Regenerative Landscape Architecture
12 Jun 2019

Plants That Attract Butterflies in Los Angeles

Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)
The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was once a widespread species of precious pollinator - famous for its migration from Canada to Mexico where visitors flocked to see them in the hundreds of millions. But since Monsanto's RoundUp entered the landscape, populations have plummeted to only 20% - globally.  A national movement to save this beautiful creature is underway - you can help by planting plants that attract butterflies in los angeles.  This specific species of Milkweed, which Monarchs needs in their larval form, can't be replaced by other Milkweeds, so be sure to read nursery labels carefully.




Brassica oleracea botrytis aparagoides (Nine-Star Perennial Broccoli)

As far as plants that attract butterflies in los angeles, this uncommon plant is perhaps so because not many people realize they can grow perennial vegetables in their gardens.  One of the many ways we save our clients money is teaching them about plants like this, so they don't have to buy new plants every year and invest the time to put them in the ground.  This nutritious vegetable is also pollinated by honey and native bees, making it a multi-purpose plant.


Malus sylvestris domestica 'Anna' (Low-Chill Green Apple)

Butterflies need shelter from the wind as well as nectar and larval food plants.  Our picks for plants that attract butterflies in los angeles therefore include this apple tree which grows well in warm climates like ours.  Offering crisp, pale green fruits with a red blush, this variety is also attractive to pollinator insects like butterflies and bees.  Planting this particular species will benefit you, your property's beauty, and local wildlife.  It is self-fertile, so you don't need to plant more than one, but you'll get more apples if you put flowering ground covers under it.

Permaculture Design for L.A. Yards

Permaculture is a very effective regenerative design system, setting up a self-sustaining landscape. You'll see your water and maintenance bills go way down as well as the temperature around your house.  Learn more HERE.

Lawn replacement

Most residents of Los Angeles county don't realize that they can have a living grass lawn they don't have to mow or water.  We provide ecological lawns for our clients or replace their existing high-water, high-cost invasive chemlawn with low-maintenance perennial plantings.  The latter option gets you $2/sf back from the county's rebate program.  Both eliminate toxic chemicals dangerous to butterflies.

Ecology in L.A. Classes

We offer several workshops and courses you can take online or locally.  Learn how to create habitat and restore your property's health and function while saving a lot of money you currently spend on maintenance, watering, fertilizers, and amendments.

image: plants that attract butterflies in Los Angeles

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19 Apr 2019

A Mystic’s List of Perennial Plants

Two Performers For My List of Perennial Plants

People often tell me that they love the way I speak about plants and the landscape on my website.  I definitely do express a unique perspective on non-human species and other organic elements of this beautiful, magical planet.  In this post, I will list perennial plants that provide multiple ecosystem services* to us and focus on the mystical side of the plant world, which I have worked with in my professional ecological landscape design business for the last 15 years.

image: list perennial plantsI fell in love with Nature** as a child.  I lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, and back then it was okay to wander for literally hours through the shipyards by myself.  Generation X understands this.  It was on those long, unsupervised walks that I discovered near-blinding pockets of magic.  I would remember them for life.  One was a tall stand of Anise (Pimpinella anisum) which had been colonized by a group of Ladybugs.  The sun was shining on their brilliant red shells, popping them against the vibrant green stems.  I stood surrounded by the wonderful scent of the plant and pinched several small lace clumps to savor the flavor, being careful not to scoop up any Ladybugs on accident.

I will list perennial plants that I talk about in this post at the bottom, so you can take that to a garden center near you or order plants online more easily.  Anyway, in addition to it providing one of my first mystical experiences, it turns out that Anise is quite an amazing plant.  Cultivated in Egypt and other ancient societies, it provides us with antioxidant-rich essential oil used widely for flavoring and preventing food spoilage.  Mediterranean countries use it to craft alcoholic beverages named Arak, Raki, Ouzo, Anis, Pastis, Sambuca, and Zivania.  The seeds are edible, as are the flowers and lace-like tops.  As illustrated in the story of one of my adventure walks as a child, beneficial insects like it.  Ladybugs will take care of aphid problems on plants, and many garden centers now sell them in refrigerated mesh bags to take home and release on your garden.  I always tell clients to spritz them lightly with water mixed with a few drops of mild (non-toxic!) dish soap before releasing them.  This temporarily seals their wings, and they give up trying to fly off and instead settle in to munch the aphids in your garden.  Anise oil used as aromatherapy relieves stress.  What a service in this world of commercial barragementt! Anise is toxic to mosquitos and several other insects nobody wants in their garden.  Conifer seedlings beset by the pine weevil, for instance, are able to grow up with application of Anise.

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15 Mar 2019

What Is The Best Mulch To Use In Los Angeles?

In L.A. What is the Best Mulch to Use?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed the barren, compacted parkways all around L.A.  Most of them have at least some plant life, some have trash, others nothing at all.  Just sun-baked, bleached dirt.  My guess is that most of you reading this are not quite as nerdy as I am about the health of our parkways.  Like, you may never have asked what is the best mulch to use in your yard or the planting strip out front of your house or apartment, known as a parkway.  Technically, the city owns parkways, but citizens must maintain them.  Perhaps where we can come together is that parkways could stand a makeover.  I’m here to share my techniques for revitalizing the parkways of L.A., cheaply and with little work on your part.

The methods I use with my clients are super simple, yet they, like most Permaculture techniques, pack a massive punch.  In the field, ecological designers like me call this sort of approach, where minimal effort produces maximum results, a fulcrum move.  The idea is that a fulcrum moves only a little at the joint, but at its end it swings wide.  In other words, you put in little work to effect a change, but the landscape jumps into action and sweeping change is the result.  Another great benefit of using fulcrum moves like the ones I’m going to share with you here, is that your costs are reduced.  That’s right, your water bill will go down, and if you pay a “mow, blow, and go” landscaper, you won’t need them to maintain your parkway as much, if at all.

If this sounds good to you, read on.

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22 Feb 2019

Five Southern California Plants That Reduce Maintenance and Water Costs

image: Southern California Plants

Plants do a lot for human beings. If I were to try and list all of the services provided by the Plant Kingdom to the Animal Kingdom, it might amount to an encyclopedia set.  Most of us know about a handful taught to us in school:  plants breathe out oxygen, provide shade, and offer us delicious produce to eat.  In this article, I'd like to share a few of the many additional gifts we get from Southern California plants by highlighting a few species you can grow if you live in Los Angeles County.

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05 Jul 2018

Is $75K Buried In Your Soil?

Buried Treasure Found

Do you loveimage: buried treasure found stories of buried treasure found?  Most of us have at one point dwelt for a moment on how neat it would be to find a jar of gold coins buried on our property.  Before I was born, my dad did exactly that, at his parents’ Mount Tamalpias home.  Going back years later, he dug but could not find the jar of stored wealth.  Did someone else discover his stash?  Or did he simply forget where he had buried it?  Now it’s too late to find out, since there are new owners who probably don’t want holes or strangers in their yard.  But what if he had known what I’m about to tell you?  He could have avoided all that digging and the loss of some precious metal coins worth a lot more than their mint value today.

I don’t want you to make the same mistake, not that you necessarily would do what my dad did, but I’m excited to share with you my  method of getting a lot of money out of the ground your home sits on.

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14 Jun 2018

Desertification Reversal Isn’t Only Possible, It’s Simple

How to Easily Reverse Desertification

image: desertificationIn my experience as a designer and an intuitive, forest destruction is the single most dangerous activity of mankind.  The result of taking out trees is the decline of the landscape toward desertification, or entropy.  I’ve always shaken my head at the mainstream tale we’ve been told about entropy being Earth’s natural tendency.  If you’ve spent as much time gazing into Nature as I have, you probably agree that this is a flat out lie.  To anyone watching, natural systems move automatically toward a climax ecosystem state unless they are disturbed to a degree that breaks down the inherent ability of the system to recover.  In extreme cases of deforestation, true deserts occur, such as the Sahara in Africa.

An Egyptian Take On Desertification

Speaking of the Motherland, on the subject of desertification I find the research of those wise and brave enough to disregard Egyptology to be important here.  They are the most fun researchers and writers IMHO (in my humble opinion) because they are boldly willing to pass right by the misinformation campaigns fed to the world.  Read More