Deception

Don’t let these gently flowing fronds in this photo deceive you.

Pampas grass is invasive and chokes out the growth of beneficial California native plants. This out of control stand of grass invaded all the scorched earth from the big fire in Carlsbad almost two years ago. Visit the link for that post: https://enchantedseashells.com/2021/01/20/fire-in-carlsbad/

Interesting fact: Pampas grass is not illegal in the United States, though it is illegal in Australia and carries a $10,000 fine.

Pampas grass is a quickly growing grass that forms massive clumps along roadsides, steep cliffs, river banks, and open areas that have been disturbed by human activities or natural disturbances. Introduced to Santa Barbara, California in 1848 by nursery operators, pampas grass has spread all over the state, threatening native plants and the animals that rely on them.

An individual pampas grass stand can produce millions of seeds annually that travel several miles, and because these grasses are very tolerant of intense sunlight, drought, and frost, they are very efficient at establishing in many habitat types. Due to the fact that pampas grass can live over a decade, it has become a favorable plant for people to grow in their gardens.

Invasive plants such as pampas grass displace native plants and create habitats that are lower in biodiversity. Furthermore, pampas grass has leaf blades that are highly undesirable as food or shelter to birds and other wildlife, and can actually cause physical harm to those animals, including humans, because the leaves are extremely sharp. Therefore, it is important that we do our part by not planting pampas grass in our gardens, but instead plant native plants that are comparably beautiful and provide the same utility.

Native Alternative: Giant Wildrye (Elymus condensatus)

Giant wildrye is a grass that, like pampas grass, forms dense stands in a variety of different soils. It remains green year-round and is drought tolerant, but will also survive in regularly watered locations, meaning little maintenance is required to keep this grass looking great in your garden throughout the changing seasons. Giant wildrye has beautiful blue-gray or dark green leaves that are topped by clusters of yellow flowers during the summer and although this grass prefers full sunlight, it can also tolerate shady locations.

Unlike pampas grass, Giant wildrye is native to California and does not readily outcompete other native plants for resources such as space, light, and nutrients. It also spreads slowly compared to pampas grass, and therefore, it is much easier to contain within your garden fences. Furthermore, while pampas grass is not desirable to most animal species, Giant wildrye attracts various birds that enjoy their seeds.

Giant wildrye is a great native alternative to invasive pampas grass because it provides the same beauty and utility in your garden, but unlike pampas grass, it contributes to higher biodiversity and does not negatively impact the natural environment or those animal species that rely on it. Try out this native plant alternative in your garden today!

For more information on any of the topics above, please contact the Native Plant Program at nativeplants@wildlife.ca.gov.

From: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Plants/Dont-Plant-Me/Pampas-Grass

DIY Garden Paver Project: Stepping Stones

This simple DIY project reallyreally exacerbated my OCD issues. However, I was determined NOT to give up until my inner demons were soothed.

The fifth time was a charm, at least I think so. I’m not good at math but I used sixteen pavers with the exact same distance between each one. The middle of the arch aligned perfectly with the big living room window and that made me SO happy. It’s a nice transition between the pygmy palms and the ponytail palms and my dry river bed. I realize the standard rule is to leave 24 inches between each paver or stone, but I’m short and that’s a big leap for me, ergo the reason why they are so close together.

I have an unending supply of these adorable little mounding succulents that are ideally suited to completely fill the spaces between the pavers. If I remember correctly, it’s a kind of spreading sedum and seems to love it in my backyard garden. It won’t take long for them to grow.

I thought about painting or stenciling the gray concrete but it would have spoiled the theme of the dry river bed. The rest of my front yard is planted with California natives; coyote bush, sages, buckwheat, and this gigantic Rhus integrifolia, also known as lemonade sumac or lemonade berry. It began life as a one gallon plant and must really love it in that spot because it’s as big as the house!

(I probably don’t need to tell you that you wouldn’t want to be here when I hang a picture on the wall.”Move it just a bit to the right, I mean to the left; up a tiny bit. OK. PERFECT.”)