The Evolution of a Native Garden

By: Katherine Greenberg

Katherine Hayes Greenberg is a garden designer with a passion for California’s native plants. She is a past president of…

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As a complement to Katherine Greenberg’s article about her native garden in Lafayette, California, which appears in the October 2010 issue of Pacific Horticulture, we offer her lists of plants that have proven particularly successful in her garden. Katherine designed and maintains her garden by herself, and uses the garden for occasional classes and workshops on gardening with California’s native plants. She will be a speaker at “Fourth Quarter Gardens: An August to December Romance,” a Garden Conservancy seminar in Lafayette on Friday, October 29. For information about the seminar, click here.

A Selection of Plants in the Greenberg Garden, Listed by Plant Community

Coastal Scrub consists of low, soft-leaved perennials and shrubs that are drought-tolerant and prefer full sun. Occasional watering in the late summer and early fall improves their appearance in the garden.
Armeria maritima – thrift
Artemisia californica – California sagebrush
Baccharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’ – dwarf coyote brush
Erigeron glaucus – seaside daisy
Eriogonum – buckwheats
Salvia – sages

Grassland covers large areas of California’s hills and valleys and provides dazzling displays of wildflowers when spring rains are abundant. A mix of wildflowers and grasses takes the place of a water-consuming lawn in the garden.
Achillea millefolium – yarrow
Eschscholzia californica – California poppy
Festuca californica – California fescue
Iris douglasiana – Douglas iris
Lupinus – lupines
Melica torreyana – Torrey melic grass
Muhlenbergia rigens – deer grass
Sisyrinchium bellum – blue-eyed grass

Chaparral is composed of tough evergreen shrubs that grow in poor soil on hot, dry slopes. Chaparral shrubs provide a strong foundation for the garden.
Arctostaphylos – manzanitas
Ceanothus – wild lilacs
Cercis occidentalis – Western redbud
Cercocarpus betuloides – mountain mahogany
Garrya elliptica – silktassel bush
Heteromeles arbutifolia – toyon
Rhamnus californica – coffeeberry
Zauschneria californica (syn. Epilobium canum) – California fuchsia

Oak woodland is characteristic of California’s foothills and canyons. Oaks are adapted to dry summers, and their companion plants tolerate dry shade. Oaks frame the garden and provide screening from neighbors.
Aesculus californica – California buckeye
Heuchera – alum roots
Quercus agrifolia – Coast live oak
Ribes viburnifolium – Catalina perfume
Salvia spathacea – hummingbird sage
Symphoricarpos albus – snowberry

Riparian woodland is composed mainly of deciduous trees growing along rivers and streams. The riparian corridor provides shade and a source of water for wildlife.
Aesculus californica – California buckeye
Dryopteris arguta – wood fern
Juglans hindsii – California walnut
Rosa californica – wild rose
Salix – willows
Umbellularia californica – California bay
Vitis californica – wild grape

Redwood forest is limited to the coastal fog belt, extending into the East Bay Hills. Redwoods are too large for most gardens, but their companion plants are ideal for shady areas with some moisture.
Acer circinnatum – vine maple
Asarum caudatum – wild ginger
Berberis aquifolium – Oregon grape
Dicentra formosa – Western bleeding heart
Polystichum munitum – Western sword fern
Vancouveria planipetala – inside-out flower

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