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Go Wild With Native Plants
A California native plant is a plant that has grown here naturally, without help from man, before the settlement of Europeans. Northern California has an abundant natural beauty comprised of native plants growing in a wide range of ecosystems. There are many advantages to landscaping with these plants.

The use of native plants in your landscape will give your garden a bio-diversity which will bring health and vigor to your garden. Natives are less work and strain on both our personal and ecological resources. A garden of native plants is long lived and hardy, designed by nature to thrive in the challenges California gardeners face. A native plant has built in defenses against pests which means an easy and organic approach to pest control. A native garden will also attract natural predators for injects. Indigenous species are designed with a system of co-operation with native fungus, feeding on these mycorrhizal organisms, which protect these plants from disease. A diverse native garden is easy to maintain and will allow for more time to discover the new beauty of your garden. You may find you have new beneficial insects, new birds and maybe even a furry animal to admire.

There is no mystery in doing something as natural as growing natives. Here are some simple guidelines that with help ensure your success:
  • Native plants grow better grouped together so they can form an interdependence with each other and your local soil. It is important to understand where and how the plants grow in nature and group them accordingly.
  • Most native plants are drought resistant and can easily drown, so don't overdo the watering. If you use drip emitters, replace them with spray to mimic the natural rain these plants survive on.
  • Your native plants will need no fertilizer and you should also avoid using soil amendments. Organic mulches are beneficial and should be appropriate to the nature of you garden, such as rock for desert gardens; redwood, oak, and pine for mimicking forest undergrowth. With the wide variety of natives to choose from you can easily select plants appropriate to your original soil type.
There are a wide range of resources to help you with your native garden. Native plant societies provide a wealth of history and advice; magazine and web articles offer how-to information; and your independently owned garden center can assist you on selection, planting and care. The ideal time to plant natives is in the fall so they can take advantage of the cooler, wetter weather to establish their root systems under natural conditions.

There are many native plants sold commercially and you may already have them growing in your neighborhood. Many native species of Salvia are very useful landscape plants, from flat growing ground covers to shrubs, blooming spring to summer. Matilija Poppy has large white flowers. California Fuchsia with its tubular red, pink or white blooms provide nectar for hummingbirds in fall. Toyon or Christmas Berry provides non-toxic berries for birds in winter. California Manzanitas are beautiful hardy shrubs for the landscape. The many species of drought tolerant Wild Lilac offer beautiful blossoms to your yard in spring.
Native Plant List
Acer Macrophylum
Big Leaf Maple
Acer negundo v. californica
California Box Elder
Aesculus californica
California Buckeye
Strawberry Tree
Aristolochia California
Pipe Vine
Asclepias speciosa
Showy Milkweed
Baccharis pilularis
Coyote Bush
Brodiaea californica
California Brodiaea
Calocedrus decurrens
Calycanthus occidentalis
Spice Bush
Carpenteria californica
Wild Lilac
Cephalanthus occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis
Western Redbud
Chlorogalum pomeridionum
Soap Plant
Chrysathamnus nauseosus
Rabbit Bush
Cistus x corhariensis
White Hybrid Rockrose
Clematis ligusticifolia
Virgins Bow Clematis
Cornus nutelii
Western Dogwood
Cornus stolonifera
American Dogwood
Dicentra Formosa
Bleeding Heart
Purple Coneflower
California Fuschia
Fleabane, Santa Barbara Daisy
Eschscholzia californica
California Poppy
Fremontodendron californica
Flannel Bush
Genista Lydia
Prostrate Genista
Grindellia Camporum
Helenium biglovii
Bigelow Sneezeweed
Heteromeles arbutifolia
Heuchera spp.
Hibiscus californicus
California Hibiscus
St. John’s Wort
Keckiella antirrhinoides
Yellow Bush Snapdragon
Lepechina spp.
California Pitcher Sage
Lilium Pardalinum
Leopard Lily
Linum lewisii
Blue Flax
Lupinus spp.
Mimulus spp.
Monkey Flower
Odonstostomum hartwigii
Hartwigs Odonstosto
Oemleria cerasiformis
Oso Berry
Penstemon spp.
Pinus spp.
Platanus racemosa
California sycamore
Quercus spp.
Rhamnus spp.
Lemonade Berry, Skunk Bush
Ribes spp.
Romneya coulteri
Matilja Poppy
Rosa California
California Wild Rose
Rubus ursinus
California Blackberry
Salix spp.
Salvia spp.
Sambucus mexicana
Mexican Elderberry
Sequoiadendron giganteum
Giant Redwood
Sisyrinchium californicum
Yellow-Eyed Grass
Solidago spp.
Golden Rod
Styrax officinalis
California Snowbell
Symphoricarpos albus
v. laivigatus Snowberry
Torreya californica
California Nutmeg
Trichostema lanatum
Wooly Blue Curls
Umbelluaria californica
California Bay
Urtica dioica
Stinging Nettle
Vaccinum ovatum
Viitas californica
California Wild Grape
Zauschneria californica
California Fuschia

Imagine a twilight world where the color and the heat of the summer fade to a cool monochromatic evening. The moon rises to paint your yard with a whole new perspective. Once the eye adjusts, there is a landscape of Silver Ghosts, Midnight Candy and Fairly Lilies. White is no longer dull, but luminous. Gray shimmers to life in a cool evening breeze. Water turns to liquid silver. Moon shadows shift and perception changes further. The night garden reveals those snails that chomp leaves, the beetles that control the aphids, nocturnal birds, and maybe even a wise old owl. The chores that seem impossible in the heat of day, ease in the cool of the evening. Night gardens can expand your appreciation and extend the length of time you can work at your hobby. This is the magic of a nightscape.

Plants are the mainstay of the moon garden. It is likely you already have plants that shine at night - perhaps a silver leaved conifer; white and yellow blooming perennials; patterned flowers or variegated foliage. Consider adding color and fragrance such as Evening Primrose or Star Jasmine. Sweet Alyssum and many types of salvia will add scent and hue to your night garden. Lavenders are fragrant and have silver foliage that will wake up the dark. Spotlight a tree with interesting bark such as Crape Myrtle, White Birch or Dogwood to add texture to your garden at night.

Plants that specifically bloom at night such as Evening Primrose, Moonflower and Phlox 'Midnight Candy' are especially sweet because their nectars have not been dissipated by the hot sun. Pink Night, Red Night and White Night Water Lilies open across your pond in the evening, and close before noontime. Some plants such as Perfumed Fairy Lily, Tuberose and Carolina Jessamine are open during the day but won't release their scent until evening.

As a general rule, desert and hardy tropical plants shine at night. Your locally owned and operated garden center should have a knowledgeable staff that can help you with your night garden landscape. Lots of information is available on-line, searching under "night gardening." A listing entitled Plants Suitable for Moonlight Gardens follows.

Your nightscape should include a clear level path or lawn so you can safely admire your moonlit garden. If you plan to spend a lot of time or work at night some overhead light will be needed. Solar or low voltage landscape lights can enhance you garden. You may want a place to sit and enjoy the subtleties of your moonlit garden: a simple chair, garden bench, and a trellis vining with night blooming Moon Flower could be the perfect touch. Additions of a silver garden globe, an illuminated fountain, or a chime to catch the night breeze are details you may wish to consider. There is an ever-growing selection of solar-powered garden accessories now available, including a great collection of unusual statuary in Red Bluff Garden Center' gift shop.

As the moon waxes and wanes from summer to fall, then fall to winter, don't forget to appreciate your garden at night. Enjoy the naked branches against the moon; watch the frost glitter with the stars. You may find that the perception of your garden is forever changed.

Plants Suitable for Moonlight Gardens
Blooming Plants for Moonlight Gardens
Colors that will glow in the moonlight
Specifically Blooms at Night
Plants that save their scent for night
Achillea millefolium Common Yarrow Ipomoea alba Moonflower (vine)
Chrysanthemum maximum Shasta Daisy Nicotiana alata Flowering Tobacco (perennial)
Hemerocallis spp Fortnight Lily Oenothera Biennis Evening Primrose (perennial)
Iberis sempervirens Candytuft Mirabilis jalapa Four o'clocks (annual)
Romneya coulteri Matilija Poppy Zaluzianskya capensis Night Phlox Midnight Candy (perennial)
Yucca Yucca
Foilage for Moonlight Gardens
Silver and variegated foliage for light reflection.
Shrubs Perennials
Cistus corbariensis White Rockrose Centauria cineraria Dusty Miller
Gardenia Gardenia, many varieties Lavandula spp Lavender
Nerium oleander White Oleander Helichrysum petiolare Licorice Plant
Spiraea prunifolium Bridalwreath Santolina chamaecyparissus Lavender Cotton
Viburnum many varieties Stachys lanata Lamb's Ears
Vines Shrubs
Clematis armandi Evergreen Clematis Artemisia Wormwood many varieties
Jasminum many varieties Buddleia davidii Butterfly Bush
Rosa banksia 'Alba Plena' Lady Bank's Rose
Trachelospermum jasminoides Star Jasmine Grass
Festuca ovina glauca Blue Fescue
Groundcovers Phalaris arundinacea variegata Variegated Ribbon Grass
Cerastium tomentosum Snow-In-Summer
Cistus salvifolius Sageleaf Rockrose
Magnolia Star Magnolia Tree (fragrant)
Betula pendula Birch, European white
Cornus Dogwood, many varieties
Picea pungens Blue spruce
Zantedeschia aethiopica Calla Lily Hybrids
‘Tis the Season to be Planting

Here in the North State, gardeners often refer to Fall as the “Second Spring.” It is an excellent time for planting trees, shrubs and perennials, as the still mild weather gives plants the opportunity to establish roots and become acclimated while the soil is still warm. Mild Redding winters allow root systems to continue to grow during the winter months. Long-awaited rains alleviate the need for constant watering, though it’s still important to keep things watered during heat spells.

Most trees and shrubs can be planted now, and many varieties are known for their breathtaking fall color. Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree) is a hardy tree with leaves that turn a bright gold in the fall. The leaves of Nyssa sylvatica (Sour Gum) turn coppery red, and its, red-tinged bark makes a dramatic picture against the winter sky. Quercus coccinea (Scarlet Oak) is a moderately fast growing deciduous tree whose leaves also turn a bright scarlet with the onset of colder autumn nights. All Maples (Acer varieties) will take on color as well. Among the countless varieties of shrubs, Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo), Coleonema (Breath of Heaven), Cotoneaster and Spirea are excellent choices for fall color.

Fall is also an excellent time to plant perennials. They are easy to plant, require little care during the winter, and are good filler for bare patches in the landscape. When spring arrives, you will have a jump on garden tasks, as some of the work will already be done. Some species which over-winter well in the North State are: Aster frikartii ‘Monch’, Erigeron karviskianus (Santa Barbara daisy), Lavender, Penstemon (P. gloxinoides), and Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ and ‘Pink Mist’.

Calendula is perhaps the showiest winter flower. Other good flowers to plant now for winter color include Iceland poppies, pansies, violas, and primrose. If planted now, these early bloomers will be larger, better established and produce more flowers than similar flowers planted in spring.

Fall is also the time to plant spring flowering bulbs, like tulips, iris, daffodils and crocus’. Filling hillsides and open areas in the garden with bulbs will result in gorgeous displays of cheery, bright flowers in early spring. Use lots of bulb fertilizer and compost for best results. Cover bulb beds with fall & winter flowers, or plant the beds with a hardy evergreen perennial ground cover like verbena or thyme.

Scatter wildflower seeds now, as nature would. Use seed you have collected or purchased from a reputable seed company. Keep seeds watered during dry spells, especially if seeds have sprouted. You should be rewarded with beds of exotic blooms in spring.

If you find yourself with a collection of plants in nursery containers that never quite got into the ground this summer, plant them now - they will have an easier time in the ground than in the pots over the winter. Fall is also a great time to put in a new lawn or refurbish an existing one.

Its best to wait until spring to plant tropical plants, citrus and other frost sensitive plants, such as fuchsia and bougainvillea. Protect these with frost cloth, by building a frame around the plant and draping the material around the frame. Avoid touching the leaves with the cloth. Wrapping twinkly lights around the trunks of the plants will raise the temperature a few degrees, perhaps enough to ward off frost damage, besides being very decorative. Also consider keeping frost sensitive plants in containers on wheels, so they can be moved inside when temperatures plummet and frost threatens.

General fall clean-up is as much a part of the yearly gardening cycle as tilling the soil and planting seeds. Harvest as much produce as possible, collect fallen vegetables, remove spent plants and clean up under your plants. Make sure the harvest is finished on fruit trees. Clear off fruit that has not been harvested and collect what has fallen on the ground.

Pull up weeds before they set seed. Don’t put seedy weeds or diseased vegetables, fruit or plant clippings into your compost pile. Rake leaves weekly - don’t let them collect, as they can cause fungal problems in spring.

Fall is an excellent time to have soil testing done, to be sure of the nutrient composition of your soil. MONARCH LABS in Chico does thorough soil testing, and can be reached at: (530) 343-5818. It is also a good time to correct any deficiencies noted in the soil. Add soil sulfur to correct alkalinity and oyster-shell lime to correct acidic soil.

Think about care and feeding of native wildlife over the winter by planting locally native plants for birds and small animals. Also choose shrubs that bear fruit and berries. Provide a source of water. A pond with a shallow side or a birdbath will offer water for drinking and bathing. Frogs and toads eat a wide variety of insect pests & will take up residence in or near a ground-level water feature.

During the slow winter months, study the microclimates in your yard. Which areas collect frost? Which areas dry out quickly? Which are the wettest? Which are the most/least sheltered. Draw maps, make notes of the successes and not-so-successful things from the past year, plan for the coming year, and begin dreaming with seed catalogs and magazine ideas.

Secrets of a Winter Vegetable Garden

Fresh garden produce unquestionably tastes better and is higher in vitamins than grocery store produce. This is especially true during the winter, because store-bought produce is mostly grown far away in warmer climates. The selection becomes more limited and the prices higher during the winter months, and sometimes shopping for produce during the doldrums of winter can be down-right depressing.

If you’ve never grown vegetables during the winter, now is the perfect time to start. The Mediterranean climate of our area is perfect for year-round vegetable gardening, and by using a few special techniques and the correct selection of crops, one can easily have year-round harvests at home. Cool weather crops are hardy and many will survive temperatures below freezing, others down to 30 degrees.

Winter vegetable gardening is easy, especially compared to the summer vegetable garden. There are fewer insects. There will be little watering, and less weeding. You can let the weather do the work for you this winter instead of fighting the arid heat. Give your winter vegetables extra space when you plant them so the air circulation can help prevent rot. You don’t need to fertilize the winter garden - in fact it is better not to. High levels of nitrogen will bring on a new flush of growth, which will be more susceptible to frost. Fertilize in the spring to replace depleted nitrogen.

Location is key to a successful winter garden. Choose a warm location, one that does not frost early. Frost pockets form in low-lying areas, so locate your vegetable garden in the highest point in your yard. You will want good drainage for the rain water. Amend your soil with gypsum or Soil Buster to help with poor drainage.

A blanket of mulch will keep the ground insulated, and even out swings in soil temperature. Mulch prevents soil from compression of winter rains. It will also help keep the mud off the plants and reduce winter weeds. Mulch, such as Mirana Natural Cocoa Mulch, is easy to spread, light to handle and environmentally friendly. Master Nursery offers a Forest Bark and Shredded Red Cedar Bark mulch as well.

Easy access to your garden is important, as winters are muddy. Use a layer of straw to line the paths between your plants. Not only does the straw provide a non-muddy walkway, but also helps with weed prevention. In spring, you can simply cultivate the straw in with your soil, to be ready for another growing season.

Winter favorites include cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and brussels sprouts. These can be started by seed in August or purchased as seedlings in a nursery throughout the fall/winter season. These crops need cool weather for their heads to form.

Spinach is best grown in cool weather, as it bolts in the heat. Spinach will re-grow as you cut it, but if you want to harvest it all winter make several sowings throughout the season. There are many varieties of lettuce which thrive in cool weather. Red leaf lettuce is especially beautiful, with crinkly leaves and splashes of red. At our nurseries, the six-packs of assorted lettuce varieties are especially popular. There are other delicious greens for your salad, such as mesclun mixes and arugula, which add unusual flavors, textures and colors.

Here at Red Bluff Garden Center we carry a wide variety of cool-crop vegetable and herb seedlings and specialized tomatoes that will set fruit at lower temperatures, to help make winter gardening even more exciting. Choose varieties that are adaptive to chilly temperatures and shorter daylight hours such as the tomato variety, Siberia. If you start from seed, plant between July and September. Seedlings should be planted as soon as they become available.

Other great and hardy winter green include kale and Swiss Chard. Beets and turnips will overwinter, plus provide greens for steaming. Successive plantings of carrots are highly recommended. And don’t forget the onions, garlic, and peas. (For more information about planting onions, please read Sherry Rosen’s Staff Pick.)

If space is limited, try a “Completely Edible Salad Bowl”. Choose a container with a fairly wide top (it doesn’t need to be very deep), and plant your favorite varieties of lettuce, chives, parsley, peas, and Swiss Chard. Be sure to include some edible flowers like calendula, nasturtiums, and pansies. Keep in a convenient, sunny location near the kitchen door is best, and you can harvest fresh salad for many months.

With so many great vegetables to choose from, there’s no reason not to grow winter vegetables. And when the artichokes, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and potatoes arrive at your Garden Center, it’s a sign that spring is not too far behind.

The Emotional Benefits of Plants

The end of daylight savings time starts the countdown: Halloween, The Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, the Winter Solstice, Hanukah, Christmas- whew, no wonder we’re a wreck by the New Year. With all the shopping, cooking, visiting, and cleaning, we barely have time to find the magic of the season, much less garden.

Looking for a way to take the stress out of your holidays? Or maybe you have a Grinch in your life. Learn how plants can reduce stress, help with depression and soothe the savage shopper. Scientists are now discovering what we gardeners know instinctively - Flowers trigger happy emotions, help us feel satisfied and have a positive effect on social behavior.

* Published scientific studies are showing that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness and a long-term positive effect on our moods, helping us with depression, anxiety and agitation.

* Senior citizens who receive a gift of flowers not only feel less depressed, but score higher on memory tests.

* The presence of flowers leads to more contact with family and friends.

* Studies of inner cities have shown that residents with trees and green spaces in common areas socialize more often and feel a strong sense of community.

* Employees that have a view of nature from their desk are more satisfied and healthy than their windowless counterparts, who had a 23 % higher rate of feeling ill.

* Workers with flowers and plants in their workspace have improved creative and problem solving skills, up to 15%.

Here are some good reasons to expose children to gardening:

* Research has shown that contact with green, natural settings relieves symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.

* Inner city girls with a view of nature from their home score higher on tests of self-discipline.

* Outdoor green spaces foster creative play and child-adult interaction.

* Children reap the same benefits as adults from flowers and plants: reduced stress and lowered aggression.

Here at Red Bluff Garden Center we offer a variety of ways to help you give the gift of emotional health. Our Colorful Container Gardens, Completely Edible Salad Bowls and our serene Bonsai are gorgeous plants for home and gift giving. Or, make some time for your own happiness by taking advantage of our easy new gift card. If you have the wintertime blues sign up for one of our fun and informative hands-on workshops. Check our Events Calendar for listings of upcoming classes.

To learn more about these studies check out these links.

The Emotional Impact of Flowers, Jeanette Haviland-Jones, Rutgers University

The Human Environment Research Laboratory

Kathleen Wolf’s research on human dimensions of urban forestry.


Army Worms - A Creepy Story

How Do I Fix My Lawn?

They came in the dark of a warm summer night, attacking defenseless lawns all over Shasta County. While we slept, unaware, stealth moths deposited clusters of eggs in our blue grass, fescue, and rye. Out of the mild humidity, an army was born, several hundred worms per egg cluster. It was only a matter of days before they had chewed and cut each lawn to the root. They swarmed on people’s decks, and even into homes. They were coming back in hordes, faster than people could sweep them away. Then, like an army in formation, heading into battle, they marched onto the next yard.

One day our lawns were beautiful, the next, one small irregular spot. By day three there was total decimation. We were helpless to do anything but water judiciously and hope our lawns would come back.

Early fall and spring are a time of recovery for our worm ravaged neighborhoods. Lawns damaged by insects may have to be renovated or completely re-sown, to correct the problem. If you have a few patches of dead lawn, renovation will probably be enough. Here are the steps to take to

Do not use a pre-emergent prior to sowing your seeds, as this will adversely affect the germination of new lawn seed. Systemic weed killers with Glyphosate such as Monterey brand Remuda can be used up to seven days before planting.

* If you have not de-thatched the problem areas of your lawn, do it now. Water and pesticides have a hard time penetrating the thatch layer and thus, pests find protection. Aeration will remove a thin or medium thatch layer. It may take a thatching rake or vertical mower to remove thicker thatches.

* Once the thatch is removed, mow the turf to about ¾ of an inch high.

* Remove sod over any high or low spots so your lawn is level.

* If your turf is patchy and thin after raking, over-seed the lawn at half the recommended rate for establishment. Prepare bare spots by turning the soil, leaving a loose one inch layer for the new roots to take hold. Remember to keep seed bed consistently moist to ensure germination. Spread seed evenly. Scotts Easy Hand-Held Spreader is inexpensive and easy to use. Your lawn will grow from remaining stems and crowns in addition to the new grass seed. If your lawn has more than a few brown patches and has not recovered, you may need to completely re-seed it.

* Decide which kind of lawn is best for your area conditions. Here at Red Bluff Garden Center we have four types of bulk lawn seed. Annual Rye is a tough lawn that will take traffic and stay hardy, though it does go dormant and turn brown in the winter. California Green is very hardy; it is the Old Shasta mix that the feed stores used to sell. Royal Turf has softer, finer, blades but it won’t hold up to kids and dogs. Sun and Shade is sturdier and will take some shade.

* Preparation is the key for starting a successful lawn. Don’t just scrape the ground, break up the compacted soil. If it is a large area use a tiller. Rototillers can be rented from your local rental center. Now is a great time to add gypsum, such as Soilbuster, which will help break up clay, provide primary nutrients and improve soil drainage. Spread Master Nursery brand, Master Start Fertilizer, then till again, mixing the amendments into the soil.

* Rake the soil to begin to level it out, removing any rocks and debris that you find. To avoid problems with excess water-runoff, make sure that any grading you do allows water to flow away from your house.

* Finish leveling the soil by using a roller filled with water. Like tillers, rollers can be rented from a local rental center. Here at our nursery, we loan out seeding rollers and water filled rollers to our customers. Water the soil lightly after leveling.

* Following the recommended seeding rate, spread 1/4 of the seed over the entire lawn area. Then repeat times, each time using 1/4 of the seed. However, each of the 4 times you distribute a load of seed, push the spreader in a different direction, to encourage even dispersal.

* Rake lightly, so as to cover the seed with a thin layer of soil. Master Nursery brand Paydirt, a multi-purpose soil conditioner, makes a great top dressing, as it is heavy enough to keep the seed from blowing away.

* The seeds must be watered properly, in order to germinate. Use just a fine spray, as you don't want to create a flood! The soil should be kept evenly moist, which means you must water several times per day (depending on the weather). After the grass blades sprout, you'll still need to water a couple of times per day. If you know your schedule won't permit this, now is the time to look into automatic irrigation systems before starting a new lawn.

Remember as you maintain your lawn that pesticides kill both destructive and beneficial bugs. We need the beneficial bugs to pollinate, prey on destructive insects, and keep a general balance to our gardens. Keep your lawn healthy, encourage a balanced eco-system, and use pesticides only when necessary. As always, if you have any questions about you lawn our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help. Call us at 530-527-0886.

Fruitful Event at Red Bluff Garden Center

On August 20, 2005, Red Bluff Garden Center and Wyntour Gardens proudly hosted this summer’s big events: Fruit Tasting and Home Orchard Seminars. It was a day packed with fun and information for the home gardener.

Home Orchard expert Ed Laivo from the Dave Wilson Nursery, gave an engaging and informative presentation on back yard orchard culture, a technique of prolonged harvest of tree-ripe fruit from a small space. Ed’s discussion included planting several or many fruit varieties close together, which ripen at different times. Ed also covered the technique of keeping fruit trees small by summer pruning, which makes trees easier to maintain while providing plenty of high quality fruit for home use.

The seminar culminated with a Fruit Tasting, generously sponsored by Dave Wilson nursery. Fifteen varieties of fruit were served, including pluots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and Asian pears. The samples for the tasting were selected based on their proximity to peak maturity, and tasted wonderful. The fruit was graciously served by Joe Laivo, who was also a font of information.

Over 100 people attended the event at Red Bluff Garden Center, including a photographer and a writer from the Record Searchlight. Another 50 people attended in Red Bluff. The event was very successful at both locations, and we hope to do it again in the future.

In conjunction with Dave Wilson Nursery, Red Bluff Garden Center implemented a Soft Order program where our customers could special order fruit trees that we normally would not carry. The deadline for the Soft Order fruit tree program is September 30th, 2005. Participants received a 10% coupon to use at Red Bluff Garden Center. This coupon expires September 22nd , 2005.

For more information about High Density Fruit Tree Culture go to, www.davewilson.com

Providing nutrition for wild birds is especially important in the winter, when food is harder to find. Planning a garden to welcome birds begins with observing and noting which birds already frequent your neighborhood or pass through seasonally.

Every species of bird has particular preferences for food and shelter. Know the favorites of the birds you wish to attract. There are many books to help identify birds. Sunset’s Attracting Birds has excellent section on birds & their preferences, while Audubon field guides remain the classics on American bird identification.

All bird habitats must supply the following:
  • Food - Berries, fruits, nuts, nectar; seeds of grasses, flowers, shrubs & trees, and various insects (earthworms, caterpillars, flies, aphids, mites) all provide nourishment for birds.
  • Water - Birds must have water for drinking and bathing. Keep birdbaths clean, with fresh water. If you live in an area where it gets very cold, consider purchasing a heater especially made for birdbaths, to keep the water from freezing.
  • Shelter & Cover - Birds need shelter from the elements and from predators - from shade to foliar canopies. In very cold areas, needle-leafed evergreens are essential for protection. Shrubs can provide sanctuary from cats and dogs, while thorny shrubs provide even greater protection from intruders. A group of shrubs is optimal.
  • Nesting Sites - Birds use many different styles of housing - on the ground; in grasses or under foliage; at different heights in shrubbery and trees; in and on different parts of many structures.

  • The greatest mix of bird species occurs where two or more different habitats come together in borders of mixed vegetation. For instance, where a field joins a grove of willows, or a forest opens into a meadow - tall trees giving way to shorter ones, then merging into shrubbery. The goal as a gardener is to create an arrangement of plants that simulates these “edges”.

    Diversity of plant species is the key to successful landscaping for attracting birds. Plan your landscape with lots of variety in height, types of plants, flowers, pods, seeds, etc. Plan for succeeding and overlapping seasons. In very cold climates, be sure to include dense, needle-leafed evergreens. Include a garden oasis, with shallow water for bathing.

    Create a hedgerow between yards or along roadways using a fruiting hedge for a screen. Serviceberry, blueberry, raspberry, elderberry, holly, hawthorn, and rugosa roses are great hedge plants. When pruning shrubbery, take care to not disturb bird nests.

    Do not use pesticides near birdscapes. Check that no preservatives have been used in any commercially prepared bird seeds.

    There are many types of pre-made bird feeders and bird houses available, suitable for different types of birds. Research the birds you wish to attract, and purchase the appropriate type of feeder and seed.

    There are many prepared mixes of seeds and other bird foods available.
  • Black oil sunflower seed is considered the best all-around food for attracting the largest variety of songbirds.
  • Other favorites are sunflower hearts, peanuts, other nutmeats, safflower seeds or specially prepared seed mixtures.
  • Fresh & dried fruits are enjoyed by many species, but take care that these are fresh. Do not allow fruits or any bird food to become moldy.
  • Suet. Wild birds need very high levels of fat to survive, and suet contains the fats that birds need.

  • Birds find food by sight. Initially, place the feeder in a spot far enough out in the yard to be visible to the birds, yet where it cannot be reached by squirrels other predators. Once the birds realize there is food available, and begin to frequent your “bird oasis”, the feeder can gradually be moved closer to the house to allow for better viewing.

    Consider your bird garden an ongoing project. Let the birds rate your choices. Notice what works well. Remember, it will take time for the birds to discover and begin to use the habitat you’ve created.

    Compost is a nutrient rich soil amendment that fertilizes, conditions and improves soil structure.

    Fall is a perfect time to get a compost pile started, because there is so much green matter and leaves from garden cleanup.

    Decomposition depends upon air, water, bacteria, fungi and other microscopic organisms, as well as larger organisms including earthworms, slugs, spiders, ants and flies.

  • grass clippings
  • cut annuals, perennials, vegetables
  • leaves
  • kitchen veggie waste, including egg shells, coffee grounds and unbleached paper coffee filters
  • weeds that do not have seed pods

  • Only use undiseased matter. Discard any disease-infected clippings in trash (any clippings with signs of mold, aphid, other insect infestation, etc.) to avoid spreading disease
  • greasy foods
  • cooked foods
  • meats, fish, cheeses
  • weeds that have gone to seed
  • thorny branches (roses, blackberries)

  • Add new ingredients in layers, alternating wet/green with dry/brown.
  • The smaller the pieces are cut, the faster they will decompose.
    Use chippers if possible. Shred piles of fallen leaves with a lawn mower.
  • Use COMPOST STARTER or Achillea (Yarrow) clippings to accelerate decomposition
  • Turn the pile often - bi-weekly is optimal. Organisms need air to break down garden clippings and kitchen refuse. Turning aerates the pile, hastening the decay and ultimate breakdown of composted materials. Use a fork to turn the pile.
  • The compost pile needs to stay moist but not wet - like the consistency of a squeezed out sponge. If pile is very wet, add sawdust to absorb excess water.
  • Your compost pile should smell sweet and fresh. If it smells poorly, it is probably not getting enough air. Turn more often, and add dry, carbon-rich materials like dead leaves and sawdust.
  • Rotted manure gets treated as a wet/green material - it speeds decomposition.
  • When adding high carbon ingredients such as sawdust, wood shavings and ground bark, also add additional nitrogen to the mix (grass clippings).

  • THE COMPOST PILE should measure at least 3 feet on all sides, so that it will generate enough heat to decompose contents quickly. Maximum size: no more than 6 feet high & wide.
    There are many types of Compost Bins:
  • Rotating barrels - easy to turn
  • Simple chicken wire structure
  • 3-box set-up made from new or recycled wood or pallets
  • Garbage cans
  • Open piles
  • Easy access to finished compost is very important. Lids for keeping out excess moisture are also useful.

    Weed seeds and disease organisms will be destroyed if the temperature of the compost pile reaches 150 - 160 degrees.

    One can also make a compost pile and leave it untended and unturned for up to a year. It will slowly decompose but weed seeds will not be killed. This is considered “cold composting”, and is useful for large quantities of leaves, grass clippings and other garden waste.

    Cow manure, blood meal & fresh grass clippings are high in nitrogen and they speed decomposition.

    When decomposition has completed, sift the compost to remove any large matter that has not decomposed completely. Return these materials to the next pile.

    Mix your new, nutrient rich compost into flower and vegetable beds, or use as mulch.

    Green manuring is the growing and turning under of crops to fertilize and improve the soil. It is a very old practice, with Chinese gardeners using green manures for nearly 3,000 years. The ancient Greeks and Romans also practiced green manuring.
    Cover crops, or green manure, are one of the cornerstones of ecological agriculture.
    They provide outstanding benefits for the soil & future crops in the following ways:
  • Enrich the soil by increasing organic matter content
  • Increase earthworms & beneficial microorganisms
  • Increase the Nitrogen and other minerals available to the plants
  • Stabilize the soil to prevent erosion (victims of the recent fires should consider using cover crops on their bare hillsides)
  • Provide habitat for beneficial insects
  • Improve water, root & air penetration in the soil
  • Increase soil’s moisture-holding capacity
  • Choke out weeds
  • Break up subsoil
  • Reduce pests
  • Provide aesthetic value and color
  • Cover-crops are easy, more economical and more environmental than applying chemical fertilizers. It is essentially turning your entire garden into an efficient compost pile.

    The basic idea of cover-cropping is to plant a field with a crop that will benefit the soil. Planting this crop directly after the growing season is over will help keep existing soil nutrients from washing away during the winter.

    The cover crop seed is broadcast on well-tilled ground, then covered with a thin layer of soil. It is especially important to keep the seed moist when just planted, keeping the soil wet 1”-2” below the seeding depth. Keep irrigated throughout the growing season. The more growth ahe cover crop makes in the Fall, the better. The crops will continue to grow throughout the winter.In spring, the cover crops are mowed down then tilled back into the ground, roots and all. The best time to till in the cover crop is when 50% of the flowers are in bloom. It is important to till the mowed crop into the soil as soon as possible, because the green matter loses nitrogen and carbon very rapidly if left exposed to the sun. If possible, chop the crop for faster decomposition. The green material is then allowed to decompose for a few weeks in the soil, putting valuable nutrients back into the soil. The breakdown process takes 10-21 days.

    Legumes like alfalfa, clover, vetch, peas & beans are excellent for cover cropping because they build (or “fix”) Nitrogen in the soil. Alfalfa is the best of the nitrogen-fixing crops. Buckwheat and ryegrass are effective against weeds, by growing so quickly that it soon overpowers the weeds and chokes them out.

    It is important to inoculate (or coat the seed), to insure a high level of viable rhizobacteria when the seed germinates. Rhizobacteria fixes beneficial bacteria to rhizomes of legumes to assist in the breakdown of plant residues and convert them to humus for plant growth. An increase in this organic matter maximizes the soils ability to retain moisture, reducing run-off of moisture and fertilizers due to erosion by wind and water. Rhizobacteria naturally exists in the soil, but not in sufficient amounts to maximize nitrogen fixation.

    If you are planting your first cover crop, we suggest planting a seed mixture specially formulated for the specific season (spring or fall), such as our GREEN MANURE mix, consisting of Bell Beans, Austrain Field Peas and Common Vetch.

    If possible, test the soil prior to planting to determine whether it is deficient in any specific nutrients. A cover crop can then be selected which can address the deficiencies.

    Ideally, crops should be rotated after each season, allowing for a fall/winter cover crop between plantings.

    Perennials for Fall Planting
    Fall is an excellent time to plant perennials. The warm weather gives roots time to establish before cold sets in. Perennials are easy to plant, require little care during the winter, and are good filler for bare patches in the landscape. When spring arrives, you will have a jump on garden tasks, as some of the work will already be done.

    There are many species of hardy perennials which will over-winter well in Shasta County. The following list is a selection of plants available at Red Bluff Garden Center:

    Aster frikartii ‘Monch’. Daisylike lavender-blue flowers; plants 3 feet tall. Sun.

    Coreopsis. Daisylike flowers in yellow, orange, maroon, or red. Full sun.

    Delphinium (D. elatum). Tall spires of flowers, mostly in shades of blue; some strains have flowers in shades of raspberry rose and lilac to deep violet. Giant Pacific hybrids can reach 8 feet tall; Flue Fountains grow 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall. All need rich, porous soil. Sun.

    Diascia. Low-growing plants with coral, pink, or lavender flowers. Full sun to partial shade.

    Erigeron karvinskianus (Santa Barbara daisy). Spreading evergreen perennial ground cover grows 1 foot tall by 4 to 6 feet across. White or pinkish daisy flowers appear all year in mild climates. Reseeds. Sun or light shade.

    Gaillardia grandiflora (Blanket flower). Daisylike flowers in shades of red and yellow with orange or maroon bands. Sun.

    Guara lindheimeri. Spikes of white or pink blossoms that last for many months. Full sun.

    Lavender. Beautiful shrubby perennials with spikes of bloom in shades of purple to sky blue. French lavender (Lavandula dentata) is an upright, rounded, evergreen shrub 2 to 3 feet tall with highly fragrant lavender flowers. Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) grows 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall and bears showy purple blooms in early summer. English lavender (L. angustifolia) is the classic fragrant lavender used to make potpourris and perfumes; plants grow to 4 feet tall. All lavenders need loose, fast-draining soil.

    Nemesia fruticans. Vanilla-scented lavender and pink or white flowers on a bushy evergreen plant; frows to 1 foot tall. (Zones 16-24 - does it grow here?)

    Nepeta faassenii
    (Catmint). Spikes of lavender-blue flowers on mounding plants with gray-green foliage. Sun.

    Penstemon (P. gloxinioides). Bush, upright perennial 2 to 3 feet tall with red tubular flowers along the stems. ‘Apple Blossom’ (pink), ‘Firebird’ (red), and ‘Midnight’ (purple) are particularly long-blooming varieties. Sun.

    Phygelius (Cape fuchsia). Shrubby perennial with drooping, fuchsialike flowers in pink, red, or pale yellow; to 4 feet tall. Sun or light shade.

    Salvia. Many kinds. Autumn sage (Salvia greggii), a bushy evergreen shrub to 3 feet tall, bears small flowers in many colors, from white and yellow to orange and lipstick red (depending on variety), late spring to fall. Sun

    Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ and ‘Pink Mist’). Lacy-looking, 1-inch-wide blue or pink flowers. Blooms much of the year in mild climates. Full sun.

    Scaevola aemula. Low-sprawling plants produce masses of lavender-blue flowers. Full sun.

    Verbena. Mostly ground cover plants that thrive in heat. ‘Homestead Purple’ grows up to 18 inches tall and has large (2-inch) purple flower heads. Varieties of V. peruviana come in pink, purple, red, and white, and stay 3 inches tall. Sun.

    Achillea (Yarrow). Finely cut green or gray leaves; flowers borne in flattish clusters.
    A. millefolium grows to 3 feet tall and bears white flowers; hybrids have flowers that range from red and rose to cream. A. filipendulina (4 to 5 feet tall) has flowers in shades of yellow. Sun.

    Amending Clay Soil with Gypsum
    by Rikki Nelson
    Clay soil is easily identified because it is hard! It is so tightly compacted that little oxygen is able to get through the soil particles. Water is able to soak through, nutrients are available to the roots, but there is no oxygen which is critically needed for plants to survive. Gypsum is the most basic soil amendment for the clay soils of Shasta County.

    Compacted soils can cause numerous problems besides stunted growth or death of large plants and trees. Moss and algae may appear. Results of compacted/clay soils usually show within six months to one year after planting.

    The soil particles need to be separated to allow for free flow of oxygen, nutrients and water. Gypsum does this.

    Good soil provides plant roots with aeration as well as retention of water and nutrients. Folks tend to forget the importance of oxygen in the three necessities of healthy root growth - water, nutrients, and oxygen. In root growth, keep in mind the root tip needs to be able to move through the soil looking for water and oxygen. Small hairs on the roots absorb the nutrients.

    What does gypsum do?

    Gypsum is calcium phosphate. When added to the soil, gypsum helps to break up the soil particles allowing movement of particles stuck together, allowing air and water to penetrate and reach those deep roots looking for oxygen or air, water and nutrients.

    It is best to cultivate the soil as deeply as possible before adding gypsum, then add the gypsum in the proportions specified on the package, and cultivate again, mixing it in as thoroughly as possible. Water thoroughly before planting. It is best to wait at least 24 hours before planting to give the gypsum time to work. You will find that in a short time your soil is much more friable (breaks apart easily, rather than sticking together), and is easier to handle. Gypsum can be added to the soil any time planting is done.

    Think of the hole you are digging for your new plant as a pot without a hole, with no where for the roots to go once they reach the edge of the pot. This is why it is important to dig the hole two to three times as deep and wide as the root ball. Remember to add some gypsum at the bottom of the hole, to open up the soil so the roots can penetrate the hard clay. Then add a mixture of 50% existing soil mixed with 50% good planting mix around the root ball to fill the hole. Be sure to water thoroughly, making sure the entire root ball is completely saturated.

    We have several excellent gypsum products available at the nursery.
    Why and When to Use Dormant Sprays
    Most deciduous plants undergo a period when their growth process greatly slows down. For many plants, this coincides with the onset of winter, as days grow shorter, and temperatures grow colder. You can recognize when the plant is dormant, by the leaves falling from the trees or shrubs.

    This is the time to apply dormant sprays to fruit trees and roses, to help control various forms of fungus and disease (including black spot, peach leaf curl and many blights), and insects such aphids, whitefly, spider mites, scale and mealybug, which can devastate your plants when the weather grows warmer. The chemicals in the dormant sprays will not affect the fruit at this time, since the sap is barely flowing through the trees.

    For pest control, fruit trees should be sprayed with Dormant Oil once each year, during December. Master Nursery Pest Fighter Year-Round Spray Oil, Lilly Miller Superior Type Spray Oil, Monterey Saf-T-Side, and Neem Oil are a sampling of the Dormant Oils we recommend for your deciduous plants.

    For disease, it is most effective to spray Fruit Trees and Roses three times: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Copper Sulfate products are recommended for fruit trees, and Lime Sulfur is best for fruit trees. Lilly Miller Polysul Dormant Spray, Lilly Miller Microcop Fungicide (comes with container of Sta-Stuk “M” for better adherence) and Monterey Liqui-Cop are all effective products for disease control.

    There are also products that enhance Dormant Spray application. Spray Grip helps spray adhere to branches. Signal is a colorant to be mixed with sprays so you can see where it has been applied.

    In addition to the products mentioned above, Red Bluff Garden Center carries a wide selection of other products to benefit the overall health of your plants, as well as to address specific problems. Our staff are extremely knowledgeable, and are happy to answer your questions regarding amendments and overall gardening products. Also, refer to the George’s Almanac section of this website for more information and specific Fall gardening suggestions.

    Poison Oak
    (Rhus diversiloba and Rhus toxicodendron
    One of the most widespread and troublesome of all pest plants, this woody perennial inflicts a high toll of suffering every year, especially during the summer months. Rhus diversiloba is a shrub or sometimes a vine climbing to about 8 feet high. It is native from British Columbia to California. Rhus Toxicodendron is a low shrub, native from New Jersey to Tennessee and southern Missouri and southwards to Mississippi and Florida. Poison ivy (Rhus radicans) and Poison sumac (Rhus vernix) are closely related to poison oak, and are equally toxic and nasty.

    The leaves of poison oak are divided into three distinct leaflets, either elliptical or oval in shape. Green leaves turn brilliant orange to red in the fall. In May and June, clusters of greenish flowers bloom from the centers of the leaves. The flowers are followed by round, green to tan fruit containing seeds. New plants sprout from the seeds as well as from creeping, underground stems.

    Poison oak prefers dry areas with poor, sandy soil. It is frequently found in wooded lots, along roadways, in yards and non-crop areas.

    Poison oak is known for the irritating rash caused by the oily sap found in all parts of the plant. The greatest irritations occur in the spring when the sap is flowing freely. However, rashes can develop if the plant is contacted at any time of the year. Irritations develop after direct contact with the plant, by contact with contaminated clothing, tools, pet hair, or smoke from burning plants.

    Contact causes inflammation and swelling of the skin, followed by intense irritation, itching and blisters. Often the skin breaks, the liquid escapes, and scabs or crusts form. Symptoms may appear from 12 to 24 hours after contact, although it varies from a few hours to several days. Some persons are apparently more susceptible than others, and in serious cases, medical attention is advised. Also, contact with the plant at different times of the year may result in varying degrees of infection and skin irritation.

    CONTROL: Do not hand-pull or burn poison oak plants. Any pieces of root left behind will sprout into new plants. The oil also remains potent on clothing for up to two years. When burned, the oil vaporizes and the smoke causes skin, eye, and lung irritations.

    Herbicides are the safest way to rid an area of poison oak. We have found the following products to be most effective: Monterey Brush Buster, Lily Miller Blackberry & Brush Killer and Bayer All-in-One Weed Killer.

    In large areas, poison oak can be controlled by mowing close to the ground in midsummer followed by plowing or harrowing, or by grazing sheep or goats. For smaller patches, the roots may be dug out, taking extreme care not to let the plant come in contact with skin. Wearing long sleeves and leather or vinyl gauntlet gloves (available at Red Bluff Garden Center) are essential for such a project. Smothering the roots under heavy black plastic or cardboard can also be effective, especially in areas where it is difficult to mow, such as under trees.

    Place dead plants in plastic bags and tie securely. Discard bags, gloves, and any other products and clothing which may have come in contact with the plants. Soaking affected clothing in water with a small amount of ammonia is useful in removing the oil from the fabric.

    If contact with poison oak is known or suspected, immediate lathering with a strong alkali soap (Lava) with frequent rinsing can prevent inflammation and blistering. The alkali soup emulsifies the oil and, by thorough rinsing, this may remove the oil from the skin.
    Applying a drying agent such as rubbing alcohol or a solution of baking soda and water are also effective measures.

    Several over-the-counter products are available, should you happen to contact poison oak.
    SCARECROWS - Guardians of the Crops
    Scarecrows are an ancient art form. They have been used for more than 3,000 years, in cultures all over the world, scaring the birds away from crops to insure a complete harvest. Native American tribes throughout North America used scarecrows or human bird scarers to protect their crops.

    Scarecrows were extremely popular in fields and Victory Gardens across America during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. After WWII, when farming became big business and chemical sprays were used on a large scale, scarecrows became less used.

    Yet Scarecrows really work! It’s important to put scarecrows out as soon as crops are planted, to keep the birds from eating the newly planted seeds.

    Scarecrows also celebrate the beauty and tranquility of fall and add charm and whimsy to yard and garden. They can be serious, scary and downright funny. They tend to look like people, yet cats and large, scary birds are also popular. Scarecrows can be made of many different materials, though are mostly made of clothing stuffed with straw. Often the faces are made from pumpkins or gourds.

    In the late 1800’s, Zuni children in the American Southwest has contests to see who could make the most unusual scarecrow. Today, Scarecrow Contests remain a popular activity in communities across the US.

    Other things to use to keep birds away are: inflatable scarecrows, shiny streamers (these work great for grapes), old CD’s hanging on fishing line, motion activated sprinklers (for larger animals), bird netting, flags, cans on strings, noisemakers.

    This is the fourth year Red Bluff Garden Center has hosted a scarecrow contest. We received many creative entries from individuals and schools around the County. Here is a list of the winners and photos of some of the scarecrows.

    Red Bluff Garden Center' 2004 Scarecrow Contest Winners

    Children - Individual Category
    1st Prize: Fred Will Shoot made by: Hunter Spade, Redding
    2nd Prize: Jacko the Contractor made by: Nicole Peletta, Redding
    3rd Prize: Cowabunga made by: Travis Uncapher, Redding
    Children - Group Category
    1st Prize: Masked Man made by: Whitmore Elementary, Grades 3-4-5
    2nd Prize: Popeye made by: Whitmore Elementary, 8th Grade
    3rd Prize: Scratchedy Pete made by: Whitmore Elementary, 7th Grade
    Adult Category
    1st Prize: Dr. Livingstone made by: Shari Skalland,
    Montgomery Creek
    2nd Prize: Alligator Hat made by: Sandy Stewart
    Australian Hat Outlet
    Honorable Mention

    The Alta Mesa School Garden Club
    Morgan Keaton
    Marshall Spade
    Erin Uncapher
    Whitmore Elementary K-1 & 6th Grade

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