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CNPS Nursery

Nursery Gate

CNPS SCV Nursery

-- founded by Jean and David Struthers

 Where ecology and horticulture connect.

The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CNPS maintains the CNPS SCV Nursery on the grounds of Hidden Villa Ranch in Los Altos Hills. Volunteers propagate native plants throughout the year for the chapter's Native Plant Sales. Proceeds from plant sales are the major source of funding for all chapter activities. Inventory is updated once a month before the plant sale. Here is the most recent inventory.

Nursery work sessions take place every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am to 2pm. Volunteers should bring garden gloves. A sunhat, a jacket, and a lunch may also be helpful. Other tools will be provided at the nursery. Knowledge of plants is not necessary: your willingness to help is all that's required. Drop-in volunteers are welcome.

You can check the weather at the nursery on our Bloomsky Weather Station.

For more information, contact the Nursery Manager, Vivian Neou at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Directions: Hidden Villa is located on 26870 Moody Road Los Altos Hills, CA 94022. It is west of Foothill College. From Hwy 280 in Los Altos Hills, take the Moody Road exit and head west. Two miles west of Foothill College, look for the Hidden Villa sign and driveway on the left. Proceed over the bridge, and park in the Dana Center parking lot to your right. Parking is free for volunteers. The nursery is just beyond the Dana Center. 

The CNPS SCV Nursery was started in 1995 when Jean Struthers got a $10,000 grant from the Packard Foundation to build a nursery for the chapter. With that grant and the donation of some fencing left over from a Christmas tree lot, the nursery was started at Hidden Villa. The following excerpts from the July-August 1995 through the March--April 1997 editions of the Blazing Star trace the development of the Nursery's first few years.

By Melanie Cross, Chapter Nursery Manager

An issue that has surfaced in native plant nursery and revegetation circles this year is the appearance of deadly exotic pathogens: Phytophthora species, and lots of them. You may know of this algae relative because sudden oak death is caused by an airborne species, P. ramorum. The new pathogens that are showing up are water-borne. Susceptible plants at revegetation sites and other landscapes have been devastated by these “plant destroyers.” Unfortunately, nurseries offer the right conditions to cultivate and disseminate them. This is just what we do not want to do.

Milkweed (Asclepias) is the primary host plant for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Planting locally native milkweed in your garden will provide much needed habitat for these beautiful insects. There are fifteen species of milkweed that are native to California. The Nursery currently grows two of them. More information about California milkweeds is available from the Xerces Society.

Keep in mind that a single plant is usually not enough to provide habitat for butterflies, and providing multiple species of milkweed is better than one. In her book, The California Wildlife Habitat Garden, Nancy Bauer recommends including at least three plants of each species grown.

Asclepias fascicularis (Narrow-leaved Milkweed)

Native Bees with Narrow-leaf MilkweedAs one might guess from its name, this milkweed has narrow leaves that grow up to five inches long. They are fairly tall plants, growing up to three feet tall with multiple stems topped with clusters of white and pink flowers from June through September.

This is the most adaptable of the California milkweeds, growing well in both sun and shade, and tolerating both clay and sand. They even do well under oaks and can be found under them in the wild. With their striking flowers and long blooming season, these are ideal plants for any garden.   

They are perennials, but will die back to their roots in the fall. They reemerge from their deep taproot in the spring, putting out additional stems each year.

Although they are known for their relationship with the Monarch butterfly, their flowers are also popular with bees and other pollinators.

 More information is available at Mother Nature's Backyard and Las Pilitas.

Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)

This milkweed is native to the Bay Area and northern California. It has wide fuzzy grey to white leaves and spectacular 4 to 5 inch pinkish-white flower heads. It can grow three or four feet tall, although it tends to grow slowly and may take a couple years to reach full height. It prefers full sun and does not need supplemental water once established. 

Like narrow-leaved milkweed, it will die down to the roots in the fall. It usually emerges a bit later than narrow-leaved milkweed, so give it time to come up in late spring to early summer. The bloom period doesn't last as long - flowers tend to appear in June and July. However, the huge, gorgeous flowers more than make up for the shorter length of time.

More information about Showy Milkweed can be found on Calflora and Las Pilitas.

 

Skipper on Grindelia camporum

What's Blooming in the Nursery

Most of the time, these articles will be about specific plants that we think you would enjoy adding to your garden. But sometimes, we can't resist sharing the wonders that we see as we work in the nursery. This week the Grindelia camporum (Great Valley gumweed) was a pollinator magnet. Skippers, bees and flies (masquerading as bees) were busily feasting.

Of course, the parade of flowers didn't end there. A few of the others on display included: 

  • Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) - the Island Pink variety was eye-poppingly bright
  • Corethrogyne filaginifolia (common sandaster)
  • Dendromecon harfordii (bush poppy)
  • Diplacus X (hybrid monkeyflower)
  • Epilobium canum (California fuschia)- in addition to the usual reds, 'Summer Snow' brings white into the mix
  • Ericameria nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush)
  • Eriogonum (buckwheat) - a huge selection of these wonderful summer and fall bloomers continue to put on a show.
  • Monardella macrantha (hummingbird monardella)
  • Monardella villosa (coyote mint)

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