With all the talk about embracing native plants here in California, you'd think they would be easy to find. The reality is, natives make up only around 2% of the nursery trade. Even if I can find the plant that I want, making sure it performs in whatever specific garden conditions exists is tough - i.e., does full sun mean the 90+ degree full sun of the East Bay or the "full sun-lite" of Berkeley and San Francisco? In short, putting natives in a client's garden is a little scary, and I, for one would welcome some help.
Enter my new BFF, Troy McGregor, who owns and operates Garden Natives in the East Bay, which specializes in California natives. Troy has agreed to contribute some posts to Garden Chick's Design Tips (maybe I should think about changing the name?) and will recommend plants for specific situations like deer resistance, erosion control, garden tolerance, successful combinations, etc.
As an unexpected bonus, Troy sent me these amazing photos of the front yard makeover he recently did at his own house, creating this fabulous, lawn-free garden. I've included some photos here, but he has a wonderful slide show documenting the complete transformation (including some of the plants used) if you want to see more .
before photo - nice but traditional
after - talk about curb appeal:
A little more about Troy in his own words:
"My interest in Californian natives began not long after moving here from Australia in May 2006. My visa restricted employment for the first few months so I volunteered with the Watershed Project in Richmond a few days a week, participating in native plant monitoring and invasive weed removal.
Looking to volunteer a little closer to home, I began with CREEC, a small non-profit organization in Crockett specializing in youth education and habitat restoration. In September of 2006 I was given the all clear to start working and was offered the role of Plant Propagation Coordinator. This position exposed me to the local flora of the Carquinez Strait and neighboring watersheds and the roles that these plants fill. I was fortunate enough to work with local botanist Dr. Dean Kelch who was always happy to answer my many questions about identification, cultural requirements and wildlife benefits. I’m still a frequent hiker of these areas and have come to know the plants and enjoy watching their many forms throughout the seasons.
I started Garden Natives in December 2007 to grow and sell the natives that I had wanted but could never find locally. The nearest native nurseries (excluding those for restoration efforts) to where I live were at least an hours drive away (less traffic) and located in different climates to my own.
Natives are still a little mysterious to a lot of people and unfortunately there are many misconceptions floating about. I’ll do my best to dispel these as part of this blog. I’m an advocate of lawn alternatives and look forward to discussing this further and hopefully convincing those toying with the idea to take the plunge. I don’t miss the mower one bit!"
Susan again. I'm logging ths one under 'We don't need no stinkin' lawn', but in future look for Troy's posts in the Native Gardening category, and please, leave a comment if you'd like Troy's advice on California native plant or design issue!