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Dave's Garden Articles: By Kelli Kallenborn

Friday, July 11, 2014

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California Bay or Oregon Myrtle: Umbellularia californica
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Though the home range of Umbellularia californica is not particularly large, the plant is known by many common names, including California bay, bay laurel, pepperwood, and Oregon myrtle. This tree is native to the coast of California, southwest Oregon, and the lower western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. It is often found in forests and woodlands with other trees such as coast live oak and coast redwood.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

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Red Shank: Adenostoma sparsifolium
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

It is midsummer in the chaparral. It is hot and it is dry. It hasn't rained for three months. Most annuals are dead. The perennials are going dormant. The shrubs are setting seed. One would not expect flowers at this time, but look up ahead. A stand of shrubs are in full bloom. These are red shanks.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

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Our Lord's Candle - Hesperoyucca whipplei
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

A common name for Hesperoyucca whipplei is Our Lord's Candle. A name like that suggests that there must be something out of the ordinary about this plant. There is. With an inflorescence up to 13 feet tall, it is the exclamation point of the chaparral.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

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Salvia apiana: White Sage
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

White sage (Saliva apiana) is attractive to bees and hummingbirds. In fact, apiana means ‘pertaining to bees’.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

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Salvia mellifera: Black Sage
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Black sage (Salvia mellifera) is considered the least attractive of the California salvias. However, it is attractive to bees and butterflies. In fact, mellifera means honey bearing.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

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Salvia spathacea: Crimson Pitcher Sage
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Let's go for a walk. I know of a place you will like. The trail grades from chaparral to woodland. Ferns grow green in the deep shade but in the light, dappled shade under the gnarled live oaks, crimson pitcher sage grows.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

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Dodecatheon: Shooting Stars
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

With their swept-back petals, shooting stars (Dodecatheon species) flowers resemble those of the cyclamen. These charming flowers form a cluster at the end of a leafless stem and can be from a few inches to two feet tall. The flower stalk grows from a basal rosette of light green leaves which is up to ten inches in diameter.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

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Chocolate Lily Is a Wildflower Treat
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

The chocolate lily (Fritillaria biflora) is special to me for several reasons. Though it is not overly showy, it is a very attractive plant, even described as "the Cleopatra of the Fritillaries - the darkest and the loveliest" [1]. It is not a particularly common plant, and rarity makes things more precious. Also, it is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and for me is the herald of the wildflower season.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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Space Violets
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

In 1984, African violet seeds were sent into space to test the effects of radiation and zero gravity on them as part of the 'Seeds in Space' experiment. It was intended that they remain in space for 11 months. Due to schedule delays, they ended up in space for almost 6 years. The seeds were germinated and some showed favorable mutations. The result was Optimara's EverFloris line of African violets.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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Salvia leucophylla: Purple Sage
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Life is rough in the coastal sage scrub. The soil is hard and the sun is hot. There is no rain for months at a time. It sounds like a place where nothing could grow, but the sage scrub is full of plant life. One of its members is purple sage.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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Fuchsia-Flowering Gooseberry
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Something brightens a shady spot in a chaparral canyon. Red flowers dangle like many earrings from a glossy-leaved shrub. A hummingbird guards this stash of nectar. His prize plant is the fuchsia-flowering gooseberry.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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Winter Bloomer: Chaparral Currant
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Chaparral currant is one of the first things to bloom in the chaparral, often blooming in the winter. After months dryness and dormancy of most plants, it is refreshing to see the white to pink flowers along the trail or in the native plant garden.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

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Putting the Holly in Hollywood
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Hollywood is associated with many things, from ultimate glamour to broken dreams, from material riches to moral poverty, red carpets, limos, elegant fashions, Hollywood and Vine, footprints in concrete, sunglasses, screenplays, and so on. The word Hollywood may bring to mind many things, but it's likely not one of them is holly. However, the name does have its origin in vegetative reality. According to legend, Hollywood is named after a native shrub growing in the area; Heteromeles arbutifolia, also known as California-holly.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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The Color Purple in History, Folklore, and the Garden
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Purple has been admired and appreciated for centuries. It was the color of kings and clergy. It is also a popular color in the garden for flowers and foliage.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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Autumn in New Spain
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Years ago, when I first moved to California, I asked one of my co-workers if the leaves here change color in the fall. He said that they did not. That was not true. Perhaps he was a good engineer, but he was not a good observer of nature.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

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Beyond USDA Zones
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

USDA zones are based upon the average minimum temperature that a region receives. USDA zones are widely used and are found in all sorts of gardening literature, advertizing, and this is the system used in the Dave's Garden PlantFiles. They are useful, for every plant has a temperature below which it will not survive, but they also are limited. Consider USDA zone 8, for example. Cities in zone 8 include Seattle, Tucson, and Mobile. Obviously, aside from the winter lows, these are otherwise three very different climates. Sunset climate zones were developed to deal with many dimensions of climate challenges.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

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Plant Life at Hueco Tanks, Texas
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Hueco (pronounced "way-ko") Tanks is an oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert. It is a Texas state park that features desert and more mesic vegetation. The park is best known for its ancient rock paintings. For thousands of years people have been living in or passing through the Hueco Tanks area to use the water and plant material found here.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

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The Saguaro Cactus
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Think of the word 'cactus'. What comes to mind? Chances are, it is the saguaro, an iconic symbol of the American Southwest.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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Opuntia ficus-indica
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Opuntia ficus-indica , the Indian fig cactus, may be the most economically important cactus. It is used or has been used for food, medicine, livestock feed, fencing, an ornamental, and an indirect source of dye.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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The Mediterranean Climate: Where Summer is Winter
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

We think of winter as a time of cold weather. As gardeners, we also think of it as a time when plants stop growing or greatly reduce their rate of growth. It is usually the most difficult time in terms of plant survival. This sounds like November through February for much of the northern hemisphere, but it also describes summer in the mediterranean climate zones of the world. To plants native to the climate, the hot, dry summer is the challange. Summer is winter.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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Opuntia, the Prickly Pears
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Opuntia is one of the most numerous of the cactus genera. It is also the most widespread. The approximately 180 species are found from Canada to Argentina and from the Caribbean Islands to the Galapagos.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

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Cochineal Dye: Have You Eaten a Bug Lately?
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Cochineal, also known as carmine and Crimson Lake, is a dye used in modern times to color foodstuffs and cosmetics. In the past it was a very valuable dye for coloring cloth. It has been in use for around 2000 years. This important dye comes from the powdered dried bodies of cochineal insects.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

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Less Pruning, More Power, with Electophobic Cultivars
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

You can cut down on your shrub maintenance time and improve powerline safety by purchasing one of these new electrophobic cultivars.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

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I Don't Know What I've Lost
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Drive outside of any coastal California city. Go past the bigger suburbs and farms and head for the foothills or low mountain ranges. There you will find ranch land and park land carpeted in grass. They are green in winter and spring, yellow in the summer, and grayish in the fall. The cycle continues year after year. It seems so timeless, but take a closer look. The vast majority of plants turn out to be grasses and mustards native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. This is now an altered ecosystem. What did it originally look like and can it be taken back to that state?

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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Tumbleweeds, a Russian Invasion
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

We've all seen the movies and television shows. Rickety wooden buildings line a deserted street. A slight breeze kicks up some dust and a tumbleweed rolls across a side street. Tumbleweeds are iconic symbols of the American West. However, tumbleweeds are not native to the West, but to Eurasia.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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Manzanita
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

The name manzanita comes from the Spanish for 'little apple'. Although the plant is no relation to apples (Malus x domestica), the tiny ripening fruits do look like apples and the fruit and seeds were used as food by Native Americans. In modern times, the plants are more likely to be appreciated for their smooth red bark and sculptural form.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

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Tried and True... or Tried and False - Weather Sayings
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Probably for as long as there have been people, there have been weather sayings. Some sayings turn out to be based on scientific fact, others are just superstition or wishful thinking. Some may work well in some places and not at all in others. I have evaluated some sayings that I know to see if they work for me and I have also come up with my own sayings based on my observations.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

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Christmas: Snow or No Snow, It's All Good
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

I grew up in Pennsylvania. We always wanted a white Christmas, though I can only remember one Christmas when it snowed. In fact, it was more likely to snow on Easter than on Christmas. Usually Christmas was in the 40s and rainy and grey. If it wasn't such a special day, it would have been dismal. Nevertheless, a white Christmas was the standard of proper Christmas weather.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

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Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

With its ruffled flowers and hot Caribbean color, Caesalpinia pulcherrima is the mambo dancer of the subtropical garden. Some of the common names for this plant include pride of Barbados, red bird of paradise, dwarf poinciana, peacock flower, and Barbados flower fence. In Creole French it is flamboyan-de-jardin. In Mexico it is called caballero. It even has names in several of the languages of the Indian subcontinent. With so many common names, this has got to be a special plant.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

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Texas Ranger, Leucophyllum frutescens
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Leucophyllum means having white leaves and frutescens means shrubby. This is entirely accurate, for this is a shrubby plant with whitish leaves. It is also a shrub that gets massive amounts of flowers, which depending on the cultivar, can be purple, pink, or white. This plant can be an attractive addition to the xeriscape or transition garden.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

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Pitch Canker is a Serious Threat to Monterey Pine Trees
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

Introduced fungal diseases and trees have a sad history in the United States. One cannot read of Dutch elm disease or chestnut blight without feeling a sense of loss. Now a fungal disease called pitch canker is threatening pines in the western United States. The iconic Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) of the central California coast is the most susceptible species.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

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A Passing Glimpse - Identifying Plants at 60 MPH
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

"I often see flowers from a passing car that are gone before I can tell what they are." Thus begins one of my favorite poems, "A Passing Glimpse" by Robert Frost. How many times have you, like Robert Frost, been curious about a plant and frustrated because you cannot go back and find out what it was? That used to happen to me a lot, but with time I have gotten better at identifying plants from the car and I am going to share with you some tips.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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Decorative and Functional: Traditional Uses of African Landscaping and Hobby Plants
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

The foreign landscaping plants used in landscaping in the United States are native plants somewhere. Anywhere plants are native, the local people have developed uses for many of them. For much of human history, a person was limited to what himself, his family, or his village could find or produce and that meant a hefty reliance on local plants. Some of these useful plants are also very attractive and were taken to the western world by plant collectors in the 19th and 20th centuries. Therefore, your landscaping and collector plants are more than curiousities. They may have been and may still be a matter of life and death, or at least a way to make life easier in a subsistance lifestyle in a harsh climate.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

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The Color Yellow in Gardening and Folklore
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

In color therapy, yellow is a happy color. It is reported to relieve depression, improve memory, and stimulate the appetite. Color researchers believe that yellow increases self-esteem and strengthens overall health and well-being. The color is said to be mentally stimulating and to encourage communication. From cream to lemon to golden, from chartreuse to saffron, yellow is a common color, so it should come as no surprise that it is full of symbolism.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

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Ceanothus - An American in Paris
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

I thought I knew ceanothuses. Ceanothus is a genus of plants native to semi-arid western North America and especially the California chaparral. It is an unbridled wildling that would wither under civilized garden conditions. It was certainly not something I would have ever expected to see in stylish Paris, but there they were, blooming happily in planters along a street by the Seine. Clearly, there was more that I needed to find out about ceanothuses.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

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Best Supporting Role: The Santa Monica Mountains
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

There is a good chance that you have never heard of the Santa Monica Mountains. However, there is a good chance that you have seen them masquerading as Korea, Wales, Colorado, the South Pacific, "Olde" England, or even another planet. This is Hollywood's back yard and countless productions have been filmed here. The movie history is fun, but let's meet the Santa Monica Mountains as what they really are, a small mountain range on the Pacific coast.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

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Joshua Tree National Park
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

I had lived in California for about six weeks and one Saturday morning I woke up and decided that I would go out to Joshua Tree National Monument. I knew of the place from a picture or two in a book that my dad had and for an unknown reason, the name stuck with me. I went to the store and bought a road map and off I went. When I arrived at my destination, I was not disapointed and have returned many times since then.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

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Is the Tomato a Vegetable or a Fruit
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

On May 10, 1883, in the case of Nix vs. Hedden, the United States Supreme Court declared the tomato to be vegetable, and thus subject to the import tax of the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883. Still, over one hundred twenty-five years later, the question still goes back and forth, "Is the tomato a vegetable or a fruit?" The answer is that it is both.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

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Calochortus, the Mariposa Lilies
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

The Bible refers to "lilies of the field"[1]. If this is a reference to an exact species, the meaning has been lost. Experts say that perhaps the 'lily' is an anemone or crocus. Maybe so, but the plant that comes to mind for me is the mariposa lily. Although these North American natives cannot be the biblical lilies of the field, "even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these".

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Monday, March 19, 2012

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The Swallows of Mission San Juan Capistrano
By Kelli Kallenborn (Kelli)

According to legend, cliff swallows return to nest at Mission San Juan Capistrano on March 19, St. Joseph's Day. Every March 19 is a day of celebration, with food, music, and dance. Do the swallows really return exactly on March 19? Why would they go to Mission San Juan Capistrano, and why are they showing up there less often?

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