Sunday, December 19, 2010

Care and Maintenance of Idyllwild's Living Christmas Tree

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the community of Idyllwild gathering around a living Christmas tree. Folks here have been watching it light up, singing Christmas carols and rejoicing in the approaching holiday and winter season for half a century now.

The idea for what has become an Idyllwild tradition took root in 1959 when the Idyllwild Lions Club spear-headed a project to move a 45-foot fir tree from Pine Cove to the Village Center. In December 1960, a tradition was born when community members gathered around Idyllwild’s first living community Christmas tree. Santa Claus made an appearance promising to deliver gifts that individuals had brought for Sherman Indian students in Riverside.

That original fir succumbed to a severe attack by fir beetles in the summer of 1962 and had to be cut down in March of the following year. A new community Christmas tree was needed and it was decided that one of the giant sequoia trees from Eleanor Park would be the ideal candidate. This same tree is still used for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony today, but history has a way of repeating itself.

Last year it became apparent that California’s continued drought, coupled with soil compaction, was having an adverse effect on the town’s Christmas tree. “I could see fading in the canopy,” said local arborist Deborah Geisinger, adding that she got several calls from locals saying, “Something has got to be done to save the tree.” Read the rest of the story about Idyllwild's Living Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 16, 2010

California Promotes Native Plant Use

May 27th, 2010 by Nicole Peterson

Much to our delight, the California Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) has begun to promote the use of native plants in landscape design. In a recent APLDCA newsletter, Rob Moore discussed the importance of using these plants as a part of good design. He states that “utilizing California native plants…is more than a hip new trend. It is an idea whose time has come!”

Moore sees this move as both logical and long-awaited. California, despite being environmentally progressive, has been slow to get on the native plants bandwagon. He points out that these native plants live longer, require less fertilizer, and promote native wildlife. He continues, saying California natives have “the look and feel of authentic California, returning a sense of regional identity to a suburban setting that has forgotten the unique, natural beauty of our state."

We are happy to see such glowing praise for natives, and the implementation of their use in a state so rich in natural beauty. At EnergyScapes we have known for years that using natives improves and protects the surrounding environment, boosting soil quality, natural habitat, and promoting biodiversity.

Having used native plants throughout our company’s 20 years history, it is wonderful to watch others discover the benefits and beauty of native plants across the country. We hope that all regions begin to embrace their local treasures and start to use more native varieties in their yards, gardens, and parks. These unique regional species give a sense of place that cannot be created with overused horticultural varieties.

Read Moore’s entire article at

Nicole graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN in 2008 with degrees in English Literature and Media Studies. She has since developed a strong interest in landscape architecture and has always had a passion for the outdoors. She plans to begin a Masters program in Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota in 2010. Nicole Peterson serves as Install Crew/Office Intern at EnergyScapes, a full-services landscape firm based in Minneapolis.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Water Awarness

How many times have you seen sprinklers running in the rain and wondered who the careless person is that's responsible? You can avoid being that person by adjusting your irrigation system now to conserve water and protect our environment.

For example, in the city of Brea, California, its stipulated that sprinklers are never to operate between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Additionally, from November 1 through March 31, automatic systems can only run one day per week for no more than fifteen minutes per station, which in most cases is unnecessary thanks to prolonged winter time soil saturation factors. Obviously during rainy periods they should not operate at all.
Likewise, landscape irrigation shouldn't overflow onto pavement and into storm drains.

Over-watering is a primary cause of runoff which carries pollutants into our watershed. Do the right thing by minimizing autumn, winter, and early spring irrigation. Limit, or better yet eliminate all together, the use of lawn chemicals/pesticides, and keep debris from entering the street near your home. With minimal effort, you can single-handedly improve our water quality, thus improving the quality of life for everyone! Read more about about how to be a water-wise gardener.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sowing California Native Wildflowers

Late autumn is a great time to sow next spring’s annual California wildflower crop in your home garden. California’s indigenous people utilized our native annual seeds as a food staple for thousands of years. Along with other sources of sustenance such as the acorns of our local oaks, California’s wildflower seeds were ground in mortar pits and used as a regular food source called Pinole.
Today, as forward-thinking gardeners we can take a page out of history and continue the tradition of sowing seeds of the many different varieties of wildflowers available. Doing so requires little effort and will reward you with an abundance of annual beauty year after year. 

Start by choosing varieties that naturally occur in the plant community you live in. Not sure which community? Learn more here: California native plant communities

Next, find a reputable source such as Larner Seeds or Tree of Life Nursery and order a packet of seed mix that is appropriate for your property’s micro-climate.

Follow this link for step by step planting instructions for California native wildflowers

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My story

My story with California native landscapes began back in the 1960’s growing up in the eastern foothills of San Diego County. Being a fourth–generation California native, I was raised hearing stories from my grandfather about his older brother, my great–uncle Bert, and how he would throw out seeds of Eschscholzia californica California Poppy, our state flower along the roadside of our back-country highways...continue reading the rest of my story