Above, Baccharis pilularis ("Coyote Bush") in bloom
Along with a few members of our local garden club, I attended a special tour given at a county wilderness park. The volunteer tour guide, with permission from the county, has been working to restore the park with location-appropriate native plants. He has been planting native plants, and watering them though their first summer with very little help since 2009. He's grown some of the plants himself and bought others as he could afford them, or as donations trickled in.
Ted, Local Hero:
After almost ten years of effort, in 2017, the area he had labored to restore burned to the ground.
There were few survivors of his nine years of effort. Would you have given up? He didn't.
An Encelia about to get a home. The red flag identifies and helps to locate plants to be watered through their first summer. After that, a majority can survive on their own:
Rhus integrifolia, ("Lemonade Berry")
...or is that an Oak?
Food for tiny butterflies, native bees, and moths is provided by Heterotheca grandiflora "Telegraph Weed":
A native Aster (species unknown) with tiny white flowers is summer deciduous:
I think this might be Baccharis salicifolia ("Mule Fat"):The name "Mule Fat" is attributed to Forty-Niners (California gold miners) who would tie their mules to these shrubs so mules could graze on them.
Our guide explained that "Mule Fat" forms a monoculture, crowding out every other species and quickly forming layers of dead material many feet thick that stoke ferociously hot chaparral fires, as happened in 2017. Even native plants can be thugs.
Here's a tiny example of thatch buildup:
Malosma laurina is perfectly adapted to chaparral fires. Below ground it forms a woody tuber (lignotuber) and if there's a fire that burns everything above ground, Malosma can rapidly re-sprout from that lignotuber.
Growing by the side of the road in the neighborhood. It grows all over around here, without irrigation.
Reddish stems, like Arctostaphylos, though less picturesque.
Populus fremontii, ("Fremont's Cottonwood") turning gold in autumn.
Sambucus mexicana "Western Elderberry", waiting for rain:
Quercus agrifolia ("Coast Live Oak"), struggling in the current drought. Ted described a vision of a few decades from now, when the oaks he has planted have grown into a forest in which to stroll, with the shrubs like Toyon and Malosma as understory, all alive with thriving native creatures. What a beautiful park this can become.
Isocoma menziesii ("Menzie's Goldenbush"):Eriogonum fasciculatum "California Buckwheat" in foreground, the Isocoma middle distance, Lemonade Berry/Toyon, far distance: Asclepias augustifolia "Narrow Leaf Milkweed":
Eriogonum fasciculatum "California Buckwheat" on the left:
Be careful of attractive autumn foliage color: Toxicodendron diversilobum ("Pacific Poison Oak"):
Encelia "Brittlebush" flowers:
Salvia mellifera ("Black Sage"):
Salvia apiana ("White Sage")
Salvia apiana is currently under siege. A valuable source of food for native butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds, there's a current viral fad to burn the stems and leaves for "purification". Grow your own if you need "purifying", please, so our native land is not purified of Salvia apiana and all the small creatures that depend upon it for food.
As we walked with our guide, I realized he was talking about the park just as any gardener would. Statements like:
--"The soil here is awful, but right over there, I can grow anything."
--"A long time ago someone planted bermuda grass there, and I can't get rid of it."
--"Watering. When it's hot. Oh, boy."
--"Those keep dying on me."
--"I planted that six years ago, and look at it now!"
--"Somebody keeps stepping on that. I put up those wires to keep feet out. They're working."
-- And, of course, "Those #$%@!*+ rabbits!"
The man is gardening nature, with nature, for nature. How cool is that?
If you are local and want to help, the next Restoration Day at Peter's Canyon is Sunday, Dec. 4th. Check status in case of rain. Information here. Prepare to water...or not. Rain showers are predicted for late this week!
It's his home, too: