As we head into the long, hot stretch of Southern California summer, things typically start to slow down in the native plant world. Leaves fall, flowers turn to seed, and the soil dries, changing the landscape dramatically. One of my favorite things to do during this time of year is to walk around the grounds at TPF first thing in the morning (while it’s still cool!) and appreciate how the bright overhead light of summertime plays off of the new cast of summer-blooming characters. As things slow down in native plant gardens, it usually slows for us as well, but this summer we are staying busy. Case in point, check out our new online store, which launched this week! You can expect a much smoother process for online and in-person shopping. On our outreach and advocacy side, we’ve been hard at work as well, and I want to use this blog post to share three important conversations that TPF recently held.

As the very busy month of June began, we wrapped up the fortieth anniversary of our Wild Flower Hotline. It was quite a milestone, which happened to line up perfectly with the exceptional year of rain and the corresponding Superbloom season. TPF, along with our partner organizations, had a moment of global interest on us, with features in major media outlets, including the New York Times, National Geographic, Guardian, Washington Post, Sunset Magazine, LA Times, and more. Speaking in sound bites is not the most intuitive thing, especially for a conversation as complex and nuanced as this one. TPF organized a panel discussion entitled ‘The Superbloom Era’ with botanical experts from across the state to dig deeper into the issues surrounding this topic. It was very fun to connect with colleagues and friends that I’ve worked with for years, and a great way to reflect on this exceptional wildflower season. You can find the recording of the panel on our YouTube Channel, along with lots of other content, including my Behind the Bloom talk from early spring that kicked off the 2023 season.

In late June, we hosted the second annual Native Plant Working Group meeting. This two-day workshop brought together tribal organizations across California to do a hands-on workshop in multiple aspects of plant production, including seed collection, seed propagation, vegetative propagation, nursery management, and more. Many of these groups already have nurseries or are in the process of setting them up, and it was so inspiring to learn about their work and see the exchange of knowledge and ideas. We had wonderful representation from tribal communities throughout the state, including local groups such as the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and the Gabrieleno / Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians. The Native Plant Working Group collaborative network was launched three years ago, led by the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and TPF, is honored to be able to host these gatherings.  It was a truly inspiring couple of days, and I’m excited about the future of habitat restoration on tribal lands.

The final conversation I want to recap here focused on the city of Los Angeles. Along with our colleagues at the LA Sanitation & Environment Biodiversity Program, we cohosted a meeting focused on scaling native plant landscaping in the urban core of LA. The meeting brought together 30 experts and practitioners representing city and county agencies, universities, and environmental nonprofits. With a focus on the specific opportunities and challenges that interface with municipal native plant landscaping, the meeting attendees offered ideas, discussed strategy and survey data, and provided other feedback to better understand the issues and create pathways to successfully scaling up native plant landscaping across the city. With State and County bills to increase native plant landscaping in nonresidential properties on the docket, there is an urgency to understand the challenges of implementing these types of projects and to develop new strategies to improve efficiency and success. Everyone left the meeting feeling very inspired, and we are looking forward to further developing this conversation and using the insights gained to propose changes to local and state regulations.

It’s been a busy time at TPF. Outside of the meetings I just described, we’re keeping the nursery and headquarters fully open (Tuesday–Saturday) throughout the summer, hosting regular Adult Education classes, ramping up our Professional Education Program, tabling at events, collecting and cleaning seeds, stocking new books and merchandise, and of course growing a huge crop of native plants for the upcoming fall planting season. If you’ve got extra time this summer, we’ve got many opportunities to keep learning, gardening, and sharing the love of native plants.

As the dog days of summer approach, I’m looking forward to some downtime with family and friends, with a good feeling—that change is underway—and that our region is on the path to being more sustainable and biodiverse. I hope you feel the same. Stay cool, and enjoy the summer!