Archives for category: CA Natives

Today, October 22nd, is the 22nd birthday of my son, Walker. He’s a senior at Stanford, and I’d hoped to be up there, but the life of a college athlete is very busy, and he didn’t think he would even have time to dine with me. So, I am not going to see him in person on this special day, a day that only happens once in a lifetime.


Walker & Kaye, at the Getty Center 2012

My birthday is on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, and I remember well my 14th birthday. I was learning to sew in 4-H and made a heart shaped (top and bottom) apron out of red-checked cotton, and trimmed it with red rick-rack. I also baked a heart-shaped cake, and my mother got the town paper to photograph me for the weekly paper. I have that article in one of the many scrapbooks my mother made me.

Anyway, after a long day in the garden yesterday, I wasn’t too energetic today and felt my energy was supposed to be in Palo Alto, not Los Angeles, so I didn’t get off to a great start. In the afternoon, I forced myself to go out and check on caterpillar C (A & B have left the building, ha), and spent an hour trying to relocate him or her to a safe place for cocoon-building. As it was exploring what I considered to be the Ritz Carlton for Monarch cocoons (underneath the overhang of my pop-out kitchen window), it FELL about four feet into a bucket of bamboo sticks! I gasped and picked it up by the piece of straw it was grasping. Talk about grasping for straws!


Monarch Caterpillar 5th Instar Stage Grasping Straw

Stunned, it lay in my hand for a couple of minutes. I decided that I was violating the “Prime Directive” (any “Star Trek” fans out there?) and I put it back on the milkweed bush. When I looked again 20 minutes later, it was nowhere to be found. Luckily, I have another caterpillar coming along.


Monarch Caterpillar 4th Instar Stage

And I found several eggs.


Monarch Egg

And fluttering around my head was a female Monarch butterfly feasting on the pollen of the Mexican Sunflower. It’s amazing how the stripes on the caterpillar turn into polka dots!


Female Monarch Butterfly on Mexican Sunflower

I have limited space in my garden. Some parts gets more sun than others. Some soil is more amended, but most of it is compacted clay. So, when I buy new plants, it takes me awhile to figure out where to put them. Almost every spot that gets maximum sun will be used to plant edibles. Today, I made a hard choice. I had bought two California native blueberry bushes from Grow Native Nursery last week, but hadn’t figured out where to plant them. I kind of wanted to keep them together. They grow in light shade, which is a plus, but, I just couldn’t figure it out, till it hit me to turn my Flower Island (see My Flower Island episode of Late Bloomer) into a California Native plot. I just planted two Asclepias speciosa milkweed in there yesterday, and after my caterpillar adventure, I planted three Phyda nodiflora Frogfruit ground cover there. Then, it hit me. I’m over roses.

I had an Iceberg Rose bush out there that was high maintenance and rarely bloomed, got lots of rust, and of course every time you tend to it, you somehow get pricked by a thorn. I’m over it. I dug up that rose bush, and planted two Vaccinium “Indians Wanderer” California native blueberries under the newly pruned Princess flower bush, which I trimmed to grow up more like a tree than a sprawling bush, giving more light underneath.

Vaccinium - California Native Blueberry

Vaccinium “Indians Wanderer” California Native Blueberry

Well, it’s technically not a native garden, yet. That’s an African daisy bottom left, and Mexican feather grass top left, which I happen to love, but the other seven plants are natives. And they all will bloom and attract bees and butterflies.


California Native Garden

So the day wasn’t a complete wash. And I am Skyping my son tonight! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

Kaye gets out of her front yard garden for a little inspiration, and visits beautiful Woodside, California. In this episode, she checks out the Woodside Library California Native Plant Garden and the Woodside Elementary School garden. With guest, teacher Brian Myrtetus. Watch here or higher resolution on YouTube.


In tomorrow’s episode of “Late Bloomer,” I travel to gardens in Woodside, California for inspiration. First, the Woodside Public Library California Native Plant Garden.

This serene garden, planted in 1970 and renovated in 2007, and filled with 18 beds of 154 California natives, is a must-see for garden lovers traveling through beautiful Woodside, CA.

Check the library website for hours.

Just across the street is the Woodside Elementary School garden. One of my missions with “Late Bloomer” is to teach kids where food comes from, so a school garden like this was a real find. Parent involvement is everything, according to 2nd grade teacher Brian Myrtetus who oversees the garden.

Brian plans the plantings in the spring so that there are ripe vegetables when kids return to school in the fall.

Please watch “Late Bloomer – Woodside – Episode 14” tomorrow! – Thanks for reading! – Kaye

In “Wild Farm,” next week’s episode of “Late Bloomer,”, we meet Lisa Putnam and her sister Kathleen, who are master gardeners and they take us on a tour of Lisa’s family farm in Woodside, CA. Lisa explained that her insectiary brings in beneficial insects which eat the bad insects, like aphids!

Insectiaries are areas staffed with those types of plants which will attract beneficial insects. (Wikipedia) They particularly love flowers that are flat on top, Kathleen said, called Umbels, like carrot, dill and parsley. Let those go to seed, Lisa said, and they bring in beneficial insects which will reduce your crop-destroyers.

I returned with the intention of planting some insectary plants in my small garden.

The California native plants that I bought at Grow Native Nursery over the weekend serve two purposes, to bring in beneficial insects and attract lots of butterflies and also promote drought tolerant plants which need no fertilizers and exist very well in California’s dry, clay soils.

Yesterday, I removed a huge bush under my olive tree, that required a lot of maintenance, with the purpose of reconditioning the soil and starting my insectiary.

This turned into quite an operation with my neighbor, C.L., giving me a hand with his 25 pound iron pole/blade. Between the two of us, pushing, pulling and slamming that blade down into the roots about 50 times, we finally got it out. The bush nearly filled my garden waste bin.

That was a lot more work than I imagined, but getting it out was only the beginning. I raked and pulled out roots and stones for about two more hours before I was able to add some sifted soil to the mix.

Truly an urban gardening scene, here. Dog walkers just have to go around when I’m gardening near the sidewalk.

I’m also going to plant butterfly bush across the sidewalk under the Princess Flower, but first, I have to remove some invasive wood sorrel that shot up since the buckwheat was cut. That’s my job for this afternoon.

This spots gets only about four to five hours of direct sun per day, so I planted sun/part sun Solanum and one of the milkweeds, Asclepias fascicularis behind it. The milkweed will get weedy at the bottom, so by planting the Solanum in front, it will hide the weediness of the milkweed. Here’s the finished result, last night about 8PM.

Thanks for reading! – Kaye

I’ve been wanting to plant some California native plants that would bring in beneficial insects for my vegetable garden. On my search for a native milkweed, I found Grow Native Nursery in Westwood. This is one type of Solanum, which should bloom from July to December, which will be nice as other natives will be done blooming in the fall. And it’s very pretty.

I also bought Narrow Leaf Milkweed (I have a Monarch Butterfly/Milkweed episode coming up on “Late Bloomer”), Asciepias fascicularis, also called Woolybush, and Yarrow (Sonoma Coast). I’d been reading about Yarrow and already knew I wanted some. Here’s what I came home with.

For any of you really paying attention, I got my Prius back from my son, and the Mini-Cooper is at Stanford again.

If you are a parrot lover, there is a parrot sanctuary right next to the nursery, Parrot Care, where Veterans care for abandoned parrots. There is a charming, loud and colorful world of parrots here, and I encourage you to drop in (and drop in a few dollars in the donation can) and be charmed and amazed by their personality and color.

This pair were a hoot, and very personable. Most people who buy parrots for pets don’t realize they live to be 50 years old! That’s a huge commitment, which is why so many parrots are abandoned. Please consider a donation to support these exotic, beautiful creatures.

Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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