Welcome to the 2014 Self-guided Native Plant Garden Tour
Sponsored by the Orange County chapter of the California Native Plant Society, this year’s tour offers eighteen gardens throughout the county. The following pages give descriptions and pictures of each garden.
#1 Bliss—Yorba Linda: Our garden, Stella Blue, is not your typical neighborhood street side corner lot. A rock garden structure provides a unifying theme and a natural landscape feel to a series of beds that contain drought tolerant plants like succulents, agave, cacti and herbs together with several CA native shrubs and flowers. Plants were chosen to provide a wide variety of shapes, colors, textures and scents together with low water use, low maintenance and habitat usefulness. Butterflies and bees are attracted with host and nectar plants, while birds enjoy seed, fruit and nectar plants as well as plants for nesting. Rocks, gravels and sands used in the garden were mostly collected from southern CA localities and reflect a wide variety of natural terrains. Rock piles together with mounds of desert and beach sands provide habitat for lizards. This garden is on the Heard Tour, Saturday and Sunday.
#2 Wilson—Yorba Linda: This large garden features a blend of mature and newer plantings in several different settings. A large slope with naturalistic planting at the rear of the property gives way to an invitingly landscaped rear yard designed for outdoor living. The most recent installation is the front landscape, designed by Rob Moore of California Native Landscape Design. This garden showcases many options for those considering the design or upgrade of their traditional landscape.
#3 Hargis—Orange: A front yard that had been a dreary patch of grass has evolved into a shady woodland with a curved pathway that leads invitingly to the front door. Colorful Cleveland sage edges the sidewalk, further sheltering the house tucked away behind it. Visitors are also invited to tour the backyard. While still a work in progress, this large area shares the space with a fine chicken coop, a play area for children, raised beds for vegetables, and a bench for relaxation as well as many native shrubs and flowers.
#4 Nayeri—Orange: This garden in Orange boasts a lot of features that work well with the homeowner's needs. The flagstone path is wider than standard to accommodate some accessibility needs while the energy-efficient irrigation system helps the California native plants flourish. Landscape designer Rama Nayeri will be on site to walk you through the garden and answer any questions you may have.
#5 McGinnis—Orange: My 1922 Craftsman-style bungalow on a corner lot in Old Orange was the inspiration for a landscape renovation designed to emulate an English country garden. The 1,434 square feet of turf was completely removed and replaced with California native plants, drought tolerant plants, and native wild flowers.Landscape designer Lisa Coyte’s well-thought-out plan includes annuals and perennials of varying sizes to provide vibrant color throughout the year. Rocks large and small are randomly placed to add interest. The result is a charming and colorful unstructured country garden.
#6 Heritage Garden—Orange: The native plant garden at El Modena High School has been in existence for more than 30 years and has over 150 species of mature native plants to see in various settings, as well as many new ones. A butterfly garden, a Japanese Garden, a chaparral area, and a large succulent area are among the latest additions. There will be plant information flyers and books to peruse, as well as refreshments and bathrooms.
#7 Bowen—North Tustin: I’ve been gardening with natives on this half-acre property for more than 10 years, slowly replacing the existing landscaping with natives. I started with a section the back and have subsequently put in three distinct gardens. For each, I got design help from Greg Rubin, and then installed them myself. The front yard’s Bermuda grass lawn was replaced about four years ago with meandering paths amid colorful chaparral and coastal sage scrub with a dry streambed running through. The two-year-old desert garden features plants from both the high and low deserts. New this year is a stone-faced retaining wall and raised bed with Channel Island plants, and a mowed native grass lawn. There is a large vegetable garden in the back and various fruit trees around the property. Come and enjoy, and perhaps get inspiration for your own garden.
#8 Ollendorff—North Tustin: Four years ago, with the nearby wild-area foothills as our inspiration, we began to gradually replace nonnative plants with natives. Last year, we hired Rob Moore to help design and completely convert to a native garden, to try to restore the property to what it might have been like hundreds of years ago—boulders and some hills as plant anchors, a dry creek bed terminating in a small pond, informal walkways, areas of discovery that will form as plants grow to full size, and decomposed granite throughout. With the exception of some existing trees, nearly all of the non-regional plants have now been replaced with natives. We’re interested in the quiet subtle beauty of our regional native plants and landscape. Of course we’re happy to conserve water, eliminate the need for pesticides, fertilizers, loud mow and blow crews every week! Fence lizards, alligator lizards, blue jays, many small bird species, praying mantis, painted lady, monarch, and mourning cloak butterflies have all been spotted.
#9 Zell—Tustin: Once a huge flat yard of grass fringed by overgrown shrubbery, the owner has transformed this space into a series of garden areas defined by mature ceanothus, manzanitas, salvias, ribes, toyon, sycamore, among others. Old rose bushes add color and scent. There’s a large vegetable garden and a grassy play area along with many fruit trees. The front yard, recently re-landscaped with natives, is progressing quite well despite the leaf-fall and shade from a neighboring avocado tree. Special features include a large arbor covered with wild grape that yields gallons of tasty juice. The annual Tustin Home & Garden Tour is going on the same day so the town will be busy.
#10 Kropf—Seal Beach: This property, planted in 1993, had previously received the 1995 award for "Best Native Southern California Landscape” in Orange County; this when red bark and dichondra was all the rage. The owners tore it out in 2012, including a 50 foot pine, to renew with native and non-natives amid large boulders, flagstone walkways and other hardscape. The design allows neighbors, wildlife, and guests to pause, refresh and enjoy. The home is at the entrance to Gum Grove Park, a eucalyptus nature area. It has plenty of parking, and borders a wetlands preservation area: lcwetlands.org. After your visit, head on down to quaint Main Street for a unique, small town experience. Bon Appetit!
#11 Goran—Seal Beach: This garden used to consist of 3400 square feet of Bermuda grass, which was removed one year ago in November. This landscape used almost 150,000 gallons of water per year! The owner/designer works with the Surfrider Foundation on their Ocean Friendly Gardens program and had a few goals in mind when he designed the site. One was to conserve as much water as possible, while also creating a diverse palette of climate-appropriate plants and an edible garden. A rain catchment system with rain barrels and swales keeps all rainwater on the property. While some areas are planted with a variety of succulents, the majority of the property is planted with natives that share space with fruit trees and berries in the front yard, all watered by a greywater system from the laundry. Only the four raised vegetable beds, also in the front yard, are irrigated and are the envy of many a neighbor.
#12 McElhiney—Huntington Beach: When purchased in November 2012, the garden was entirely grass and tropical plants, mostly Hawaiian. The previous owner was watering every day. As soon as I saw it I decided that we would turn it as much as possible into a low maintenance native garden to save on water. The backyard and half of the side was done professionally in February 2013. We did the other half of the side yard in the fall. We slowly worked our way across the lawn, laying newspaper and mulch and letting it sit for two months before planting. There are water features, a dry riverbed, shrubs, flowering plants, rain barrels and a raised bed vegetable garden. We left the existing fruit trees, which attract many varieties of birds. Although we haven't done the front yard yet I'm pleased with how much we've accomplished in a short time.
#14 Ito—Huntington Beach: The front garden, installed two years ago, is my answer to the question: What can I do with the boring lawn and hedges to keep my neighbors happy and maybe save the world at the same time? (Or, at least, save some water.) Environmental concerns and a desire for change moved me to replace the lawn with a palette of California native perennials and annuals centered on a pebbled rainwater catchment swale. A woodland selection of natives thrives in the shaded area. Native poppies bring a glow that ties the various areas together. The back yard is a trip down a meandering path lined with woodland strawberries, a fairy duster, buckwheats, various sages, and a vegetable garden. Shadier corridors near the house are planted with snowberries, irises, morning glories, and some of my guilty non-native pleasures. This garden is on the Heard Tour, Saturday and Sunday.
#15 Alazard—Huntington Beach: This conventional tract home front yard has been transformed into a colorful magnet for wildlife. After the Bermuda grass lawn was removed, soil was excavated to form a winding path through the yard to slow the flow of rainwater and collect it in strategically placed French drains. Excavated soil was mounded on either side to provide planting spaces for a great variety of California natives. Although the property faces south, plants were selected from various plant communities to take advantage of microclimates created by the terrain and the neighbor’s landscape choices. Juncus species enjoy the overspray from automatic sprinklers. Ribes benefits from the shade cast by a Podocarpus tree. Wildflowers populate a small meadow. Dendromecon harfordii is at home with the coastal marine influence. Hopefully, its bright yellow blooms keep pedestrian interest off desiccated, seed-rich stems when the meadow is not in bloom.
#16 Butler—Costa Mesa: After years of water-guzzling grass and smoke-belching lawn mowers, we transformed our front lawn into a mixture of California native plants, succulents, and Australian gravilleas (a nostalgic touch as we lived there for several years). The three-year-old garden reduces runoff with decomposed granite paths and well-placed berms. Salvias, ceonothus, manzanitas, carpentaria, monardellas, and dudleyas complement the aloes, assorted succulents, and agaves. Birds and insects thrive in the colorful mix.
#17 Field—Lake Forest: Planted in October of 2010, our California native garden was designed to be in scale for a small yard. A Lester Rountree manzanita is the focal point of the garden. An assortment of Cleveland sages and artemisias perfume the morning air. Purple Three-Awn grass weaves through the space giving movement with the slightest breeze. We have borrowed from California's coast, deserts and her foothills so there is always something in bloom and have been rewarded with lots of lizards, birds, and butterflies we had not seen in our previous garden. As the garden evolves we continue to learn and enjoy, and have become more aware of the natural rhythms of living in Southern California.
#18 Schoenherr—Laguna Beach: Located on a rustic corner is the garden of one of Orange County’s most noted natural history authors. Surrounding the large coast live oak and popping up from nooks and crannies is an eclectic mix of California native flowers and shrubs, plants from Africa, and a variety of favorite succulents. The whole blends delightfully to screen street sounds and sights.
#19 Kutcher—Capistrano Beach: This compact front yard shows off the stars of chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and native grasslands with mature specimens. Locally native annuals and perennials accent with seasonal color. Other favorite natives grow in an interesting array of pots under the watchful eye of an expert gardener.