Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall planting in the Mojave Desert

A katydid shopping at Theodore Payne California Native Plants
The little people* were out shopping yesterday at Theodore Payne in Sunland.
On March 4, 2014 I posted From Theodore Payne native nursery about the desert plants we bought. Althogether 13 trees and 7 other small bushes. We lost 5 - one mystery tree from an online nursery, one apache plume, one desert peach, one jojoba and our native grape.

Here is our fall planting, though I still want to buy some shade trees and some Callistemon citrinus “Little John” dwarf bottlebrush for bee and hummingbird fodder.
The only thing we duplicated from our spring planting was Atriplex canescens - Four wing saltbush, which the rabbits wouldn't touch and has never flagged and has about doubled in size since we planted it.

The Vitis girdiana - Native California grape - replaced the one we bought and killed in the spring. If we kill this one the next will be Flame grape from Home Depot which seems to thrive here. We almost lost our fairy duster - it was touch and go for some time, but I finally mulched it with lots of hay and our neighbor's pony poo and now it's happy.

Romneya grows crazy in LA and is big and beautiful but they made no promises for it at the nursery. I'm crossing my fingers. The coastal oak is another 'maybe', but I'm feeling hopeful.

The desert willows kicked into overdrive with the August rains, shot up to about 24 inches and put on a lovely display of fragrant purple blossoms. It's a very humbling thing to see such delicate flowers in such a harsh environment.

Last week we bought a big round of chicken wire, so next week, after the community breakfast (you're going, right?), I'll be building bigger cages for some of the older plants and repurposing the smaller cages for the new plants.

I still want to plant these trees, but some can wait until the spring:

  • Carob
  • Mimosa
  • Chinese Elm
  • Pistachio
  • Persian Mullberry
  • Jujube
  • Sea Buckthorn
  • Goji
  • Shoestring Acacia
The point is to create biodiversity and attract the 'little people' - the bugs, and birds, the snakes and lizards and tortoises, and perhaps begin to reverse the ravages of drought and desertification on 2.5 acres in far north Joshua Tree.

* Author Mary Hunter Austin refers to "the little people" in her book, The Land of Little Rain, 1903, available free online.