California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

March 2011

California Native Plant Week: April 16-24, 2011

California Native Plant Week (CNPW) is a week dedicated to the appreciation, education, and conservation of California's fabulous flora. The CNPW legislation (ACR 173) was sponsored by the California Native Plant Society, and introduced by Senator Noreen Evens during the 2010 legislative session to help protect California's native plant heritage and preserve it for future generations by raising awareness about our state's rich botanical diversity. California Native Plant Society promotes CNPW through native plant sales, wildflower shows, gardening workshops, lectures, hikes, garden tours, and many more events. CNPS chapters throughout California will be hosting statewide events from April 16-24. All ages a re welcome to attend and participate. Not only will participation raise public awareness for protecting California native plants but will also introduce people to future volunteer efforts with their local CNPS chapter. To find regional events in your area, see the CNPW calendar or to search for a chapter plant sale or garden tour near you, see the Chapter Plant Sale calendar.


Build It and They Will Come

Tanya Kucak

Five years ago, Jim and Meredith Howard bought a 1971 slab house with a flat concrete-paved backyard in the San Francisco Bay area and began transforming it into a habitat garden. They wanted to create an interesting and functional space that attracted native birds and insects, learn the local native plants, improve drainage, and do it all on a budget and without wasting materials or hauling truckloads to the landfill.

At a recent Gardening with Natives talk, Jim Howard showed how they did it. As the District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in San Mateo County, Howard is attuned to nature but was new to the bay area.

Starting with the front yard, they consulted with Acterra, a restoration nursery, to choose appropriate native plants. Since the goal was to attract wildlife, they focused on species rather than cultivars. “You don’t know what you’re breeding out and what ecological functions you’re impairing” if you use a hybrid or cultivar, Howard said. For instance, he has observed in his garden that monkeyflowers bred or selected for larger, more colorful flowers seem less attractive to hummingbirds than the ones found in nature. But, he noted, ceanothus and salvia cultivars seem to be as full of insect life as the species. 
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The Big Rains of December

Vince Scheidt

It’s raining!

Most native plant gardeners in the dry southwest get excited just thinking about it. The purists – those who do not irrigate at all - wait patiently through the spring, summer and fall months for the first winter rains to awaken their dormant and thirsty native plants and begin the cycle of life. Foliage explodes out from withered stems, and flowering and seed production soon follow. For the hard-core native plant gardener, this is what it is all about.

Well, December 2010 not only brought the first significant seasonal rains to the southland, but it brought them in extreme abundance! In San Diego County, so much rain fell in December, and with so much intensity, that the ground became completely saturated in many places, with shallow ponds forming in places that had been bone dry just a few days prior. The final storm of 2010 established December as the 9th wettest on record, since record keeping began in 1850 - the same year that California became a state. The last time we had this much rain was 1965! Not many of us were gardening with natives that long ago.

For me, too much rain all too soon caused several of my carefully-nurtured shrubs to wilt and either die or suffer great losses of foliage. Most of these were recently established plants, with root systems just beginning to extend out from the base. Some of the plants I lost had been grown from seeds I had collected from particularly interesting parent plants.

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Healthy Cuts: Pruning Basics and Tools

Allison Levin

Last time I wrote about why we might want to prune our native gardens. Later, I'll talk more about seasonally appropriate pruning and ideas for various garden styles. In spring, when we do very little pruning, it is a perfect time to think about proper pruning cuts and tools.

Generally, pruning cuts can be categorized as Tipping or Thinning. Each is appropriate for different outcomes.

Tip pruning shortens an elongated stem or twig that's just a few millimeters or up to a quarter-inch in diameter. This is useful when you have some exuberant growth extending far beyond the rest of the plant's canopy, or when you want to reduce an entire canopy. Typically, tipping cuts are made with hand pruners. These cuts are best made at the end of a plant's growing season, but can be used judiciously throughout the year to neaten things up.
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CNPS 2012 Conference Needs Volunteers!

CNPS 2012 Conference committees are already hard at work but we still need volunteers!

Audio visual Chair (San Diego local)
Outreach Chair
Botanical Arts Chair
Students Committee (Student Activities, Poster and Paper contests, and Student Funding)
Exhibitors chair
Silent Auction Chair
Chapter Student support
Chapter CNPS Store Chair

Please contact Josie Crawford if you are even mildly interested in volunteering on one of these committees!

CNPS Training Workshops

Contact Josie Crawford for more information. Further details are available at

April 25-27
Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations
Hell’s Half Acre, Grass Valley
Instructor: John Willoughby
Three day combination of lecture and field exercises.
Fees: CNPS members $395; Non-members $420
Registration open here.

May 3-4
Wetland/Riparian Plant Identification
Casitas Springs, Ventura County
Instructor: David Magney
Fees: CNPS members $295; Non-members $320
Registration open here.
May 5-7
Riparian Ecology and Restoration
Instructors: Bruce Orr and Amy Merrill
Three day combination of lecture and field trips.
Fees: CNPS members $395; Non-members $420

June 7-9
Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé
Ocean Song, Sonoma County
Instructors: Julie Evens, Deborah Stout
One evening lecture and two field days
Fees: CNPS members $325; Non-members $350
Fees include camping for two nights at gorgeous location and use of facility.

Sept 22-24
Legends of the Fall: Exploring the Clandestine Flora of Early Fall in the Eastern Mojave Desert
UC Granite Mountains Desert Research Station
Instructors: Jim Andre and Tasha La Doux
One evening lecture and two field days.
Fees: CNPS members $435; Non-members $460
Price includes lodging and all meals at the research station.

Note that some details, including price and exact locations, are subject to change. Updates will be posted on the Education Program Training Workshop webpage as they become known.

Chapter Events

A Sampling from Around the State

Sacramento Valley Chapter

Wildflower Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3, 2011
Location: Soil Born Farms, 2140 Chase Dr, Rancho Cordova. Wildflower Weekend includes a native plant sale where visitors can purchase plants for their own gardens, with free assistance available from gardening experts. As always, a wide variety of gardening books, field guides, and other native plant literature will be for sale. Proceeds from this event support the chapter’s outreach, education and conservation work. The plant exhibit hosted by expert naturalists will showcase native plants of the American River Watershed in a wide range of habitats. Fun, interactive activities are planned for all ages including creating a newspaper pot to plant poppies, nature journaling, and observing flowers and pollinators through microscopes. More walks and talks are planned throughout the weekend than can be listed here, so please see this page for more details!

El Dorado Chapter
Spring Plant Sale
Saturday, April 2, 2011, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Spring Plant Sale at the Corker Building, El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville. The plant list of plants for sale can be found here.

Native Plant Week Activities
Apr 17-23, 2011
Throughout El Dorado County
Self guided "wildflower hot spot" tour, walks, native plant propagation workshops, kids events and more! See the list of activities with descriptions in the El Dorado Chapter newsletter.

Redbud Chapter

Hidden Bridgeport: Native Grasses and Wildflowers
Saturday, April 9, 2011, 9:00 to 11:30AM

Meet at Bridgeport Historic Cemetery, located on Pleasant Valley Road just 500 feet west of the Bridgeport South Yuba River State Park Visitor Center. Parking is at the Visitor Center or near the Cemetery on Pleasant Valley Road. We will take a native plant identification walk up Sanctuary Road through Oak woodlands and grasslands on both South Yuba River State Park property and along Kentucky Creek on neighboring Ananda Dhira Meditation Center land. The focus of this trip will be identifying native bunchgrasses and wildflowers as we find them and talking about grassland ecology and restoration. Dan Lubin, Scientist with California State Parks will lead the walk, which will cover some uneven terrain.
Wildflower ID Class
Saturday, April 16, 2011, 8:30AM to 4:00PM
Instructors Jenny Marr and Linnea Hanson are professional botanists from the Chico area who volunteer to share their knowledge of the plant world in this unique all-day class. The morning session will be a hands-on class with an opportunity to examine fresh specimens and go through identification keys step by step. After lunch we’ll go on a field trip with time to practice our new skills. Final details of the class location will be posted on the Redbud Web pages. Contact Karen Callahan to register. The class fee for Redbud members is $25.00 and $35.00 for non-members. References used for the class: Wildflowers of Nevada and Placer Counties, California by Redbud Chapter, CNPS, and Peterson’s Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers by Niehaus and Ripper.

Willis L. Jepson Chapter

California State Foundation's 14th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup at the Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden
Saturday, April 16, 2011, 9:00 AM

>From 9 AM-Noon, all ages and skills are welcome to help plant and tend the Botanic Garden! A free lunch will be provided by Fresh Choice at noon. Following lunch, there will be an optional guided hike in the park leaving about 1:00 PM for about two hours. Meet at the Botanic Garden in the Benicia State Recreation Area off of Interstate 780 between Benicia and Vallejo. Parking is FREE for volunteers (fees waived by California State Parks), but please try to carpool as parking is somewhat limited. Register online at and select Benicia so we can plan for sufficient activities and lunches or just show up to be ready to help. For more information, contact Gene Doherty.

Mount Lassen Chapter
Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale
Sunday, April 17, Noon to 5:00 PM
Celebrate California Native Plant Week with the Mount Lassen Chapter, California Native Plant Society, at our Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale on Sunday, April 17 noon to 5 at CARD Center, 545 Vallombrosa, Chico. You will see 200+ species of native plants from a variety of habitats in Butte, Glenn, Tehama, and Plumas Counties with more plants available to purchase for your garden. There will be many other things to see and do at the show, including exhibits, nature walks, demonstrations, talks, books, posters, T-shirts and special activities for children. Tickets will be available at the door. Donation $4 for adults, free for children 17 and under. For more information please email.

For Chapter Events in your area, please visit the CNPS Website at


Photo Credits

  • Jim Howard - Pale Swallowtail, Eriogonum giganteum, St. Catherine's Lace.
  • Vince Scheidt- Young Munzís Sage (Salvia munzii), a CNPS-listed plant with a California Rare Plant Rank of 2.2. Once the foliage began to droop, there was no saving this little shrub.
  • Allison Levin demonstrating the one third rule: the remaining stem is at least one-third as thick as the stem that was removed.
  • Jim Andre, Mountain Scene

  • Laura Camp, Tanya Kucak, Vince Scheidt, Allison Levin, Josie Crawford, Arvind Kumar, Stacey Flowerdew, Mark Naftzger, and countless CNPS volunteers.
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