Lawn Enhancers

Each spring, I marvel at the emergence of chrome yellow flowers on a large lawn just west of the 405 freeway; it’s at the corner of Mulholland Drive and Casiano Road.
This lawn is taken over by goldfields (Lasthenia species), a flower native to California. After the lawn is mowed, the goldfields vanish for a few days only to return, blooming for several months.
This goldfields phenomenon raises the possibility of finding low-growing native or drought-tolerant plants that could serve as lawn substitutes. Perhaps a combination of them would do the trick, especially if bloomers for each of the four seasons could be found so that, mixed together, flowers could be seen throughout the year.
I have long marveled at the intolerance of people toward white clover in their lawns. White clover manufactures its own nitrate fertilizer thanks to a symbiotic relationship with beneficial nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its roots. Notice that a lawn is always greenest where white clover grows.
Another lawn enhancer or worth mentioning is yarrow. All yarrows are water-thrifty and some have a mat-like growth habit. Common yarrow or milfoil (Achillea millefolium), which blooms in white or rose, is especially recommended.
Q: I want to buy my friend a lime tree, but he lives literally steps away from the beach and gusty winds and sand on the streets are common. Any suggestion as to the best lime tree to plant? I am thinking possibly about a dwarf variety and keeping it in a pot due.
This same friend has planted a carrotwood tree and it is not doing well. The leaves are brown at the tips and are dropping. He has planted calla lilies under the base. Is the tree failing due to salt air, wind, or the lilies?
– Ann Chambers
A: The problems your friend is having with his carrotwood (Cupaniopis anacardioides) should warn as to what could happen if he planted a lime tree.
As a general rule, the “Bearss” lime variety, whose fruit turn yellow when ripe, may be grown in California wherever orange trees flourish.
That being said, citrus trees are not very tolerant of salt and wind. At the beach, container planting is a good idea since it allows moving the tree in stormy weather.
I doubt if calla lilies, whose roots are shallow, would affect the health of a carrotwood. More than likely, it is the wind and salt that have burnt your friend’s carrotwood leaves.
TIP OF THE WEEK: If you have “Hot Tamale” or other miniature roses that develop black spot and lose most of their leaves, don’t immediately reach for the fungicide.
Wait a week or two because miniature roses, as long as they are exposed to plenty of sun, have strong recuperative powers and may be bloom once more.
The same is true of California sycamores, many of which are full of burnt leaves at present due to anthracnose, an endemic fungus that might have been activated by the late rain we experienced last month. This fungus will not kill the trees, even if they defoliate. New leaves may form again this year.

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