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Who Needs a Website When You Can Have a Blog?

I try not to blog about blogging too much, but this is so cool I just had to share it. (and by the way, Seth Godin wrote about this years ago and HarperStudio recently asked this question, so I am by no means the first person to think of this)

Let's say you're a small garden center. Or a landscape designer.  Or a non-profit.  Or an author,  an artist, or a consultant.  You need a presence on the web, but you don't want to spend a ton of money having a professional website designed.

Don't bother!  For very little money and very little time, a blog can do everything a website does.  And that doesn't mean you have to blog, in the sense of putting up a post every day and basically keeping on online diary.  You're just going to use the blog platform to create a website for yourself.  And the blog posts–which go up in date order, with the newest on top, will serve as a kind of "What's New" page, and even an e-mail newsletter, if you so choose.

Here's what I mean.  Check out the blog-based site that this local arts organization has created.

Hummingbird Plants

Along the West Coast, unusually cold winter
temperatures damaged hummingbird favorites like bougainvillea and Mexican bush
sage. Now is the time to replant and
welcome hummingbirds back into your garden. Consider drought-tolerant natives such as California fushcia, monkey
flower, and lupine. 


Aloes thrive in
both desert and seaside areas and attract hummingbirds with their bright orange
blooms. Cottage gardeners may want to consider
butterfly bush, bee balm, penstemon and foxglove. Try cardinal climber for a fast-growing annual vine with small,
trumpet-shaped red flowers, and in the vegetable garden, plant scarlet runner
beans for their bright red flowers and edible beanpods. 

Species most frequently seen along the West
Coast this time of year include Anna’s, Allen’s, Rufous, Costa’s, and
Black-Chinned hummingbirds. 

To see a
thriving hummingbird garden in action, pack a picnic and head to a nearby
botanical garden such as Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, Tucker Wildlife
Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon, Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden in Claremont,
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, or the University of California Berkeley
Botanical Garden.

Prairie Gardens

As
California gardeners enter the drought season, alternatives to traditional
lawns start to seem more attractive than ever. Consider giving a strip of your lawn over to prairie and meadow flowers;
you may well find yourself letting it take over the entire lawn over the years.


Start
with drought-tolerant natives like California poppy and yarrow. Add Western columbine in filtered shade,
where hummingbirds will flock to the bright red flowers, and juncos and song
sparrows will relish the seeds. Purple
needle grass is a native bunch grass that will grace your meadow with purplish
flowers and attract seed-eating birds in the fall. Don’t forget about milkweed, which not only provides strands of
fibrous bark for orioles and other birds to use as nesting materials if allowed
to stand through winter into spring, it is also the only plant where Monarch
butterflies lay eggs.

Other
carefree meadow flowers that will attract birds include cosmos, calliopsis,
sunflower, and pincushion flower. Contact Larner Seeds at 415 868-9407 for native wildflower seeds, and if
you’d rather start with established plants, head to a native plant nursery like
Go Native in northern California (650 728-0728, Moss Beach), or Tree of Life
Nursery in southern California (714 728-0685, San Juan Capistrano).

Plant list

California
poppy: Eschscholzia californica

Common
yarrow: Achillea millefolium

Western
columbine: Aquilegia formosa

Purple
needle grass: Stipa pulchra

California
milkweed: Asclepias californica

Cosmos: Asteraceae (Compositae)

Calliopsis: Coreospis tinctoria

Sunflower: Helianthus annus

Pincushion
flower: Scabiosa, many varieties

 

Fall Bird Gardening

Let things go this fall and the birds will thank you. Put your rake away and allow leaves to
gather where sparrows and brown towhees can scratch among them for
insects. Let your cosmos and sunflower
go to seed. Resist the temptation to
prune salvia—the flowers provide a welcome food source for hummingbirds in the
fall, and you can keep a natural shape by selectively pruning over the winter
months.


Fall is an ideal time to plant native perennials. Try Pacific dogwood for a flowering tree
whose red autumn fruit will attract cedar waxwing, purple finch, and pileated
woodpecker. Toyon, also called
California holly, offers bright red or yellow berries throughout the fall and
winter that attract the western bluebird, the northern mockingbird, and the
wrentit. For color, add a few
perennials such as California lilac and California buckwheat. Native plant nurseries offer a wide variety
of perennials just in time for fall planting. Sacramento Valley gardeners might like to pay a visit to the next open
house of Cornflower Farms in Elk Grove (916 689-1015), and Freshwater Farms in
Eureka (707 444-8261) will tempt North Coast gardeners.

Pacific dogwood: Cornus nuttallii

Toyon: Heteromeles
arbutifulia

California buckwheat: Eriogonum fasiculatum

California lilac: Ceanothus (many)

Brush Piles

If
you have plenty of space and you’d like to let a part of your yard go wild,
consider a living brush pile made of juniper or another evergreen. A brush pile offers shelter and cover for
small birds and mammals, and will be most welcome if placed near a wooded area
or around the edge of a field or meadow. 


While most brush piles are nothing more than criss-crossed layers of
branches, stumps, and even discarded Christmas trees, a living brush pile is
made by taking a partial cut through a tree trunk, allowing it to topple over
but remain attached to the trunk. 

The
tree will continue to live and be fed through this connection with the
roots. In California, a tree type like
California Juniper (J. californica) would
work well for a living brush pile, if allowed to grow to about ten feet tall
and then cut. 

Plant some native
penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis)
nearby for the hummingbirds, scatter some clarkia seeds around, and allow a
vine to twine its way through the pile, and you will have a gloriously messy treat
for the birds.