Southern California II

In the next few days I’ll share pictures of some gorgeous late-summer eastern natives that are coming into bloom, but first I want to complete my posts about our recent trip to Southern California.

I know nothing about the native plants of the region except that they’re totally different from the eastern natives I’m familiar with, so before we left, I googled “California native plants.” I immediately found the website of the Theodore Payne Foundation, an organization that studies and preserves California native plants. They are located on a large, hilly tract of land on the edge of the San Fernando Valley in Sun Valley. In their large retail nursery, set on a wooded hillside, you can wander among (and purchase) hundreds of plants native to Southern California. You can also buy books, seeds, and other gardening supplies in the shop. There are classes and a variety of family programs. The place is well worth a visit.

Although I think of Southern California as mostly desert (because I am a chauvinistic easterner and because our relatives live in the Valley), I do remember from freshman anthropology, where I studied North American native people, that the region is highly diverse, made up of many different ecosystems and microclimates. And the Payne nursery is organized by ecosystem: woodland plants, desert plants, wetland plants, etc. It was fascinating to wander around and see the enormous variety of species available; almost all of them were unfamiliar to me.

As I expected, there were many succulents and other desert plants, including some beautiful, sculptural agaves and others I cannot identify. (If anyone knows the plant in the second picture, please post the name!)



But there were also lovely wetland plants, such as this huge fern (they grow to 6′ tall) belonging to the genus Woodwardia.


And there are lovely blooming perennials (although I understand that the best show comes with the springtime annuals), such as this Mimulus.


All in all, a lovely place to visit, explore, and experience the diversity of native plants.


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