The Chaparral Blog
The chaparral is an area where summers are hot and dry and winters offer cool temperatures, rain and sometimes blustery winds. The chaparral biome only exists in places like parts of the Mediterranean, Australia, Africa, Chile and California. Most purists consider the true chaparral is the area confined exclusively to California where humidity remains low, the climate is Mediterranean-like, and wildfires are part of the natural growth cycle on a 50 – 150 year basis (way less frequently than is seen today due to the help of mankind). Slightly inland where ocean influence is reduced, the chaparral is a place of daily wide temperature swings and lean soils, though soil composition can vary. Romantically associated with the old cowboy movies, living in the chaparral has its beauty, but it also can be a challenge for the gardener.
I live, design and cultivate gardens in the northern part of Los Angeles County at an altitude of about 2000 feet. It is true chaparral and may even qualify for the title of the 1960′s television show, ‘The High Chaparral’. When I look out my back window, I see a bluff that conjures up a stand of cowboys or Indians silhouetted on the crest. The hillsides are usually some shade of olive or brown, but can burst into flows of brilliant, flowering color and rich green in the late winter or early spring. Plants that grow here are well adapted to harsh extremes, yet in the midst of toughness can grow delicate beauty.
The successful chaparral gardener will work with the natural environment, designing well so the landscape looks splendid even when plants are resting. There are plants that grow all over the world that can adapt to the chaparral environment and mix with natives to provide exciting color, texture and growth year round. And most of the chaparral does not freeze hard so you can grow edibles in every season.
These are some of my meanderings and experiences growing and designing in the chaparral area of Southern California.
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