A Garden for Wildlife


Garden Features


Drought Tolerant


Edible Garden


California Natives


Drip Irrigation


Pesticide Free


Reclaimed/Recycled Materials


Sheet Mulching


Smart Irrigation Controller


Lawn Conversion


Permeable Surfaces


Wildlife Habitat


Fire Resistant

Partner: Sonoma County Master Gardeners

When we moved to Sonoma County in 2015, I was worried about the increasing habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, and species extinction in our world, and I wanted to do something to help. As a gardener, I found the answer was in our land.

Located on the southern edge of Annadel State Park, our property is primarily mature oak woodlands—California live oaks, black oaks, tanbark oaks, and Oregon oaks—with a smattering of California bay laurels, buckeyes, toyons, madrones, and Douglas firs mixed in. All of these trees provide critical food and habitat for a wide variety of native wildlife, from the smallest insects to the largest mammals. But we could do more.

Today, our land is a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat with gardens featuring a variety of life-enriching California native plants. Chosen for their wildlife value as well as for their attractiveness and scent, these plants support an abundance of insects, birds, and animals with the food and shelter they need to survive and thrive. In particular, drought-tolerant manzanitas, ceanothus, verbena lilacina, woolly blue curls, salvias, monkeyflower, solidago, coyote brush, and a wide assortment of native wildflowers, including lupines, globe gilias, blue-eyed grass, and California poppies, are now at home here. There’s also a small succulent garden that lizards, snakes, and birds visit in the summertime.

Especially important in the dry months, the gardens have several water features, including shallow water dishes for butterflies, moths, and reptiles, birdbaths for birds, galvanized steel tubs filled with native aquatics for amphibians, birds, and mammals, and a rocky fountain and pond, which toads and frogs call home and birds and mammals bathe in/drink from daily.

Depending on the season, there’s a near-constant thrum of pollinators—beetles, butterflies, and bees—buzzing from plant to plant, lapping up nectar and sharing pollen as they go. In the winter, the white-crowned sparrows live in the bank of ceanothus on the southern slope and rummage through the coyote brush and woodland strawberries for insects to eat. Jackrabbits, gophers, squirrels, skunks, even deer—the scourge of many gardeners—are welcome here, snacking on roots, shrubs, grasses, and acorns, but never causing too much damage thanks to the coyotes, bobcats, great horned owls, and mountain lions who snack on them.

Our gardens are young (and I’m still adding more!), but already we’ve seen an enormous difference in the depth and breadth of species within them. And I’ve learned an important lesson in creating them: We don’t need a lot of land to help fight species decline and habitat loss; if we all work together, we can feed, shelter, and rebuild habitat for wildlife one garden at a time.

Day of the Tour:

We will be having a free compost giveaway provided by Zero Waste Sonoma at this garden. Compost will be loose; please bring your own shovels and buckets. Limit 1/2 cubic yard per household. Compost certified organic from WM Redwood facility.

Also, the UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County will be hosting a table at this garden on the day of the tour to answer any garden related questions you might have. The UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County has been extending information and providing technical assistance to home gardeners since 1982. Stop by their table and say hi!

Special Events
Zero Waste - Compost Giveaway

Plants in this Garden

Plant Picker

Mimulus aurantiacus and hybrids

Sticky Monkey Flower

The orange, tubular flowers of sticky monkey flower can be enjoyed in many locations throughout Sonoma and Marin counties in spring and summer, a testament to how well this plant is adapted to hot and dry conditions. The slightly sticky leaves benefit from light pinching and pruning to maintain an attractive appearance and support for the beautiful flowers. Many hybrids provide color variation. Do not confuse this plant with the red-flowered scarlet monkey flower (Mimulus cardinalis), an herbaceous riparian plant that requires regular water to thrive.

  • Water: Very Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Sandy

Lupinus spp


Popular group of annuals, perennials, and shrubs with distinctive divided leaves that are common throughout the western United States, including California. Pea-like flowers are displayed on spikes and are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Most native lupines are purple-flowered, while some are yellow. Provide full sun and good drainage and watch out for slugs and snails.

Examples: Silver bush lupine (L. albifrons, 3-4’ x 3-4’), prostate lupine (L. albifrons var. collinus, 12-18” x 12-18”), coastal bush lupine (L. arboreus) available with either blue or yellow flowers but can be invasive in some north coastal dunes, and blue-and-white lupine (L. bicolor) a low-growing, annual wildflower.

  • Water: Very Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Well Drained
close up of yellow and red gooseberries

Ribes spp

Currant, Gooseberry

Currants (without spines) and gooseberries (with spines) are grown for their graceful growth habit, attractive foliage, wonderful displays of pendulous flowers in winter-spring that are attractive to hummingbirds, and colorful fruit that provides a food source for birds. Most of the species listed are deciduous, going dormant in the summer months.

Examples: Some of the species suitable for California gardens, preferably with partial shade, are native to the Western United States:

  • aurem, golden currant (5-10’ x 3-6’), deciduous with small clusters of delicate yellow flowers and sprawling habit.
  • malvaceum, chaparral currant (4-8’ x 4-6’), deciduous with early clusters of pink flowers, a slightly vase-shaped habit, and more drought-tolerant than most species.
  • sanguineum var. glutinosum, pink-flowering currant (5-12’ x 5-12’), deciduous with maple-like leaves, a vase-shaped habit, and long pendulous clusters of pink, reddish, or white flowers in the spring; many available cultivars such as ‘Claremont’, ‘Tranquillon Ridge’, and ‘White Icicle’.
  • speciosum, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (4-8’ x 6-10’), deciduous with spiny, arching stems and bright red fuchsia-like flowers along the stems in the spring that are attractive to hummingbirds.
  • viburnifolium, evergreen currant or Catalina perfume (2-4’ x 5-7’), evergreen groundcover that works well under oaks and can provide erosion control to slopes.
  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial ShadeShade
  • Soil: Well Drained
Manzanita bush

Arctostaphylos spp & cvs

Manzanita, 'Dr. Hurd'

Manzanitas vary from carpet-forming groundcovers to small trees. Manzanitas have varying shades of striking, reddish brown bark and can provide structure to a garden. These plants have evergreen foliage, small white-to-pink, urn-shaped blossoms in late winter to early spring, and then small fruits that resemble tiny apples.

Groundcovers: A. ‘Emerald Carpet’ (1’ x 3-6’), A. ‘Pacific Mist’ (2-3’ x 6-8’), A. nummularia ‘Bear Belly’ (1’ x 3’), A. uva ursi ‘Radiant’ (6” x 4-6’), A. uva ursi ‘Wood’s Compct’ (1’ x 3’).

Shrubs: A. ‘Howard McMinn’ (5-7’ x 6-10’), A. ‘John Dourly’ (3-4’ x 5-6’), A. ‘Lester Rowntree’ (8-10’ x 10-15’), A. ‘Sunset‘ (5-7’), A. bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’ (8-10’), A. manzanita ‘Sentinel’ (6-8’ x 5’), A. hookeri ‘Wayside’ (3′ x 8′).

Trees: A. manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’ (10-15′)

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained

Salvia spp


Salvias are a huge group of more than 900 species that include annuals, perennials, and shrubs adapted to a variety of climates and have varying water requirements. Salvias are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, and are generally ignored by deer. Sages that are native to California are generally drought-tolerant, prefer full sun, and little to no fertilizer. Annual pruning in late summer or fall generally helps to keep plants tidy and healthy.

CA native sages:

  • S. apiana, white sage (3-4’ x 4-6’), silvery-white, aromatic leaves with tall flower spikes of white flowers, popular for honey production and in bundles as a natural incense.
  • ‘Bee’s Bliss’ (1-2’ x 6-8’), superb, light gray groundcover with light purple flowers on long spikes; damp conditions can cause mildew which will clear with warm weather and sunny conditions.
  • S. clevelandii, Cleveland sage (3-5’ x 3-5’), medium-sized shrub for hot, dry locations known for pleasant fragrance and deep blue whorls of flowers; popular cultivars include S. c. ‘Allen Chickering’, S. c. ‘Pozo Blue’, and S. c. ‘Winnifred Gilman’.
  • S. leucophylla, purple sage, includes plants with both an upright growth habit, such as S. l. ‘Amethyst Bluff’ (3-5’ x 3-5’) and others with a sprawling form, such as S. l. ‘Point Sal’ (2-3’ x 6’), both of which are from Santa Barbara county.
  • S. sonomaensis, Sonoma sage (1-2’ x 3-4’), groundcover that prefers light shade and will not tolerate damp conditions; cultivars include S. s. ‘Dara’s Choice’, S. s. ‘Greenberg Gray’, and S. s. ‘Hobbit Toes’.
  • S. spathacaea, hummingbird sage (1-2’ spreading), herbaceous groundcover that grows well in dry shade and spreads slowly by underground rhizomes; large leaves have a wonderful fruity fragrance; the only red-flowered native sage.
  • S. mellifera, black sage (6′ x 10′), evergreen shrub that grows well in full sun and well drained soils. Dark green leaves with pale purple flowers in late spring and early summer.

Non-native sages:

  • S. chamaedryoides, germander sage (2-3’)
  • S. chiapensis, Chiapas sage (1-2’ x 3-4’)
  • S. greggii, autumn sage (1-4’ x 1-4’)
  • S. leucantha, Mexican bush sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
  • S. microphylla, cherry sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
  • S. officinalis, garden sage (1-3’ x 1-3’)
  • Water: Very LowLowModerate
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained

Iris douglasiana & cvs

Douglas Iris, Pacific Coast Hybrids

Iris are a large and diverse group of perennials that grow from either bulbs or rhizomes. The California native Douglas iris and cultivars known as Pacific Coast Hybrids are an excellent choice for summer-dry gardens and understory plantings. Fall rain brings new growth in the form of thin, upright leaves, followed in late winter to early spring by the first blossoms. Douglas iris commonly ranges in color from lavender to purple, but cultivars are available in a range of colors including white and yellow. Established plantings can be lifted and divided after the first significant fall rain and either replanted or put into containers to share with others.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Partial ShadeShade
  • Soil: Most Soils

Favorite Plants


Arctostaphylos and Ceanothus

Two beautiful plants with many sub-species that look beautiful in our gardens and provide food and shelter to local pollinators and wildlife.


Verbena lilacina ‘De la Mina’

Easy to grow, blooms year round, and pollinators love it.


Baccharis pilularis

Provides reliable greenery in the garden all year and it’s one of the few plants that bloom in the wintertime when pollinators need it most.


Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward VII’

I’m not a fan of deciduous plants but this shrub blooms in early spring with absolutely beautiful pendants of pink and white flowers. Makes it worth seeing just sticks in the wintertime!



So many kinds, great for shade, lovely fairy pink blooms that last a long time, and pollinators love them.

Favorite Garden Suppliers

CalFlora Nursery

2990 Somers Street Fulton

Annie's Annuals and Perennials

740 Market Avenue Richmond

Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery

3232 Las Pilitas Road Santa Margarita

Mail Order Only!

Recommended Resources

Nature's Best Hope

Written by Doug Tallamy. The best explanation I've read on the importance of using native plants in our gardens.

Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees, and Butterflies, Northern California edition

Written by George Oxford Miller. A great resource for finding the best Northern California natives for your garden.

Gardening Tips


Rely on the Sonoma County Master Gardeners website

For answers to any question you might have. It has so much valuable information, including how-to videos, on vegetable gardening, flower gardening, sustainable gardening, water-wise gardening, pruning, irrigation, pest management, composting, landscape design, wildfire preparedness, you name it!


Plant native plants!

They are absolutely critical in helping restore lost habitat and biodiversity and in combating climate change. Even just one native plant in your garden can make a difference!