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March 2012 Newsletter

by sarah on March 9, 2012

Garden of the Month 

Kaplan-Fischbein Garden on Stanford Campus  

Kaplan-Fischbein Native Garden

The Kaplan-Fischbein Garden on Stanford Campus, located in a wooded section near Hoover House, has large valley oaks, coast live oaks and an extensive grove of holly leaf cherry.
The formerly ranch style house was remodeled, including adding a second story, large windows, and a rustic/contemporary facade of stained horizontal wooden siding.
The entire site was disturbed from the construction. Stanford provided free mulch and we were able to cover the newly planted garden with ample mulch, 6 to 8 inches, to aid in soil health recovery.
Installing the garden in 2008, we built extensive mounds in the front and back. The former lawn area was converted to a ground cover of dwarf coyote bush, ceanothus maritima, and little leafed buckwheat. It was accented with a border of mounding species of ceanothus that spill over a bank.
Kaplan-Fischbein Native GardenA colorful coastal bluff garden adorns the front entryway.
In the rear garden, we built a series of mounds with granite boulders and accented them with colorful chaparral species.
We designed a riparian meadow and woodland setting, accenting two large existing redwoods with appropriate redwood understory plants. Toyon, holly leaf cherry, snowberry, and wood fern define the oak woodland perimeter.
Invasives still pop up, but each year more native species naturalize in the garden.
A 12-month management plan is in place to aid our gardener, John Carr, as he continues to manage this maturing native garden on the Stanford campus.

Plant of the Month 

Wood Mint or Hedge Nettle – Stachy Bullota

 Wood mint, endemic to California, is blooming in our nursery now and is a favorite of hummingbirds when they can get it. Found along the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it likes fog or partial shade.
In mixed evergreen forests, wood mint (or hedge nettle) grows on north- and east-facing slopes, in Oak woodlands, and  on banks of riparian habitat. Some of the most beautiful hedge nettles I’ve seen are found along the Big Sur coastline in Central California.
woodmint foliage and ecological partners
Woodmint foliage with ecological partners
In these foggy areas, the flower stalks may be 3 feet tall. The botanical diversity of the flowers is great, some with very large flowers and a wide range of different hues of pinks and pale lavenders.
It tends to colonize so it may be invasive after a few years, although I have had no experience with this.
Woodmint foliage
Woodmint foliage

It’s lovely with Doug iris, sea side daisy, yarrow and coastal eriogonums like latifolium orparvifolium. It will like some summer water and, inland, it will prefer some shade. Plant it where it gets shade in the afternoon. It will bloom profusely in morning light.

If you’re interested in adding more biodiversity to your coastal bluff garden or you live in a natural mixed evergreen woodland ecosystem, this plant belongs in your garden, where it will find its natural home.

Native Garden Maintenance

12-month garden management calendar for a maturing native garden

(3-5 years old)
If the garden has a red fescue meadow, it will need occasional thatching. Cut back the meadow hard and thatch (remove dead grass material) every other year or every third year in areas where dead undergrowth appears. Reseed patchy areas as necessary with red fescue, clarkia, poppies and Chinese houses or other selected annual seeds. Lay down a 2-inch layer of rich humus/compost as a seed bed. Cover with a sparse layer of leaves to keep birds from the seeds. Include native bulbs. If you want the bulbs to naturalize, install in a mix of decomposed granite and site soil.
Cut back water on the meadow areas in summer or bulbs will rot. Make sure all bulbs are in gopher cages if gophers are present.
Adjust irrigation.
Transplant, pot up, or compost new seedlings, natives that have germinated or naturalized in the garden, such as buckeyes, wood mint, holly leaf cherry, toyon, and so on.
Remove invasives.
Continue to cut back woody undergrowth on baccharis and other deciduous shrubs.
Cut back bunch grasses hard to the base. Remove thatch (dead grass undergrowth).
Divide irises.
Cut back remaining dead growth on perennials that haven’t set bud.
Continue to remove weeds and invasives.
Replace sparse areas with new mulch until plants are able to make their own mulch to cover bare soils where the roots will be exposed to increased heat from the sun.
Train espaliered shrubs to trellis or vertical stakes or fences.
Tip prune or pinch back.
After plants are in bud, refrain from any additional pruning or shaping.
Weed invasives.
Lay down snail bait or organic solutions, especially around young plants or any lupine species.
Don’t cut back spent bloom tips on ceanothus until rainy season is past.
Remove spent flowers on most plants to prolong blooms.
Cut back short-lived perennials hard after flowering period to prolong life.
Continue to shape new growth of young shrubs and plants before they enter into heavy growth period.
Define each plant’s shape within the context of its relationship to the other plants around and near it, in order to create a balanced composition. Each plant should have its own space and not encroach on others. Remove plants that are crowding each other.

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