Gardening with Native Plants

– Posted in: Garden Photography, Sustainable Gardening

Calliandra californica - Zapotillo or Baja Fairy Duster California native shrub flowering in mixed border, Leaning Pine Arboretum

I am on the road, photographing California native plants, and just too dang busy to think about anything else.  My post will just be a “best of” selection from a presentation I gave at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Californa native plant garden at Leaning Pine Arboretum

Californa native plant garden mixed border with trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses.

So here is a portfolio selection of great gardens using California natives.  For those of you in other parts of the world – be amazed.  Our natives do not look like what you see in most garden publications – which is the reason I am so busy photographing them.

Well pruned manzanita (Arctostaphylos) shrubs with native grasses by swimming pool in The Melissa Garden, California

Well pruned manzanita (Arctostaphylos) shrubs with native grasses by swimming pool

But whether it’s California or any other region, gardeners must learn to use natives ornamentally to truly move to sustainability. Native plant enthusiasts know this, but too many traditional gardeners think natives are not garden worthy. And too many native plants gardeners don’t care about garden design.

Entry path between Ceanothus groundcovers in Southern California front yard native plant garden

Entry path between Ceanothus groundcovers in Southern California front yard native plant garden

I’m here to say we can have it all, utilitarian natives beautiful design.  The more I look, the more wonderful native plant gardens I find.

Shrub border with Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps' and silver foliage native plant Salt Bush (Atriplex lentiformis brewerii) in drought tolerant Southern California garden on hillside with oaks, daffodils and mulched path

Shrub border with Ceanothus ‘Julia Phelps’ and Salt Bush (Atriplex lentiformis brewerii)

Often native plant gardens will include select plants from other similar regions.  In California we look to other summer-dry regions of the world, such as Western Australia or the Mediterranean, such as the daffodils in the shrub border above.

Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland sage) infront yard with California native plants, Heath-Delaney garden

Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland sage) in front yard with California native plants

Surprisingly though, I am finding many gardens that are only natives.  Gardeners are really learning the nuances and nurseries are introducing many more varieties that allow the creative gardener to combine natives ornamentally.

Blue flowering wildflower, Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) in Southern California, drought tolerant native plant garden

Blue flowering wildflower, Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) in Southern California garden

 

Flowering Western Redbud tree (Cercis occidentalis) with groundcover succulents Catalina Island Live Forever (Dudleya virens hasseii) by path in Southern California, drought tolerant native plant garden

Flowering Western Redbud tree (Cercis occidentalis) with native ground cover succulent, Dudleya virens

 

California native plant garden with mixed border using gray foliage perennials and flowering Monkeyflower

California native plant garden mixed border using gray foliage perennials and flowering Mimulus

 

Flower bed of yellow Sulfer Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) and Blue Bedder Penstemmon edged by short wooden rail fence in Kyte California native plant garden

Flower bed of yellow Sulfer Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) and Blue Bedder Penstemmon

 

California purple sage Salvia leucophylla 'Point Sal' in garden with California native plants, poppies and thistle, Torgovitsky

California purple sage Salvia leucophylla ‘Point Sal’ in garden with native poppies and thistles.

And to conclude, I have to sneak in a poppy photo – this one from this morning:

Eschscholzia californica, Orange flowering California poppy

Eschscholzia californica,  California poppy in the Meadow at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

I hope you will all go out and explore you own native plants and let me now what YOU are finding in gardens.

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Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic.com, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at www.photobotanic.com. https://photobotanic.com
Saxon Holt

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