Green World All Around Us: Winter wonderland in the Botanical Gardens

This wasn’t the first year the botanical Gardens were under snow, but this year was incredibly beautiful because the depth of snow (not too much) left the silhouettes of most of these hardy plants visible while still making the gardens seem otherworldly, bright and oh-so-quiet.

While there isn’t much chance of snow again this winter, the next time it does snow, if you get out, bundle up and come down to the botanical gardens. You will see the gardens in a whole different, gorgeous dimension!

Hover your mouse over the photos below – some have extra information! 


Another Mediterranean Basin Garden denizen, this and the other Olive trees looked amazing, but like they could be in trouble from the weight of snow. With incredible flexibility, some branches bent almost in half, but no branches broke!


By Paul Rideout, one of two Pyramids, that portray local landscapes, in the California Garden. Snowy Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ Howard McMinn Manzanita makes a perfect backdrop
Coastal Redwood
No flocking necessary: Sequoia sempervirens Coastal Redwoods in the California Garden
Chinese Redbud
And the award goes to… this Chinese Redbud Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’ for the most beautiful winter silhouette in the gardens

The next time it snows, come and enjoy; the gardens are always beautiful!

Happy Gardening from Turtle Bay’s Horticulture Staff!

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery: open to the public year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at .

Green World All Around Us: After the Freeze – Beautiful Winter Foliage in the Botanical Gardens

Euphorbia chariacas in the Mediterranean Basin Garden. Whatever the species, Euphorbias always have interesting foliage.

Every year I am more impressed at how beautiful the botanical gardens are in winter here at Turtle Bay. Plants with evergreen (ever-gray, red, etc.) foliage really come into their own as herbaceous plants succumb to winter freezes and start their dormancy. (Some herbaceous plants, such as ornamental grasses, have interesting dry foliage and/or seed heads that we leave up throughout winter for their architectural and ornamental value.)

Santolina chamaecyparissus
Santolina chamaecyparissus: A great plant for under oaks and on dry banks – terrific texture!



A majority of the evergreen plants in the botanical gardens come from mediterranean climate zones that share similar climates: rainy winters and warm-hot dry summers. These regions include the Mediterranean Basin (15 countries on three continents), Australia, California, Chile and South Africa. The plants from these locales share similar adaptions to survive sometimes soggy winters and occasionally blistering hot summers: gray leaves that deflect sunlight, waxy leaves that conserve water, plants with tiny pine-like leaves that also conserve water, plants high in oils (often fragrant, like lavender) that help block leaf stomata, or pores, when temperatures rise to prevent water loss, geophytes (bulbs) that bloom when water is available and die back in the summer. These are just a few of the adaptions that plants from these regions share in common. Plants with evergreen leaves are also often an adaption shared by many of these plants. Growing a whole new set of leaves every season takes energy and, most importantly, water.

coyote brush
Tough, beautiful natives: coyote brush Baccharis pilularis consanguinea and toyon Heteromeles arbutifola.

Why the foliage of many of these plants is just spectacular to look at, I don’t know. It’s probably one reason why many found their way into cultivated gardens in the first place. Beautiful, evergreen and heat and drought-tolerant; plants just don’t get any better! (Okay, maybe I’m a little biased.)

Evergreen weeping Acacia Acacia pendula has weeping form and bright silver foliage.

Don’t miss this year’s winter foliage highlights in the botanical gardens – even better than last year! 










Mexican natives: two hardy Agaves, big Agave americana in the background and petite Agave parryi in the foreground.

Put layers on and come see these cold-hardy, heat-hardy beauties and many others for yourself. The gardens’ winter hours are 8am to 5pm/dusk.

Happy gardening from the horticulture staff at Turtle Bay!

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery: open to the public year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at .

Plant-a-Tree Community Planting Day

Raise a hand if you remember the Fountain Fire of 1992? One of the worst fires in our county in recorded history, devastated 100 square miles of land and claimed over 300 homes forty miles east of Redding.

In response, the Forest Council of Turtle Bay started the Plant-a-Tree program to help reforest an area lost adjacent to the Hillcrest Rest Area on Hwy 299. The first trees were purchased in 1997 and were planted at that location through 2008, when the site was fully planted out. Smaller sites were planted between 2006-2008 as well, including at the Knighton Road/I5 interchange and in the Turtle Bay Arboretum Savannah.

In 2008, Turtle Bay joined forces with the Western Shasta Resource Conservation District to select new sites, meeting scientific criteria as areas of high need for rehabilitation. The first site was the historic Phillip Brothers Mill near Oak Run, California. Known as “America’s Last Steam Mill”, this special site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out their website to learn more about this amazing place… and schedule a tour!

In 2014, the first trees were planted at a new site on public lands – Lower Clear Creek’s China Gardens, Bureau of Land Management land accessed off Hwy. 273 southwest of Redding. This area was damaged by gold and aggregate mining and Whiskeytown Dam and is now part of a comprehensive plan to improve the riparian and floodplain habitat through restoration, ultimately aimed at improving the salmon population. For more on this area, check out this half-hour movie “From Devastation to Restoration – The Rebirth of Lower Clear Creek

People purchase trees through this program for many occasions: weddings, births, holidays… but most trees are in memoriam. In 2014, we were honored to respond to requests to allow loved ones to participate in the plantings with our first Community Planting Day, held Nov. xx. Due to the drought in 2015, we were unable to plant, however, after a better year, we are pleased to offer our second Community Planting Day on Oct. 29 from 10-noon… and YOU are welcome to join us! Trees will be available for purchase on site, or anyone who has purchased or received a tree since Fall 2014 is welcome to join in. WSRCD will provide seedlings, shovels, and instruction.

Photo by Andreas Fuhrmann; Record Searchlight
Photo by Andreas Fuhrmann; Record Searchlight

Interested in checking out the site? It’s a lovely spot for a fall picnic. To get there…

  1. Take Highway 273
  2. Turn onto Clear Creek Road; go approx. 1 mile.
  3. Park at the 1st BLM gate on the left (the gate is yellow)
  4. Walk in and down the road about a quarter mile. You will see the tree tubes to the right.



Many groups have been memorializing their members through the Plant-a-Tree program. Special shout-outs to Redding Newcomers, Redding Elks Traildusters RV Club, Redding Emblem Club #515, Nor-Cal Chapter III Women’s Army Corps Veteran’s Association, Redding Elks Lodge #1073, Shasta County Assessor-Recorder Staff, Redding Rambling A’s, Redding Moose Lodge, Redding League of Women Voters, Doughty-Lewis Chapter for City of Hope, among many others, for their long-time support!



For more information on Plant-a-Tree and the organizations involved, here are some links:

A Volunteer Day in the Gardens

Nicole Harris, Teen Volunteer

Nicole Harris, the author of this post, has been a Teen Volunteer since June 2014 and currently serves as a Teen Volunteer representative on the Board here at Turtle Bay.  She actively volunteers in our Education Department as well as at Special Events.

The Teen Volunteer Program is presented by Shasta College/”Doing What Matters” and United Way of Northern California.

On a recent Saturday morning, a group of teenagers got together to spend the early morning volunteering at the Turtle Bay McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Most teens might sleep until noon on a Saturday, but for this group of dedicated students from Shasta High School’s Key Club and Botanical Society Club this Saturday morning was a time to get up early, put on their gloves, and get to work pulling weeds.

img_20161008_085634504-jpgEighteen teen volunteers came together from these two different clubs and joined forces to help weed a planter bed inside the Gardens. In just two hours these 18 teens accomplished a lot! As one teen volunteer, Erica Bade, put it, “It feels good to have helped out here in the Gardens, because you can see the difference you are making.”

img_20161008_085355571-jpgAs a Teen Volunteer at Turtle Bay and a member of both the Key Club and Botanical Society, it was a rewarding experience to have the opportunity to work alongside this group of teens in the Gardens. Everyone who was there seemed to enjoy the work they were doing. When asked if they would be interested in volunteering in the Gardens again, there was a resounding “Yes” in response. Through this experience we were able to meet new people, learn about native plants, and learn the values of hard work. One thing that really stood out to me was that some of these teen volunteers had never seen the Gardens before, but were still willing to put in their time and effort by giving up their Saturday morning to help their community.

When we had finished our work for the day, not only did we leave with a sense of accomplishment, but also with new friends and a better sense of community. I am proud to be able to say that I took part in organizing this event and gathering the volunteers needed to make this happen. I think we all took away more than we had expected from this experience, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Make a Difference Day is this Saturday!  This Saturday, October 22nd, volunteers from across the country will be making a difference in one of the largest annual single-days of service nationwide. Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans volunteer? We are thankful for our amazing group of Volunteers that make a difference daily here at Turtle Bay – thank you for serving your community and supporting Turtle Bay through your Volunteerism!

 Click here to find out more about Make a Difference Day

Click here to learn more about volunteering at Turtle Bay

Green World All Around Us: An Ode to Versatile, Beautiful Deer Grass

If a Grecian urn deserves an ode (which it does) then I think something as gorgeous and seemingly timeless as deer grass also deserves high praise. (However you won’t find it here in verse!) Our native deer grass Muhlenbergia rigens is one of those beautiful, all-purpose plants that can thrive in most places; with the exception of constantly wet or very shady areas. For this, and its need for little attention (maintenance), it has earned my everlasting admiration.

Deer Grass
In the west Botanical Gardens parking lot, a stand of Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass are lit up in the evening light.

Deer grass can eventually grow up to 6’ wide and, including the seed heads, 4-5’ tall. In spite of its sort of ambiguous common name, deer grass is not browsed by deer; in the wild deer (does) can successfully hide their fawns by bedding them down in a stand of several deer grass. Other wildlife also utilize deer grass. For example: ducks build a nest under one of the deer grass in our nursery, and we often see quail families running from one deer grass to the next in the gardens at this time of year (a really adorable sight).

Deer grass is a very a low maintenance plant, not susceptible to most pests and diseases, and usually only requiring pruning once a year or even every-other-year (depending upon how many of the blades have died back), preferably in February. It can be divided in our area after frost has passed in the spring. However, seedlings do tend sprout readily in the spring with a lot of spring rain or overhead irrigation (not as much with drip irrigation). Seedlings can be transplanted easily in the spring after threat of frost, but an older, larger grass can be harder to dig out and transplant as the roots are very tough and fibrous.

At one point at Turtle Bay, years ago, there were several places (such as the slope on the west side of the Sundial Bridge) that lost plants because of difficult conditions. Deer Grass to the rescue! In fact, at one point after a few years (I’ve been here since 2002), I stopped saying out loud to Horticulture staff “You know what would really go well in that area?” because I would hear a loud chorus of “Deer grass!” in response. And while the answer wasn’t, and isn’t always deer grass, it’s a good choice for a myriad of garden situations.

Because deer grass is such a useful, easy-to-grow California native plant we keep it in propagation throughout the year in the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery. On September 24th the Fall Plant Sale will feature: drought tolerant and some riparian perennial plants including California natives, grasses, many unusual flowering plants, groundcovers and shrubs. Free gardening advice will be available throughout the day from Arboretum and Botanical Gardens staff and volunteers. Come early – some plants sell out fast! Member PreSale 9-11 a.m. (Memberships available at the gate) and Public Sale 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sale includes a 20% discount for the public and a 30% discount for Turtle Bay Members!

Free admission to the Gardens all day.

Visit for more inventory list

Turtle Bay’s McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery – 1100 Arboretum Drive (Take N. Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive. Take right fork in the road and park in parking lot on the left.) Enter Nursery through gate in parking lot.

Come and enjoy the many happy deer grass here at Turtle Bay on the grounds and gardens, as well as the arboretum!

Happy gardening, from the Horticulture staff at Turtle Bay.

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.: Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at .


Green World All Around Us: Pollinator plants and new Pollinator Garden plantings

While there are literally hundreds of lists with pollinator plants out there, not all lists are created equal. The plants that will grow happily in our area for pollinators are not the same as the plants will grow well on the East Coast and vice versa.

In practice, knowing which plants will grow well in our area can be just as much a matter of trial and error as it is painstakingly researching plants and their zones in the Sunset Garden book and other sources. I’m here to help when it comes to pollinator plants that do well in our area.

Many of the angiosperms, or flowering plants, are pollinated by some creature, be it a bird, butterfly, bee, bat, mammal or insect, these pollinators are essential for spreading genetic diversity among the plant world. (While some plants can self-pollinate, cross-pollination often results in stronger plants.)

A large percentage of pollinator plants that you see in gardens come from the same families. For example: many favorite pollinator plants are from the mint family, daisy family, figwort family, etc. While that may sound a lot to keep track of, it becomes simpler if you look at it like this: All sages, lavenders, rosemary and mint are in the Lamiaceae or mint family. They’re pollinator plants for some creature or other. Daisies, asters, sunflowers, yarrow (look closely, each little flower in a cluster has a daisy-like structure)–if it looks like a daisy, it’s in the Asteraceae or daisy family. They’re pollinator plants. In fact, the mint and daisy families of plant have so many species between them that you could easily fill a garden with plants from these two families alone that would grow happily here. Sages for example, are in the mint family; it is estimated that half of the known species are native to Mexico. Not surprisingly, sages generally do very well here. Not all of the species in these families will grow happily in our climate, but that’s where area (ours) specific research comes in.

Habitat can be just as important as species selection when creating a pollinator garden. Water is an essential element in the garden as well as safe landing spots and cover. Also a safe distance (as in a tree limb) needs to be available for birds to retreat to from neighborhood cats if you have them.

Not to beat the drought-tolerant drum, but in the new Pollinator Garden plantings the majority of the new plants are drought-tolerant; my favorite attribute of any plants because once they’re established they have a much better chance of (happy!) survival in our climate.

Originally 32 species had been planted in the Pollinator Garden, but we had a large group of mother plants that were also pollinator plants in our nursery looking for a home, so we went a little over the top and added not only those plants, but species upon species until we ended up with 57 new species.

As ever, I really love a plant list with a purpose, so here is a list of 50 pollinator plants of the 89 plants in the in the newly flushed out Pollinator Garden in the botanical gardens:


  1. El Tigre
    Epilobium canum ‘El Tigre’

    Achillea filipendula Fernleaf Yarrow

  2. Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’ Paprika Yarrow
  3. Achillea millefolim ‘White’ White Yarrow
  4. Aristolochia californica California Dutchman’s Pipe
  5. Baccharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’ Twin Peaks Coyote Bush
  6. Chitalpa tashkentensis ‘Pink Dawn’ Pink Dawn Chitalpa
  7. Epilobium californica ‘Gray Form’ California Fuchsia
  8. canum ‘Carman’s Gray’ Carman’s Gray California Fuchsia
  9. Epilobium canum ‘El Tigre’ El Tigre California Fuchsia
  10. Epilobium canum var. latifolium. ‘ Everett’s Choice’ Everett’s Choice California Fuchsia
  11. Epilobium septentrionale ‘Wayne’s Choice’ Wayne’s Choice California Fuchsia
  12. Eriogonum arborescens Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat
  13. Eriogonum fasciculatum California Buckwheat
  14. California Buckwheat
    Eriogonum fasciculatum California Buckwheat

    Eriogonum fasciculatum ‘Warriner Lytle’ Warriner Lytle California Buckwheat

  15. Hyalis argentea Olivillo
  16. Lavandula stoechas Spanish Lavender
  17. Lepichinia hastata Lepichinia
  18. Myrtus communis ‘Compacta’ Compact True Myrtle
  19. Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ Giant Catmint
  20. Oenethera elata ‘Hookeri’ Hooker’s Evening Primrose
  21. Pelargonium graveolens Rose Geranium
  22. Penstemon ‘Midnight’ Midnight Penstemon
  23. Phlomis fruticosa Jerusalem Sage
  24. Punica granatum ‘Wonderful’ Pomegranate
  25. Rosmarinus ‘Tuscan Blue’ Tuscan Blue Rosemary

(Just a little Sage-happy!)

  1. Hyalis argentea Olivillo
    Hyalis argentea Olivillo
    Hyalis argentea Olivillo
    Hyalis argentea Olivillo

    Salvia apiana White Sage

  2. Salvia clevelandii ‘Allen Chickering’ Cleveland Sage
  3. Salvia dorrii Desert Sage
  4. Salvia forsskaolii Indigo Woodland Sage
  5. Salvia greggii ‘Coral’ Coral Autumn Sage
  6. Salvia greggii ‘Playa Rosa’ Playa Rosa Autumn Sage
  7. Salvia greggii ‘Red Swing’ Red Swing Autumn Sage
  8. Salvia greggii ‘Teresa’ Teresa Autumn Sage
  9. Salvia involucrata Rose Sage
  10. Salvia jamensis ‘California Sunset’ California Sunset Jame’ Sage
  11. Salvia jamensis ‘Tangerine Ballet’ Tangerine Ballet Jame’ Sage
  12. Salvia leucantha Mexican Sage
  13. Salvia leucophylla ‘Point Sal’ Point Sal Purple Sage
  14. Salvia microphylla ‘Bezerkeley’ Bezerkeley Littleleaf Sage
  15. Salvia microphylla ‘Heatwave Blaze’ Heatwave Blaze Littleleaf Sage
  16. Tuscan Blue Rosemary
    Rosmarinus ‘Tuscan Blue’ Tuscan Blue Rosemary

    Salvia microphylla ‘Purple’ Purple Littleleaf Sage

  17. Salvia ‘Sally Greenwood’ Sally Greenwood Sage
  18. Salvia spathacea Hummingbird Sage
  19. Salvia uliginosa Bog Sage (moderate water is fine once established)
  20. Sedum moranense Red Stonecrop
  21. Sedum palmeri Palmer’s Stonecrop
  22. Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ Angelina Sedum
  23. Teucrim fruticans Bush Germander
  24. Verbena bonariensis Upright Verbena
  25. Verbena rigida Rigid Verbena

Come and see these new plantings, not only for the plant species, but for reference of what an eventually very full garden looks like at the start. (In 2 or 3 years this garden will be literally overflowing with plants for pollinators.)

Because of several environmental factors, pollinators are on the decline. Your pollinator garden can make a difference!


Reminder: During summer the botanical gardens open by 7:00 am and stay open until dusk.

Happy gardening, from the Horticulture staff at Turtle Bay.

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.: Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at .

Green World All Around Us: The Heat is On!

When temperatures rise in our area, it becomes evident relatively quickly which plants will power through the summer and which plants would walk themselves into the shade if they could.

If I was forced to choose favorite plants, I would say my favorites are the tough, interesting plants that don’t miss a beat here in the summer. Many of our native plants, as well as non-native drought and sun-tolerant ornamental plants that populate the botanical gardens and other plantings at Turtle Bay may only bloom in the spring, but they have something going for them that is more important than fleeting blooms. They have stamina. And low water needs!

While roses start to burn in the bud when temperatures climb and other plants with regular water needs have similar reactions, here are some of the many drought tolerant plants that thrive in our triple-digit summer heat:

California Garden
In the California Garden, Amorpha californica California False Indigo. A butterfly magnet in spring, this large shrub manages to look lush and verdant throughout the summer. Foreground: Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass and Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss

In the Earthstone plantings (all CA native plants): Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP’ Foothill Penstemon. This evergreen native blooms all summer long (with a light shearing after each bloom flush fades).

Patch o’ Yarrow - Achillea millefolium.
In the California Garden – Patch o’ Yarrow – Achillea millefolium. Yarrow makes a good drought resistant mowable lawn substitute that only requires weekly water in summer (it can survive with much less water, but will not be as happy).



California Garden
California Garden – back, Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ a well-beloved selection of a native coastal manzanita that also does well with interior conditions. Foreground: beautiful Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass.







South African Torch Lily
Light up your garden! South African Torch Lily Kniphofia citrina (and other spp.). With regular dead-heading (cutting back spent flower stalks to the base) these beauties can bloom several months from spring-summer. Kniphofias come in several colors: all are easy to grow.




Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’
Australian Garden – Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ Many Grevilleas and other evergreen shrubs benefit from close pruning for the first 2 or 3 years after planting (annually) to encourage strong, dense branching. After that, let them grow into a more natural shape that only occasionally needs touch-up pruning.





Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’
Last of the seasons’ blooms on Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’. Blooming for these plants usually starts in mid-to-late February. Blooms are just icing on the cake for these reliably hardy, drought-tolerant, adaptable (grow in sun or shade) evergreen shrubs.





Rose Campion
See them while you can! An unassuming drought-tolerant Mediterranean Garden groundcover during much of the year, Lychnis coronaria Rose Campion steals the show in late spring – early summer. Chaste Tree Vitex agnus-castus in background: Chaste Trees are pollinator attractors and can bloom (purple flower spikes) twice or more during spring and summer.
Verbena rigida ‘Polaris’
While we propagate these plants on a regular basis, a happy accident started this planting by the greenhouse door at Turtle Bay’s Nursery. The light purple Verbena rigida ‘Polaris’ came up on its own. The Upright Verbena Verbena bonariensis and Tuscan Blue Rosemary were planted later. Facing south and in the sun all day this planting requires very little summer water and almost no maintenance.


Beat the heat! During the summer the botanical gardens open by 7:00 am and stay open until dusk. These and many more plants throughout Turtle Bay that not only survive but thrive during summer heat, await your visit.

Happy gardening, from the Horticulture staff at Turtle Bay.

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.: Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at .