Lemons and Lavender Homestead


Garden Features


Drought Tolerant


Edible Garden


California Natives


Drip Irrigation


Pesticide Free


Rainwater Harvesting System


Reclaimed/Recycled Materials


Lawn-Free Landscaping


Urban Homestead


Wildlife Habitat

Partner: North Marin Water District

I have a small suburban homestead in Novato.

My garden demonstrates many permaculture techniques, which is a sustainable system of gardening, and provides food, beauty, and entertaining space for my family. I cook a meal for the four of us almost every day, and it’s safe to say that nearly every meal I make uses at least one ingredient from my garden, whether it is something freshly harvested, something I have harvested in the past and preserved, or an herb from my culinary & medicinal herbal plant collection. Most of my garden has been made using reclaimed materials, and it is always a work in progress!

Growing food efficiently with minimal water usage is indeed possible with the right techniques, contrary to common perceptions. In my garden, I prioritize water conservation through various strategies. By nurturing healthy organic soil that retains moisture effectively, employing thick mulching, contouring the land to harness rainwater during our wet season, and favoring perennial food plants, I significantly reduce my water consumption while sustaining abundant yields.

Upon first glimpse, visitors often marvel at the seemingly untamed nature of my garden, devoid of conventional rows. Embracing the spontaneity of nature, I welcome reseeding annuals and allow plants to flourish wherever they find a foothold. Plants such as California poppy, nasturtium, borage, cerinthe (honeywort), and feverfew thrive autonomously, flourishing without excessive intervention. Moreover, my garden serves as a sanctuary for pollinators, housing an array of drought-tolerant and native California plants. These indigenous species not only contribute to the ecosystem’s biodiversity but also offer food and medicinal benefits, exemplified by the Elderberry tree and the herb Yerba Buena. The harmonious coexistence of wildlife and cultivated plants not only enriches the garden’s vitality but also fosters a deep sense of gratification, knowing that it sustains not just my family but also a multitude of wild inhabitants. See my design website for more ideas!

Plants in this Garden

Plant Picker

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

Achillea spp & cvs


Yarrows are variable low-growing, spreading herbaceous perennials with finely divided leaves that inhabit many temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Flattish clusters of flowers form in spring and well into summer and provide an important nectar source for pollinators and insects. Yarrow can help to stabilize slopes and is a good addition to the upper level of rain gardens and swales. Colors include yellow, pink, and red.

California native spp & cvs: A. millefolium (common yarrow), A. m. ‘Calistoga’, A. m. ‘Island Pink’, A. m. ‘Sonoma Coast’, A. m. ‘Terracotta’.

Other yarrows: A. filipendulina (fern leaf yarrow), A. f. ‘Coronation Gold’, A. ‘Moonshine’, A. tomentosa (woolly yarrow).

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soils

Favorite Plants


Bee's Bliss Sage

Savlia ‘Bee’s Bliss’


Autumn Sage

Salvia greggii


Yerba Buena

Clinopodium douglasii


Wild Passion Flower

Passiflora incarnata


Santa Rosa Plum

Prunus salicina ‘Santa Rosa’

Favorite Garden Suppliers

Harmony Farm Supply

3244 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol

Cottage Gardens

3995 Emerald Drive Petaluma

Recommended Resources

Gardening Tips


Start with the Soil!

Add organic matter & mulch thickly to keep nutrients and water cycling through your landscape.