Color & Creek Garden


Kenwood | 15,000 sq. ft. Creekside Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Color & Creek Garden is the result of over 25 years of gardening in one place by a knowledgeable gardener. Liz began to garden here in 1987 with her partner Milt Van Sant who laid out the paths and the contours of the garden. The large garden celebrates Liz’s travels and propagation skills building a colorful collector’s garden not a formal designer’s garden. Since Milt passed away in 2005, Liz has been able to maintain the beautiful creekside garden with only occasional help.

The garden features year round color surrounding the house, a pond, fern collection, native shrub and trees which flow towards a 350 foot border with Sonoma Creek. This very old riparian corridor features Valley and Coast Live oaks, native ash, California bay and buckeye. The Sonoma Ecology Center enhanced the habitat along the creek by adding many new locally native shrubs from 2008 to 2011.

Liz has been the coordinator of the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society plant sale since 1980. Therefore look for lots of native plants, as well as other plants that have done well.

Plant List

Some of the key plants in this garden for this time of year are listed below. You can also download a printable full plant list for this garden.

  1. Manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Carmel Sur’, A. ‘Sunset’, A. ‘White Lanterns’)
  2. Groundcover Coyote Bush (Baccharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’)
  3. Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii)
  4. Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus)
  5. Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatumE. giganteumE. grande rubescens)
  6. California Fescue (Festuca californica)
  7. Gum Plant (Grindella stricta)
  8. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
  9. Pacific Coast Iris (Iris)
  10. Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius)
  11. June Grass (Melica imperfecta)
  12. Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
  13. Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
  14. Penstemon
  15. Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
  16. California Polypody (Polypodium californicum)
  17. Lyman’s Polypody (Polypodium californicum ‘Lymani’)
  18. Leather Oak (Quercus durata)
  19. Chaparral Currant (Ribes malvaceum)
  20. Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum)
  21. Sage (Salvia clevelandii ‘Calamity Jane’, S.c. ‘Santa Cruz Blue’, S.c. ‘Winnifred Gillman’, S.c. x leucophylla ‘Pozo Blue’, S. leucophylla ‘Pt. Sal’, S. x ‘Bee’s Bliss’)
  22. Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum)

Russian River Friendly Landscaping Principles and Practices

Protect Water and Air Quality

Russian River FLG Logo

Russian River-Friendly landscaping can help protect our water from pollution by:

  • Increasing on-site infiltration and reducing runoff
  • Reducing contaminants in runoff
  • Increasing the soil’s ability to remove pollutants from runoff

In an undisturbed landscape, as little as 15% of the rainwater leaves the system through surface water runoff. Up to than one-third moves into the soil where living, biologically diverse organisms break down and naturally filter out pollutants, before it reaches groundwater or our waterways.

As land is developed into residential or commercial landscapes, roads and parking lots, major changes occur.

  • More water runs off the surfaces — as much as 90% of all rain and irrigation water runs into waterways without moving through soil.
  • The soil supports less microbial life and is less able to filter harmful chemicals out of the little water that infiltrates and moves through soil.

What happens next? Erosion of channels is greatly accelerated. As little as 10% impervious surface in our watershed causes significant degradation of streams.

Pollutant load also increases. An acre of parking lot collects as much as 4 gallons of oil, gasoline and diesel fuel each year. When it rains and water runs off the parking lot, these toxic compounds are discharged into local creeks where they may eventually enter the Russian River. Other pollutants include trace metals, pesticides, nutrients from fertilizers and pet waste, trash and suspended soil particles from poorly vegetated ground.

Stormwater runoff, from both residential and commercial sites, thus becomes a large source of pollution.

Russian River-Friendly landscaping can help protect our air from pollution by:

  • Reducing fossil fuel consumption
  • Recycling plant debris on site
  • Planting trees to remove CO2 and absorb air pollutants

Air pollution from power equipment used in conventional landscaping takes an enormous toll on our environment. Gas powered garden tools emit 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution. Plant debris is hauled to the landfill in vehicles that pollute the air, and once there, the materials decompose without oxygen and in the process emit greenhouse gases.

  1. Use integrated pest management
  2. Eliminate high input decorative lawns
  3. Minimize site disturbance
  4. Choose and maintain your materials, equipment and vehicles carefully
  5. Keep soil and organic matter where it belongs
  6. Minimize impervious surfaces
  7. Plant and protect trees
  8. Manage and maintain the irrigation system carefully
  9. Design a system to capture and treat water