The Daniel Stralka Memorial Pollinator Garden

BACK TO FULL TOUR

Garden Features

1

Drought Tolerant

2

California Natives

3

Deer Resistant

4

Drip Irrigation

5

Pesticide Free

6

Rainwater Harvesting System

7

Lawn-Free Landscaping

8

Permeable Surfaces

9

Wildlife Habitat

The west is facing a trifecta of environmental challenges: drought, wildfires, loss of biodiversity. The Daniel Stralka Memorial Pollinator Habitat Garden aims to help educate the community on landscape concepts that are water wise, fire smart and support biodiversity.

The garden is centrally located at Dominican University in an area frequented by students, staff and pedestrians. The garden has been designed primarily using plants identified by calscape.org as native to the area and rated for low to very low water consumption. The irrigation needs of the garden are being met using rain water catchment in a 3000 gallon tank that collects water from the rooftop of nearby Albertus Magnus Hall, which has been calculated to have the capacity to collect 8.200 gallons of water with 1” of rain. It is anticipated that within three years of average annual rain, the plants will be fully established and only need supplemental water during drought conditions.

The garden was designed using 5 plant islands that each showcase a different concept: 1) year-round blooms, 2) planting for birds, 3) butterfly-friendly plants, 4) plants for shade or partial shade, and 5) planting under oak trees.

Despite having only been installed in December 2022, seeds were collected from 10 species of plants in 2023. Over 1000 seed packets have already been distributed in the community and will also be made available (free of charge) to garden visitors on the day of the tour.

All planning for the garden (design, fundraising, coordinating volunteers and contractors) was completed by volunteers, including Dominican students over a two-year period.

Special Events
Seed Giveaway

Plants in this Garden

Aristolochia californica

California Pipevine
Organization

Important northern California native habitat plant that is the sole larval food source for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly. This deciduous vine grows naturally along stream banks and in woodlands and performs well under native oaks. Dutchman’s pipevine is relatively slow-growing and takes a few years to establish. Pendulous pipe-shaped flowers bloom in early spring, followed by soft, bright green, heart-shaped leaves. Best grown as a groundcover to provide protection for pipevine swallowtail larvae but will also twine up other plants and structures. The real show comes in late spring as larvae feed on the plant and grow into spectacular horned, black caterpillars with red spots!

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Partial ShadeShade
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Leaf Color: Green -Light
  • Flower Color: Pale Green
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringWinter

Artemisia ssp

Sagebrush, Wormwood
Organization

Large group of plants that includes annuals, perennials, and shrubs grown for fine, soft-textured, aromatic, gray-green foliage. Flowers are inconspicuous but provide a source of pollen, nectar, and seeds for wildlife. Shrubby varieties can be cut back to maintain a more tidy and compact appearance. Perennial varieties can be divided in fall or early spring. Excellent choice as support for more showy plants in the garden.

Examples: A. ‘Powis Castle’ (3’ x 6’), A. californica (2-5’ x 4-5’, low-growing cultivars ‘Canyon Gray’ and ‘Montara’), A. pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’ (6” x 2’).

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: EvergreenHerbaceous
  • Leaf Color: GrayGray GreenGreen
  • Flower Color: YellowWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Ceanothus spp & cvs

Ceanothus, California lilac, 'Ray Hartman'
Organization

Ceanothus is a group of fast-growing, evergreen shrubs that vary from groundcovers to small trees, many of which are native to California. They provide a spectacular display of flowers in spring that will attract a multitude of pollinators. Flowers are followed by seeds that provide food for birds. The clusters of tiny flowers range from white to deep violet. Plants perform best with good drainage and minimal irrigation once established. Some do best in cooler coastal climates, but many thrive in hotter inland climates. Pay close attention to the mature size when selecting ceanothus to ensure that it has sufficient space for its natural form.

Groundcovers: C. ‘Centennial’ (1’ x 8’), C. gloriosus var. gloriosus ‘Anchor Bay’ (2’ x 8’), C. griseus var. horizontalis ‘Diamond Heights’ (variegated, 1’ x 4’), C. griseus var. horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’ (3’ x 12’), C. maritimus (2’ x 6’).

Shrubs: C. ‘Blue Jeans’ (6’ x 6’), C. Concha (6’ x 6’), C. ‘Dark Star’ (6’ x 8’), C. ‘Joyce Coulter’ (4’ x 12’), C. ‘Julia Phelps’ (8’ x 10’), C. cuneatus (8’ x 8’), C. thyrsiflorus ‘Skylark’ (4’ x 6’).

Large shrubs: C. ‘Frosty Blue’ (10’ x 12’), C. thyrsiflorus (20’ x 20’), C. t. ‘Snow Flurry’ (white flower, 20’ x 20’).

Trees: C. ‘Ray Hartman’ (15′ x 15′)

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: GreenGreen - Dark
  • Flower Color: BlueWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Toyon
Organization

California native, evergreen shrub or small tree often seen growing in Sonoma and Marin county wildlands. Lacy, white flower clusters in spring attract pollinators; red berries in winter provide a splash of color and an important food source for birds. The name “Hollywood” was born from the abundance of toyon in the hills of southern California and its resemblance to European holly. The cultivar ‘Davis Gold’ has yellow berries and may be more disease-resistant than the species.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green - Dark
  • Flower Color: White
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFall
  • Fruit Color: Red

Iris douglasiana & cvs

Douglas Iris, Pacific Coast Hybrids
Organization

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
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Green - Dark
  • Flower Color: LavenderPurpleVioletYellow
  • Blooming Season (s): Spring

Monardella villosa

Coyote Mint
Organization

Coyote Mint is a compact perennial or sub-shrub with aromatic foliage and a sprawling habit. Dense heads of purple flowers form in spring-to-summer that are attractive to butterflies and other insects. The low-growth habit of coyote mint makes it an excellent choice for the front of a border, along the edge of a path, or beneath larger shrubs such as manzanita or ceanothus. Monardella villosa spp. franciscana ‘Russian River’ and Monardella villosa spp. villosa ‘Mark West’ are available selections from Sonoma County.

  • Water: Very Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: Gray Green
  • Flower Color: Purple
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Salvia spp

Sage
Organization

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
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: GrayGreen
  • Flower Color: LavenderPinkPurpleYellowWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFall

Sambucus spp

Elderberry
Organization

Fast-growing shrubs and small trees for sun or part shade that attract pollinators from far and wide to large clusters of cream flowers in spring, followed by berries in summer that provide food to many types of birds. Fruit can also be used for culinary purposes. While naturally fairly wild-looking, elderberries can handle being cut back to the ground in the winter or pruned to maintain size and shape.

Examples:

  • Blue elderberry (S. mexicana [nigra] spp. caerulea, 8-25’) is native from Oregon to Baja California and beyond.
  • Black elderberry (S. nigra, 20-30’) is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia, and is available in nurseries in the form of many named cultivars. Cut leaf black elderberry (S. n. ‘Black Lace’, 8’ x 8’) has intense dark, fine foliage. Cut leaf elderberry (S. n. ‘Laciniata’, 10’ x 10’) has green leaves, and variegated black elderberry (S. n. ‘Marginata’, 6-12’) has variegated leaves.
  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: White
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer
  • Fruit Color: BlackPurple

Favorite Plants

1

Manzanita

Vital for our bumblebees!

2

Ceanothus

Important early season native bloomer.

3

Coyote Mint

Loved by bees and butterflies!

4

Toyon

Summer blooms.

5

Coyote Bush

Supports over 400 species of insects.

Favorite Garden Suppliers

CNL Native Plant Nursery

254 Shoreline Highway Mill Valley

Green Jeans Garden Supply

690 Redwood Highway Mill Valley

Home Ground Habitats

1875 Indian Valley Road Novato

This nursery is on the garden tour!

Recommended Resources

Nature's Best Hope by Douglas W. Tallamy

California Bees & Blooms by Gordon Frankie, Robbin Thorp, Rollin Coville and Barbara Ertter

The Bee Friendly Garden by Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn

Gardening Tips

1

Work with plants adapted to your site conditions…. soil, water, sun.