Tag Archives: landscaping

Agaves of Baja California Sur

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EL SARGENTO, BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR — Giganta Fiber Agave (Agave aurea) is one of 19 species in the genus Agave endemic to Baja California and Baja California Sur. Indigenous people used these plants for food, drink and cordage. The species pictured above is growing in our sandy soiled yard in El Sargento and it likely benefits from the nearby micro drip irrigation system. The species is endemic to our area, the tropical East Cape lowlands along the coast of the Sea of Cortez. These Baja badlands receive about 200 mm of rainfall annually.  Unlike the arid Mediterranean climate in Southern California and northwestern Baja, the tropical parts of southern Baja have a late summer and early fall wet season, associated with hurricanes and tropical low-pressure storms. Most agaves are pollinated by bats. Preserving and protecting bats is thus an integral part of preserving and protecting the native ecosystem.

Speaking of protection, notice the long spine at the end of each leave and the barbs around the leaf edges. These plants are doing all they can to deter herbivory.  #plants #desertlife #desert #desert🌵 #nature#nativeplants #cacti #succulents #agave #bajacalifornia #mescal

Going Native

Native coastal flowers. Credit: C. Johnson

Native coastal flowers. Credit: C. Johnson

Native coastal succulent.

Native coastal succulent. Credit: C. Johnson

People may say that “all the pretty plants” in Southern California are from somewhere else – that San Diego is a desert and beautiful because we water it. It’s not true. There are lots of beautiful, water-friendly native plants, and by planting them in your yard you can help preserve and protect our open spaces.

In fact, the line between landscaping and habitat restoration is becoming blurred as nurseries are now selling locally native species. By planting the right assemblages of species, you can literally recreate  valuable wildlife habitat in your yard. Granted the “wildlife” may be small – pollinators and butterflies, for example – but these animals are important to the whole ecosystem.

Yet another trend that is catching on is ocean-friendly gardening. The idea is simple: you design landscapes that capture and percolate runoff, instead of letting it flow straight into our beautiful ocean. The gardens are a favorite of mine because they often use lots of zen-garden-like rocks and have a minimalist feel.

Ocean-friendly gardening at the new NOAA fisheries science center in La Jolla. Credit: C. Johnson

Ocean-friendly gardening at the new NOAA fisheries science center in La Jolla. Credit: C. Johnson

If the ecological reasons for going native don’t resonate. There are yet other economic ones, like, I recently got my first water bill in a new home.  That lawn has got to go!

To learn more about the benefits of native plants and why invasive plant species are thwarting efforts to preserve and protect our last wild spaces, check out: Plant this …  not that! and Top 10 Native Plants in San Diego.