Tom Karwin, on gardening | Originating in California for the garden – Santa Cruz Sentinel


Take care of your garden

As already mentioned, the fall season is the perfect time to add or move plants in the garden. The rationale for this timing is to allow the plants to establish their roots in preparation for the burst of leaves and flowers in late winter or early spring. Additionally, the planting now welcomes nature’s role in supporting plant growth throughout our anticipated rainy season.

There is no guarantee for a normal rainy season, only the historic record and optimism.

Today we review the benefits of adding native California plants to the garden. Saturday’s fall plant sale by the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society motivates this prospect.

You can find more information about this sale below.

One good reason to include California natives in your garden is that they are pleasing to the eye, as the attached photos show. These images, provided by members of the Santa Cruz County chapter of the California Native Plant Society, reflect the results of good gardening.

Selecting California natives can support the development of your garden design as there is a wide range of options in mature size, flower color and foliage texture. You can find a California native for literally any garden spot or for landscaping purposes. For example, you can pursue a California native plant theme for a selected area, develop native plant communities, or create highlights by showcasing selected plants for prominent locations.

Adding to the benefits of these plants for the garden is their compatibility with the Monterey Bay Area climate. These plants are right at home in your garden; they thrive with a base culture, building on their natural environment. Over the eons they have developed their natural drought tolerance, adapting to the pattern of dry and rainy summer periods in this region.

Of course, newly established plants need moisture to start growing in a new situation, so regular irrigation – or natural rainfall – should be provided when adding them to your garden. Once established, they will grow well with little care. Occasional watering will also promote vigorous growth and attractive blooms.

A very important reason for including native California plants is their benefit to wildlife. Well-researched findings from experts like entomologist and author Doug Tallamy strongly recommend including a good percentage of native California plants in your garden to support the plant-specific diets of insects, which are food sources for insects. birds.

The extent to which your garden should showcase native California plants, versus exotic ones, can vary. Some gardeners commit one hundred percent (which is not uncommon), and others pursue the recommended balance of seventy-thirty. From a wildlife perspective, the more the better.

The California Native Plant Society Local Chapter Fall Plant Sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the UCSC Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The first hour is reserved for CNPS members only. Sales are going fast, so early access is a benefit for members and non-members are well advised to enter at 11am. Hint: you can join the California Native Plant Society on the day of the sale.

The Society has grown plants for this sale (I have been involved in this work for the past few years). According to their newsletter, Cypress Cone, “Featured in this sale are over one hundred native plant species, many of which are new offerings for our chapter. Discover the different species of Dudleya, Heteromeles (Toyon), Romneya (Matilija Poppy) and Arctostaphylos cultivars. We will have a small selection of spring flowering dormant bulbs packaged and ready for fall planting, as well as many plants from our most popular genera such as Eriogonum, Salvia, Diplacus, Epilobium, Achillea, Erigeron, Artemisia, Grindelia and Frangula! ”

Check the chapter website ( for availability the week before the sale. For directions to the arboretum, visit and click “visit.”

This event is a great opportunity to add desirable plants to your garden.

Improve your gardening knowledge

To learn more about breeding and growing native California plants, visit the California Native Plant Society’s Calscape webpage ( This informative resource is of more value to gardeners than could be summarized here.

To learn more about the value of California’s native plants to wildlife, watch recordings of Doug Tallamy’s lectures by browsing and searching for “Tallamy.” His books are available in bookstores and on His thoughts are persuasive and revealing.

Enjoy your garden!

Tom Karwin is Past President of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Society, Life Member of the Monterey Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, and UC Life Master Gardener (certified 1999-2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Society and active with the Pacific Horticultural Society. To see daily photos of her garden, For information on gardening coaching and an archive of previous On Gardening columns, visit


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