Birds, Bees and Apple Trees

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Santa Rosa | 4,000 sq. ft. Bird & Bee Paradise

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden features:

  • Wildlife habitat.
  • Bee keeping.
  • Food gardening.
  • Sheet mulching.
  • Laundry-to-landscape graywater system.

The focus of the garden owner’s work has been to create a beautiful habitat for wildlife of all sorts (including the occasional human garden party!). Inspired by permaculture design concepts, the owner has created a food forest in the front yard, including a bee box and several fruit trees. Vegetable boxes and the raspberries are on drip irrigation, but all other plants survive with a little summer watering. Some areas of the garden get little to no summer water. Most of the soil in the garden stays covered with mulch to conserve water and feed the soil. The owner does not use pesticides or herbicides.

In the last year they have worked to create more of a butterfly and bee friendly habitat, trying to offer plants that flower over a range of months. The bees are in the front yard, not to scare off visitors, but because they need sun as early in the day as possible to maximize foraging time. Also, a colony of bees took up residence in the backyard maple tree (which also houses a possum), and so the owner wanted to spread the bees throughout the yard. The compost bin next to the driveway is placed there to make space in the backyard but also to show the neighborhood that composting doesn’t have to be unsightly.

In back, lots of shade restricts from planting another food forest. Having taken out two huge fir trees in the last couple of years due to beetles, things are transitioning. Bringing in more flowering plants to the sunny corner. Once a lawn, the owner sheet mulched a few years ago. Now experimenting with grasses and wildflowers, looking for native grasses that need no mowing and wildflowers that will reseed. The blue jay-resistant bird feeder brings towhees, chickadees, titmice, blue jays, and the occasional woodpecker. Hummingbirds love to visit the abutilons, which bloom just about all year, as well as the fuschia and salvias. The sunny corner is irrigated, and other areas in back just get a bit of summer water. The laundry to landscape graywater system waters the west side of the back yard, including the dutchman’s pipevine, which draws pipevine swallowtail butterflies.

No matter the season, there’s always something going on in the garden of Birds, Bees, and Apple Trees!

A printable plant list is available to download for this garden.

Water Smart Plant Label

About half of water use in Sonoma and Marin counties is used to irrigate landscapes. Save water by choosing water smart plants. Water smart plants are:

  • Adapted to our summer dry climate.
  • Need 70% to 90% less water than turf.

Look for water smart plant signs and tags at the local plant nurseries listed below.

One of the nurseries using the water smart plant label, Jail Industries of Sonoma County, is holding  a plant sale on the day of the garden tour from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m..

Visit the Jail Industries website for more information.