Russian River Flood Plain

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Villa Grande | Riverside Back Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This location includes 2 additional sites within walking distance

How do you garden when your backyard borders the Russian River? Visit this riparian oasis to see. 15 years ago, the back yard included a thicket of blackberry and ivy and a healthy dose of invasive Bermuda grass and oxalis. Victoria has spent years transforming it to a mature redwood understory transitioning to creek-side plants. Carefully placed decks and pathways provide sitting areas with beautiful sunlit views of the river. This mostly native plant habitat garden is not irrigated except for the vegetable bed, to establish new plants and for the birdbath.  Many locally native scrubs, vines, perennials and grasses were used. The garden provides food, cover, water and nesting sites. Wildlife is welcomed. Wildlife visitors include grey fox, deer, raccoons, lizards, snakes, skinks, nesting birds, butterflies, dragonflies and insects too numerous to mention.

Once Victoria’s garden was “under control” she partnered with her neighbors to transform a small triangular intersection at the heart of Villa Grande’s town ‘center’ into a lovely native demonstration garden that showcases the area’s shady redwood forest understory with native azaleas, ferns, hazelnuts, virgin’s bower, snowberry, mock orange and huckleberry.

Not satisfied, Victoria and her restoration-partners, adopted about 2 acres at nearby Patterson Point with access to the river.  Again Himalayan blackberry and ivy were removed, local native plants were uncovered or propagated and planted to restore this valuable habitat and provide a safe and welcoming route to the river. Information signs, a donation box, a portable toilet and a rental kayak lock-up were added. Plants once smothered in ivy and invasive blackberry – now thrive – including among many more, redwoods, big leaf maple, hazel nut, Dutchman’s pipe vine, redwood sorrel, ferns, basket grass, and willow.  You will be able to walk to all 3 of these areas from Victoria’s home garden. Greeters at her garden will direct visitors to any or all of these 3 transformed sites.

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. Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
  2. California Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
  3. Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)
  4. Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)
  5. Coyote Bush (Baccharis pilularis)
  6. Hazel Nut (Colylus cornuta)
  7. California Honey Suckle (Lonicera hispisdula)
  8. Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata)
  9. Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
  10. Pacific Wax Myrtle (Morella (Myrica) californica)
  11. Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
  12. Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis sempervirens)
  13. BOP Penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita BOP’)
  14. Bolander’s Phacelia (Phacelia bolanderi)
  15. Tansy Leafed Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
  16. Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
  17. Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
  18. Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis)
  19. Checkerbloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora)
  20. Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)
  21. Redwood Violet (Viola sempervirens)

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.

Russian River FLG LogoAnd 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.

  1. Diversify
  2. Choose California natives first
  3. Provide water and shelter
  4. Use organic pest management
  5. Conserve or restore natural areas and wildlife corridors