How to make a native garden

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Right now it is gardening time in Southern California. It is the time to get your native plant garden going. It is the time to sow wildflower seeds for your very own spring superbloom. It is the time to prune back overgrown sages and some other shrubs (but hold off on Ceanothus if you want to see a nice bloom this spring). It is the time to give your garden a good, long soaking since we have gotten almost no rain so far during this year’s “rainy season.” In a nutshell, it is the time to get out there and get dirty 👩‍🌾.

Below is a presentation I made a while ago for those of you who want to start something new. The slideshow includes background on gardening in our Mediterranean climate, how to get going, and some common mistakes you should try to avoid. If you find it helpful, be sure to check out my book, Wild Suburbia – Learning to Garden with Native Plants.

4 thoughts on “How to make a native garden

  1. Kathleen Virmani

    I live in the Bay Area. Perhaps your climate in SOCAL is mediterranean but ours is not. In the Mediterranean area it rains in the summer and much more than here other times of the year. I would refer to our climate as “Summer Dry.”. Many Mediterranean plants work in our climate, but why not use Native California ones instead? Many Mediterranean plants need more water than I’m willing to give.

    • weedingwildsuburbia

      Hi Kathleen. You are correct in that we are much drier and hotter than the climate in the actual Mediterranean. Nonetheless, the Bay Area is considered part of the less than 2% of land mass that has what has been defined as a mediterranean climate. This is a climate with moderate, wet winters, and hot, dry summers. Ours just happens to be most extreme. Peter Dallman wrote an excellent book (published by Calif Native Plant Society, 1998) called Plant Life in the World’s Mediterranean Climates. (https://store.cnps.org/products/plant-life-in-the-worlds-mediterranean-climates). The mediterranean climate area lies west of the Sierra Nevada and extends beyond SF in central CA, though the northern portion by Trinity Alps is not part of this unique climate area.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. RobJ

    I have two nice Ceanothus here in the south bay area, and I’m wondering why you said we should wait to prune those back. I’m really proud of them, along with a few manzanitas I planted some years ago. Going native is fun! Thanks!

    • weedingwildsuburbia

      Hi Rob. The best explanation on why to prune right after the bloom period can be found in Bornstein, et al, California Native Plants for the Garden (p.78), “For best results, prune immediately after flowering and only back to the new year’s flush of growth. If you make these cuts later in the year, you may inadvertently remove next year’s flowers.”

      Congrats on you Ceanothus and manzanitas. I agree that gardening with native is fun!

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