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With autumn equinox rapidly approaching we are deep into our natural cycle of summer drought. Many of the plants in the wild are in a dormant state, taking a pause as the soil in most non-wetland areas has dried out completely. Long gone are the spring wild flower displays, the native bulbs are but a memory, hillside Read more…


Looking into the blue elderberry outside my window is a great antidote to reading the news on my computer. There may be journalistic integrity in what’s written there on the screen but the news in the tree is much more engaging. Here at home there are all manner of streaming distractions, but then out of the corner Read more…


According to local restorationist Glen Schnieder  “the native cobweb thistle (Cirsium occidentale) is one of the great beauties of the drying time.” I’d have to agree. I took a side trip out to his project(s) at Skyline Gardens in mid-June to sit with the glorious magenta blooms in the afternoon light. As I perched on the ground Read more…


The longest day of the year is rapidly approaching and our dry season is firmly upon us. Grasslands have flushed green, flowered and been pollinated by the wind. Many of the colorful wildflowers of spring have bloomed sending out their signals to be pollinated by some busy insect or bird. And now at the tail end of Read more…


In search of inspiration this spring I visited a few very special spots for wildflowers. Luck has been with me and pretty much everywhere I turned a botanical show was just popping off. For me the best medicine to feeling out of sorts has always been to go out into the world away from the busy town Read more…


Frenchie, a year around resident Anna’s hummingbird, sits on top of our 10 year old buckeye and watches all of the comings and goings at Oaktown Native Plant Nursery. We could call him the nursery’s spirit animal being small in size but energetic and focused. A few years back, a pink flowering current Ribes sanguinium v. glutinosum Read more…


It always seems like a rare blessing to come upon a patch of blooming trilliums Trillium chloropetalum during a winter walk in the woods. To me it is even more surprising to come upon this strange three petaled flower in places where you wouldn’t expect them. I have seen them in coastal scrub and in a dense Read more…


January is right smack in the middle of our rainy season and the world once again begins to put on its newest green robe. Here on the central coast our winter temperatures are mild, on average ranging from the mid 40’s to mid to the mid 50’s. The short days, cool nights and moisture stimulate grasses and Read more…


Our Western Winterberry aka ToyonWhile visiting folks on the east coast this Thanksgiving I happily took in the somber browns and grays of that frozen landscape. Vermillion was far from my mind while hiking in the open fields and coastal forest. And yet there in glorious contrast to all else, I stumbled across a leafless shrub completely Read more…


An all around peculiar plant. Much sought after by habitat gardeners as it is the only food for the caterpillars of the lovely large black and blue pipevine swallowtail butterfly. Dutchman’s pipevine (Aristolochia californica) is a whimsical looking deciduous vine with flowers shaped like an old time Dutch smoking pipe. The flowers appear in winter before the Read more…