California Natives and a Kitchen Potager Garden

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Kenwood | Low Maintenance, Low Water Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden features:

  • California native plants.
  • Drip Irrigation.
  • Urban Homestead.

Laguna Foundation’s Conservation Science Program Manager and homeowner Sarah introduces her garden:

We strive for a low water and low maintenance garden with a focus on native perennials and potager garden perennial edibles. We want our garden to feed our family and friends, provide wildlife habitat and be a place to relax and enjoy life. Our garden design is inspired by California landscapes, with intentional groupings of plants that naturally occur in similar habitats. We harvest food nearly year round from the kitchen garden, with a focus on perennials, including artichokes, asparagus, fruit trees and citrus.

Our garden was “born” about 15 years ago from a yard dominated by a hodgepodge of ornamental trees and lots and lots of landscape gravel. Many of the trees were removed and replaced with a native evergreen border and lower stature trees that provide shade or food and are more appropriate for a small residential garden. While a substantial amount of gravel has been removed, a lot remains – in use as hardscape for pathways and seating areas, and as ground cover in the “lawn” area over our leach lines. Once the basic layout and dominant trees and shrubs were established, we added herbaceous flowering perennials, to provide color and fill in the understory.

Our kitchen garden plants are always under review. We experiment and expand on plants that are successful and can survive with low water and some neglect (artichokes are winners, blueberries were not).

Much of the garden is on a stingy drip irrigation system, which is programmed for weekly water during the summer months. Many of the established natives receive no water. The fruit trees and edibles receive supplemental hand-watering during the summer.

A few of our favorite garden features include:

  • A postage stamp sized native sedge lawn (Carex pansa)
  • Drifts of California poppies in our gravel “lawn” area
  • Native evergreen borders that provide a year round leafy backdrop and camouflage neighboring fences and structures
  • Hummingbird “TV” (a dense swathe of irresistible California fuschia)
  • and of course, our beloved fruit trees.

A few of the fruit trees and herbs on the property include:

  • Asparagus Asparagus officinalis
  • Satsuma mandarin Citrus reticulata ‘Satsuma’
  • Bearss lime Citrus X latifolia
  • Meyer lemon Citrus X meyeri
  • Grapefruit Citrus X paradisi
  • Navel orange Citrus X sinensis
  • Artichoke Cynara scolymus
  • Pineapple guava Acca (Feijoa) sellowiana
  • Misson Fig Ficus carica ‘Mission’
  • Strawberry Fragaria sp.
  • Apple (multi-grafted) Malus sp.
  • Manzanilla Olive Olea europea ‘Manzanilla’
  • Picholive olive Olea europea ‘Picholive’
  • Santa Rosa Plum Prunus domestica ‘Santa Rosa’
  • Peach Prunus percisa
  • Raspberry Rubus sp.
  • Lemon verbena Aloysia triphylla
  • Lavender Lavandula sp
  • Mint the Best Mentha sp.
  • Chocolate Mint Mentha X piperita ‘Chocolate Mint’
  • Marjorum Origanum majorana
  • Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Sage Salvia officinalis

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

Gardening with California Native Plants

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Milo Baker Chapter are hosting seven gardens on the 2019 Eco-Friendly Garden Tour. These gardens are denoted by CNPS on the garden list and include the CNPS Milo Baker logo on the garden description. The majority of the plants in these gardens are California native. With the exception of the Laguna Environmental Center, these are home gardens that are either owned by or were designed by members of the CNPS Milo Baker Chapter. At each of these gardens you will be greeted by CNPS volunteers, and volunteer horticultural experts will be on hand to answer questions about the plants on site.

CNPS Milo Baker will be holding a plant sale at the Laguna Environmental Center on the day of the tour, and each of the gardens will include posters providing valuable information on different aspects of gardening with natives.

Why garden with natives?

Gardening with native plants allows you to bring the beauty of California into your landscape while also receiving numerous benefits.

  • Save water: Once established, many California native plants need minimal irrigation beyond normal rainfall.
  • Lower Maintenance: Native plants do best with some attention and care, but require less water, fertilizer, pruning, less or no pesticide, and less of your time to maintain than do many common garden plants.
  • Reduce Pesticides: Native plants have developed their own defenses against many pests and diseases.
  • Invite Wildlife: Native plants, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects are ‘made for each other’. Research shows that native wildlife clearly prefers native plants.
  • Support Local Ecology: California native plants can help provide an important bridge to nearby remaining wild areas.

Further information can be be found on the California Native Plant Society web site.