The spring woodland garden has many bright stars in the form of shrubs: ceanothus and mahonia come immediately to mind. But look a little closer and you will see how lovely the ribes are as well this time of year. The native ribes are far more soft-spoken but have equally nice things to say as their brighter companions.
It's a beautiful thing to watch the deer, a number of the does heavily pregnant, browsing at the meadow's edge, and not at all disturbed by the rainfall. They're eating the clovers and vetches in the grasslands, taking the leaves from the soap lilies and blue dicks, and sometimes also just the tips of the fresh new growth of the annual grasses, - but never eating the ground iris, or the thistles that also grow in the meadow. They're also browsing the lush new leafy growth and the male catkins of the coast live oaks. The larvae of two butterflies, the California sister and the mournful duskywing, both common in an oak woodland, also feed on these fine new leaves before they get too leathery.
This article was first published on Saxon Holt's PhotoBotanic blog.
Here in California, we hear rumblings about gardens wasting water. In an era of limited resources, can we afford to have water for gardens?
Isn't the native habitat beautiful enough? Do we want to have gardens here?
Well of course I am biased – I am a gardener. And yes, we certainly do want to have gardens; indeed, we need gardens for so many reasons. Not only are gardens urban and suburban oases that provide habitats, living soil, fresh air, and carbon exchange, they provide so much peace for so many. Gardens are important in a civilized society.
Can you believe that California Native Plant Week (CNPW) is now six years old? Check out the CNPS Events Calendar for CNPW events occuring in your area - native plant sales, wildflower shows, gardening workshops, lectures, hikes, garden tours, and other activities are taking place throughout the state. Click here to find an event in your community. Enjoy a festive California Native Plant Week!
CNPS's 1st Annual Plant-a-thon for CNPW!
CNPS's First Annual Plant-a-thon is a fun and low-key activity striving to get participants of all ages, interests, and botanical knowledge outside to spot as many California native plants in a given location on a given date during California Native Plant Week. Participants seek "sponsors" to go on a CNPS chapter field trip, take a trip of their own to an outdoor location, or go as far as their own garden to count as many plants as they can. Special prizes will be awarded to participants with the most plants, most sponsors, and for CNPS Chapters with the greatest participation.
Our goal is to help the raise the awareness of California Native Plants, their beauty, their place in the landscape, as well as to raise donations for California Native Plant Society. Can't donate but want to support the Plant-a-thon? Then please take a picture of yourself, your family, or some friends holding our "I 'heart' CA Native Plants" sign(pdf) in front of some native plants expressing the reason you love CA native plants! See the Plant-a-thon rules for more details. Thank you!.
BIG Day of Giving 2016
CNPS is really excited to participate in this year's 2016 BIG Day of Giving on Tuesday, May, 3, 2016. For 24 hours, from midnight to midnight, online donations will be accepted through bigdayofgiving.org with a goal of $6 million for hundreds of nonprofits based in the Sacramento region.
Donations made to the California Native Plant Society through the BIG Day of Giving website on May 3 will be eligible for additional Incentive Pool funds and prizes. Imagine: a donation of only $25 could help CNPS win a $5000 prize! Last year, CNPS received $7500 in donations and received a Social Media prize for our thank you video worth $750! Watch for our campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as the date approaches!
Upcoming CNPS Plant Science Workshops
The CNPS Education Program is gearing up for another year of exciting plant science training workshops! Full details and registration will be posted at www.cnps.org/workshops as it becomes available, or contact Becky Reilly at
for more information.
Measuring & Monitoring Plant Populations - More Information
April 3-6, Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx (Western Mojave)
Taught by John Willoughby, Independent Ecological Consultant
Introduction to Plant Identification, Northern CA - Register May 3-5, Dye Creek Preserve, Los Molinos
Taught by Josie Crawford, Botanist
Wetland & Riparian Plant Identification - Register
May 18-20, Taft Gardens, Ojai
Taught by David Magney, Botanist/Certified Arborist
Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé
July 19-21, White Mountains
Taught by Julie Evens, Vegetation Program Director, CNPS; Jennifer Buck-Diaz, Vegetation Ecologist, CNPS
Summer 2016 (TBA), SF Bay Area
Taught by Julie Evens, Vegetation Program Director, CNPS; Todd Keeler-Wolf, Senior Vegetation Ecologist, VegCAMP Program, CDFW; John Menke, Senior Vegetation Mapping Specialist, AIS
Introduction to Plant Identification, Southern CA
Dates, exact location, and instructor TBA
Introduction to Plant Identification, SF Bay Area
Dates, exact location, and instructor TBA
Chapter Events - A Sampling from Around the State
To connect to your local chapter, or to find other events in your region, see this page for a list and map of CNPS chapters. Even more events from CNPS chapters and partners can be viewed on the Horticulture Events Calendar
Our 2016 Spring Plant Sale will feature books and posters about native plants, birds, and pollinators, reference materials for eager gardeners, landscapers and wildflower aficionados, and, of course, a great selection of California native plants, grown with love. Click here for the Spring Plant Sale List. This list is a reasonably (not perfectly) accurate look at what plants we expect to be selling. It will give you time to study up and decide what meets your needs. Most of our plants are sold in sizes ranging from dinky little starter pots to one-gallon size, and we always have some larger plants as well, particularly in trees and shrubs. We will also have some varieties not shown on this list. Some plants go for as little as one dollar. Between Buildings A and B of the El Dorado County Government Center, 330 Fair Lane, Placerville, CA. Cash or check only.
San Diego Chapter Garden Native Tour 2016 Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Come tour 21 native plant gardens in eastern San Diego, the El Cajon Valley, and the surrounding foothills. This year, the Garden Native Tour looks to the future by looking inland at gardens that have thrived under the more extreme climate conditions that all parts of San Diego County are now beginning to experience. Our featured gardens demonstrate how native plant landscaping provides year-round beauty, promotes birds and other wildlife, and integrates easily with other garden uses. Your yard doesn't need to look like a desert or moonscape to save water! Go to http://www.gardennative.org/ to purchase tickets or to view the tour map.
Zach Principe, Stewardship Ecologist with The Nature Conservancy, leads this trip to this restricted-entry TNC reserve. Please RSVP and state your CNPS affiliation here. Priority will be given to CNPS members. You will automatically be put on a waitlist, then moved from the waitlist after your CNPS membership is confirmed. If you have a special interest in vernal pools, please contact Eric John Diesel directly to bypass the waitlist, 650-847-8646.
Santa Cruz Chapter Field Trip: Calypso Orchids of Butano Sunday, April 3, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Come see the beautiful purple Calypso orchids, along with western wake robin, skunk cabbage, and an array of flowering native berry species. Hike is about 6.5 miles with some elevation gain. If you're interested in carpooling, meet at the Westside New Leaf parking lot on Fair Avenue at 9:15. Leader: Deanna Giuliano.
Marin Chapter Habitat Restoration: Samuel P. Taylor State Park Friday, April 8, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Join the Zen of Weeding Volunteers just before 1 PM at the far end of the picnic area. This is easy, companionable work, and spending time under the redwoods restores our spirits as well as the habitat. Bring gloves and get a free parking pass when you volunteer. Contact Nancy if you want to attend, need more park info, or want notification of other work parties. Camp Taylor, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Lagunitas, CA 94938. Contact: Nancy Hanson at
More than 1000 plants for sale and over 100 plants that have defied the drought will be displayed. Docents lead wildflower walks Saturday at 10 am and 1 pm. Experts will be on hand both days to answer your questions. Free admission to Skyline Park during sale and wildflower show. All proceeds benefit the maintenance and educational programs of the Martha Walker California Native Habitat Garden in Skyline Park. Skyline Wilderness Park, 2201 Imola Ave, Napa.
Alta Peak Chapter Herbert Preserve Vernal Pool Walk Saturday, April 9, 9:00 AM – noon
Led by plant ecologists Jon Keeley and Bobby Kamansky and co-sponsored by Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Meet at 9:00 am at the middle parking area, which is further west of the intersection of Farmersville Rd. (aka Road 168 ) and the Tulare Lindsay Hwy (aka Hwy 137). There will be banners on the fence along the highway indicating the parking area. Come prepared with water, sunscreen, hat, snacks and walking shoes. Surfaces may be muddy and slightly slippery, but will generally be flat.
Speakers: Paul Wilson and Amanda Heinrich. Paul and Amanda will lead us on an outdoor exploration for our local bryophytes in Rattlesnake Canyon. We will likely see liverworts and hornworts too, besides the ever-present mosses. Heavy rain cancels. Those attending will be provided a photo identification guide handout, which will really help you learn to recognize the more common bryophyte genera. After the moss walk, we will convene in the Arroyo Room of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden to take a close look at the bryophytes we found on the walk, using dissecting and compound microscopes to look at the details of the leaf structures that are important in identifying bryophytes. Bring a hand lens for the moss walk. Also, bring your lunch to eat either in Rattlesnake Canyon, Skofield Park, or at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Morning Field - Rattlesnake Canyon Trailhead, on Las Canoas at Skofield Park, Santa Barbara. Laboratory Session: Arroyo Room, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara.
While it's a considerable drive from Redding, Table Mountain is a magnificent wildflower area and worth the drive. It is a relatively flat mesa with small hills and canyons, vernal pools, and outcrops of the Lovejoy Basalt, and sits above the town of Oroville and the surrounding countryside. There is a wide variety of wildflowers, many sharply distinguished by the varying soil depths of the area. Will walk along the many informal trails on the plateau for two to three hours for an easy three to four-mile loop and then break for lunch. Meet at Mt. Shasta Mall in the parking lot near Chase Bank. Bring plenty of water, lunch, and gas money for ride sharing. No dogs, please. For more information call David Ledger at 530-355-8542.
What's happening to our dune lupines and sand verbenas? Presented by Dr. Pippa Drennan. Dr. Drennan will discuss aspects of the physiology and seed germination of the dominant dune lupine and the much less common sand verbena, both subjects of studies to determine their likely recruitment and persistence in the dunes. First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica.
The earliest visitors to California's valleys and foothills found a sea of wildflowers where grasses were scarce and vast elk herds grazed. Why then do so many call these areas "grasslands" when even today native wildflowers can so completely cover them that hardly a grass blade is seen? Answering that takes looking back at some plant ecology history still hugely affecting California native plant conservation. California's prairies are its lost ecosystem hiding in plain sight. Dr. Holstein will explore their misunderstood history, their unique ecology, their great biodiversity, and their urgent conservation challenges. Shepard Garden and Arts Center, McKinley Park, 3330 McKinley Blvd, Sacramento.
This trip offers a splendid opportunity to observe plant response following the 2015 Valley Fire in Lake County. Big Canyon Creek lies in a remote area between Hwy 175 and Hwy 29. Its headwaters and upper tributaries flow from the northern and eastern flanks of Bogg's Mountain, then join the main stem in a winding southeasterly direction meeting Putah Creek a few miles north of Middletown. Putah Creek eventually empties into Lake Berryessa. Expect 1.5 hours from Ukiah to Middletown; take Hwy 20 to Hwy 29, then Hwy 175 to Middletown. We'll rendezvous at Hardesters Market at 21088 Calistoga Rd. (1 block north of the Hwy 175 and 29 intersection) around 10 am. Carpoolers from Ukiah meet in the Orchard Plaza parking area in front of CVS at 8 am. Trip leaders: Kerry Heise (707-462-4533) and John Nickerson.
Kern County Chapter Program Meeting Botanical Wonderland of Baja California, Mexico Wednesday, April 21, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
6:00–7:00 PM, two discussion groups: (1) Native Plant Gardening; (2 Plant Taxonomy/Plant Identification. 7:00–8:00 PM, Program: Speaker: Richard Spjut. Botanical Wonderland of Baja California, Mexico. Hall Ambulance Community Room, 1031 21st St, Corner of N St. & 21st St, Bakersfield.
The annual CNPS Orange County chapter tour of native plant gardens in Orange County will take place on April 23, 2016, from 10 am to 4 pm. This year's tour offers fifteen gardens throughout the county. Tickets are $10 per person and include detailed descriptions and directions to all the gardens. Click here to purchase tickets or to see pictures of the gardens.
Please meet at the Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District gate at 47 Solano Avenue, Vallejo, CA. Call 925-525-5527 if you arrive after 10 and we will open the gate. No prior experience needed. Bring gloves if you have them. Tools, instructions, and snacks provided. Tasks include staking fence material, assembling plant tables, irrigation repair, cleaning pots and tools, propagation.
Plant Sale and Native Plants. You will see samples of wildflowers, grasses, trees, and plants that are native to Mendocino County, and that have survived drought conditions. Plants, books, raffle tickets and food available for purchase. Free admission. For information call Robyn, 707-895-2609. Boonville Fairgrounds on Highway 128, 14400 CA-128, Boonville, CA 95415.
The Yerba Buena Chapter of the California Native Plant Society announces its annual Native Plant Garden Tour. Join us Sunday, April 24 from 11AM to 3PM for a free, self-paced tour of San Francisco native plant gardens. This is a special chance to see, up-close, wonderful local gardens as well as talk with their owners and caretakers. Native plant gardens conserve water and provide vital habitat for wildlife. Come enjoy the peak of spring on the Native Plant Garden Tour April 24th. See this page for more details.
Last year Penstemon fructiformis and Peucephyllum schotti were found in this canyon and we should find them again this year. These are possible range extensions for these taxa. Also reputed to be a good location for fossils. Meet 8:30 AM next to the campground at the junction of 168 and 395 in Big Pine. The second meeting spot is at 9:00 AM at the park at the south end of Independence on the west side of 395. We will drive the Mazourka Canyon road east. Final access is tricky as the last mile will be over rough 4 wheel drive high clearance track. We will hike off trail up canyon, not too rough or steep. Bring lunch and water. Return to vehicles by 2PM. Contact info: Steve Matson at
, 775-843-0389, or 760-938-2862.
Redbud Chapter Field Trip: Olmstead Loop/Lukens Mine Trail Saturday, April 30, 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Leader: Diane Cornwall at
or 530-888-1404. Meet at 8:30 AM at the Cool Auburn State Recreation Area Staging Area behind the fire station in Cool. We will carpool to the trailhead. Expected duration five hours. Join us for an easy to moderate 5-6 mile wildflower walk on the southern part of Olmstead Loop to the Lukens Mine Trail and various trails back. We go through lots of grassland then blue oak woodland and some deeper mixed forest habitats. The gain/ loss of elevation is about 500 ft. A plant list is available via email. Bring hat, sunscreen, water, bug repellent, lunch, and sturdy shoes. We invite you to share any expertise you have in natural history, this is not just a wildflower walk. Rain cancels.
Contributors and Photo Credits
Ribes - Jennifer Jewell
Salvia clevelandii - Meiko Watkins
CA spring landscape with lupine wildflowers and oak trees - Saxon Holt
Blue-eyed grass - Stacey Flowerdew
Steve Hartman loves CA native plants! - Melissa Guajardo