Newsletter 2001 September – October

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter Newsletter

September/October 2001


A Garden that’s Alive! Dan Songster

“Once a garden comes alive ecologically, it displays a humor and richness of meaning that have been missed by narrow views of horticulture. Significance expands. Meanings multiply. Each plant or planting becomes much more than what nurseries believe they sell, or gardeners suppose they grow, or visitors would notice.” Noah’s Garden, by Sarah Stein

We are in love with the wilderness. Such vibrant spaces speak to us saying, “Wander in me, discover my secrets, drink me in, inhale me, I am real.” Our state’s natural areas are rubenesque in their fullness and diversity, richly endowed with color, scent and texture. And they are alive! Birds are everywhere eating berries and seeds, hummingbirds sipping nectar, native bees, flies, dragonflies, and butterflies in various stages of development, many animals busy with their daily (or nocturnal) activities, along with the not so obvious fungal and bacterial alliances operating silently in the soil itself. How can we not be in love with such active landscapes? Whether it is the shady oak understory, the gray-green tapestry of our coastal sage scrub, or the elfin forest of chaparral, they are all magnificent. A small plateau of native grasses saturated with the purple of Brodiaeas and bordered with the shaded apricot of Mimulus. A grouping of boulders long ago rolled to where they now lie half-buried, with Dudleya and Coffee fern beneath and between, a cloak of dark green Coffeeberry above. A simple bank of rusty Buckwheat blossoms against an amber sandstone background. How many miniature gardens do we find on a single hike in the nearby hills? Hundreds of glorious scenes worth stopping at to take notes, sketch, photograph, or simply gaze. And each of them provides some benefit, often essential, to the animals that live there.

So it is only natural that slowly (even here in lawn-carpeted western landscapes) we would wish to incorporate these native plants into our gardens and invite such critters into our landscapes. Of course there will be differences between our gardens and the real thing. In our nearby wildlands the plants grow because a seed washed up behind a boulder and stopped long enough to germinate. Dead plants serve as a perch before slowly decomposing into mulch. A few dry years in a row? No additional water is added. Gardens, however, are by definition a controlled environment. Even those gardens designed to imitate some natural association of plants we have spied in the wild are still designed and so require some maintenance. Rather than growing as chance dictates since space is often very limited, individual plants are carefully placed, overly competitive plants may be thinned or removed, dead plants, rather than slowly becoming mulch, are simply removed, and water can be provided when rain fails. Still the overall concept follows a natural pattern and its maintenance is relatively low, and most importantly, the gardener is more than rewarded by the forms of life that adopt the garden as their home.

So how do we go about designing and installing such a garden? Research for such a landscape is now easy as numerous books and magazines present practical guidance on this now (deservedly) popular trend. Native gardens such as Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and smaller ones such as the Golden West College Native Garden provide blueprints for what is successful (or not) and can also be a source of practical installation advice. Field trips into our local hills provide glimpses of many of the plants that can be used and the interesting combinations in which nature arranges them. By selecting plants that remind you of a hike in the local chaparral, coastal sage scrub, oak woodlands, or even along our coastal bluffs, you bring a bit of that adventure into the environment surrounding your home. It is a structure that invites interaction both by you and the animals it attracts, as opposed to the conventional landscape of lawn, hedge, and rose with its routine upkeep and its singular purpose of being viewed.

And so these plants are familiar but wild, tamed but not entirely so. The garden is designed but is allowed and expected to change. Its structure is a framework for plants that invite the nearby birds, butterflies, and insects to join into a landscape that is full of life, a garden that pulses with the cycles of seasonal change. Once we arrange and install the garden’s “ingredients” we then need only wait to receive our visitors. That is when the garden becomes truly alive!

(Note: Almost three-quarters of the plants sold at our upcoming sale have inherent habitat value. Don’t miss it!)

Chapter Meetings


Speaker: Mike Evans

All gardens feature plants on exhibition. By definition, the various and familiar theme gardens, such as the herb garden or the rose garden focus on the plants of their titles. In the “California native plant garden,” natives are certainly on display, but it’s not about the plants. It’s about what the plants do for people interacting in or with the garden. California’s unique climate, history, and culture provide us with a canvas for a classic painting. In this talk, we will consider various aspects of the “California Garden.” Whether our purpose is to imitate nature by attracting wildlife, provide an authentic sense of place, focus on the natural or historical beauty of an area, plant in an urban setting, or conserve resources, the process of creating a “California Garden” is ultimately life-giving for the gardener and the user.

Mike Evans is the founder and co-owner of Tree-of-Life Nursery, the largest native plant nursery in the state. He has more than 25 years of experience in growing natives in Southern California. A native of Orange County, he is active in many horticultural and botanical societies.

October 18 (Thursday)—Topic to be announced

Chapter meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month 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 meeting.
Please note that the board meeting has been moved from the first to the second Thursday of the month to accommodate the schedule of our newest board member, Todd Heinsma.

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, turn right on Waterworks and left into the parking lot. Enter the building from the rear.

2001 GRANTS—an update

The field season has been very successful and interesting. I am investigating the pollination biology of Artichoke thistle (Cynara cardunculus). My study site is Starr Ranch Audubon Sanctuary. Here, Artichoke thistle flowers from early June through early August. From June 17th through July 5th in two grassland sites, I made 15-minute observations at study plots with dense and sparse thistle floral displays for a total of 72 hours. This data will enable me to determine the extent to which thistle pollination and seed set is flower density dependent. To ascertain its ability to self-pollinate, I covered thistle flower heads in each plot with bridal tulle to exclude pollinators. This past week, all mature inflorescenses were harvested for seed set evaluation. This fall, I will analyze the data collected this summer and plan for next year. I learned a great deal about the major pollinators of Artichoke thistle, which include several species of bees and hummingbirds. I observed what native plants co-flower with thistle and share a pollinator. These are Keckiella cordiflora, Castilleja affinis, Chlorogalum parviflorum, Hemizonia sp., Saliva apiana, Salvia mellifera, Eriognum fasciculatum, Asclepias eriocarpa, Asclepias californica, and Asclepias fascicularis. Heterospecific visits by pollinators to thistle and several native species were observed. I look forward to an experiment examining the effect Artichoke thistle is having on the pollination and reproductive success of co-flowering native species next year. In addition, I hope to quantify the reproductive success of hummingbirds nesting in Artichoke thistle. I found high densities of Costa’s and Black-chinned hummingbirds nesting at my study plots with most nests failing. Artichoke thistle may be a resource and habitat sink for migrating populations of these birds. Thank you so much for the support.

Laurie Clarke, O’Neill Grant recipient:


For more information on any of these events call or e-mail Sarah Jayne at (949) 552-0691 or Non-members are welcome to join any of these activities. Most activities are free of charge.

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden—Fall Classes for 2001

If you are a Friend of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, then you have undoubtedly received the catalog and smiled as you noticed the many wonderful classes being provided through their Education Department this Fall. Perhaps the best collection of instructors and topics yet, there is something for everyone! If you are not a member of the Friends organization you are still welcome to attend, of course, for just a bit more money than members pay for these courses.

The outstanding classes being offered this year range from Native American uses for our flora, Botany, assorted field trips, holiday decorations with natives, a children’s introduction to native plants and habitats, Horticulture classes, an interesting collection of natural history lectures and much more.

Presenters such as Bart O’Brien, Susan Jett, Geoff Smith, Rick Fisher, Allan Schoenherr, Richard Minnich, Arthur Kruckeberg, Lorrae Fuentes, and Ramona Ferriera show the range and quality of the offerings.

For information regarding the class schedule call the Garden at (909) 625-8767 ext. 224. Perhaps the garden website has this information as well:

Class sizes are limited so enroll early.

Coastal Cleanup—various locations
Saturday, September 15

Crystal Cove, 9 – 12: Cleanup stations at Reef Point parking lot and Pelican Point parking lot #4. Cleanup will begin at 9 AM Parking fees ($3)will be waived for those entering between 8:30 and 11:30 AM Trash and recycle bags, gloves, and tally cards will be provided. All cleanup participants will be entered into a raffle to win great prizes. For more information or directions, call (949) 497-7647.

Seal Beach Naval Weapons Reserve, 8 – 12: Wear a hat and old sneakers, bring gloves. Enter at the Main Gate of the Naval Weapons Station, on the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, 800 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, and follow signs to the parking lot behind Bldg. 226, the Nature Center. Assemble in front of the Nature Center. Refreshments provided.*

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, 9 – 12: Call the Bolsa Chica Conservancy office, (714) 846-1114, for information on where to park for this event since parking space is severely limited.*

Upper Newport Bay, 9 – 1: Call the Interpretive Center at (714) 973-6820 for information on this event.*

National Public Lands Day—Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, Saturday, September 29, 8 – 12

Plant native trees and perennial flowers, work on garden trails, and help install interpretive signs. Hat, gloves, old sneakers appropriate. Tools and refreshments provided. Enter at the Main Gate of the Naval Weapons Station, on the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, 800 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, and follow signs to gravel parking area behind Bldg. 256, the Nature Center. Assemble near refreshment tables in parking area.*

*Thanks to Sea & Sage newsletter, Wandering Tattler, for information on these events.

Docent Day—Crystal Cove State Park
Saturday, September 29, 8 AM–2:30 PM

Docents, trail guides and interpretive staff from throughout Orange County are invited to attend this outstanding day of presentations by local researchers, biologists, and specialists to learn the latest information about our local wilderness. Participants will attend up to three 1 1/2 hour sessions. Meet at the El Moro Visitor Center at 8:00 AM to sign up for the day’s workshops. Bring a sack lunch and a chair. Drinks and dessert will be provided. Parking and program are free. Reservations are required by Friday, September 21. Space is limited. Call Winter Bonnin for reservations at (949) 497-7647 or e-mail at

This is an Orange County Wild event hosted by The Laguna Canyon Foundation and the Crystal Cove Interpretive Association.

CalEPPC 10th Anniversary Symposium 2001
“Achievements & Challenges in Wildland Weed Management”, October 5, 6 & 7, 2001

This symposium marks the 10th annual meeting the California Exotic Pest Plant Council since its founding meeting in 1992. CalEPPC’s out-going president will review the accomplishments of these 10 years and identify some of the key challenges that lie ahead. Presentations will revolve around several themes. If you are concerned with the challenge of invasive non-native plants, you are warmly invited to attend. The symposium will be held at the Handlery Hotel & Resort, Mission Valley, San Diego. For the complete list of the many sessions and all the other vital information contact Mike Kelly at 11591 Polaris Dr., San Diego CA 92126, (858) 566-6489, or



UCI Arboreturm, 10 AM to 3 PM



A Date with Nature—Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy, Saturday, October 13, 3 to 8:30 PM

Pack up your plants, give them a good watering and then head out to the Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy for their annual fund-raiser event. A Date with Nature offers a wide variety of outdoor experiences, from viewing wild animals to roasting marshmallows. In a spectacular oak woodland, scientists, naturalists and educators will delight you with information and activities. Dinner will be catered by El Adobe Restaurant. For an invitation to this event, call (949) 489-9778 or e-mail

Southern California Botanists 27th Annual Symposium, “Shifting Sands: Conservation and Biology of California’s Dune Habitats”, Saturday, October 20, 8 AM–4 PM

This year’s symposium will feature eight papers on the conservation and biology of sand dune habitats in California. It is jointly sponsored by the California Native Plant Society and the Biology Department of California State University, Fullerton. Presentations will include:

Tales of the Gritty: Desert Dunes in California and Beyond, Dr. Bruce Pavlik; Dynamics of Sand Dune Systems in the Mojave Desert, Nicholas Lancaster; California Coastal Sand Dunes: a World Class Conservation Biology Case Study, Rudy Mattoni; Northern California Coastal Dunes: History of Restoration and Recent Advances, Andrea Pickart; Off-Road Vehicles vs Dune Habitats, Howard Wilshire; Monitoring of Special Status Plants in the Algodones Dunes, John W. Willoughby; Wildlife of the Algodones Dunes, California, Debbie Sebesta; Lessons Learned in the Coachella Valley: Protecting Sand Dunes and the Species That Depend On Them, Cameron Barrows. The symposium will take place at the Ruby Gerontology Center on the Cal State Fullerton campus. Pre-registration by mail before October 15th is $35, which includes a one-year membership in SCB. With that you will receive 6 issues of their newsletter, Leaflets, and 2 issues of their journal, Crossosoma. For more information, go to the SCB website at The mail address is
Southern California Botanists
Department of Biology
California State University
Fullerton CA 92834


Crystal Cove State Park:

Docent-led walks are available every weekend. Call (949) 497-7647 for more information.

Laguna Coast Wilderness:

The James Dilley Preserve: 8 AM and 2 PM, every Saturday.
Docent-led walks every weekend in Laguna Coast Wilderness.
Wilderness Access Days on the first and third Sundays each month. Call (949) 494-9352, for information or reservations.

For walks in the Northern and Southern Reserves call The Nature Conservancy at (949) 832-7478.

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park:

On Sunday, October 14, 9 AM–12 PM, Sarah Jayne will lead a plant walk from the Canyon View Park entrance. This entrance leads directly into an oak-shaded canyon, which slopes gently to the main canyon. This trip is sponsored by the Orange County Natural History Association whose museum is located at the main entrance to the park. Call (949) 831-2790 for more information.

Meet at 9 AM at the entrance to Canyon View Park, a community park that leads into the wilderness part. From north Orange County, take Laguna Canyon Road to El Toro Road. Turn left onto El Toro Road then right onto Aliso Creek Road. Turn right again on Glenwood Drive, which becomes Pacific Park Drive after it crosses under the toll road. Turn right again on Canyon Vistas. Park along the street adjacent to the park. The walk of 3 to 4 miles will not be strenuous.

Thomas Riley Regional Park:

For more information call (949) 728-3420.

Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy:

Call Laura Cohen at (949) 489-9778 for information on scheduled activities. Or visit their website at