On the ride to drop my daughter of at school a couple of days ago on a cold December morning, it was foggy. Really foggy. We could barely see ten feet in front of us. As the car heater was warming up, she shivered in the back seat. Don’t worry I told her, it will burn off soon. “I don’t want it to” she said. “I think it looks cool.”

I always seem to start these blog posts talking about the weather, and at the risk of being too predictable, there’s good reason. Native plants are inextricably linked to the weather. This time of year, when foggy mornings give way to clear and sunny afternoons, is one of my favorite seasons in Southern California. I like to think that it’s a favorite season for the plants as well. After the long, hot and dry months of summer and fall, they finally get that cool, humid, hopefully rainy weather that will kick off the winter growth cycle. With the summer deluge, this year’s December fog season is a strange one – California buckwheats and Showy penstemons are blooming alongside Chaparral currant. It’s an odd combination, with nothing predictable about it.

On top of all the unique and interesting blooms, it’s the holiday season. The densely fruited Toyons on a recent hike in the Santa Monica mountains really drove that home for me. If you’re looking for gifts, TPF has you covered. In addition to a very well stocked selection of native plants, seeds and books, we’ve got all sorts of special gift items, like our new Datura long sleeve. We’re also hosting holiday pop-ups. Our Spirit of the Chaparral series brings native plant inspired artisanal products, authors, and Indigenous makers to our headquarters. After two great Saturdays, our final pop-up takes place this weekend (Saturday, December 16th) with Berbo Studio, Falk Ceramics, Margaret Gallaher (who also has a show up in our gallery!), Mi Corasol and Saturate LA Pop-up Café.

In the midst of the holiday bustle it’s easy to forget that it’s planting season! December is the ideal time for planting, with cool temps, fog, and hopefully some rain. If you’re celebrating the holidays at home, there’s no better time to be out in the garden and getting plants in the ground. Our nursery will stay open through the holidays during our normal business hours (8:30-4:30 Tuesday-Saturday,) so feel free to drop by and grab that last minute gift, or that Toyon that you’ve always wanted to plant.

I’ll be back in 2024 with updates on the many educational, outreach and advocacy projects that the team is working on to advance ecologically vibrant, sustainable native plant landscapes across the region. Until then, enjoy the fog and mist and cross your fingers for rain. Happy Holidays from Theodore Payne Foundation!