Sunday, January 07, 2007

California Native Plant Horticulture

We took the California Native Plant Horticulture class yesterday morning at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley. This was the class description:
This class will cover a wide range of topics, including the definition of
native plant, why they're valuable, plant communities, plant requirements, establishment, planting details, pruning, irrigation, maintenance and where to see and buy native plants. It is recommended for anyone who is just getting started with natives and as a precursor to our California Native Plant Garden Design Course.
There were 17 students and two instructors, Ken and Rhonda Gilliland. Both were very nice and enthusiastic about CA natives. The class didn't have much of a structure other than to hand out some materials, define what native plants are, and to answer questions from the students for about 2 hours. Then the class went outside to get a short pruning lesson and to walk around the nursery while Ken and Rhonda answered more questions and pointed out various adult natives growing nearby.

I learned that native plants need no fertilizer, no pesticides, and no water other than what comes from rain. Also, neighborhoods with fewer lawns and more native plants have less lawn mowers and less leaf blowers making for a more peaceful experience.

The highlight of the class was actually not officially part of the class, but an after-class field trip to Ken and Rhonda's native plant garden in Tujunga. They call their property Quail Hollow. They've really done a nice job in their garden which includes many of the plants that you can buy at Theodore Payne. It was very helpful for me to walk around the garden, asking Rhonda about the names of the plants and how she cares for them.

She also showed me what California Poppies look like when they are just sprouting which helped me tremendously because I planted some from seed, and I almost mistook their spouts for weeds and pulled them. They are popping up all over my garden so I should have an impressive display of poppies come Spring.

Here is a picture of the garden at Quail Hollow from 2003:

Next weekend we will begin Part 1 of a 3 part class on designing a California native plant garden. I'm really looking forward to it.

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