Butte County Master Gardeners
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Butte County Master Gardeners

The Real Dirt Blog

Spring Blooming Natives

California Bush Anemone

By Cindy Weiner, Butte County Master Gardener, April 4, 2014 Spring is here, and many native plants are coming into bloom. Orange California poppies color the roadside and hills. Redbuds burst with magenta flowers. Butterflies flutter among the blue dicks in grassy areas in upper Bidwell Park and along foothill roadsides. The good news is that many California native plants look just as good in the home garden as they do in the wild. One of the showiest native shrubs is California bush anemone (scientific name Carpenteria californica), a member of the hydrangea family. Native to a small area in the Sierra Nevada foothills in Fresno County, it is now more common in cultivation than in the...

Posted on Monday, April 7, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Drought Lovers: Three Euphorbias

Euphorbia Tasmanian Tiger

By Carolyn Melf, Butte County Master Gardener, March 21, 2014 Looking for a drought tolerant plant?  Euphorbias are one of the most dramatic garden plants.  The genus is expansive and includes 2000 species of herbaceous perennials, annuals and biennials, as well as evergreen and deciduous shrubs.  You might think you are unfamiliar with this plant family, but one tender (and colorful) variety of euphorbia is customarily purchased during the holiday season: the Poinsettia.  The Pointsettia's red leaves surround a “flower” called a cyathium, which is really a structure that consists of fused bracts that form a cup around the (actual) tiny...

Posted on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Praying Mantis: An Alien in the Garden

Praying Mantis

By Juliann Clarke, Butte County Master Gardener, March 7, 2014 In March, some nurseries will start selling the egg cases of Chinese mantis, as a biological control for your garden.  These alien-looking insects are Praying Mantis and are harmless to humans, but have an insatiable appetite for aphids, caterpillars and other insects.  They are masters of disguise, hiding amongst vegetation for camouflage and to stalk their prey.  They will often attack and eat things larger than themselves; lizards, frogs and even birds.  They are not considered a beneficial bug because they not only eat bad bugs but also good bugs, so they are of little value in biological...

Posted on Monday, March 10, 2014 at 10:59 PM
Tags: Butte (31), Butte County (31), gardening (31), Master Gardener (29), praying mantis (1)

Replace Your Lawn with Native Plants

Front Yard with Native Plants by Eve Werner

By Eve Werner, Butte County Master Gardener, February 21, 2014 Looking for a way to reduce your water consumption?  Landscape irrigation accounts for over half of household water use in non-urban parts of California.  Replacing lawn areas with drought-tolerant native plants can cut landscape water use by over 80%, resulting in potential savings of around 750 gallons per week during the peak of summer for every 1000 square feet.  A garden of native plants can provide color, texture, and seasonal interest while at the same time offering the single greatest opportunity for most homeowners to cut down on water usage.  Lawns make an unbeatable playing surface.  But...

Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 10:32 PM

Water Conservation for the Home Gardener

Mulch around plants

By Brent McGhie, Butte County Master Gardener, February 7, 2014 Since this is shaping up to be one of the driest years in California history, it's appropriate to look at ways to conserve water in the home garden.  A good starting point is the garden soil itself.  Sandy soils tend to drain too rapidly, while heavier clay soils may drain poorly and not provide sufficient oxygen for plant roots.  Adding organic compost to the soil will help rectify both of these situations.  Organic material increases the water-holding ability of sandy soils and loosens clay soils, so that they are better aerated. A lawn is normally the single greatest water-user in the home...

Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 10:07 PM
Tags: Butte (31), Butte County (31), drought (1), gardening (31), Master Gardener (29), mulch (2), water conservation (1)

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