Native Gardens

California Native Plants, Landscape Design, Native Gardens

Park-Like Garden Setting


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This California native plant garden located in Menlo Park, California, and designed by L. A. Peluso Designs, has turned into a peaceful, park-like setting and features many favorites, such as Sunset Manzanita, Deer Grass, Salvia clevelandii, and Stickey Monkey.

Flagstone Path Meanders Through California Native Plant Garden, Menlo Park, CA
Flagstone Path Meanders Through California Native Plant Garden, Menlo Park, CA
California Native Plant Garden, Menlo Park CA
California Native Plant Garden, Menlo Park CA
Closeup of California Native Plant Muhlenbergia rigens Commonly Known as Deer Grass
Closeup of California Native Plant Muhlenbergia rigens, commonly known as Deer Grass
California Natives Salvia, Deer Grass, Salvia clevelandii, Mimulus aurantiacus, Sunset Manzanita, Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman' Surround Bird Bath
California Natives Salvia, Deer Grass, Salvia clevelandii, Mimulus aurantiacus, Sunset Manzanita, Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ surround bird bath
Sunset Manzanita and Deer Grass, Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman' Standard Tree Form
Sunset Manzanita, Deer Grass, Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ Standard Tree Form
California Native Plants, Low Water Plants, Native Gardens, Naturalistic Gardens

No Supplemental Irrigation Required For Native Garden Design


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From Left to Right: Ceanothus 'Yankee Point,' Western Redbud, California Wild Rose, Ceanothus 'Dark Star'

The garden above was created as a private test garden in San Jose, California, and features California native plants in a wild, naturalistic design, according to the client’s wishes. Featured in the photo from left to right are Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point,’ Western Redbud, California Wild Rose,* and Ceanothus ‘Dark Star.’

There was no tilling or soil preparation for this site (other than weed clearing), and no fertilizers were added to the soil prior to or after planting in the late spring of 2010.

Planting holes were dug no larger than the plant containers to encourage the roots to grow through native clay soil. During planting, no attempt was made to loosen the soil around the rootballs and the soil surrounding the rootballs was not disturbed except to briefly and lightly brush the soil with gloved hands. Six inches of redwood mulch was added to the site to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Surprisingly, the mulch has not needed replenishing!

Below, blooming California Native Wild Lilac ‘Ray Hartman’ blooms spectacularly above California Native Ceanothus ‘Diamond Heights’ Variegated Carmel Creeper underplanted as groundcover.

Blooming California Native Wild Lilac 'Ray Hartman' and California Native Ceanothus 'Diamond Heights' Variegated Carmel Creeper Below as Groundcover

Immediately after planting, each plant was watered in for approximately 15-20 minutes, thoroughly and deeply saturating the rootball and surrounding area. Following the initial watering (during their first summer), plants were watered every few days if needed, tapering off to watering twice a week in the cooler weather of fall, at which time plants were watered once a week until winter rains arrived consistently enough to rely upon. Since the plants’ first year in the garden, there has been no supplemental irrigation to this site! Pruning and weeding is performed just twice a year, making this garden fairly low maintenance. Weeds are hand-pulled to avoid the use of pesticides which would harm the environment and creatures (including humans) enjoying it.

Amazingly, these plants bloom beautifully and reliably each spring. Native butterflies, birds, and lizards are happy in this habitat and iridescent native bees frequent the garden. Photos were taken in the Spring of 2017.

*California Wild Rose (Rosa californica) can be utilized as a barrier to intruders as it spreads freely by runners when happily situated, forming a dense thicket over time if left unchecked, so plant with caution!

Blooms, California Native Plants, Fall Color, Low Water Plants, Native Gardens, Pollinators

California Native Garden Plants – Fall Color


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Tired of planting the “same-o, same-o flowers” for fall color? Mums are wonderful, it’s true, but how about a less thirsty change of pace? Try these California Native plants needing less water:

Helianthus annuus (Delta Sunflower or Common Sunflower)

Helianthus annuus (Delta Sunflower or Common Sunflower)

St. Catherine's Lace or Saint Catherine's Lace

Eriogonum giganteum (St. Catherine’s Lace) in the spring with a happy bee! And, below in the fall, a close-up of this buckwheat’s back side and rusty fall color. It turns pinkish in-between! I’ll have to remember to add that photo next year.

St. Catherine's Lace or Saint Catherine's Lace

Eriogonum giganteum (St. Catherine's Lace) fall color

Lollipop Flower

Helenium puberulum (Autumn Lollipop or Lollipop)* *Warning – Poisonous if ingested*

Bees flock to any of the above bloomers. Here is one now:

What are your favorite fall-blooming natives (California or otherwise)?

Garden Maintenance, Native Gardens, Naturalistic Gardens

Maintaining Native Gardens – Keeping Your Native Garden Enjoyable for All


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butterfly-17057_1280 monarch

High expectations ~ instantly set while being bombarded by hundreds of picture-perfect garden images on media sites, when browsing through brilliant garden magazine photo shoots, and while watching gardens pop up in the blink of an eye on garden DIY shows. The realities, of course, are different. Gardens don’t have to be highly manicured or flawless to be successful and gratifying! Benjamin Vogt, owner of Monarch Gardens, explores ways to change our perspectives on maintaining naturalistic native gardens. Check out his article (in which I’m proud to be featured!) on Houzz.com here.