Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fall visit to the Regional Parks Garden

Impressive manzanita specimens flanking a trail in the garden's Foothill section
Aimlessly wandering around the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley is one of my favorite lazy day activities. Unfortunately, living on the Peninsula makes accessing the park a chore with the traffic and hassle of navigating through Berkeley. Recently I found myself with a few hours to spare in the East Bay, so I decided to pay the native plant sanctuary a visit. Crowds were sparse (yipee!) thanks to a recent shower and cold, cloudy conditions.
Big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)

In addition to some peace and quiet, I sought inspiration for this Fall's home garden reboot. Aside from lingering blooms of fuchsia, goldenrods and buckwheats, not much was blooming this time of year. Still, there was plenty to enjoy on this visit, including the Fall leaves of the big leaf maple, vine maple, dogwoods and deciduous oaks.

I also spent a lot of time admiring the extensive collection of manzanitas throughout the garden. They have such a wide variety of specimens from various parts of the state. Scenes from the garden:

Creeping sage (Salvia sonomensis) with manzanitas
Red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) and Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Beautiful branching on this Alameda manzanita (Arctostaphylos pallida)

Lots of shades of green and yellow at the garden
Colonies of redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) and wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) come together at the base of sword ferns (Polystichum munitum)

Friday, May 8, 2015

The 2015 Going Native Garden Tour

Such a wonderful sight to see visitors admiring your work

We recently opened up our gardens to the public as part of the 12th annual Going Native Garden Tour www.gngt.org, a celebration of California native plants in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. This was our second year on the tour, and once again we were the only San Mateo representative. This may change for next year, however, as several folks from surrounding neighborhoods expressed an interest in participating in the near future. 

Over the course of six hours, we received 117 visitors, up from 100 last year. California's current drought crisis could be responsible for the increased traffic, as people begin to consider drought tolerant alternatives to their lawns. There were lots of questions about the best way to remove a lawn and I detailed my experiences converting our front and backyards from crab grass into thriving native landscapes. Sheet mulching worked extremely well for us and I will continue to advocate this method of lawn removal. One day I hope to create a blog post `explaining the sheet mulching process.

A view of the front yard during the Garden Tour
Feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive. It is extremely gratifying to hear kind words from so many strangers. As a novice gardener, I am often filled with doubt and insecurity. Encouraging words go a long way in bolstering confidence and providing the drive to continue advocating for native gardening. 

A special thanks to all those friends and family that helped make this possible; especially my wife for sacrificing her Sunday and for her daily encouragement. 

My lovely wife and biggest supporter