Renowned American wildflower and native plant advocate Lady Bird Johnson, founder of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in central Texas, once wrote: “Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent.” But of course in order to hear this language, we need to slow down, stop talking ourselves……and listen. As with any language, if we take just a little time to learn more about it – the language sounds so much more clear and mellifluous to the ear. Photo: Vernal Pool in flower, photo courtesy of Joe Silveiras, all rights reserved 2011.
The land of Northern California is home to more native plants and wildflowers than most places on the planet – its language is rich and colorful year-round really, but it is particularly talkative just now. Drive just about anywhere – even in rain under gray, gray skies and Northern California is speaking to us in wildflowers and spring flowers, spring pollinators and spring wildlife exuberant about the new season of growth. Photo: Indian pinks in Big Chico Creek Canyon.
Such a vast offering of wildflowers – as far as the eye can see – can perhaps seem daunting to someone interested in learning more about our California native plants: What are their names? When do they bloom? Where can I see them? Is there a good guide? Where to start? Photo: photo Wildflower on Table Mountain, Oroville, courtesy of Joe Silveiras, all rights reserved 2011.
The California Native Plant Society is here to help and its Mt. Lassen Chapter, based in Chico, is very particularly here to help North Staters find all of these answers – and begin to learn the language of the wildflowers and native plants of our richly-endowed region. This weekend In a North State Garden talks with Jim Bishop, long-time Program Chair for the CNPS Mt. Lassen Chapter about their upcoming Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale Sunday April 17th from 12 noon to 5 pm, at the CARD Center, 545 Vallombrosa, Chico. (Tickets are a suggested donation of $4 for adults; children are free.) Photo: Top – Native hibiscus on Llano Seco Eddy Lake, photo courtesy of Joe Silveiras, all rights reserved 2011. Bottom – displayed wildflower and visitors engrossed by the microscope station at the 2009 Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale, photos courtesy of Denise Devine and Catie Bishop.
The Mt. Lassen Chapter of the CNPS is a long-standing plant society of the North State and since the mid-1980s they have hosted this every other year event as one of their major fund-raisers. On alternate years, the groups hosts a Native Plant Garden Tour featuring wonderful Butte County home gardens that incorporate California native plants. Photo: Wildflowers in swathes of color across a salt spring valley near Stonyford.
The funds raised from these ambitious annual and educational-in-themselves showcase events go to support the group’s year-round educational and awareness-raising endeavors. Year-round endeavors include native plant related programs and speakers at the monthly member meetings, which are open to the public, the first Wednesday evening (7:30 pm) of most months at the Butte County Library, Chico. Other educational and advocacy outreach by the group include the many, many member-led nature walks and hikes throughout Northern California (see the Jewellgarden On-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events or the Mt. Lassen Chapter’s newsletter for monthly offerings), and the group’s award-winning monthly newsletter The Pipevine. Photo: 2009 Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale, photo courtesy of Denise Devine.
“One of the best things about the Wildflower Show this year,” Jim remarked thoughtfully during our interview, “is the full continuum of wildflower-life attendees will get this year.” Through the course of the one-day event, attendees can see rows and rows of displayed wildflowers in bloom, learn the flowers’ names and where they grow; they can then attend talks to learn a good deal more about some of these wildflowers: how they work in terms of pollination and seed formation, how they have been used by people, and how to incorporate them into a beautiful garden. They can go on a nature walk to see some of these native plants and wildflowers in situ; and finally they can visit the bookstore or the plant sale at the show to take treasures home. That’s a nicely filled out circle of learning. Photo: Top -Oroville’s famed Table Mountain in early spring bloom, photo courtesy of Joe Silveiras, all rights reserved 2011. Bottom – Calochortus in Big Chico Creek Canyon.
The 2011 Wildflower Show and Plant Sale is an opportunity to see over 200 species of (mostly) native plants from Butte, Glenn, Tehama, and Plumas Counties on display. Lined up along many tables, each plant will be identified and grouped with other plants from the same plant community. Nature walks will run throughout the day to the center’s adjacent riparian corridor plant community. The Native Plant Sale, will include member grown plant selections – often very difficult to find in the mainstream nurseries as well as plants from Floral Native Nursery of Chico. The chapter will also have a bookstore featuring all kinds of natural history books and plant guides as well as art note cards and posters and T-shirts. Children’s activities will be plentiful and include a fabulous microscope station where you can look at plants and their amazing structures and parts under high-powered microscopes. If your child (OR YOU!) has never seen the likes of a lungwort or the bloom of a scarlet pimpernel under a microscope, all I can say is you are missing out on one of life’s great treats. I had to drag my 9 and 7 year-olds away from the station so other kids could look in 2009. (I did my share of looking as well.) The speakers run throughout the afternoon: Photo: Phacelia with bumble bee, photo courtesy of Joe Silveiras, all rights reserved 2011.
12:30 – Transforming Unwanted Lawn into a Native Plant Garden Oasis: John Whittlesey, nurseryman, garden designer, landscape contractor and owner of Canyon Creek Nursery & Design, will teach an easy step-by-step process for transforming water thirsty lawns into places of beauty and seasonal interest using native plants. He will cover the following:* Design considerations before you begin * Sheet mulching: a low cost, no-dig, no chemical lawn removal technique * Converting lawn irrigation into water conserving drip irrigation * Planting techniques for success with native plants * Choosing site appropriate plants for color and seasonal interest. Photo: Featured speaker John Whittlesey.
1:45 – The Birds and the Bees (How Flowers Make Seeds): Rob Schlising, Emeritus Professor, CSU, Chico. Flower pictures on-screen will display great diversity in colors, shapes, sizes and clustering. These features of the flowers will be related to how they are pollinated by birds and bees (and by other things in the environment). There are myriad ways that pollen grains get to the pistils in flowers and facilitate the formation of seeds.
3:00 – Native American uses for Native Plants: Wes Dempsey, Emeritus Professor, CSU, Chico. Wes will show about 30 local native plants that the Maidu used in their medicine, food, and crafts. Included will be lemonade bush for a tasty drink or fibers for baskets; soap root for fibers, glue and suds; elderberry for food, musical instruments, and smoking pipes; and a host of other intriguing plants and their uses. Photo: Featured speaker Wes Dempsey.
Jim and his wife Catie – both avid naturalists and gardeners from Oroville – were very proud about a new feature at the Wildflower Show this year, which will be the display of a native plant illustrations done by high school students across our region in response to a T-shirt design contest offered over the past few months by the chapter. An educational invitation for students to learn more about native plants, botany and art, the winning submission is being placed on the chapter’s logoed cotton t-shirts sold at the upcoming show and member meetings throughout the year. Entries were submitted by high schools from Chester to Oroville. For the first year of running the contest “We’re really pleased with the response,” said Catie, and we look forward to even more participation in the future!” Photo: Tom-cat clover.
The Mt. Lassen Chapter of the CNPS April 17th Wildflower Show and Plant sale help to mark the beginning of the first annual California Native Plant week April 17-23, designated such by the state legislature in 2010. According to CNPS “The California State Assembly and Senate have approved Resolution ACR 173 (Evans) establishing California Native Plant Week, beginning April 17-23, 2011. This measure proclaims the 3rd week of April, each year, as California Native Plant Week and encourages community groups, schools, and citizens to undertake appropriate activities to promote the conservation, restoration, and appreciation of California’s native plants. The resolution (ACR 173) was introduced by Assemblywoman Noreen Evans (D – Napa), was sponsored by the California Native Plant Society, and garnered the support of horticulturalists, conservation organizations, and nurseries throughout California. ACR 173 recognizes the vital historical, artistic, and economic contributions California’s native plants have made to our State, and points out that California native plant gardening and landscaping have tremendous positive impacts to our watersheds, to habitat recovery, and to curbing catastrophic wildfires. In particular, the resolution recognizes that home landscaping and gardening with native plants can cut residential water use from 60 to 90% over conventional gardening.” For more information about Native Plant Week visit the California Native Plant Society.
The North State is well-served by not one but two very good CNPS chapters. Along with the Mt. Lassen Chapter, the Shasta Chapter of the CNPS, which serves our northern counties likewise holds outstanding programs, hikes and native plant education and advocacy throughout the year. To see more about the Shasta Chapter’s upcoming events, see their website: ShastaCNPS
Want to know more about how to Photograph Wildflowers? Join me on Monday evening March 28th for a one-hour special call-in edition of In a North State Garden from 8 – 9 pm, on Northstate Public Radio (KCHO 91.7 FM in Chico and KFPR 88.9 FM in Redding), with accomplished wildflower photographer guests Linnea Hanson, Joe Silveira and Jessica Stevens to talk about photographing wildflowers. Joe took many of the (beautiful) photographs in this week’s post and we will be referring to them throughout the call-in on the 28th.
To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the Jewellgarden.com on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com
Did you know I send out a weekly email with information about upcoming topics and gardening related events? If you would like to be added to the mailing list, send an email to Jennifer@jewellgarden.com.
In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.