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Here is a brief organizational request. I had a telephone conversation with long time members after our August meeting and the presentation on landscaping with fire resistant natives. I mentioned I did not see them at the meeting and emphasized how pertinent the information was for those of us living in rural and suburban communities. Their immediate response to my comments were “What meeting? I didn’t know there was a meeting.” At that point, I proceeded to explain that a simple request for information via our website (www.cnpsslo.org) would give them access to semi-monthly updates via e-mail, from our chapter, and would have alerted them to the existence of our August meeting. So, for those who rely on the paper edition of the newsletter for all your chapter information, you are missing announcements to members throughout the year available only on computer, tablet and/or smartphone.  To request receipt of these updates, open our chapter’s website (www.cnpsslo.org) Home Page, then scroll down until you see the green box on the right hand side, opposite the calendar. Type in your name and e-mail address and check “subscribe”, and you will be listed to receive the chapter updates.

August Meeting with Greg Rubin

For those who missed the August meeting, Greg Rubin gave a detailed presentation on landscaping with fire resistant natives. Of particular note, he mentioned several times that a native garden/landscape surrounding a structure should not be a pure, undisturbed native setting, but rather a well-managed native planting. The critical take-home point here is that a straight, undisturbed chaparral landscape is ten times more likely to ignite than a well-spaced, infrequently hydrated, low growing native landscape.

Regarding structural considerations, he made these points:

  • no plants up against a structure
  • leave an unplanted “apron” around any structure
  • all windows should be double glazed and metal framed
  • all eaves should be enclosed
  • roofs should be made of non-flammable materials

Regarding planting considerations, he made these points:

  • 75% of the plants are perennial and evergreen, 25% can be color spots which bloom at different times of the year
  • use infrequent, overhead irrigation (not drip) every 7-10 days, similar to the effect of a light rain occurrence
  • leave healthy spaces between plants, and make liberal use of rocks and paths
  • use well-compacted “gorilla hair” (finely separated redwood bark) as mulch, which when compacted will not burn

Regarding a list of recommended native species, he gave this short list with a Southern California focus:

  • Summer Holly (Comarostaphylis diversifolia)
  • Channel Island Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus)
  • Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea)
  • Howard McMinn and Sunset manzanitas (Arctostaphylos sp.)
  • Pigeon Point Baccharis (Baccharis pilularis)
  • Blue Jeans, Frosty Blue, and Joyce Coulter Ceanothus
  • Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens)
  • Wayne Roderick Daisy (Erigeron “WR”)
  • California fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

CNPS Fire Recovery Guide

The CNPS state office has just released the second edition of the Fire Recovery Guide. This extensive guidebook is a treasure trove of information for Californians living in the rural and suburban areas of the state, like the communities of the Central Coast. The guide can be downloaded and a hard copy of the guide can be obtained via the state website at cnps.org.

I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the August meeting and so we plan to repeat the event in the years to come. Please make sure you have signed up to receive chapter updates via the website to stay informed.

-Bill Waycott