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Ruben Flores encourages Lagunans to go native

Ruben Flores encourages Lagunans to go native

Original article published on Stu News


Barbara’s Column

Ruben Flores encourages Lagunans to go native



Beautification Council President Ruben Flores has gone native—and he would love it if all of Laguna’s gardeners followed his lead.

Last Saturday, he conducted a seminar at the South Laguna Community Garden on native plants.

An audience of perhaps 40 ranged from toddlers to octogenarians – and the first 25 to sign up were presented with native plants by landscape architect Ann Christoph, who assisted Flores.

Photographs of recommended plants were distributed.

Salvia “Blue Bliss,” was among the plants recommended at the workshop. It is a sage and is easily identifiable by its odor and the swarm of bees it attracts.

Flores also praised Artemisia Californica, Buccharis Pilularis, Dudleya Pulverulenta, Ceanothus Megacapus, and Rhamus ilicifolia.

He lectured on how to select plants from the list of natives, how to plant them and how to nurture them.

Forget everything you ever heard about watering.

“One of the beauties of California natives is you don’t have to water them – that’s

true and that’s a lie,” said Flores “Everything needs water.”

But timing is everything.

When first planted, natives do need water, said Flores. “Soak, soak, soak,” he said.

The goal is to grow the roots so deep they don’t crop up in the top couple of inches of soil and dry out in warmer weather.

Photo by Ann Christoph


Ruben Flores kept the audience spellbound but (among other things) recommended that plants should not get too rootbound

“If you plant in the rainy season, you don’t have to water as much,” Flores said. “A matilija poppy, called the fried egg plant, is so beautiful. It is a California native and it grows with almost no water.

“You will be saying to yourself, ‘What was I thinking planting an azalea?’”

Once native plants have adjusted to their new home, watering should be done when the weather is cooler, like right now, and not in the summer.

And forget about raking up fallen leaves.

“They create a mulch, leave them alone,” said Flores.

Flores urged the audience to spend some time at the Santa Ana Botanical Garden in Claremont.

“It is about 40 or 50 acres of California natives,’ said Flores. “Go and experience it and maybe you will say ‘Well, I’ll try what Ruben said.’”

The Community Garden is not all native plants. Some of the plots are given over to edible plants.

Rosemary Wong grows sweet potatoes, kale and beets.

She and her husband Jeff Truskey have had their plot for three years. Demitre Thorpe, (related to the legendary athlete Jim Thorpe), and his wife, Laguna Beach native Deanna Olney are thinking about getting one of the plots.

Individual plots are 6 by 8 feet. One is available. Five people have expressed interest, and one application has been submitted, Christoph said.

“We do have a Friendship Shelter plot where vegetables are grown, and if anyone interested in gardening they could work on that,” Christoph added.

If weeding and pruning appeals to you, show up at the garden on Feb 18 with gloves and clippers. You will be welcomed.

But wait—There’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading