As the weather cools and gentle rains of autumn begin, conditions for planting in Northern California gardens are ideal. Take a look at your yard and plan for an autumn refresher. Incorporating California natives is a good way to build a garden that’s better for the environment and will ultimately be less costly to maintain.
According to the California Native Plant Society, native plants have the following benefits:
Native plants are well adapted to California’s climate, and are well suited to dry summers and winter rains. If you select plants that are appropriate for your microclimate, they will require little additional irrigation beyond normal rainfall once they are established.
Less maintenance, no chemicals.
While not entirely “care free,” native plants require less watering, fertilizer, pruning and spraying than non-native species. It makes sense: this is their home, so they’ll thrive naturally with the resources available. An added benefit is that reducing or eliminating pesticide and fertilizer use establishes biodiversity and keeps garden toxins out of our watersheds.
Hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and the like have a natural affinity for native plants. Inviting a variety of wildlife into your garden helps abate mosquitoes and encourages pollination of your fruit trees.
Keep in mind that transplanting native plants from public lands is illegal and rarely successful. Good sources are botanic garden plant sales and nurseries specializing in native plants. There are upcoming plant sales at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (Sunday, September 27) and Strybing Arboretum (Saturday, September 12), as well as an East Bay CNPS Chapter plant sale on Saturday, October 10th.
Once you start looking at native plants, you will be amazed at the variety of blooms and textures available. Some of the state’s leading collections of native plants can be found at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley and the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Regional Park. Go explore—then go native.