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January 10, 2018

Dear Skyliners,


Whoo-boy, that was some rain we just had.  We got over 4 inches at Skyline, and the timing was perfect.  Last Sunday (the day before the rain), a good group turned out and we did our final prep and first restoration plantings of native plant starts (more below).  Welcome to Jennifer.


We'll be out regular days this week: Wednesday 2 - 5 and Sunday 9:30 to 1. Sunday will be our main planting days for January.  Please let me know if you can make it.


We have grown some 600 native plant starts this year, all from seeds we collected at Skyline Gardens.  This keeps the plant genetics pure for that area.  This is the gold standard for restoration projects: local plants grown from locally collected seed.


To prepare each area for planting, we carefully spray vinegar (5% generic distilled white vinegar) to kill the seedlings of Italian Thistle and other invasives .  We spray early in the season, following the first rains, when the seeds of the invasives are just sprouting, but while the native perennials are either dormant or very small, so the natives are protected.  As the natives emerge, we hand weed around the collar of each plant.  Then we are ready for planting.


Here's a ready to go section of the High Ridge Terrace near Barberry Peak:

In this shot I can see California Poppies, Soap Root, Buckwheat, Purple Needle Grass, California Rice Grass (Melic), Blue Dicks and about ten species of lichen on the rocks.  We carefully spray and hand weed around the rocks to preserve the lichens.  Some of the larger lichens at the lower left could be 50 years old.  The brownish and open areas have been sprayed and weeded, to clear out the invasives.


We sowed our seeds at the end of August.  Now they are ready to plant out.  Here's some of them on site Sunday:

Here, from left to right are Cobweb Thistle (the big, red native one), California Phacelia, June Grass, and Chia (black four-inch pot).  I am holding a Phacelia in a yellow stubby tube, which is about four inches deep.  


We will plant each species in the spots that match their habits.  For example, Chia grows on a hot, rocky south-facing slope.  California Phacelia favors a more protected western to north-facing slope.  


Then we plant:

Here's Dan and Mike planting a Phacelia and a native thistle.


Here's a close-up of a Cobweb (native) thistle, planted:

We thought this little pocket between two rocks would be a good place to gather extra water runoff from the rocks and would help protect the young plant from gophers.  (We shall see about that.)  Then we mark each new plant with a colored stick (yellow here, seen from above) so we will know not to weed or spray it in the future - we hope!!!  Special thanks to Cynthia for all these photos.


Finally, we give each small plant a dollop of water, just enough to settle in the soil around the roots; from then on, it's rainfall only, from here to eternity.  They are on their own.


Good luck, little ones.


Happy Trails,



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