Totally Unexpected Food Forest

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Garden Features

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Drought Tolerant

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Edible Garden

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Graywater System

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California Natives

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Drip Irrigation

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Pesticide Free

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Rainwater Harvesting System

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Rain Garden

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Sheet Mulching

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Smart Irrigation Controller

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Lawn Conversion

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Lawn-Free Landscaping

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Living Roof/Wall

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Permeable Surfaces

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Urban Homestead

Partner: Permaculture Artisans

The journey from devastation to regeneration in our Coffey Park home has been one of resilience, reimagining, and restoration. When the Tubbs Fire swept through in 2017, claiming our swimming pool, palm trees, and everything in its path, we faced a pivotal decision: to rebuild or to transform.

Inspired by workshops hosted by Santa Rosa Water, we embarked on a path of responsible and sustainable living, recognizing our interconnectedness with the planet. While awaiting the fruition of our plans, we sowed the seeds of renewal, planting Yellow Mustard and Crimson Clover to heal and rejuvenate the scorched earth.

Enter Permaculture Artisans, our guiding lights in the reconstruction process. With their expertise, we crafted a landscape teeming with life and purpose. Every element serves a vital role in the ecosystem: from rain gardens and greywater systems to native plantings and compost piles, our yard pulsates with biodiversity and vitality.

Embracing renewable energy, we installed solar panels with battery backup, a recirculating hot water heater, and a whole-house fan to minimize our environmental footprint. Yet, amidst these modern innovations, we remain grounded in timeless practices—line-drying clothes and collecting water from kitchen sinks, honoring the wisdom of our ancestors.

In May of 2022, our dedication to conservation earned us recognition from the City of Santa Rosa and Santa Rosa Water—a Certificate of Achievement celebrating our estimated annual water savings of over 32,500 gallons.

But perhaps the crowning glory of our rejuvenated landscape is the Totally Unexpected Food Forest (TUFF). Bursting with a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, from multi-grafted Asian Pears to flourishing apple trees and bountiful raised beds brimming with seasonal delights, TUFF embodies the spirit of abundance and resilience.

Amidst this verdant oasis, pollinator gardens beckon with vibrant blooms, attracting a symphony of bees, butterflies, and birds. Here, amid the Yarrow and Mexican Marigolds, Milkweed nurtures Monarch Butterflies, a testament to the profound interconnectedness of all living beings.

Our journey from devastation to regeneration has been a testament to the transformative power of community, resilience, and stewardship. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of life, our home stands as a beacon of hope—a sanctuary where nature and humanity coexist in harmony, nourishing each other and the world around us.

Special Events
Permaculture Artisans Demo Table

Plants in this Garden

Asclepias spp, CA native

Milkweed
Organization

Colony-forming, herbaceous perennials with several species providing important habitat and larval food sources for the monarch butterfly while attracting a diverse array of insects.

California milkweeds remain dormant during the colder months. Stems that emerge in April or May bear clusters of small, star-like flowers in summer followed by silky-tailed seeds that are dispersed by wind. A. fascicularis (narrow-leaved milkweed, 1-3’) is the preferred food source for monarch larvae. A. speciosa (showy milkweed, 2-4’) has larger, soft foliage, showier flower clusters, and is also a food source for monarch larvae. A. cordifolia (heart leaf milkweed, 1-2′) has heart-shaped leaves and is also a food source for monarch larvae.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soils
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Green
  • Flower Color: Pink
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Achillea spp & cvs

Yarrow
Organization

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
  • Foliage: Herbaceous
  • Leaf Color: Gray GreenGreen
  • Flower Color: PinkRedYellow
  • 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

Favorite Plants

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California Lilac

Ceanothus

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Sage

Salvia

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Milkweed

Asclepias californica

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California Buttercup

Ranunculus californicus

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Lthuriel's Spear

Triteleia laxa

Favorite Garden Suppliers

Harmony Farm Supply

3244 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol

Recommended Resources

Permaculture Artisans

Specialize in regenerative agriculture, food production, water harvesting, fire resiliency, and restoration projects at all scales.

Daily Acts

Holistic education nonprofit that takes a heart-centered approach to inspiring transformative actions that create connected, equitable, and climate resilient communities.

Uncle Jim's Worm Farms

Your favorite Red Wiggler worm composting supplier!