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Spring 2003 Newsletter
Vol 12, No.2. April 2003

Spring Plant Sale & Wildflower Show

Saturday May 3, 2003 9:30 am to 2:30 pm
Rocklin Campus, Sierra College

Invite your friends and family to come to the Wildflower Show and Plant Sale! Our enclosed flyer has the highlights of Redbud Chapter's Spring event.

Choose just the right plants for your garden from our hundreds of beautiful native plants (and some drought-tolerant non-natives) available at the sale.

Volunteer to help with the sale. It's not too late! Helpers receive a free plant and support Redbud's educational and conservation activities in Placer and Nevada Counties. Call Plant Sale Coordinator Cathie French-Tritel at 530-878-9116 or email her at

Redbud Chapter Meetings:

Gardening with Natives

By Nick Jensen and Justin Maciulis
Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 7:00 pm
The Rose Room, Auburn Civic Center

Are you enthusiastic about preserving the natural landscapes of the Sierra foothills? For our April meeting Nick and Justin will illustrate how gardeners can use native plants to restore and preserve our local, natural ecosystems. Their slide show of 20-30 plants will feature some California native plants that have gained respect horticulturally plus several that are unknown to all but the most avid gardeners. Nick and Justin will describe each of the species in detail with emphasis on their care and landscape uses.

Justin Maciulis studied Environmental Horticulture at Sierra College and recently opened "Alternatives" his native plant nursery in Nevada County. Look for Justin at the May 3 sale in Rocklin.

Nick Jensen, a UC Davis student, works as a botanist for the US Forest Service. He's a life-long gardener ("almost from birth") and propagator of interesting plants.

Directions: The Rose Room is located at 1225 Lincoln Way. From Hwy. 49 in Auburn, just after 49 passes under I-80 there is a T intersection. Continue straight ahead at the intersection to the Auburn Civic Center. The Building looks like an old school. Go to the large parking lot behind the building and look for the Rose Room

Traditional Uses of Local Native Plants

By Robyn Martin
Wednesday, May 28, 2003. 7:00 pm
Nevada County Library Community Room

Robyn's interest in both the art of self-healing and the historical uses of plants as food and medicine inspires her to explore the plant kingdom in word and art forms. For our May chapter meeting, she'll share her extensive experience with using local native plants such as Elderberry, Soap Root, and Manzanita, for food, fiber, and medicine. Please join us for an interesting evening!

Herbalist, artist, wild-crafter, and lay-woman homeopathic practitioner, Robyn teaches and consults from O-lala Farms on the San Juan Ridge in Nevada County. For 27 years, Robyn and her partner, Arlo Acton, have farmed organically at O-lala, producing fruits, vegetables and a variety of herbal products. A long-time CNPS member, Robyn co-hosts "The Garden Forum" on KVMR radio.

Directions: The library is located at 980 Helling Way, Nevada City. At the intersection of Hwy. 49 & 20 in Nevada City, turn west toward Downieville on Hwy. 49. At about 1 mile, turn right at the Nevada County Government Center & follow signs to the library.

East African Alpine Flora

By Joe Medeiros
Wednesday, June 25, 7 pm
The Rose Room, Auburn Civic Center

For our June chapter meeting, botanist Joe Medeiros will present a slide program on the flora of 19,000 foot Mt. Kilamanjaro and Mt. Kenya in East Africa. Joe traveled to several unusual habitats of these mountains and photographed their rare plants. He'll discuss the ways plants adapt to the alpine environment.

Joe's interest in alpine flora has taken him to mountains in Europe, Asia, and America. Joe is a former vice president of state CNPS, long time activist for conservation in California's Central Valley, and popular teacher at Sierra College. (For directions to the meeting place, see April 23 meeting.)

Redbud Chapter Field Trips

All field trips are open to the public and free of charge Remember to bring lunch, liquids, hat, sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes and an inquisitive mind. For information on any field trip below, contact the field trip coordinator, Chet Blackburn, at 530-885-0201 or by email at You will be provided with meeting place details and any other pertinent information for each trip.

Do you know a special wildflower area you'd like to share with other CNPS members? Contact Chet to volunteer to lead or to help with a field trip for our chapter.

Saturday, May 10 "Potting Up"

We've scheduled this date to re-pot any plants left from the spring sale. Call for time and directions to Chet's home in the south Auburn area. Helpers will be rewarded with an informal tour of the garden and lathe houses.

Sunday, May 11 Hell's Half Acre (rescheduled from April)
Leader: Carolyn Chainey-Davis
Eruptions of colorful wildflowers in staggering numbers light up this remnant volcanic mudflow on the western edge of Grass Valley each spring. The display begins in early to mid-april with carpets of Johnny-tucks and pockets of shooting star and evolves into a sea of golden Ramm's madia and white meadowfoam by mid-May. Dozens of other species also heat-up the mid-May display, such as cowbag clover, white hyacinth brodiaea, sky lupine, blue dicks, pansy mokeyflower, candelabra monkeyflower, Torrey's monkeyflower, Hartweg's sidalcea, vernal pool popcornflower, slender clarkia, paper onion, creeping sage, and more. Start this coming Mother's Day with a fun and easy 2-1/2 to 3 hr field trip and pick up some great handouts as well. We meet 9am at the end of Gold Drive. From downtown Grass Valley, take Main Street west toward Rough & Ready. Just outside of town, turn left on Squirrel Creek Road, continue several blocks and turn right on Gold Drive (just past Adams Ave, watch for the tiny sign). Gold Drive dead ends into Hells Half Acre. Questions? call Carolyn Chainey-Davis at 530-273-1581, or email her at ccdavis at
Time: 9:30. Should be over by noon.

Saturday, May 17
Rock Creek Nature Trail
Leader: Chet Blackburn
Time: 9:30-noon

This one-mile trail wanders through a forested and riparian community in the Tahoe National Forest east of Nevada City. The area is known for its Western Yew trees, the variety of wild orchids that grow in the area, and for species of plants such as Linnea borealis, Twin Flower, that are more common farther north in California than in our area.

Wednesday, May 21
Empire Mine State Historic Park
Leaders: Richard Hanes & Karen Callahan
Time: 9:30 am-noon

The Empire Mine Park covers 800 acres bordering the city of Grass Valley with 12 miles of trails. We'll follow one of the Park's trails through the oak and conifer forest typical of this 2800' elevation. Examples of just some of the plants we'll see: Lilium humboldtii, Humboldt Lilies, Arctostaphylos mewukka Indian Manzanita, and Swertia albicaulis, Whitestem Swertia.

Volunteer opportunities

Lisa Fields, Resource Ecologist for state parks, is asking for volunteers to pull up Cytisus scoparius, Scotch Broom, at Empire Mine State Historic Park near Grass Valley. Scotch Broom is an invasive exotic shrub that creates a major fire hazard. Good exercise and you'll learn how to use a weed wrench!

"At Bridgeport", Lisa says, "I am organizing a revegetation project along Kentucky Creek. I have volunteers helping to plant, but could also use help in the follow up maintenance starting in early May". Large areas of Himalayan Blackberry were cleared last year near the creek and the South Yuba River.

To volunteer, contact Lisa at 530-272-0363.

Fall Plant Sale: Saturday, Sept 13 Save the Date!

Deadline for materials for the next newsletter:
August 4, 2003.

Organic Landscaping with California Native Plants

By Linda Nowak-Carlson

The use of California Natives in your landscape can be both rewarding and, after the first few years, very carefree. Many native plants actually thrive and look better in your garden with just a little more attention than they get in the wild. It usually takes 2-3 years from the time you have your nursery grown plants in the ground till you've weaned them off supplemental water.

Look around your area and see what is growing there already. The plants are there because they like the climate and the soil. If you see something growing in a different location, look at the conditions it is growing in and decide if you can duplicate that in your yard. Is it in full sun or in the understory of larger plants? Is it in sandy soil or rich, organic soil? Does it have hot, dry, southern exposure or cool, shady northern exposure? What plants are growing with it?

Know the climate zones- how hot and how cold it gets, the amount of humidity. Know whether a plant grows in sun or shade. All natives are not drought tolerant. Some prefer moist soil and some even like boggy soil. Some are very adaptable.

It is possible to manipulate the soil to make it acceptable to the plant. The pH is probably the most important factor. If possible, get a pH tester and sample the soils in several locations around the plants in the wild. An average of the results should give you a good idea of what the soil pH in your garden should be. Remember, if you want a plant badly enough, there are ways to adjust the pH. Plant roots generally grow in relation to different fungi in the soil. If it isn't possible to inoculate your plant with the proper fungi you can buy mycorrhizal fungi to inoculate your soil when you plant.

Plants in nurseries are usually grown in better soil in the containers than where they naturally occur. Use a small amount of compost so the plant has a transition from the container soil to the native soil. The organic matter in compost will help improve drainage if your soil is heavy and hold moisture if your soil is too sandy. Err on the side of good drainage.

Foothill soils are generally lacking in phosphorus, calcium and nitrogen. Phosphorus should be added to the soil when you plant because it doesn't move through the soil easily. Since it stimulates root development, it's best to put it at the root zone. Organic forms of phosphorus include bone meal and soft rock phosphate. An organic form of calcium can be found in oystershell lime. Dolomite lime can also be used but it contains quite a bit of magnesium and most foothill soils have plenty of magnesium. Calcium is used as a pH adjuster in acid soils and is necessary for healthy cell structure.

Nitrogen is a very fleeting element for plants. Although necessary for plant growth and development, it seems our natives must require it in small amounts. Most of their needs are supplied when the duff or leaf litter breaks down with the help of soil microorganisms. If you prefer a little faster growth than in the wild, I would suggest an organic form of nitrogen that breaks down slowly. Feathermeal is great for neutral soils and cottonseed for acidic soils.

The secret to healthier plants is to have healthier soil. Organic nutrients and compost or mulch help promote healthy soil. Mulching around your new plants with wonderful compost will not only help with moisture retention, but will also encourage soil micro-organisms.

Many native plants and their hybrids are available but you may have to get your plants from a specialty nursery. Most retail nurseries carry only a small selection of native plants. The twice-yearly CNPS plant sale is the best place for buying natives.

Consider propagating your own plants. A friend once told me that a great way to propagate Toyon is to find the berries in animal feces. By going through the digestive tract, the seed coat has been scarified and has its own little bundle of fertilizer with it. I've taken cuttings of my own Ceanothus and creeping Manzanita and placed them in a container with half vermiculite and half perlite for a few months and they rooted nicely. About every two weeks I water the cuttings with a liquid kelp solution to stave off shock and to stimulate root development. I also like to water my newly planted natives with liquid kelp solution.

To create the feel of the wonderful wild outdoors, try to replicate nature. Create a transition zone where meadow meets woodland. The meadow comes complete with native grasses, which are accented with perennial and annual wildflowers. This borders an area with low and medium growing woody plants. As a backdrop to all this color and texture is the mature, stable tree and large shrub area where the canopy becomes more dense and very little grows under it. The falling leaves and needles cover the open ground to complete the nutrient cycle and the cycle of plant transitions. Celebrate the gifts of nature.

The North Fork American River Trail:

Destructive Trail Building in the Name of Multiple Use
by Terry Davis, Sierra Club

Everyone supports more trails, don't they? Well - not everyone. Some environmental groups are not pleased with the kind of trails that are being built in the name of "multiple use." California State Parks is promoting the idea that the vast majority of non-motorized trails must be able to accommodate all recreational users - hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. To that end they are insisting on trail design standards and construction methods that more closely resemble road construction rather than trail building.

The narrow trails that hikers and equestrians shared for decades are suddenly deemed too unsafe for multiple use. The State Parks trail manual calls for trails with graded beds five feet wide so that mountain bikes and horses can conveniently pass. They insist it is just too perilous for any trail user to be forced to step off the trail in yielding to another user. Also, users must be able to see each other approaching for a considerable distance, so trail corridors must have a fifteen-foot wide swathe of vegetation cleared. It seems that today agencies believe that trails are inherently unsafe unless they are wide thoroughfares.

Such a trail is the proposed North Fork American River Trail, also known as the Capitol to Capitol Trail, intended to link Sacramento with Carson City. Placer County Supervisor Rex Bloomfield envisions a new multiple use trail over the Sierra Nevada that would follow the rugged and wild North Fork of the American River, yet be an "easy" trail. The first phase of the project, from Lake Clementine to Ponderosa Way, is already funded with nearly $2 million in Prop. 40 and Placer Legacy money, while federal funds are being sought for future phases of the trail.

A Trail Advisory Group has been formed to provide input. As members, the Sierra Club and Protect American River Canyons (PARC) have resisted the original construction plans. We are trying to convince the trail group to support a narrower more primitive hand-built trail instead of the bulldozer-constructed "road" being proposed. The Sierra Club also wants a narrower corridor of vegetation removal adjacent to the trail. The current proposal would clear a wide trail corridor, cutting out nearby canyon residents such as redbud, buckeye, and ceanothus. We have found it disconcerting that some trail users regard the presence of such foothill natives as little more than a nuisance and a fire hazard.

Destructive new standards are a statewide problem. To the north, State Parks has begun converting Lake Oroville trails from primitive to multiple use. A local trail advocate described in an email what happened. "In the late 1950's, equestrians built and dedicated a single track trail through oak woodland, later adding links to create a 17-mile hiking/equestrian trail which they maintained for over 40 years. Then DPR [State Parks] eliminated the volunteer maintenance group and began using the "dozer" with the 4' blade and clearing vegetation to the 15' width (calling it normal maintenance) so that it would qualify for multi-use visibility, etc. standards - tearing out wild iris, shooting stars, native blooming shrubs and vines."

The Sierra Club hopes that other organizations such as CNPS, and individuals as well, will weigh in with concerns about the North Fork American River Trail. We must act now if we are to avoid this kind of damaging trail construction on public lands. For more information please contact me at 916 557-1100 ext. 108, or by email at terry.davis at

Events of Interest

  • Thursday, April 24, 9-3, Earth Day Celebration at Sierra College, Rocklin.
  • Sunday, April 27, 11-5, Earth Day Celebration at Pioneer Park, Nevada City.
  • Saturday May 10, 10 am-4 pm "A Walk on the Wild Side" Sacramento Valley Chapter, CNPS, presents their Spring Native Plant Sale and the International Migratory Bird Celebration at Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Elk Grove CA. For more information check "" or phone 916-775-4421.

Spenceville Wildlife Area

A new threat to Spenceville Wildlife and Recreation Area (Nevada & Yuba Counties) has appeared in the form of a proposed major development on Spenceville's and Beale Air Force Base's northern boundaries. The project would include over 5,000 homes (around 13,000 people) and is called the Yuba Highlands. It is part of a much larger specific plan envisioned and approved by Yuba County in the early nineties.

It is anticipated that 60% or more of the traffic generated by this development would head south toward Lincoln and Roseville. Smartville Road, Waldo Road and Long Ravine Road traversing through Spenceville would be the likely route of that traffic. It is not hard to imagine the negative impacts to Spenceville's oak woodlands, animal habitat, and other values that the increased traffic will cause. Yuba Highlands is just the first of many potential projects in the River Highlands Specific Plan Area should this project be approved and built.

Friends of Spenceville is asking for letters to the media and county supervisors on this development They can provide further information about Yuba Highlands. Contact Richard Thomas at 530-265-2666 or email at randtthomas at

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Last updated
May 2003