Newsletter 2002 November – December

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter Newsletter

November/December 2002


Friends of Shipley Nature Center Formed and is Working Towards Re-Opening

The City of Huntington Beach placed a padlock on the gate to Shipley Nature Center (“the Center”) October 1, 2002 because of budget cuts.

About 40,000 visitors enjoyed this 18-acre urban environmental education center annually. The Friends of Shipley Nature Center (“the Friends”), a non-profit group formed in January to help support the Center, is working with the city to help restore the habitat that had become overgrown with weeds and littered with dead trees. The Friends hope to see the Center reopen with the tours reinstated—but there is no budget money allocated for full restoration or rehiring of the former Park Naturalist at this time.

The Center is located within Huntington Central Park. Adults were able to walk on the self-guided tour and see wildlife such as Western Fence Lizards, a coyote or a skunk, orioles, hummingbirds and other birds, and a rich variety of spiders.

David Winkler, the Park Naturalist, led about 9,000 school children on the nature trails through forests of sycamores and Torrey Pines, then to wetlands with cattails and bulrush. David also maintained an interpretive center with close-up wildlife like snakes, turtles, and tarantulas that the children (and adults, too) loved. This Center is now closed, with the animals given away to new homes.

The city has signed a contract with Tatsumi and Partners for a landscape plan that, if fully implemented, will create twelve separate native plant habitats, including willow forests and coastal sage shrub. Also included in this landscape plan are demonstration gardens, such as a butterfly garden and a California native plant home garden. This, along with new trees, will replace the overgrowth of non-native weeds that has been allowed to occur over the years.

The Friends group was formed to educate the community on the importance of Shipley Nature Center. The Center provides people a location to gain a greater appreciation and knowledge of nature in an urban location. According to the California Department of Education, “Research and classroom-based studies show that students in experiential environmental education programs learn better, are better citizens, and transfer their learning to new situations better.”

The Friends and the city are arranging to open the doors for the Friends to help restore the area with native plants during designated times. The Friends have worked closely with The Huntington Beach Tree Society to plant some trees already. The Friends group is also fundraising, applying for grants, starting a docent program, and finding other ways to help the Center. People are joining together in bipartisan support to save Shipley Nature Center.

The Friends hopes the city will put the needed money into at least a basic restoration and maintenance program for this landscape plan. The Friends hope the city council will decide in its next budget session in September 2003 to reopen the Center by October 2003 with a full educational program operated by the city. Perhaps then children will again be able to touch a wiggling snake, smell the plants, and see a scurrying cottontail or a red-shouldered hawk and experience their natural habitat.

The returning (and the four newly elected council members starting in December) will have a chance to make the decisions for the restoration, maintenance, and reopening of the Center. You can contact Huntington Beach council members and let them know how much you support the city in making the Center a true environmental education center and a place for people to enjoy nature in an urban environment.

The first Shipley Nature Center Restoration Day, sponsored by the Friends, will be held on November 23rd, from 9 AM to noon. We hope to see you. There will be educational booths, a native plant sale, entertainment, and an opportunity for you to help restore a part of the Center. (See Page 4)

You can become a member of the Friends by contacting us at 714-846-0916, 714-963-1548, e-mail to, or check our web site at If you wish to make a donation, send a check to FSNC at P.O. Box 1052, Huntington Beach, CA 92647. You’re also welcome to attend our monthly meetings held at 9 AM on the second Saturday of the month at the Huntington Beach Library, Room E.

Stephanie Pacheco, President, The Friends of Shipley Nature Center

Chapter Meetings

Thursday, November 21—Habitat Conservation Planning in Orange County: Is it working, where is it going?
Fred Roberts, Speaker

Not everyone knows what the letters N.C.C.P. stand for. Notoriously Complex non-Comprehensible Plan comes to mind. Well, not quite. Actually, these letters stand for Natural Communities Conservation Plan and represent at the present time the single most important conservation issue in Orange County.

What is an NCCP?

  • How is it implemented?
  • What brings the developers to the table?
  • What benefit do conservationists see?
  • What drives the NCCP process? (It ain’t plants!)
  • After adoption of the NCCP, is everything within safe from fragmentation, roads, and the like?
  • What about rare, threatened, or endangered plants outside the NCCP? Does it negate the Endangered Species Act?
  • What about the Orange County plan?
  • Where are we in the process here in Orange County?
  • What key battles are currently involved?
  • Are key plant populations being protected?
  • What can we do to ensure a good plan?
  • What if the plan presented is unacceptable to us?
  • What is unacceptable from a plant perspective?

Whether you are just beginning to be aware of the Orange County NCCP or are alreadywell versed in it, you will want to hear and question a local authority on this crucial topic.

Fred Roberts, a biological consultant, has an extensive knowledge of the remaining wild lands of Orange County and has long been active in environmental issues in the county. He is the author of A Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Orange County, California and is working on a flora for the county.

Thursday, December 19—Holiday Potpourri

Just when everyone is running around buying gifts and going to parties, up pops our meeting on the 19th of December!

In the spirit of the season we will be having a special meeting where members are invited to bring slides (up to ten) they think are special. Perhaps it’s the photos you entered in our Web Site Photo Contest (see Page 5).

What type of slide will be of interest? Obviously any plant you can’t ID and wish to have identified, (no guarantees…), a plant you have seen out of its known range, an interesting plant and bird/butterfly/insect relationship, a good field trip slide, a nice garden shot, a plant growing in an unexpected place or manner, a plant that keeps dying on you (or one that does unexpectedly well), or a slide that just makes you laugh!

If you wish to bring a snack for all to share by all means do! We will be having our usual December spread on the hospitality table and invite everyone to come and enjoy the fun.

See you there!

HELP! We need a volunteer who is crazy about books and willin g to take over the principal responsibility of selling and keeping an inventory of the books and other items that we sell at our meetings. The following commitment is required: attend 8 meetings a yhear to sell books, posters and t-shirts; collect money and sales slips which will be turned over to a board member at the end of the meeting; sotre and bring one box of books to each meeting (board members bring the other two boxes); put books, etc., out on the tables; pack up the boxes at the end of the meeting. That’s it! Can you please help us out?!

See Elizabeth Songster at the book table at our next meeting.

Fall Plant Sale a Great Success Thanks to….

Once again the Fall Plant Sale, October 5th, 2002, at the UC Irvine Arboretum was a great success. Thanks to all of you for coming and buying plants for your garden, Without you there would be no sale and without this crucial fundraiser the chapter would run out of money and Poof—no more scholarships, Acorn Grants, plants for the native gardens we support, in fact little money to even print this newsletter and pay the postage that gets it to you. So our heartfelt thanks to all of you who bought that one extra little plant or wildflower seed pack!

We also want to thank the UCI Arboretum for allowing us to basically take it over for two days every fall. They are extremely flexible and generous in allowing us to set up any way we chose and use whatever materials they have on hand: tables, chairs, extension cords, registers, shade cloth, etc. Laura Lyons, Arboretum manager, is normally there to help with all the many little problems that arise during the sale day and we wish to thank her for her past efforts. This year, despite being terribly ill, she still managed to be there on Friday, handing out the cash register, making sure it was programmed right, showing where the cord had to be run, and many other essential details. We are glad she is on the mend and back at work. We bow to her.

Another nod of thanks goes to Todd Heisma who took over the job of calling volunteers for this year’s sale and also helped set up the demonstration garden. I noticed most of you walked right past it with a glazed look in your eye as you searched for plants, but it was a nice inspirational garden space. (Next year we may move it into the shade and couple it with an information booth—you know, like in Peanuts, “The Plant Doctor is In—5 Cents a Question”. I will probably be the plant man, at least for part of the time.) Anyway Todd did a lot to make the sale work and stayed to help with the least glorious part, the cleanup. Thanks Todd. (He also donated those little Columbine seedlings.)

Of course we thank all the volunteers who gave of their time and energy to help set up the sale all day Friday: setting up tables, unloading plants, setting them up on the tables and sticking on the labels that each container had! And all those who worked Saturday, helping people find their plants and carry them, writing up the orders, answering questions, ringing up sales, and at the finale, cleaning up the whole place.

Thanks also to Tree of Life Nursery, our principal plant source. They help us put together a list of plants that is exceptional in its quality and appropriate in quantity, ship the plants out to us, help unload them, and the shipment is on consignment. That’s a lot of work, but they do it for us every year and we really appreciate our partners in this endeavor. Thanks to the very special owners, Mike Evans and Jeff Bohn, and to the whole crew at Tree of Life. (If you have not visited their retail area, they are open to the public on Fridays and selected Saturdays in spring and fall. Give them a call at 949-728-0685 or visit their web site at

—Dan Songster


Fact Sheet Available on Dana Point Headlands Plan

A fact sheet on the ways in which the Headlands Development and Conservation Plan does not conform to several Coastal Act policies will be available at the next Chapter meeting. Coastal Commission staff pointed out these non-conformities during the EIR period last fall. Contact for a copy if you won’t be at the meeting.

The Plan is currently undergoing detailed review by Coastal Commission Staff. The Headland’s future will be decided when the Commission hears the issue, possibly as early as January 2003.

The Orange County Chapter of the CNPS is part of the environmentalists’ coalition that is working on this issue. The coalition, spearheaded by the Dana Point Headlands Conservancy, seeks a better fate for the 121-acre property. The coalition thinks that the Plan calls for too much development and not enough conservation, and believes that the Plan must be required to conform to the Coastal Act.

On October 12 the coalition held a Rally for the Headlands in Dana Point to alert South Orange County environmentalists that the Headlands Development and Conservation Plan is not a done deal. Rally speakers explained some of the problems in the Plan, how to approach the Coastal Commission, and how to achieve an effective grass-roots movement.

The coalition consists of the Dana Point Headlands Conservancy, the Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Sierra/Sage/South Orange Group, South Coast Audubon, Surfrider Foundation, and interested local individuals.

The Dana Point Headlands Conservancy is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit public benefit corporation. Its goal is to preserve as much as possible of the Headlands as natural open space, for purposes beneficial to the public interest.


The possible fate of all the still-open private land in eastern and southern Orange County is contained in two very important recently released reports on the SCORE and NCCP/SAMP planning processes. Both are available online at It is recommended that you print them out; they contain much to study.

These reports need lots of feedback from environmentalists! Study the reports and the alternatives then send letters or email, preferably by November 13, to the addresses given on the web page. Bear in mind that the “No Project” alternative in this case means that there will be no NCCP/SAMP/HCP (formulating the final version is the “project”). If there is no NCCP/SAMP/HCP, the landowners will have the legal right to develop their lands piecemeal; there will be no requirements for open space preservation; species/habitat preservation will happen only via the endangered species laws. With the NCCP/SAMP/HCP, any development will take place within a planning framework controlled by the agencies. This will assure at least some open space and species/habitat preservation.

The SCORE Program Phase One Report is a summary of findings from the SCORE Land Use and Urban Runoff Task Forces, which met biweekly for months to study possible futures for the remaining undeveloped land of Rancho Mission Viejo. A desk copy will be available at Chapter meetings. SCORE is a subset of the larger NCCP/SAMP process. Its next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring.

The NCCP/SAMP proposed Alternatives were presented to the public at a workshop on October 30. The workshop was the fourth in a series held jointly by the Orange County Environmental Management Agency, U. S. Fish and Wildlife, California Fish and Game, and the U. S. Corps of Engineers. The next workshop will take place in about two months.

Celia Kutcher, Chapter representative, Dana Headlands and SCORE

Coming Events

Golden West Native Garden Fall Planting Day
Saturday, November 9

It is hoped a fine day will greet us (only a real downpour will cancel) as we plant wildflower seeds and various container stock in several areas of the Native Garden. As noted in the last newsletter the day will start about between 8:30 and 9:00 AM with a demonstration on correct planting techniques. We hope to have all our plants in the ground and watered by around 12:30 or so when we will have lunch, our treat.

Expect this day to be like several of our past planting days, a mixture of work and meeting friends, sweat and smiles. A dozen or so species of wildflowers (needing some soil preparation) and 120 plants (mostly one gallon) wait to be planted, especially in the Coastal Sage Scrub area where excess Encelia californica used as a temporary slope stabilizer has been removed and the normal range of CSS plants will be installed. Special plantings will be done in the Mixed Evergreen Forest, Foothill Woodland, Redwood Forest, Valley Grassland, South Oak Woodland, and Chaparral communities.

We hope to do some planting in the nearby Garden’s Annex, which is the backdrop for an outdoor lab/classroom for Aquatics study. Several water-loving plants, including the rampant Stachys bullata, surround a small waterfall there! (Want a piece?).

Bring a favorite shovel, pair of gloves, comfortable work shoes, floppy hat, and a smile. It is always a lot of fun and it will be even more enjoyable if you are there!

Dan Songster, 949-496-9689

Directions: From the 405 Freeway, take the Beach Blvd. North off ramp; turn south immediately onto McFadden Blvd., then east (left) onto Golden West Street. Make the first legal left turn into the college parking lot. Proceed across the lot toward the Automotive Technology Building. A swap meet will be in progress so expect parking congestion. Enter the campus just east of Auto Tech and follow the signs to the garden.

Last Planned Planting Day—Be There!
Saturday, November 16, 8 AM

The Serrano Creek Conservancy is hosting a planting day at Serrano Creek Park. This is probably the last chance to plant California native plants in the park as no further planting days are planned. Work will begin at 8 AM. The park is located in Lake Forrest at Quiet Oak and Serrano Roads. Bring a trowel or shovel, gloves, and water. Contact the Conservancy for more information at

Fall Work Day at the UCI Arboretum
Saturday, November 23, 9 AM to 1 PM

All summer long, a small but faithful band of volunteers have chipped away at the weed population in the California native plant section of the arboretum, readying the beds for the renewal of fall plantings. [See Weed War, Page 5]

Our Fall Work Day will concentrate on a slope devoted to Otay Mountain (San Diego County) endemics. Arboretum Curator Mark Elvin has collected a wide variety of seeds in the Otay area and grown many plants from them. We will install rocks on the slope to provide nooks and crannies for these plants and replicate the setting from which they came. Most of the rocks will be easily handled and for the rest…? Where is Godzilla when we need him?

Working in a public garden such as the UCI Arboretum gives one a sense of ownership and a great feeling of satisfaction. “That’s my plant!” or “I put in that rock!” Join us if you can.

Bring gloves, sunscreen, and a hat. Cold drinks, munchies, and pizza lunch will be provided. It would help our planning if you would contact Dan ( or Celia (, but feel free to just show up!

Directions: From the 405 Freeway, take Jamboree Road south to Campus Drive. Turn east on Campus, very shortly turn right onto a campus service road, then left into the Arboretum’s drive-in gate. Park in the gravel area behind the greenhouses. If that’s full, park in the campus lot across the way and feed the meter (parking passes may be available.

Restoration Day at Shipley Nature Center
Saturday, November 23, 9 AM to Noon

Your help is needed to ensure that the Nature Center will remain a place of education and relaxation in Huntington Beach for years to come. Groups please RSVP to


  • Shovel, pickaxe, gloves or whatever gardening tools you have available (you may want to write your name on them).
  • Water, a hat, sunscreen
  • Your family and friends!

We’ll provide:

  • Free entertainment featuring live music
  • Educational and informative booths
  • Complimentary refreshments
  • Native plants for sale
  • Silent Auction

Directions: Huntington Beach Central Park is located between Golden West and Edwards south of Slater. Check a map for the best exit from the 405. Enter from the parking lot off Edwards on Central Park Drive. Walk out of the parking lot at the north end entrance and follow the white line, which leads all the way to the front gate.

UCI Weed War Continues

A dedicated crew continues the campaign against weeds in the UCI Arboretum’s California Native Collection; fall brings its own varieties of weeds!

In the weeks leading up to our Fall Work Day, we’ll also be doing preparation for the Otay Mountain Collection project:* removing non-native plants and potting up plants that will be replanted on the refurbished slope. Once the rocks are in place, we’ll do some planting on the slope.

Additional crew is always welcome, just come to the Arboretum on Thursdays around 9:30 AM. It’s OK to work for just an hour or so. Every weed removed means fewer seeds to germinate next year! Bring hat, gloves, water, sturdy work shoes, sunscreen and your favorite weeding implement if possible.

Directions: *see Fall Work Day at UCI, Page 4

Turtle Rock Nature Center

Earlier this year, we awarded an Acorn Grant to Nathaniel Pinckney, an Eagle Scout candidate. His project involved restoring native plants, constructing a decomposed granite pathway, and installing signage in a portion of the grounds of the Turtle Rock Nature Center in Irvine. More than 25 scouts of all ages participated with over 150 man-hours to implement Nathaniel’s plans. After much hard work, the project is now completed.

The Center is located at 1 Sunnyhill Drive, Irvine, in the Turtle Rock community. Call 949-854-8151 for open hours.

Announcing—Web Site Photo Contest

You are invited to help add content to our new web site! Everyone is eligible to send pictures of California native plants and/or OC CNPS activities. Photographs will be selected for aesthetic presentation as well as for current web site needs. All winning entries will be used on the website, and the grand prize winner will receive $25 credit towards OC CNPS books and posters.


  1. Send photos in electronic file format: gif or jpg
  2. Provide description up to 50 words of photo (plant name, location, etc.)
  3. Submit photos to
  4. Sender must own rights to photo.

Deadline to receive entries: December 15. Winners will be announced at our December meeting.

Not sure how to get that perfect print or slide picture into electronic format? Reminder: 72dpi is sufficient for web use.

  1. Put the print in a scanner at home or a friend’s home and save the file in gif or jpg format.
  2. Take the print, slide or negative to your photo developer and ask for options.
  3. Put the print, slide or negative in the processing envelope and select digital reprints.
  4. Take pictures with your existing camera and request digital processing (on disk or emailed) as well as regular processing.
  5. Use or borrow a digital camera and take pictures.

Brad Jenkins, Photo Contest Coordinator


CNPS somewhat recently completed the 6th Edition of the Rare & Endangered Plant Inventory. In Orange County ten species are new to the CNPS inventory, four species have been upgraded in rank, and five species have been downgraded in their CNPS status, or removed from the Inventory. Another noteworthy change is the use of Dr. Bruce Baldwin’s taxonomic revisions in the genus Hemizonia ( In this new treatment Hemizonia parryi ssp. australis is now in the genus Centromadia. In contrast Hemizonia paniculata is now in the genus Deiandra.

The following text presents the changes to the plant species in the CNPS inventory for Orange County.

New plants to the Inventory include:

Abronia villosa var. aurita – Chaparral sand verbena (List 1B) – Considered extirpated in OC

Asplenium vespertinum – Western spleenwort (List 4)

Chaenactis glabriuscula var. orcuttiana – Orcutt’s pincushion

(List 1B)

Deiandra paniculata – Paniculate tarplant (List 4)

Horkelia cuneata ssp. puberula – Mesa horkelia (List 1B)

Lycium californicum – California boxthorn (List 4)

Navarretia prostrata – Prostrate navarretia (List 1B)

Nolina cismontana – Chaparral bear grass (List 1B)

Pentachaeta aurea – Golden-rayed pentachaeta (List 4)

Piperia cooperi – Chaparral rein orchid (List 4)

Upgraded Rank:

Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina (was CNPS List 1A, now 1B) – Considered extirpated in OC

Nemacaulis denudata var. denudata – Coastal woolly-heads (was CNPS List 2, now 1B)

Satureja chandleri – San Miguel savory (was CNPS List 4, now 1B)

Suaeda esteroa – Estuary seablite (was CNPS List 4, now 1B)

Downgraded Rank:

Calystegia sepium ssp. binghamiae – Santa Barbara morning glory (was CNPS List 1B, now 1A)

-Considered extirpated in OC

Harpagonella palmeri (was CNPS List 2, now 4)

Removed from the Inventory:

Boykinia rotundifolia – Round-leaved boykinia (was CNPS List 4, no longer included in the Inventory)

Chorizanthe procumbens – Prostrate spineflower (was CNPS List 4, no longer included in the Inventory)

Selaginella cinerascens – Ashy spikemoss (was CNPS List 4, no longer included in the Inventory)

If chapter members have any questions on the changes in the new inventory, please contact me at

—Dave Bramlet, Rare Plant Coordinator



Photo Working Group

On October 1, the CNPS Plant Photography Working Group initiated a new email-based discussion group at The Plant Photography group is developing standards for a fully digital library of images for use by scientists, authors, and others in need of high quality images of our state’s native plants and CNPS activities in general. One especially interesting part of the project will be an effort to record a photographic taxonomy of our most endangered species (multiple diagnostic views of each species—sort of a photographic counterpart to Jepson’s).

The discussion group is organized as an email “forum” with members receiving a copy of all postings and having their own messages distributed to the entire forum membership in turn. If you think this sounds interesting, you can take a look at our new web page at You’ll find us under Plant Science—Photography. Be sure to check out the Position Papers at the bottom of the page; they’ll give you a little better idea of the overall organization of the project. If you think you might like to help organize the project, you can join the forum by sending an email to Put the word “subscribe” in the “subject” box and you’ll receive a Welcome message when you’ve been added to the member list. We’d love to hear from you. [Think about entering your photos in our contest.]

—Thanks, Tom Elder, Plant Photo-graphy Project, Taxonomy Standards Chair

Chapter Outreach

From time to time, our CNPS chapter is invited to public events. Usually a table or booth is set up for CNPS members to communicate information. These events provide a wonderful opportunity to increase awareness of CNPS, promote CNPS goals, and be part of the community.

Chapter member Brad Jenkins is working on a plan to “package” this sort of presentation to make it work with a variety of settings and presenters and be easily transported. He will be contacting members to build a list of volunteers who can assist with this important outreach.

Consider this gift of time to the Orange County CNPS chapter if you are enthusiastic about California native plants and could give 4 to 6 hours sometime during the year. You can contact Brad at

Positions Available

Essex Environmental has three openings in its Carlsbad office. Check their web site for details.


Laguna Coast Wilderness: 949-494-9352.

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

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park: 949-831-2790
Thomas Riley Regional Park: 949-728-3420

Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy: 949-489-9778

Crystal Cove State Park: 949-497-7647

Follow up on our Shrub Identification Workshop! Two walks with an emphasis on the shrubs of the Crystal Cove backcountry will take place on November 16, and December 21 (Saturdays). Meet at 9 AM at the ranger station.

From PCH turn inland past El Morro School between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. There is a sign at the turn off. Parking is $3. Call or email Sarah Jayne for more information: 949-552-0691 or


And Now For Something Completely Different??Gardening For Bees by Randy Zebell

[Reprinted with permission from the Yerba Buena Chapter newsletter, June 2002. This chapter covers San Francisco and the Bay area.]

I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with bees. Perhaps it was the time I saw perfectly round, dime-sized holes cut into dozens of bright green leaves of the Clarkia plants I was carefully cultivating. It slowly dawned on me that the only possible explanation was that leaf-cutter bees had discovered an alternate use for my Clarkia leaves. I was familiar with leaf-cutter bees from PBS shows on the biodiversity of far-away tropical places. Could they really live here in San Francisco, too? Sure enough, they do. Or perhaps it was after I read “Bumble Bee Economics” by Bernd Heinrich, and learned that bumblebees can maintain a steady, high body temperature essential for their flight muscles to work over a very broad range of ambient temperatures from near freezing to well into the 90s. This is an incredible feat of biomechanical engineering for such a small creature. That’s one reason why you see bumblebees, and not honey bees, foraging for nectar or pollen on cold days. Or perhaps it was when I read that more than 450 species of native solitary bees had been identified within Pinnacles National Monument just south of us in San Benito County. Talk about biodiversity! Or perhaps…

There are about 130 species of bees found in the Bay Area. Most are solitary bees, meaning a single female bee builds and provisions her own nest without the help of other bees. Others, like bumblebees, are semi?social. A single fertilized female bee starts a colony in spring that can grow to up to 250 bees by the summer’s end, when all the bees die except for recently fertilized females that overwinter in a sheltered hole in the ground. A less common lifestyle is exhibited by the introduced European honeybee, one that is fully social. It forms large colonies of thousands of bees that live together, provisioning and enlarging the swarm throughout the year.

Luckily for bee-lovers like me, it’s easy to create bee-friendly gardens. All you have to do is give them what they want—water, flowers, and nesting sites—and avoid what they don’t want: pesticides (it’s best for bees and other beneficial insects to avoid all use of pesticides). Native plants evolved with the local bee species and are the best choice for attracting them into your garden. Try selecting plants that flower at different times of the year to maximize the duration of flowering in your yard. I can’t recommend arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis) too strongly. It’s one of the earliest flowering species in our area and draws bumblebees from far and wide to gather pollen in my garden. Once I introduce a new generation of bumblebees to my backyard with willow flowers, I keep them coming back with silver beach lupine (Lupinus chamissonis), coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), ceanothus (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus), California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), phacelia (Phacelia californica), meadowfoam Limnanthes sp.) (I know, it’s not indigenous to San Francisco), and bee plant (Scrophularia californica). Other types of bees seem to prefer other plants. I see what I suspect is a medium-sized solitary bee that is inordinately fond of checkerbloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora). I frequently find several bees curled up, seemingly lounging, in its blossoms. I keep a small patch of sunny ground free of vegetation for these bees because I’ve noticed that they burrow small holes, about ¼ inch in diameter, into the bare soil to excavate a home for their offspring. Other, even smaller, solitary bees seem to really enjoy my footsteps-of-spring (Sanicula arctopoides) before moving on to seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus). I don’t yet know where these bees make their nests.

One final word on bee gardening: Be sure to spend a lot of time just watching. I’m sure you will be surprised by what you will discover about the not-so-secret life of bees. Also, you adventurous types should be sure to check out the bee condos for sale at <>. I have yet to try these in my yard; maybe next year….

[Would anyone like to contribute an article about native bees and plants in Orange County?]

Fall Colors in My Garden

Fall happens in my garden. Part of it is due to changing plant chemistry. Sycamore leaves are yellowing—and dropping in smothering piles. The mahogany leaves of my ‘Roger’s Red’ wild grape make a tapestry across the dining room windows along with the now deep brown flower heads of several huge Saint Catherine’s Lace. Atop the Toyon are clusters of brilliant red berries.

But that’s not the end of it. The cool nights of fall have brought a second lavender flowering to the Pitcher Sage. Ceanothus ‘Cliff Schmidt’ is showing off with a display of sky blue flowers and the low spreading Maritime Ceanothus is full of fat buds on the point of bursting.

Capping it all are brilliant red-orange waves of flower on the California Fuchsias. If anything rescues a fall garden from dreary monotone it is these. Sure, they spread—by seed and by runner, but they’re really easy to pull out. They also add little to the garden but soft green foliage from December to July. Come November, though, they are the unqualified stars of the garden.

Fall color? I just step out my door.