I have always loved California's natural landscape: its lovely spring flowers, stately oaks and sweet smelling sages. I started planting natives in my garden when only a handful of books on the topic existed. Luckily for today's gardener, there are lots of great resources, from books to blogs, and native plant nurseries to home garden tours! I feel serene in a California native garden; there’s an essential "rightness" about the plants that have evolved to inhabit a particular locale. Judith Larner Lowery, a landscaper and native enthusiast, makes this case eloquently in her books Gardening with a Wild Heart and The Landscaping Ideas of Jays.
Read at Least One of These Books
California Native Plants for the Garden by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien, is considered to be the bible for California native gardeners. This volume covers history, design and plant care, but its real value lies in the exhaustive plant profiles of almost every California native used horticulturally. Designing California Native Gardens: the Community Approach to Artful Ecological Gardens by Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook, is a beautiful handbook, with gorgeous photos of planned gardens and native habitats.
Check Out Some of These Websites
Your first stop should be the California Native Plant Society ; the two local chapters are Yerba Buena (for northern San Mateo County and San Francisco) and the Santa Clara Valley chapter (serving the southern peninsula and Santa Clara Valley). These websites have events listings, newsletters, discussion forums, web links -- they're really terrific sources of information.
Don't Miss These Garden Tours
Free to the public (with advance registration) tours sponsored by The California Native Plant Society will inspire you to reinvent your whole garden! This year, the Yerba Buena chapter's tour is scheduled for April 10th, and the Santa Clara Valley event will be on April 17th.
And If You're Still Not Convinced
Take a look at this resource guide that I've created. California native plants are easy to grow here (after all, they're natives), are usually quite drought tolerant and cultivars can be found for almost every landscaping purpose. So why not start by planting some in your garden this spring?
Photo credit: Maggie.Smith
Lucinda Abbott is an intern at Atherton Library in (hopefully) her final semester of library school. She grew up in Palo Alto and lives there still with her husband, who is also a Palo Alto native. She has two teenage daughters and a goofy boxer named Sunny, and is looking forward to the blooming of her Pacific coast hybrid iris collection.