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Santa Rosa | Untamed Urban Garden

Front Yard Only

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden features:

  • Wildlife Habitat.
  • Pesticide Free.
  • Drought Tolerant.

Inspired by the beauty of untamed California, this small, front yard garden is rich in native biodiversity. In the winter of 2013, black plastic and bark nuggets had killed almost all plants in this little front yard. I added a little berm with a small Matilija poppy, manzanita, needlegrass and redbud and seeded the rest with a native wildflower mix, after disposing of much of the plastic and turning the bark nuggets under. Then I added another berm the following winter with more needlegrass, coffeeberry, white sage, and a buckeye seedling. I have continued to add small shrubs and annual wildflower seeds with the goals of year-round flowers, arthropod diversity, low-water needs and no room for weeds. Bright southern exposure has lent itself to plants from the central coast and island chaparral communities, with many of the pleasant scents associated with these wild places. I water by hand to establish shrubs and trees and prolong flowering, but respect late summer senescence and appreciate vigorous competition. The Matilija poppy is over eight feet tall and requires annual root-pruning to prevent its spread, but its hundreds of blossoms have inspired multiple neighbors to add this plant to their gardens, as well. The purple needlegrass plugs quickly grew to mature size and their offspring are vigorous enough to compete with the weeds and provide protection to young shrubs and wildflowers. I have left a live oak seedling planted by jays and plan to continue to prune it as a screen suggesting the edge of an oak woodland.

A printable plant list is available to download for this garden that lists the majority of the native plants.

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.