Friday, October 29, 2010

Garden Clean-up Becomes Halloween Decor

The rains last weekend decimated most of the Eriogonum flowers (that's California Buckwheat for those not Latin-inclined).  A quick snip of the spent heads revealed a neat mound of green underneath.  Pretty amazing for a plant that looked completely dead two weeks ago.  I saved an armful of the dried flower stalks, however to aid in the Halloweenization of the house.  They're not exactly spooky, but they will lend a frightful air alongside the shrunken apple heads, rubber bats and blood-dripping candles.

Here's what they looked like a month or so ago:

Carefree pink blooms inviting the bees and skippers in the Springtime has now devolved to dark and creepy puff-ball sticks.  Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bee House Bundles!

Don't you just want to shimmy inside one of these cozy little bee residences?  After harvesting an armful of Festuca stems topped with airy seed hulls, I saved the trimmed stems which looked like little straws and decided to bundle them up into tiny native bee condos. 

After attending the "Gardening for Wildlife" class at Tilden Park a few weeks ago with the Meeses, I've been stepping back to consider what my garden provides and what it's lacking.  While I provide tons of nectar, seeds and larval food sources, shelter remains in "some other place" for the daily visitors I receive. 

Hopefully these little straws, hanging horizontally from my Malacothamnus shrub will attract tiny little bees and other insects to sit and stay awhile.  Then in turn, insect-eating birds will decide to come 'round.  Then, dare I wish for a Red Tail Hawk to do a screeching fly-by?! 

While the neat ends look appealing to me, the bees supposedly will prefer the varying ends, choosing a straw close to a joint in the stem that they can build their nest against.  Hanging it 3 to 6 feet off the ground helps prevent moisture from rotting the straws and also keeps the obvious predators away.  I've read that bees need the morning sun to warm their wings (much like my morning coffee, I guess!) before they begin their day's journey, so orienting the house East or South-East facing makes the chances of this house getting used much greater.  The Pollinator Conservation Handbook can be an excellent resource for such things!

Since native bees come in all sizes, small lengths of bamboo or varying diameters of holes drilled into wood also do the trick.  Not all bees use ready-made holes, however.  Carpenter bees make their own by chewing a tunnel into wood, while bumble bees sometimes use discarded rodent nests.

Many projects to come in order to better provide for wildlife, but in the meantime I'll hang my houses and wait impatiently for the parade of woodland animals and insects! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adding Greenery to the Green Fair

Turnout might have been light, but my booth rocked the green fair!  I planted a couple of my vintage ballot boxes with the hot colors of Autumn- 'Tuxedo' Ceanothus, California fuchsia, and Dudleya pulverulenta surrounded by tumbled porcelain.  I had quite the convergence of rusty things, graciously lent out by Aunt Joyce as well as a sidewalk chalk area rug.

 I'm especially excited about my new twig trellis-I'll take some decent shots in the next few days to properly gloat about it...

Next time I'll have to have a large sign with my logo and "Landscape Design" on it so folks recognize what it is exactly I do.  Now that it's over I have quite few extra plants- anyone care for a few or are y'all up to your ears in Fall planting like me?  Don't even get me started about bulbs!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Did She Say 'Plant Sale'?!

Monardella micrantha 'Marion Sampson'
Just in case you haven't left the cave recently, the East Bay California Native Plant Society plant sale is this weekend!  I'll be volunteering on Sunday in the loading area.  It's such a festive atmosphere with so many happy people- I highly recommend stopping by!  Make a day of it by strolling through the Tilden Botanical Garden (which I still can't believe doesn't charge admission!) and coming to Native Here Nursery to pick up a few plants.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Come to the Fair, the Green Fair!

 You haven't heard a peep from me lately as I'm preparing a table at the Greening Oakland Homes Fair next Saturday the 16th at Ashby Lumber (the one on Ashby).  I'm so excited about the event that I'm constructing a new trellis design and will be putting together fun containers of splashy-looking native plants!

If you're wondering about doing some remodeling or just want to be a lookie-loo, come on by and say hello!  There will be a ton of experts on sustainable energy, green building, and thoughtful design.  (and me, of course!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Obsessive Squirrel Mode Begins Tomorrow

Brodaiea californica

So the fact that I'm expecting a box today that contains 39 pounds of bulbs isn't excessive or anything, right?  I mean...  right?!?

(Most of them aren't for me, I swear!)  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Best Aphid Control Ever

I've been working in the shop of late on a new trellis design, but I had to share the magical experience of standing on the front porch yesterday afternoon.  Soaking in the late afternoon sun and dusting off errant flecks of redwood, I observed in wonder a gang of Bushtits who one by one zipped to the Malacothamnus and delicately picked off the aphids that had taken up residence.  I reveled in their happy chirps, transfixed by their tiny black legs and twig-like feet wrapped around the stems.  Then one, two, three...  four, five... and six alighted to the protection of the climbing rose across the street.  With a contented sigh I returned to my work, still surprised by the life my garden has taken on.