UC Master Gardeners of Butte County
University of California
UC Master Gardeners of Butte County

The Real Dirt Blog

The Gray Pine

Gray Pine Pinus sabiniana with gray green needles and huge cones, Wikipedia Commons

Finding an Ecological Niche:  A Three-Part Series on Selected Foothill Woodland and Chaparral Species, Part 2 of 3: The Gray Pine By Laura Lukes, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, March 8, 2019 [Note: Gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), buckeye (Aesculus californica), and blue oak (Quercus douglasii) are tree species that thrive in rugged local foothill woodland and chaparral habitat. Last edition, we covered the blue oak, and today the gray pine is featured. The final installment will explore the buckeye. All three species rely on adaptive strategies evolved over time allowing them to thrive in their challenging environment.] The gray pine (Pinus sabiniana) is arguably the least...

Posted on Friday, March 8, 2019 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

The Blue Oak

Blue Oak leaves and acorn shells. Photo by Eugene Zelenko at Wikipedia.

Finding an Ecological Niche: Selected Foothill Woodland and Chaparral Species, Part 1 of 3: The Blue Oak By Laura Lukes, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, February 22, 2019 [Note: Blue oak (Quercus douglasii), gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), and buckeye (Aesculus californica) are three species that thrive in rugged local foothill woodland and chaparral habitat. Today and in the following weeks, this series will look at these species and the adaptive strategies they have evolved over time to thrive in their challenging environment.] What drives the evolutionary journey of the flora and fauna that populate our globe? Darwin, the product of a strictly codified class society beset by...

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

There’s Green in the Burn

Fireweed is one of the first species to colonize the soil after a forest fire, Wikimedia

By Laura Lukes, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, February 8, 2019 It didn't take long. Soon after the first post-Camp Fire rains, there was green in the burned area. Along lower Skyway, a blanket of soft verdure overlay the harsh scars of incineration. While the people of Paradise rebuild and replant in the developed areas, what will grow back in the foothill grasslands and the forested areas? The bulk of the approximately 240,000 acres that burned comprises a gentle rise at the western border, graduating upslope into a “system of volcanic ledges bisected by a fan of deep ravines emptying into the Sacramento Valley” (“Sierra Town had Prepared for Much Tamer...

Posted on Friday, February 8, 2019 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Firewise - Landscape Maintenance

Firewise landscaping (Source: Napafirewise.org)

By Brent McGhie, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, January 25, 2019 Even when homeowners have created a defensible space, the job of protecting their home from fire is never done. There will always be ongoing and annual jobs to do. Additionally, there are special tasks that will need to be completed every few years or on an as needed basis. A key ongoing yard maintenance goal is to keep plants green and lush, especially within the 30 feet closest to the home (the “home ignition zone”). Of course this means regular watering, which can be time consuming, but employing a drip irrigation system on a timer largely eliminates that concern. Using appropriate native plants should...

Posted on Friday, January 25, 2019 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Firewise – Fire Resistant Landscaping

Defensible Space, Zone 1-Home defense zone, Zone 2-Reduced fuel zone from Cal Fire

By Brent McGhie, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, January 11, 2019 Fire is a normal part of the natural environment in California, so if you live in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), it's not so much a question of if, but of when your home will be exposed to wildfire. With this thought and the devastation of the Camp Fire fresh in mind, many Butte County property owners may be thinking about creating a fire-resistant landscape around their homes. Not only is this a prudent course of action, a 2005 revision of the California Public Resources Code (PRC 4291) requires that property owners create 100 feet (or to the property line) of defensible space around homes and buildings. Defensible...

Posted on Friday, January 11, 2019 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Firewise: Fire Resistant Plants

Sticky monkeyflower by Brent McGhie

By Brent McGhie, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, December 28, 2018 In the wake of the devastating Camp Fire, thousands of Butte County residents are facing the daunting task of rebuilding their homes and landscaping their yards from scratch. They may be reevaluating their landscapes and wondering if there are more fire resistant plants that can be substituted for those that burned. Thousands of others, especially foothill residents whose property was spared, may be taking another look at their landscape plants as well. The good news is that some plants are more fire-resistant than others, but it must be emphasized that fire-resistant plants are not fireproof! It is important to...

Posted on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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