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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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california native plants are poppies for wildflowers and native plant ecosystem

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Wildscaping for Urban Habitat

butterfly california native species As my family and friends know, my heart does cartwheels in habitat rich with native wildlife. I don't know whether I enjoy the plants or the critters more -- they both fascinate me. And I'm not a top-of-the-mountains kind of gal -- I'm fascinated by urban nature -- from mosses to mature trees -- from squirrels to slugs. We have so much to learn from the nature at our fingertips.

One reason I find plants among my favorites is that they hold still :-) -- my eyesight has never been topnotch and I find examining a leaf or a bud or how roots grow is like slow cooking -- rich in detail with a tapestry of colors, shapes and systems. And that's not to put down a natural affinity with animals and insects -- they're just harder to observe.

I read the following message on a native plants message board recently and truly appreciate the variety of incredible native life it indicates is available right here in urban Los Angles County:

Here in Long Beach I have blue belly lizards and the usual sort of city animals - a resident possom, lots of raccoon. The redwing blackbirds who spend the summer by the LA River a few blocks away show up in the spring and demand breakfast at the bird feeder for about 2 months and they attract other birds such as yellow headed blackbirds and grosbeaks migrating through.

The bushtits love the native sages and swing crazily on the stems. Watching the finch nibble at the seed balls in the neighbor's sycamore can take up a morning. Insects in particular are attracted to the natives in the garden, especially lots of different kinds of bees. And for excitement, the Cooper's Hawk swoops through every few days to see what sparrow he can snag.

Long Beach

It is possible to make a difference, one tiny landscape at a time. Without a tree in which to roost or nest, birds will avoid the entire neighborhood. Without a naturally mulched row of shrubbery, the skinks and lizards will disappear from your entire yard. Without a bird feeder, you won't see the variety of migratory birds who could stop over for a replenishing meal on their eco-tourism journeys!

In our times of shrinking habitat, you can wildscape your balcony, your yard, your campus with native habitat (plants, water, and places for wildlife productivity -- nesting and community time) to be a good host to your natural, native allies.

And it's so much fun!