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Our favorite plants, our latest projects, updates and more! 

No to Pesticides and Yes to beneficial bugs!

We believe in keeping things natural, which means finding alternative methods to replace the use of toxic pesticides. One of the best alternatives is using insects to control other insects, just as Mother Nature intended. The Praying Mantis is a beneficial bug, its boundless appetite for insects has made it an extremely valuable component of any pest control regimen in an organic garden.

The praying mantis hunts around the clock, moving through vegetation in search of a wide range of insects that includes flies, crickets, caterpillars, grasshoppers and moths. It traps these easily with its long barbed legs that move too quickly to be seen with the naked eye.

Praying Mantises usually measure from 2 to 4 inches long and can be bright green, brown or yellowish. Its triangular head, equipped with two large eyes and three smaller ones, is joined to the rest of its body by a long neck that rotates 180 degrees, enabling it to scan its environment on all sides. It can camouflage itself by blending into the color of the surrounding foliage. It lays its eggs, hundreds at a time, in a hard gray case attached to bark, wood or another plant. It often waits near flowers to capture other types of insects that feed on pollen and nectar, or it stalks its pray by moving slowly toward it.

They generally live year-round in the warmer parts of the country, and are most often seen in temperate locations during the warmest summer months. They live in areas of dense vegetation, such as fields and gardens, where they can feed and breed while hiding from larger predators such as birds and bats. The young emerge in the spring, spend the summer maturing and die when temperatures drop. Praying mantises generally don't stay in one place very long and will migrate to wherever the food is most plentiful.

If you lucky you might find a praying mantis egg case in your garden or the surrounding area, and if you are not you can purchase one from a beneficial-insect dealer. 

Beneficial bugs are very important in maintaining the balance you your garden… the Mantis is truly a great addition.

A beautiful Mantis Nymph in one of our gardens.

A beautiful Mantis Nymph in one of our gardens.

The Bee's Knees

Most of us are very aware of the many theories of what might be causing the extremely alarming case of the mysterious bee disappearance. Some of these theories include the overuse of pesticides and herbicides, viruses or mites, loss during commercial hive transportation, interference of bees’ flight/communication capabilities from cell phones and last but not least, nutritional stress due to fewer available native plants. We find this to be a very scary situation that all people should be aware of… and care about.

 

Campion Walker Owner and Principal Designer Nicholas Walker is an avid bee fan and supporter.  So much so, that he even keeps bees at his home in Topanga Canyon, where they live happily among his farm animals, dogs and kids thriving in a beautiful bee friendly garden.

We feel a responsibility to do our part to support our incredibly vital bee population and often create gardens with the bee’s livelihood in mind.  One thing we know for certain, is that creating a sustainable, native garden is one of the small steps we can take to do our part and help save or very important bees. We are extremely proud that this is something we can actively participate in within our practice.

 

Clarkia purpurea

Clarkia purpurea is a species of wildflower known by the common names winecup fairyfan or purple clarkia.  This annual plant is native to western North America, including Baja California, California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, where it is found in a diverse variety of habitats. In California it is found in all the zones, except the deserts, from the coasts to high interior mountains, including the Sierra Nevada.  Its bowl-shaped flowers have four petals, usually one to two centimeters long. They come in shades of pink, purple, or deep wine red; often with a streak or spot of pink or red in the middle.

A few fun facts about this native: the Indigenous peoples of California sowed this plant, to later harvest the seeds to grind up for food and the conspicuous flowers support native bees, making it a "honey plant"! They are truly very sweet, delicate little beauties. 

Dudleya cymosa

This weeks plant is common in the canyon, growing wild on the rocks along the boulevard and in the heavy rock outcroppings. This years rain has them looking beautiful and we can’t wait to see them come into flower.

Dudleya cymosa is a succulent plant known by the common name canyon live-forever. It is a distinctive plant sending up erect red-orange stems from a gray-green basal rosette. The small yellowish-red thimble-shaped flowers top the stems in large flower cluster. The plant is found in rocky areas in the low elevation mountains of California and southern Oregon from 500 to 8000 feet in elevation. Some subspecies are considered threatened locally. Hummingbirds love this plant. This genus is named for the first head of the botany department at Stanford University, Professor William Russell Dudley.

Sticky Monkey!

Another beautiful flower showing up in the canyon now is the sticky monkey-flower, it’s seen cascading off the sides of the canyon and along the fringes of the road cuts , the images below were taken about 1 mile in from the coast.

Diplacus aurantiacus, the sticky monkey-flower or orange bush monkey-flower, is a flowering plant that is native to southwestern North America from southwestern Oregon south through most of California. The flowers are tubular at the base and about 2 centimeters long with five broad lobes; they occur in a variety of shades from white to red, the most common color being a light orange. They are honey plants pollinated by bees and hummingbirds. It grows in many climates and will thrive in many types of soil, wet, dry, sandy, or rocky.