Kathleen Chasey (Credit: Napa Valley Register)
Some of us came to California for the cheese. Some of us will visit Napa for its lovely native garden. Those of you who know me know I am totally serious.
This gem of a native garden is made possible by dedicated CNPS volunteers like Kathleen Chasey. When Gandhi said, Be the change you wish to see in the world, Chasey was paying attention. I find it inspiring to read stories like this where people make things happen with their own two hands. Read all about it, and visit, and when you return, imagine what is possible in your own town or neighborhood.
You want to do the right thing for the environment by planting water-wise native plants in the garden, but you also want the garden to look appealing during the long, dry California summer. No matter the season, we humans like our gardens to look green. The color green evokes lushness, fecundity, life. Is it possible to have a California garden that stays green through the summer sustainably, without relying on an endless supply of water?
Yes, indeed, it is possible — through a careful selection of plants. Among California’s dizzying array of native plants, there are many that stay green through summer naturally. Here is a short list, covering the range from perennial to groundcover to subshrub, shrub, vine, and tree.
Think about introducing these to your garden and, once established, cutting back on the water. For contrast, combine them with blue-, gray-, silver-, and tan-colored plants to create an inviting display in the garden.
Plants With Summer-Green Foliage
Coastal gumplant likes full sun and blooms in early summer
An early summer blooming perennial is the coastal gumplant (Grindelia stricta platyphylla). It grows 6” tall and 3’ wide, and is a good edging plant for full sun. Yellow daisies in June through August attract butterflies, skippers, and other insects. Contrasts well with large plants such as deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens). Continue reading
Ithuriel's Spear (Triteleia laxa) in a San Jose garden
Some of the most reliable plants in my garden are California native bulbs. They bring seasonal color and variety to the garden, and give it a sense of place (“This is California!”) and a sense of time: they are the markers of spring glory.
Native bulbs are especially appealing to lazy gardeners like me. They need minimal effort at planting time (no need to dig big holes) and no effort thereafter, ever! They come up with the winter rains, and flower in spring. They disappear during summer and return in winter, year after year. To me they are the ultimate in low maintenance gardening!
To succeed with California bulbs, follow these simple rules:
The Going Native Garden Tour of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County will take place on Sunday, April 18, 2010, 10am to 4pm. There are about 50 gardens on the tour, mostly private home gardens. The format is open house; all registrants receive garden addresses and descriptions two weeks in advance, and choose which ones they want to visit.
The tour is in its 8th year now, and attracts a large audience. It is free to all; registration is required at www.gngt.org. We had 5,000 registrants and 12,000 garden visits last year. So register early to reserve your space.