and wetland restoration efforts at the UC Natural Reserve System’s San Joaquin Marsh Reserve. Restoration ecology and ecological restoration are in a state of rapid co-evolution, and it is important to understand what they are and how they are inter-related, where they are going, and what can and cannot be expected from this relatively new area of applied conservation biology.

Dr. Mitrovich will focus on restoring complex habitats and local biotic connections of the Orange County Great Park. The park must have many functions including cultural, athletic, educational, social, and natural habitat spaces. One large natural stream buried in a pipe for 60 years will be uncovered. These new habitats also will connect remnant nature reserves in coastal hills and inland mountains, to allow movement of animals and seeds through the region.

The talk is sponsored by the Environmental Coalition (the “Coalition”) for the Orange County Great Park and Great Park Communities, For more information regarding the Environmental Coalition please contact Stephanie Pacheco at or 714-963-1658


Train To Be A Wilderness Park Volunteer!

CRN #24028—HORT- 070: Volunteer Naturalist Training starts March 26, 2008

An 8-week course in the Horticulture Department at Fullerton College will train interested people to become volunteer naturalists. The class consists of eight Wednesday evening classroom sessions on topics ranging from native plants and animals, to human impact. There are six required field trips, and two additional self guided outings. We will visit some of the most beautiful and seldom seen natural areas in Orange County including areas recently burned. Participants will be able to witness first-hand the marvels of fire recovery as well as what will likely be a spectacular show of spring wildflowers. This class is worth 2.5 units of college credit, and is offered on a “credit/no credit, grade optional basis”.

To enroll, call Fullerton College Admissions directly at: 714-992-7568, or go to You must first apply for admission to the college; the application is available through the Fullerton College web site. Once the application is in, you can register online as well. Visit for general information about the college.

For more information, or questions, please contact:
Michael Hearst, or 714-997-9572.


Job Announcment

Fish & Wildlife Seasonal Aide

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach

Primary Duties: Perform general maintenance and repair of state property on the Reserve such as: replace damaged signs, build trail signs, general maintenance of office and workshop, assist with nest site maintenance, including the removal of non-native plants.

Patrol property in a state vehicle to monitor for trespass and vandalism, and remove trash. Especially during the weekend, provide a visible DFG presence on public trails.

Hours: Approximately 32 hrs/week

Starting Wage: $9.76/hr.

Application forms are available on the web at

Questions? Contact Ms. Kelly O’Reilly at 714-374-5658 or

The California Department of Fish and Game is an equal opportunity employer.




Our field trips are open to anyone, members and non-members, but we would prefer that you pre-register with your name, phone number, email, and the number of expected participants so that we can notify you in case of last-minute changes or cancellations. A few of the trips will require reservations due to limited space or access. These are clearly marked.

How to contact us:

Pre-registration and information: email Rich Schilk,

No email? Call Joan Hampton, (714) 283-9146

Saturday, March 29—Northern Santa Ana Range–Note Date Change
Leader: David Olson

Witness the process of recovery in areas that were burned in the recent Santiago fire, as we search for fire-following species. We hope to see some that are rarely found under normal circumstances. We will drive to selected locations in Irvine Ranch Conservancy vehicles, then get out and hike to interesting spots. Mandatory pre-registration, limited attendance. No private vehicles.
This trip is full. Contact the field trip leaders to get on the waiting list.


Saturday, April 5, 2:00PM—Crystal Cove: Beyond the Bluffs and Beach, an Enjoyable Look at Marine Ecology
Leader: Trude Hurd

Marine Biologist Trude Hurd, Sea & Sage Project Director of Education. invites us to join her for a walk along Crystal Cove State Beach to examine first-hand how plants and algae survive in the intertidal zone, how they hold on, how they keep from being grazed or drying out, and which ones even have sunblock! Learn how to identify the common algae and their important role in the food web. Be prepared to get your feet a little wet and to poke your nose close to the rocks to know how hard it is to be a red algae.

Stranded kelp, which is usually present, provides us a good opportunity to check out its anatomy and to talk about how it lives, where it lives, why it is stranded, and which animals use it for a home.”

Turning our attention to the bluffs, we can observe native plants such as sagebrush, buckwheat and encelia. These provide habitat for lots of endangered California Gnatcatcher, California Thrasher, Wrentit, and Towhee.

Bring along: Old shoes with good traction that won’t suffer (or make you suffer) if you get them wet. You may want to bring a change of shoes and socks plus a towel. A hand lens is highly recommended.

Distance: Ms. Hurd estimates that we might walk “…farther than a shore crab can travel in an afternoon to feed.”

Directions: From the Pelican Point entrance, turn right and continue to the last parking lot. This entrance to the park is on the ocean side and is the first one you encounter when coming from Corona del Mar on Coast Highway (turn right); it is directly opposite Newport Coast Drive if you’re coming that way (go straight); and it is the last one if coming from Laguna Beach (turn left). Parking is $10! Rain cancels.

Feeding habits of marine biologists: For more information on this fascinating subject, join us for lunch at 12:30 PM (before the tour) at Pacific Whey Café, Crystal Cove Promenade. Ms Hurd tells us that the food is good and fresh. The menu includes soups, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, and baked goods. In short, there are plenty of choices for those who are herbivores or omnivores! Turn from PCH into the shopping center at the Reef Point signal. It is well marked. The eateries are in the middle, north of Trader Joe’s.

Saturday, April 12: San Miguel Mountain, San Diego County
Leader: Fred Roberts

Normally a mixture of coastal sage scrub and chaparral, this nearly 3,000-foot mountain burned in the Harris Fire in October 2007. Many unusual and disjunct plants have been found at the refuge because of its unusual soils. Before the fire, it was home to an important population of California gnatcatchers. Not so now. But it will likely have a spectacular assortment of fire-following wildflowers, and possibly some interesting surprises.

This site, difficult to access, is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife San Diego National Refuge Complex, which has set a limit on the number of attendees. Pre-registration is required. After registering, you will receive complete directions and other information. The hike itself will be gentle, but bring plenty of food and water, and plan on an early start and a long day.

Saturday, April 19—Baggin’ the Peak: Plants of the Main Divide Road and Santiago Peak region
Leader: Bob Allen

“We’ll attack it by car from the southeast side, stopping at cool places along the way. We will be looking for the recently discovered population of Arctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea, pink-bracted manzanita! It’s on the southeast side of Santiago Peak, outside of the closure area, a little ways down the Coldwater Trail (which is itself the type locality of Santiago Peak Phacelia—which may or may not bloom this year).” Pre-registration is required. Volunteers with high clearance vehicles are needed.

Saturday, May 3, 8:45AM—Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
Joint trip with Sierra Club Natural Science Section
Leaders: Liana Argento and Gabriele Rau, with Bob Muns

Easy paced six-mile hike on reasonably flat terrain with stops for photo shoots. We’ll walk the Back Bay Drive, tour Big Canyon, stop at the Back Bay Café for lunch and return by mid afternoon. Enjoy nature, watch birds, learn about a variety of habitats, review some local history, have a good time, and enjoy some good food afterwards. Rain cancels.