Archive for November, 2008

Thank you, Mike Evans

November 15, 2008

This was originally published in the Nov/Dec 2008 newsletter of the chapter, written by an anonymous contributor:

In these newsletters we usually discuss topics for upcoming speakers, not those from previous meetings. But the recent presentation (at our September 18, 2008 general meeting for 85 people) by Mike Evans made some important points that are worth emphasizing.

He talked about the experiences of modern children, growing up in a structured, high-density urban milieu. They get plenty of exposure to television and video games—but what about the world of growing plants? For some, there may be no exposure whatever. Others are limited to controlled and artificial environments such as gated developments or industrial “parks.” An amazing number of kids—and adults as well—have no knowledge of even the existence of natural habitats here in Orange County.

Mike believes that this has created a void in the kinds of experiences and interactions that are a necessary part of childhood development. We owe our kids more, and he suggests that one solution is the establishment of backyard habitats; microcosms where they can observe growth, pollination, and other natural events. The small details of even a pocket garden—with its plants, insects, birds and even soil and rocks—provide a laboratory in miniature.

Gardens, he says, are not just to be looked at—they must also be experienced. This kind of interaction happens when a gardener—young or old—becomes not just an observer, but also a participant in the ongoing spontaneity of a native habitat, no matter how small.

Without lecturing, he bolstered his argument with photographs of the hummingbirds, butterflies, and the various other insects that find a home in a natural garden. His scenes capture the interaction between intimate gardens and the children who live in them.

A home garden is a world to be experienced—up close and personal. 

Thea Gavin, Bob Allen and Mike Evans after the meeting

Thea Gavin, Bob Allen and Mike Evans after the meeting


General Meeting: Thursday, Nov 20, 2008 – Native Grasses

November 14, 2008

Please join us at our November General Meeting:

LOCATION and TIME of meeting:
Duck Club, Riparian View Way, Irvine (see for directions)
Doors open at 6:45 pm
Bob Allen “Circumvistas allenii” at 7:15 pm
Main program at 7:30 pm

Speaker: Travis Columbus

Subject:  Native Grasses of California

Did you ever wonder what part of the state those grasses you grow in your garden came from? Do many of our native grasses look alike to you? Why are some found only in certain areas of our state while others accept only certain soil types? Wouldn’t you really like to better understand one of our most fascinating plant families?

There is a certain pleasure derived from listening to an expert illuminate a subject that is a mystery for most of us. With grasses being the fourth largest plant family in the world, someone special is needed to unravel the secrets. We have that someone!

Travis Columbus, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and engaging, will provide an introduction to the native grasses of California, considering their evolutionary history, classification, geography, and ecology. He received his Ph. D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Among other duties and interests, he is currently Research Scientist at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Associate Professor of Botany, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California.

Besides being much published, much awarded, and much traveled, Travis is well known for his two-day workshops on California grasses and is well respected in the world of botany and beyond. His studies have concentrated on grasses as evidenced by his 1988 co-authoring of “New Mexico grasses: A synopsis of the classification and a key to the genera” published in the New Mexico Journal of Science. In 1993 he wrote the treatment of Bouteloua and ofPleuraphis in the Jepson Manual, and he is still at it, preparing work for inclusion in the next Jepson Manual.

He is an engaging speaker, who knows his subject well, and who fears no grasses. His notable pressed collection exceeds 5300 plants, but his real claim to fame may have been his 2004 appearance with Huell Howser on a California’s Green show about the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Herbarium.

Hilaria rigida (JT Columbus)

Hilaria rigida (JT Columbus)