Wildlife Habitat Cottage Garden
Garden designer Michelle Bellefeuille specializes in habitat gardens that are water-wise and design driven. In keeping with sustainable design practices she uses drought tolerant native and Mediterranean plants that thrive in the Bay Area, recommending eco-friendly techniques and resources. Michelle is QWEL certified and is the president-elect of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers California Chapter and an affiliate member of the California Landscape Contractors Association.
The garden, a Certified Wildlife Habitat Garden (National Wildlife Federation), cottage garden in feel, is home to many natives including milkweed and California pipevine, the only larval host plants for Monarch and Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies.
Showy native perennials including white sage, penstemon, and checkerbloom provide butterflies and bees with nectar and pollen. Crabapple and persimmon trees anchor different areas of the garden and provide fruit for birds and people.
A pathway through the garden was made from reclaimed bricks from the old chimney and birdbaths are supported by the old chimney flus.
The soil was prepared using sheet composting, successfully killing the Bermuda grass. Wood chips are used as a top dressing to continue to conserve water, keep the weeds down, and build the soil over time. Drip irrigation and a smart controller water the garden when needed.
“A redbud is a focal point in this habitat garden, which includes mahogany-red poppies, Dutchman’s pipe to feed swallowtail butterflies, pink blooming Jerusalem sage and masses of Gaura or bee blossom that provides a flowery fence along the front in summer.” Meg McConahey, The Press Democrat, June 1, 2012
The back garden incorporates a vegetable garden and fruit trees.
The key element in the backyard is a very large redwood tree, along with more plants for butterflies, birds and bees. California natives, ceanothus and coffeeberry are butterfly larval hosts, flowering current and sugarbush provide nectar.
The back area has a keyhole bed designed to be a cutting garden, with dahlias, clematis, peonies, asters, and sage providing flowers for beauty as well as the butterflies and bees.
Architectural elements include a custom fence and flagstone patio, both built by the homeowners.
- Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’, (Manzanita)
- Aristolochia californica (Dutchman’s Pipe Vine)
- Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)
- Diospyros kaki ‘Jiro’ (Fuyu Persimmon)
- Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer’s Beeblossom)
- Heuchera maxima and H. micrantha, (Alum Root, Coral Bells)
- Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea)
- Malus ‘Evereste’ (Crabapple)
- Olea europaea ‘Montra’ (‘Little Ollie’ dwarf, fruitless olive trees)
- Penstemon ‘Blackbird’ (Beard Tongue)
- Salvia apiana (White Sage)
- Buddleja crispa (Himalayan Butterfly Bush)
- Citrus x meyeri (Meyer lemon)
- Clematis ‘Josephine’, C. integrifolia ‘Durandii’
- Ficus carica ‘Black Jack’ and F. c. ‘Desert King’ (Fig)
- Malus ‘Red Gravenstein’ (Espaliered Apple), Malus ‘’Ashmead’s Kernel’ (Apple tree)
- Prunus avium ‘Craig’s Crimson’ (Dwarf Cherry)
- Pyrus (Honey Sweet Pear)
- Rhamnus ‘Mound San Bruno’ (Coffeeberry)
- Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ (Sage)
Russian River Friendly Landscaping Principles and Practices
Create and Protect Wildlife Habitat
Plant and animal diversity is one of the many factors that makes the Russian River Watershed unique and beautiful. More than 1,400 native plant species bloom throughout the year, supporting hundreds of native pollinators, beneficial insects and other organisms that can reduce the need for pesticides. Birds and butterflies are attracted, bringing with them beauty, song and interest to a landscape.
Biodiversity is crucial to the health and resiliency of the local landscape, the Russian River ecosystem and its inhabitants. Yet the loss of habitat is threatening local biodiversity. The population of the Russian River Watershed is growing and expected to continue to do so. With increased populations comes development, which must be done with regard for wildlife habitat.
And although we tend to rely on parks and open space for preserving wildlife habitat, both residential and commercial landscapes can also play an important role. Developed landscapes can provide food, water, shelter and nesting sites for birds, butterflies, beneficial insects and other creatures, thus helping to conserve valuable wildlife resources and restore damaged ecosystems. Small spaces or corridors, patched together over the entire Russian River Watershed, add up to a great opportunity for encouraging and protecting wildlife.
- Choose California natives first
- Provide water and shelter
- Use organic pest management
- Conserve or restore natural areas and wildlife corridors