Woodland Wonders - Notes

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  • 1/6/2013


    Project SOUND

    Out of the Wilds and Into Your Garden

    Gardening with Western L.A. County Native Plants Project SOUND - 2010

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    Woodland Wonders:

    Plants for Dry Shade

    C.M. Vadheim and T. Drake

    CSUDH & Madrona Marsh Preserve

    Madrona Marsh Preserve

    August 7 & 10, 2010

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    Very local native plants may be the easiest to grow literally grow themselves

    For some gardeners, restoration of locally native plant life is of key importance

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    What is my local Plant Community?

    Coastal strand/bluff

    S. Coastal Prairie

    Coastal shrubland

    Coastal Sage Scrub

    Chaparral parts of PV, mostly at higher elevations


    Riparian (wetland/streamside) communities

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    Madrona Marsh Preserve gives a good idea of what many local

    neighborhoods might have looked like in the past Project SOUND

    Gardens are located in the space between natural and human landscapes

    Project SOUND Many gardeners want to create a cool, shady oasis


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    The Riparian Woodland is a source for

    local shade plants that like water

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    But what if you want/need both shade and water-wise?


    Perhaps youre lucky enough to have a mature oak(s) in your garden

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    Or you may just want to make the shady parts of your

    garden more water-wise

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    A few guidelines choosing appropriate plant species for your garden

    If you live near natural areas:

    Choose local native plants (from locally derived sources) best choice

    Choose other native (and non-native) plants & cultivars with great care should not invade or hybridize with local native plants

    Consult with your local Land

    Conservancy/Preserve or local native

    plant experts (CA Native Plant

    Society) to make good choices Project SOUND

    A few guidelines choosing appropriate native plant species for your garden

    If you live in an urbanized area you may also:

    Choose plants from appropriate areas that are not immediately local, but still are close by: Inland areas of L.A. Co.; Local foothills; Coastal (lowland) plants from

    Orange or San Diego Co.

    Choose plants from farther away that have appropriate characteristics for your garden: Central/N. CA coastal areas S. CA deserts Baja CA

    In fact, plants from nearby areas may actually have grown in your

    neighborhood at one time

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    The Southern Oak Woodland is our most

    obvious source for dry shade plants

    Foothills of S. CA (including L.A. and other local counties)

    Inland valleys of L.A. County (Woodland Hills; Thousand Oaks; Diamond Bar; Cal Poly Pomona)


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    The Southern Oak Woodland of CA

    Precipitation: 15-25 annually

    Elevation: 1500-5000 ft in western S. California

    Common trees/large shrubs:

    Coast Liveoak (Quercus agrifolia) - also Canyon Liveoak (Q. chrysolepis), California Black Oak (Q. kelloggii), Engelmann Oak (Q. engelmannii ) and Valley Oak (Q. lobata)

    CA Walnut Blue Elderberry California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia


    Toyon Lemonadeberry Sugarbush Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), Sourberry/Tri-lobe Sumac


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    Southern Oak


    Most often on North-facing slopes, shaded canyons and sheltered inland valleys on well-drained soils

    May be intersected by intermittent streams

    Oaks may grow in dense clusters or more openly a woodland rather than a forest

    Smaller trees and shrubs along with herbaceous plants, ferns and grasses form a vegetative understory which is an important part of this community. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2289/1594943902_ead554319f.jpg

    One of the more common

    understory plants is Poison Oak


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    Southern Oak

    Woodlands have a

    distinctive feel dry shade





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    Oaks are adapted to our Mediterranean climate

    Mature CA oaks survive on winter rains and a summer dry period.

    Oaks set a deep tap root and have

    many shallow surface feeder roots. Shallow oak roots extend beyond

    the trees canopy. Feeder roots are typically 1 to 3 feet below the soil's surface.

    To keep S. CA oaks healthy you

    need to replicate the summer dry (Zone 1 or 1-2) water pattern; this means using only plants with the same summer water requirements under oaks.

    Regularly watered lawns will kill a native CA oak, usually by disease (root fungi)


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    Watering mature oak (or other Zone 1-2) trees

    Do not water in critical area (10 ft from trunk) Water only in dry spring and summer conditions (if at all) Water no more than once a month; no overhead watering Let water soak to depth of 18-24 inches Organic mulch (oak leaves) required, even in critical area but

    not touching the trunk

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    What do we mean by dry shade?

    Your definition may be very different from mine



    http://ilonasgarden.com/ Project SOUND

    Gardens in Mediterranean climates

    (including S. CA) have three Water Zones

    Zone 1 no supplemental water; soils are dry in summer/fall.

    Zone 2 occasional summer water; soil is allowed to dry out between waterings. Watering is slow & deep to replenish the soil water stores.

    Zone 3 regular water; soil is usually moist to soggy, even in summer.

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    Water Zone

    Description Picture Result/consequence

    Zone 1 No supplemental water

    Many Zone 1 plants (including many native to western L.A. county & deserts) become summer dormant; some shade species remain green

    Zone 2

    Occasional water; soil dries out between deep waterings

    Includes CA Natives from many plant communities; occasional summer water helps many species to remain evergreen many also extend bloom season

    Zone 3 Regular water; soil moist/ soggy

    Only native riparian and some mountain/N. CA species will kill many local CA natives

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    The secret of a water-wise garden is to prioritize water

    needs and group plants with similar requirements


    Dry; needs drought-tolerant plants

    Regular water

    Water-wise ; occasional summer water

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    Is it hard to grow plants under oaks (and other

    summer dry trees)? Yes, but not impossible

    Challenges: summer drought requirement; dense shade; root competition


    Choose plants that thrive in dry shade:

    Plants from the Southern Oak Woodland

    Plants from the Central and Northern Oak Woodlands

    Other drought-and-shade tolerant plants (often from Chaparral)

    Prune to provide better air circulation, light



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    Under many drought-tolerant trees you

    have options/choices

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    Central & Northern Oak Woodlands

    Annual rainfall: 20-35 inches

    Dominant large trees/shrubs Valley Oak (Quercus lobata), Blue Oak

    (Quercus douglasii), Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and Interior Live Oak (Quercus wislizenii)

    Gray Pine ( Pinus sabiniana)

    Understory: Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.) Coffeeberry and Redberry (Rhamnus spp.) Currant and Gooseberry (Ribes spp.) Toyon

    In openings: Grasses & ferns Annual & perennial wildflowers : Goldfields

    (Lasthenia spp.), Poppies (Eschscholzia spp.), Lupines (Lupinus spp.) and other forbs in spring.

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    Oak woodlands in Central &

    N. CA get more rain they look & feel more lush than

    those of S. CA



    You may find the greener look of the more northern Oak Woodland more to

    your liking/needs Project SOUND

    The key is to group plants with like needs


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    Shade is variable, even in an Oak Woodland