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Fall 2005 Newsletter
Vol 14, No. 3. Sept. 2005

Upcoming Chapter Meeting

The Cottonwood Burn: Managing Our Forests After Wildfires
By Vivian Parker, CNPS Coordinator for Conservation of Sierran National Forests
Monday, November 21, 2005, 7:30 PM
Nevada County Library Community Room

In 1994, nearly 47,000 acres of Tahoe National Forest near Loyalton, Sierra County, burned in the Cottonwood Fire. The Cottonwood Project proposes to apply chemical herbicides to 13,500 acres of the burn area to accelerate the growth of planted conifer trees. This requires an estimated 650,000 gallons/2,500 tons of toxic chemicals. The purpose of the herbicide treatment is to reduce competition from native plant species that naturally grow after a wildfire. However, research has long shown that native grasses, forbs, and shrubs actually improve the recovery of the soil and trees in burned areas. This diversity of plants supports birds and other wildlife.
Despite the objections of scientists and the concerned public, the U.S. Forest Service administration has denied all appeals to halt the Cottonwood Project. The state organization of CNPS has joined with the Forest Issues Group, Sierra Foothills Audubon, SYRCL, Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club, California Indian Basketweavers Association, Earth Island Institute, and Redbud Chapter to bring our objections to Federal Court.
More detailed information about the lawsuit is at
For Redbud’s November meeting, Vivian Parker will share her photographs of the Cottonwood burn area and will bring an ecologist’s perspective on the management of burned areas. Vivian works for the California Indian Basketweavers Association and lives in El Dorado County. The public is index to this free educational meeting.

Fall is for planting

Fall Native Plant Sale
Saturday, October 1, 2005
9:30 AM to 1:30 PM
Sierra College - Grass Valley Campus
New this year Children’s Discovery Zone
Volunteer to help!
See details on page 5.
Directions: The library is located at 980 Helling Way, Nevada City. At the intersection of Hwy 49 and 20 in Nevada City, turn west toward Downieville on Hwy 49. At about 1 mile, turn right at the Nevada County Government Center and follow signs to the library.

The Call for Volunteers Continues

Due to the concern and generosity of our members, all of the board positions are filled except for one. Program Chair: This is an essential position because our fall, winter, and spring evening programs depend on having someone line up speakers or activities for the entire Redbud Chapter membership and other interested members of our community. We already have a speaker scheduled for November. Now we just need a few more speakers and/or activities to get us through the winter and spring. If you are interested in being the Program Chair, or if you have questions about the position, or if you are interested in co-chairing the position with someone else, please contact Roger McGehee at 264-4173.
Newsletter Mailing: Help is needed four times a year with mailing our newsletter. Job includes picking up printed newsletters; gathering postage, labels and supplies; and assembling the newsletters for the mailing. Call Karen Callahan, newsletter editor, at 530-272-5532 to volunteer. Thank you!

Gardening with California’s Native Bulbs

by Nancy Gilbert

California is blessed with one of the richest and most diverse flora in North America, largely due to the incredible climatic and geological variety. The bulb-, corm-, and rhizome-producing plants rank among the most interesting and beautiful of California’s plants and have tremendous gardening potential, which is largely untapped by the horticultural trade. For simplicity’s sake, I will generally be using the term ‘bulb’ to refer to plants that produce a bulb, corm, tuber, or rhizome.
Hundreds of species of California bulbs can be found growing in a wide range of ecosystems including alpine, chaparral, oak woodland, valley grassland, desert, riparian, and coastal rain forest. Bulbs can be seen growing in wet areas, such as the edges of vernal pools and seeps, as well as on dry, rocky, and difficult sites such as serpentine. There is a native bulb for almost every niche in your garden. A primary key to successfully landscaping with native bulbs is to know the preferred habitat of the species, including soil type, exposure, amounts of light or shade, and water, and then to duplicate this habitat as closely as possible in your garden.
California native bulbs have sometimes been labeled as “difficult to grow,” but numerous species are very easy to propagate and grow in a wide range of conditions. Among the easiest and most versatile are the members of the genera Brodiaea, Dichelostemma, and Triteleia. Most of the species in these genera are adapted to summer drought but many species will accept occasional summer water, so long as the drainage is good and the soil dries between watering. Many even perform well in heavy clay soils. Some species, such as Triteleia peduncularis, Triteleia hyacinthina, and Brodiaea coronaria grow on sites that are very wet in spring and prefer moisture through flowering. We have observed in our own garden that many of the Brodiaeas and Triteleias actually grow more robustly if they receive occasional watering during the dry season. Brodiaeas, Triteleias, and Dichelostemmas are perfectly suited to the mixed border, especially in a xerophytic planting of native and other Mediterranean plants that receive occasional or no summer water. They are lovely growing up through Creeping Sage and Bearberry or with the apricot-colored flowers of Bush Monkeyflower as a backdrop. For maximum effect, plant them in closely spaced groups to give a strong splash of color.

Alliums or Wild Onions

There are over thirty species of Alliums, or wild onions, found growing in California. Most are easy to grow and multiply rapidly in the garden. The species that are native to the mountains or moist meadows, such as Allium unifolium and A. validum, prefer full sun and regular watering all season. The majority of wild onions are from dry, rocky habitats and need good drainage with summer drought. Most Alliums are well-suited to rock gardens, where they can be planted in colonies among short-growing Brodiaeas, such as Brodiaea purdyii. Their lovely pom-pom blooms can also be displayed to advantage when planted in groups towards the front of the mixed, dry perennial border.

Calochortus or Mariposa Lily

The genus Calochortus includes some of the more challenging species for the gardener, but also contains numerous easy growers. This genus contains some of the finest ornamental species, so it is well worth it for the beginner to try some of the more carefree varieties, while the more avid horticulturists will enjoy the reward of seeing a more difficult species, such as the exquisite orange-flowered Calochortus kennedyi, blooming in their rock or desert garden. The Calochortus all need good drainage and a period of summer dormancy.
Calochortus albus, C. amabilis, and C. amoenus, commonly referred to as Fairy Lanterns, prefer partial shade and will accept occasional summer water if they have good drainage; they are often seen growing on steep, north or east facing banks. The Pussy Ears and Star Tulips occupy varied habitats, from temporarily wet meadows to dry pine woodlands. Calochortus monophyllus, Yellow Star Tulip, is an open woodland grower and prefers filtered light and summer dry, whereas Calochortus uniflorus, which grows in meadows, is best with some early summer water.
The Mariposa Lilies, such as Calochortus superbus and C. luteus appreciate sunshine and require summer drought. They are stunning planted in drifts with native bunch grasses and other wildflowers, in the mixed, summer dry border, or planted among California native shrubs, such as Coffeeberry, Manzanita, or Toyon. The Mariposas also can be used for spring color on your deck or patio by planting several of them in a deep container with well-drained soil. The container should be stored in a dry, shady location once the blooming period is over.

Growing the Bulbs

Unfortunately for gardeners, most of the California native bulbs are a tasty treat for gophers and squirrels. So if you have these rodents in your area, protect your bulbs, especially at the time of planting, when they are most vulnerable. Tucking them into rock outcrops is one way to make them less accessible. You can lay one inch chicken or aviary wire over the bulbs, just below the surface of the ground or construct a subsurface cage of the same materials. Commercial sprays and slow release, systemic tablets that protect bulbs are readily available, but this can become a bit expensive if you have a large number of bulbs to protect. There are recipes on the Internet for making your own sprays from hot peppers, eggs, and other available materials. Sprays and repellent tablets will also work to repel rabbits, which can sometimes munch on the leaves of bulbs. If you have an over-abundance of gophers, you may want to consider trapping them.
Most California native bulbs prefer lean soils with sharp drainage. Exceptions are those found growing in adobe soils, wet meadows, woodland areas or along creeks and seeps. Soils only need to be amended if you are trying to grow a species in a soil that differs markedly from the bulb’s natural habitat. Woodland species may need to have humus added to the soil and bulbs native to rocky mountain scree areas will need to grow in rock gardens where soils have been altered for fast drainage. In general, it is not advisable to add any fertilizer to the planting holes except those formulated specifically for bulbs. These fertilizers are high in phosphorous and potassium, but low in nitrogen. We add only soft rock phosphate to our planting holes and have had good results.
All-in-all, California native bulbs offer the Mediterranean gardener or landscaper beautiful, versatile and water efficient plants whose full potential is just beginning to be appreciated. Many species are becoming rare in the wild, so using them in your garden is also a way to preserve these gems for future generations.

Nancy’s article was edited to fit our newsletter. The full text is available at
Nancy is co-owner with husband, Ames, of Far West Bulb Farm near Grass Valley, California. Meet them at our Fall Plant Sale October 1st.

Thank you to the following businesses
for their generous donations of plants and supplies for Redbud's plant sales:
•Blue Oak Nursery
16034 Lake Vera Road, Nevada City
•Happy Frog Horticulture Center
15386 Little Valley Road, Grass Valley
•Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply
125 Clydesdale Court, Grass Valley
•Restoration Resources
3868 Cincinnati Avenue, Rocklin
•Sierra College Natural History Museum
Rocklin, California

Fall Native Plant Sale

Time to volunteer now! Contact Frances at or 265-4838 to help with the sale! She needs Redbud members to set up in the morning, to sell plants, and to cashier at the sale. Frances wants plenty of volunteers to help everyone who comes to the sale!

Discovery Zone

Bring your children or grandchildren to the Zone to learn about earthworms and native plants through hands-on experiences!

Participating businesses as of press time:

Abacus (Auburn)
Arts Arrived (Nevada City)
Cornflower Farms (Elk Grove)
Far West Bulb Farm (Grass Valley)
Floral Native Nursery (Chico)
Restoration Resources (Rocklin)
Sierra Valley Farms (Beckwith, CA)
Sierra View (Loomis)
And several others expected!

Thank you to artist, Dyanne Johnson, for allowing us to use her wonderful drawings of the Narrowleaf Pansy Monkeyflower for our newsletter and plant sale flyer. The bright pink flowers of this tiny annual Mimulus are a favorite of visitors to Hells Half Acre near Grass Valley. Dyanne is a Redbud Chapter member from Penn Valley.

A Great Year for Sierra Wildflowers

For month after month this spring, we enjoyed displays of abundant wildflowers—masses of Spider Lupines in the American River Canyon; Poppies, Popcorn Flowers, and more Spider Lupines at Bridgeport; and fields of Buckwheat and Clarkias in mid-June at Hells Half Acre. The extended 2005 wildflower season and
beautiful weather inspired us to organize a series of mid-summer field trips. Thanks to some outstanding publicity by Frances Jorgensen, Barbara Roemer, and Don Harkin, an average of 20 persons joined each field trip. For many, the botany walks were their first time with Redbud’s activities and we gained several new members. Thank you to these volunteers:

•July 7 Loney Meadow
led by Roger McGehee and Karen Callahan;
•July 9 Palisades Lake area
led by Cyndi Brinkhurst, Solveig Lardner, Joan Jernegan, and Karen Callahan;
•July 16 Forest Ecology, Malakoff Diggins area
led by Don Harkin;
•July 28 Burton Property, Nevada City
led by Roger McGehee.

Meet the Board

We have asked members of the Board to write a little bit about themselves so that you, the membership, will know something about the busy people who have volunteered to run your local CNPS chapter. Some have included what they envision for Redbud Chapter or for their specific committee, offering you, the membership, additional opportunities to volunteer to do a little something for your chapter.

Roger McGehee, President

I was a Biology major in college, specializing in Botany and Entomology. I was fortunate to have Dr. Carl Sharsmith as my Plant Taxonomy professor! After graduating, I started working for the Yosemite Institute and the National Park Service as a naturalist, and got to work with Carl for several summers in Tuolumne Meadows. After 13 years of working in Yosemite, I moved to Marin County and began teaching Biology in a small, private high school. During that time I was active in their outdoor program, leading backpacking, mountain climbing, and mountain biking trips. About three years ago I wrote a book entitled Mountain Biking Northern California, which describes most of the single-track trails open to mountain bikes throughout Northern California. I recently retired and moved to Nevada County but still return frequently to Marin County to visit with the teachers and students. Presently I am learning to use Jepson rather than Munz, am trying to learn Spanish, and am attempting to learn to surf. I look forward to cavorting with local botanists and experiencing the local flora.

Nancy Gilbert, Education Co-chair

I received a Master’s Degree in Science Education from the University of Iowa in 1971. I have taught elementary, middle, and high school students at various times and locales. I have also worked as a naturalist for the state of Vermont and as director of the summer environmental education program for a private non-profit in Vermont. I entered the field of landscape design in 1981 and have been enjoying it ever since. My husband, Ames, and I began propagating California native plants and eventually our hobby grew into a full-fledged nursery/design business, which we named Califlora Nursery and Design. We decided in the 1990s to specialize in native bulbs and re-named our new business Far West Bulb Farm. We moved our lives and business to Grass Valley in 1998. I am currently working for the City of Roseville as project manager in charge of landscape design and installation. Ames and I have one daughter, Sophie, who is a Junior at UCLA, majoring in Ecology. We have had a family membership in the CNPS for about 20 years. We are also active in the Sierra Club and are members of SYRCL, as well as other several other environmental organizations. Ames and I share the Education Chair together and some of our goals and ideas are:

•Produce an electronic, on-line coloring book of native plants from Nevada and Placer counties. The line drawings could be downloaded and printed from the Redbud website.
•Produce a printed coloring book of native plants from Nevada and Placer counties. Book could be sold at plant sales and made available to schools and clubs in the local area.
•Produce an electronic slide show of native plants and special sites/hikes from our two counties and make it available to members for shows to the public, schools, etc. The photos would be stored on a CD, which would allow a Power-Point type of presentation to be easily shown by anyone using a laptop computer.
•Develop an educational program through the Imaginarium that would be both interactive and on-going. It would be focused on gardening with native plants that attract and benefit wildlife.

Please contact one of us if you have a laptop that you would like to donate for the slide show or electronic photos you would like to submit. Any other assistance or ideas are appreciated.
More to come in future issues.

Minutes of CNPS Redbud Chapter Board Meeting, May 25, 2005
By Lynn Hurrell, Secretary

Chapter Members honored our past President and Rare Plants Chair Richard Hanes for his many contributions to our chapter over the years. Cake and ice cream were served. Richard will be re-locating to Grants Pass, Oregon, in mid-June. Richard may still be contacted by email at
Property owners of Hells Half Acre will be contacted to see if they will pay the dump fee for the trash that remains on the property. The Board decided that “No Dumping” signs should be purchased and installed in two locations on the property. The owners will be asked to contribute to the signs and posts. Carolyn Chainey- Davis will be contacted to see if further work has been done concerning blocking entry to the property with large boulders or timber. Robinson Timber might be a source of help in moving large objects into place on the property.
Fourteen one-gallon plants will be donated by Redbud Chapter to the native plant garden at Bridgeport, South Yuba River State Park. Karen Loro and two other Bridgeport docents are working on the garden this summer.
President: The new president, Roger McGehee, was officially voted into office.
Newsletter: Newsletter editor would like all new chairpersons to submit a brief biographical statement ASAP. Please submit these to Karen at
Web Site: Take a look at our up-dated web site!! Funds have been approved for improvements. Bill Wilson and others have volunteered to make the web site more useful.
Treasurer: Treasurer asks Committee Chairpersons to use the request for reimbursement forms she has sent out. If you don’t receive a form contact our Treasurer, Gayle Carlsmith.

Minutes of CNPS Redbud Chapter Board Meeting, August 24, 2005
By Lynne Hurrell, Secretary

Roger reported that he received no response from the owners of Hells Half Acre regarding signs for the property. Therefore, he will purchase and put up the signs when rain softens the ground.
The Redbud Chapter has been contacted regarding our commitment of support to the lawsuit against the spraying of herbicides on the Cottonwood burn. Members committed moral support at this time with money at a later date if it is available in the budget.
Marie Bain, Chapter Council Delegate, reported on the Chapter Council Meeting in June. New rules state that every chapter member should be allowed to vote for officers and other important rule changes either through a form in the member newsletter or by holding a special meeting just to vote. Redbud Chapter was given color prints of rare California Lilies to sell as a fundraiser. Contact Marie about the prints.
Sam Longmire, concerned member, discussed his reactions to the proposed new Nevada County Fire Plan. Suggestions were made to have a panel discussion in early 2006 with members from the Fire Safe Council, Nevada Co. Fire Plan, and people knowledgeable about wildlife, plants, soils, and other areas that will be impacted if this plan is adopted.
Chet Blackburn spoke about the new book on wildflowers of Placer and Nevada Counties. He hopes to have a pre-sale at the October plant sale and to have it available in either January or February. To follow in ensuing years is an edition on the shrubs and trees of Nevada and Placer County.
Meeting closed at approximately 9:30 P.M. Next meeting will be a chapter program meeting for the general membership and the public on November 21 at the Nevada County Library.


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Last updated
September 28, 2005