|Leaves of Quercus lobata, the Valley oak.|
That extra push was my friend and neighbor Patty, who invited me to join her for a trip to the Theodore Payne Foundation Nursery, located in Sunland in the San Fernando Valley.
Though the beauty of native plants is best appreciated in the spring, when the Payne Foundation's Native Plant Garden Tour allows the public to view dozens of private gardens, the best time for planting natives is during Southern California's drizzly fall and rainy winter.
|Calliandra, or "fairy duster"|
The plants are categorized by their type - trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials, ground cover. The informative labels tell you the plant's requirements, eventual size, and what its attractions are - does it attract butterflies? Does it feed birds? Is it fragrant or showy, or provide fall color?
Patty had planned for this trip, and had brought her reference books so we could learn even more about the plants we chose. I operated more recklessly, succumbing to Plant Lust, scooping up sisyrinchiums here and Fremontodendrons there, calculating in my mind where I could plant them.
|Manzanita grown in a clay container|
|"We're going to need another cart"|
Of course, this requires rigorous editing prior to check-out, an agonizing contemplation. Are three irises too many? Should I put exchange the gallon-size coral bells for the less expensive, four-inch pot? Should I really risk buying a Fremontodendron now, or wait until I really know where to plant it and come back?
|Hyptis "Silver Lining"|
Soon, the chill and damp slaked our greed for plants, and we trekked back to the warmth of the office, where even more temptation awaited - the assorted drawers and packets of wild flower seeds.
I'm so grateful to Patty for getting me out and motivating me to think about gardening.