Friday, February 12, 2016

Out In The Garden

Our weather has been very unseasonably warm here in Southern California. So much so, that the birds have arrived. I was awakened by birds attacking the little mirror out front and another looking for a nesting spot. Yes, an early spring!
Unfortunately, it is still a drought year. Good thing I figured it might be, and have planned my planting accordingly. Almost all my plants are drought tolerant, once established. You see, it doesn't have to be cactus and biggest pet peeve lately. Everyone giving up their lawns and gardens to gravel and succulents.
I have a parkway garden that has been established now for about 10 years or so, it blooms and is beautiful. It gets drip system spray once a week. Period.
The rest of my garden is adjusting....what dies is not replaced with the same but with something that is considered a native plant or drought tolerant. There is a surprising list of plants you can plant that are blooming and beautiful, if you just look.
One of my favorite sites is Annies Annuals (not just annuals)....they are primo! Today I received a shipment and was able to open the box and go plant them....which is totally awesome!
What did I plant??
Well, for starters,

 Digiplexis "Illumination Flame"....a perennial "foxglove" that apparently did well in 2012 Chelsea flower show. Adaptable to many different gardens, sun, no sun etc. and it needs average water....
I also ordered Digiplexis "illumination Raspberry"....should be beautiful around here soon.
Then there is Orlaya grandiflora "MinoanLace" which comes from Crete, a "go with everything" plant that has 4-5" pure white flowers. self sows...and isn't kind of plant. 

I also ordered and received Platystemon californicus "cream cups" a type of native....should be great.
Yes, they need water to get going....time for all that water we stored....200 gallons of rain water.

I also ordered seeds from a company that sells from Etsy! Garden4butterflies
Poke milkweed (Asclepsis exaltata), Bush's coneflower (echinacea paradox), Common milkweed (asclepius syriaca), Showy milkweed (asclepius speciosa), and orange coneflower (rudbeckia fulgida)...

Why so many milkweeds?? Well, monarch and other butterflies are running out of plants on which to feed and breed. Monarchs only lay eggs on monarchs! Here in Southern California monarchs winter....which means they need food etc. Some actually stay year round. And of course, there are other butterflies too which benefit from we'll need lots!

Early fall I planted some African milkweed and before I knew it they were bare of leaves and I had about 13 caterpillars of different sizes feeding on them. Birds ate most of the caterpillars...sadly, however, after hanging some lace in the tree to scare birds off we successfully hatched some monarchs. That made me a firm believer that it was more than necessary...especially since if you drive down my street there are fewer and fewer gardens. I keep telling Hubby that I too will leave if more of the desert gardens (with no taste) go in. Our garden is an oasis of sorts to hundreds of birds and butterflies....
Another benefit of milkweed?? Once established it is in most varieties drought tolerant and a native plant....

The rest of my garden has adjusted to being watered once a week. You can train your plants to adjust. It is also helpful to water granules that absorb water and then slowly release it back into the soil.
I  have done this with most of the pots around the house. There are pittosporums on the side of the house in pots with water granules, those plants get watered every other week! 
Yes, I have lost many plants in the last year...a couple of fussy roses, a small tree and a few other small plants....but, most of the garden has learned to adjust...I have a very happy peach out front that just finished blooming (told you it was an early spring) and has little peaches on it. 
The blueberries....most died and early death due to drought...they aren't particularly drought tolerant...but I do have 5 left...and they are blooming and setting! Not bad out of 10....
I actually lost several lavenders....however, I didn't water enough to get them off to a good start...there wasn't rain in the rain barrels at the time.

We've added two rain barrels now....we have 4...and are now planning for a fifth....yup we are.
In any case, I can't emphasize how important gardens are! Not just veggie gardens that give us healthy veggies with no pesticides or inorganic fertizliers...but also flowers to beauty and for the wildlife. 
If you are considering redoing your yard to make it "drought tolerant" please do research. Go to the Annie's Annuals site for info on plants that make your garden not only beautiful but helps the world around you. 
Nurseries such as Rogers Gardens that can guide you to put in more than just succulents. Yes, you can garden on limited water takes a little more dedication and planning....but it can be done!
And no, you don't have to be an expert...there are experts out there to help.....
In any case...have a great day....go garden! (and if you are where it is cold and snowy, plan your garden....)

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