Monday, November 9, 2009


If you have not heard of Back to Natives Restoration then you should. Back to Natives is a non profit 501(c)3 that is dedicated to restoring/saving the Orange County and California habitat one person at a time. Aside from restoring the habitat they also provide education workshops and various other training sessions to help educate the masses about the importance of reverting the environment back to nature.

I have had the pleasure of knowing the founder Reggie Durant and educational director Lori Whalen for years and have volunteered at a few of there native planting events. They are truly a fun pair and Reggie has lots of knowledge about California native plants. Out of sheer curiosity I asked Reggie a couple of questions.

What is your favorite California native plant?

With over 8000 plant species in the California Floristic Province, there are so many to choose from! My favorite California native plant is Sequoiadendron giganteum – there’s nothing quite like standing beside a Giant Sequoia in its natural habitat! My favorite Orange County, CA native plant is Chalk Dudleya, Dudleya pulverulenta, although I am a huge fan of ALL dudleya species! In my garden at home I only plant locally native plants adapted to the climate of Orange County – we have no hybrids or cultivars.

Have you ever met a California native plant you didn’t like?

No – every plant has its place in the ecosystem, although I try to avoid Poison Oak!

What was the best project that you worked on and why?

I love projects that involve the collaboration of multiple agencies, and result in the long term involvement of volunteers. My favorite project is our USFS Restoration Volunteer Training Class, now in its third year. I was a graduate of the class in the first year it was offered. In that year participants put in a total of 550.5 hours of volunteer time. I developed lasting friendships with my classmates while weeding Russian thistle from the Silverado Fire Station grounds, vinca from Caspers Wilderness Park, mustard and scotch broom from the Cleveland National Forest, artichoke thistle from Starr Ranch and Mason Regional Park, and tree tobacco and tamarisk at O’Neill Park. This program represents an amazing amount of cooperation between Back to Natives Restoration, the Cleveland National Forest, and OC Parks. Participants represented the aforementioned organizations as well as the El Dorado Nature Center, the Sierra Club, Silverado-Modjeska Recreation & Park District, and the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy!

Have you ever seen the gardening/landscape shows on HGTV? Any thoughts?

No, we do not have a TV.

When you are not restoring habitats you are?

Recruiting and coordinating volunteers for the next event, fundraising, and marketing. For fun? I play the guitar, paint, and read.

If you would like to save the environment but don't have the time to volunteer then why not donate to Back to Natives Restoration.

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