CNPS Redbud Chapter
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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
More detailed information about the lawsuit
is at www.forestissuesgroup.org.
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
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
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.
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
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
3868 Cincinnati Avenue, Rocklin
•Sierra College Natural History Museum
Fall Native Plant Sale
Time to volunteer now! Contact Frances at
email@example.com 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!
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:
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
•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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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
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.