California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

June 2012

Buckwheats in the Garden

Carolyn Longstreth

Erigonium parvifolium and "guests". Photo by Ann Dalkey

Erigonum parvifolium by Ann DalkeyIf you have ever admired a flowering buckwheat as it clung to a coastal cliffside, brightened a mountain slope or filled a sandy wash, you might consider celebrating the genus Eriogonum in your garden. With about 125 species native to California, buckwheats range from large woody shrubs to herbaceous perennials and subshrubs and even annuals. In the wild, buckwheats favor open sunny banks and rocky hillsides; in the garden, they need sun and a well-drained sandy soil.

Buckwheats bloom late in the growing season, offering fresh interest after spring and summer flowers fade. The simple leaves are often grayish green and hairy on the underside; round or flat clusters of small white, pink or yellow flowers appear at the tips of branched or radiating stalks. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators visit the flowers; birds and mammals relish the seeds. The flowers stay on the plant for many weeks, often drying to pleasing tan, cinnamon or dark brown shades. Since the stems are brittle, it's best not to plant buckwheats where people or dogs will step on them.

Continue reading here.


Design Tips for Photogenic Gardens

Saxon Holt

Photographic Garden DesignThis is the second installment in the native plant garden photographer series. Click here to read the first article, The Beauty of Natives: Photography tips from a Garden Photographer.

In the previous article I gave a broad lesson on taking better pictures which can be summarized: be conscious of what you are seeing, think how the camera will see it, and take the picture in soft light. In this article, I will focus on two themes: how to take better pictures and how to design gardens that photograph better.

Continue reading here.

Summer Seeds

Meghan Walla-Murphy

Grindelia stricta. photo by Meghan Walla-Murphy

This article is part two in a four part series about seeds. To read the previous article, please click here.

The long languorous days of summer offer an opportunity like no other time of the year. The many day-lit hours present the possibility of intense growth and busy activity while warm sultry temperatures slow us down and beg us to take a siesta. We shed layers of clothes and amplify under the warming glow of the California sunshine. During summer humans are capable of both concentrated production and aimless wandering. We work and play. Our gardens bolt and need tending, but paradoxically we stand back and let the plants do their thing. A juxtaposition of vibrating energy and slow relaxation.

Similarly seeds, having sprouted only a few months earlier, take full advantage of this season. Roots spread wide and deep and stems reach out and upward. Both ends of the plant wander to find new sustenance. Fresh leaves unfurl and drink in sunlit energy, converting it into oxygen and energy. This energy then transforms into the production of flowers-- flowers that eventually wilt in order to transfer their energy toward the development of seeds. Seeds, carrying genetic information acquired over millennia, are ready to manifest into the blossoming of summer flowers once more.

Continue reading here.


Growing Clarkias

Clarkia bottae
Clarkia bottae. Photo by Ron Vanderhoff.

By Liz Parsons

Clarkias are annual plants that are easy to grow in our gardens. This is good because their charismatic flowers can become an obsession. Clarkias bloom at the end of the wildflower season, hence their common name “Farewell-to-Spring”. In most wildflower mixes, Clarkias are included and they extend the blooming period of the mix into June. At the flower market, Clarkias are sold as Godetias and this refers to an older name of the genus which was abandoned long ago, but is still used in the flower trade. The flower is really Clarkia amoena ssp. whitneyi, a spectacularly large flower that is in the color range red-pink-white.

Continue reading here.


CNPS Educational Grants

Calling all university students: The deadline to apply for a 2012 Educational Grant is September 30, 2012. Please go to and scroll down to CNPS Educational Grants Program for guidelines and details about applying for a research grant.


CNPS Plant Training Workshop

For full workshop announcements and registration, please go to

July 10-12, 2012
Vegetation Rapid Assessment / Relevé Workshop
with Todd Keeler-Wolf and Jennifer Buck-Diaz
UC Santa Barbara's Sedgwick Reserve
Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County

This course combines an introductory evening lecture and two field-days with exercises in fine-scale vegetation sampling.

Course description: The course will be a combination of lecture and field exercises in vegetation sampling with a focus on collecting data using the CNPS-DFG combined vegetation rapid assessment/ relevé method. We will discuss applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification and mapping, how to document rare natural communities, and how vegetation information fits into planning documents.

Cost: CNPS Members $320; Non-members $345
Additional $16 total for 2 nights outdoor camping spaces or $30 total for 2 nights indoor shared bedrooms (4 beds per room), includes a shared kitchen and showers. Dinners will be optional potluck.

Chapter Events

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter

Tuesday, July 10, 7:30-9:30 PM
Sepulveda Garden Center, Encino
Evening Program: "Worried About Wildfires?" Presented by Dr. Marti Witter

Wildfires are everywhere in California, causing abrupt ecosystem changes and costing billions of dollars in losses. The California Fire Science Consortium (CFSciC) was established to move science off the shelf and into the hands of those who need it, to improve or reduce damage to natural systems and to reduce wildfire property losses. Marti will talk about obstacles and successes to good fire management and the work the consortium is doing. You can learn more at Location: Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd., Encino, CA.

Mount Lassen Chapter

Saturday, July 14, 9:00 AM
Lumpkin Ridge, Eastern Butte County
Summer Plant Survey

East of Feather Falls above Oroville at the eastern boundary of Butte Co, at 4200’ an area of this ridge top is exposed Lovejoy basalt; site of a 2011 check-listing trip. The plan is to survey for late season plants on the basalt, bordering forest, shrubby areas and a hillside meadow. Come add to the species list and help with another florula for Butte Co. Bring water, lunch, insect/sun protection and money for ride sharing. Meet at west lot of Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 32/ 99) to leave at 9 am, return 5 pm. Leaders: Robert Fischer and Rob Schlising.

Friday and Saturday, July 27-28
White Mountains, Inyo County
Proposed Alpine Field Trip

We are working on setting up a trip to the White Mountains to see alpine plants, and to explore the ecological factors that create the alpine zone and the adaptations of alpine plants to that environment. We need to know how many people would be interested in going before we can organize. To express interest, or to view more details, see this link. The final information for the trip will be posted on the Mount Lassen Chapter website in the next few weeks.

East Bay Chapter

Sunday, July 15, 10:00 AM
Redwood Regional Park
Field trip to focus on sedges and late-fruiting plants

We will see about 5 species of sedge. Learn some basics of sedge ID and morphology (sculptural shapes of plant parts in botany). A copy of the Field Guide to Intermountain Sedges and also the key from the 2011 Jepson Manual will be available for reference. We will take Redwood Peak trail, French trail, Starflower trail, Tres Sendas trail, and Stream trail. For questions or directions, click here.

North Coast Chapter

Friday-Sunday, July 27-30
Sanger Lake and Young Valley
Field/Camping Trip

Snuggled on the west side of the Siskiyou Mountains crest, Sanger Lake will be our base for a day hike to Young Valley (Saturday) and other exploration of fir forest, rock outcrops, and wet meadows of these beautiful mountains. Primitive camping is at the lake, accessible by unpaved Forest Service road (Knopki Rd) off of Highway 199. Lodging is available at Patrick Creek, roughly an hour away. For more details and to say you are coming, call Carol at 707-822-2015.


Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Laura Camp
  • Carolyn Longstreth
  • Saxon Holt
  • Meghan Walla-Murphy
  • Josie Crawford
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Ann Dalkey- Erigonium parvifolium and "guests"
  • Saxon Holt - Leading lines in a garden photo
  • Meghan Walla-Murphy - Grindelia stricta
  • Ron Vanderhoff- Clarkia bottae
  • Lesley Gourley, Golden View


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