California in My Garden! The annual CNPS Orange County chapter tour of native plant gardens in Orange county will take place on April 23, 2016 from 10 am to 4 pm.
Tickets are $10 per person and include detailed descriptions and directions to all the gardens.
There are many ways to help out with the tour and earn a free ticket! Please contact the Garden Tour Committee at
This year’s tour offers fifteen gardens throughout the county. The following pages give pictures of each garden. Click on pictures to bring up a larger version.
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A special feature of this garden is the underground drip system. The plants used are those typically found in the Chino Hills and Orange County foothills, although some Channel Island species are included as well as seasonal flowers such as poppies and lupine. The garden is a long-term dream that combines an interest in California native plants and the desire to eliminate the suburban lawn culture. Other than trimming to keep the sidewalks passable, the garden requires little time except occasional weeding and brush clearing as plants overgrow their neighbors.
Garden #2—Buena Park
A school garden. These gardens provides a place of beauty and a learning tool for students and their families. Portable classroom installations left two large areas with no water access. The Campus Beautification Committee began an effort several years ago to develop an eco-friendly garden and on April 18, 2009, staff and school families planted over 150 native plants. In addition to beautifying the campus, the garden has created a common area of pride for students, families, and staff. The garden promotes conservation of water, provides examples of plants used by Native Americans, and has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. The garden features a wide variety of plants including Mexican elderberry, coffeeberry, yarrow, California wild rose, sagebrush, toyon, and California grapes. The garden has grown into a place of beauty for the surrounding wildlife and for our community. To preview garden activities click here.
Two mature native fan palms welcome visitors to the garden. A native acacia and giant white sages edge the street, along with electric blue sage and wooly blue curls. The front lawn came out last year, and scattered wildflowers await more permanent plans. The pool in the backyard is surrounded almost entirely by natives growing naturally. Plants are selected for differing colors and flowering seasons, and the showiest ones are placed by the pool for the swimmer's view. Some plants that are not supposed to need any water have failed, and some that are said to need some summer water have done just fine. Most are survivors that are 6 to 8 years old. A western redbud in the back may still be in bloom for the tour this year.
Garden #4—Garden Grove
In 2008 when the house in Garden Grove was bought, the front yard was not much to look at-other than a few Juniper type shrubs and lots of weeds along with a huge pine tree in front. The yard has been done in stages. In 2009 the owners decided to plant natives in the front yard. All the shrubs and grass were removed and replaced by native plants, along with pathways and rocks and more rocks. The pine tree provides much shade during the summer so it remains. In 2011 a split rail fence was added and in 2013 a river rock swale was created for excess water to run through.
This new native plant installation designed by Back to Natives in Santa Ana’s celebrated Floral Park neighborhood proves that natives can fit in anywhere – even blanketing the yard of a historic colonial home. Step back in time along a crunchy decomposed granite path lined with native carex and sages. A Bush Mallow reaches gracefully to the sky in front of a majestic red brick chimney. Buckwheat and fuchsia weave their way in and out of a white, gothic style picket fence. A seating area surrounded by native strawberries beckons garden visitors to sit back and admire the two young sycamore trees anchoring the yard. It’s fun to imagine what this young garden will look like in the years to come! This home is only 5 minutes from both the 5 and 22 freeways.
This almost 1/2 acre garden, which began in 2002 is an integration of California native plants and many edible plants. A series of garden areas are defined by mature ceanothus, manzanitas, salvias, ribes, and toyon. From the 14-year-old plants, including the very large sycamore in the back yard to several newly planted areas, the owner hopes visitors find the garden inspiring. The front yard, more recently re-landscaped with natives, is growing in nicely despite the leaf-fall and shade from a neighboring avocado tree. Some changes since the garden was on the tour 2 years ago include: more paths and less grass, more berries and fruit trees, a large potting bench constructed from mostly leftover project scraps, and three replanted areas starting their second spring growing season.
Garden #7—Huntington Beach
The focus in this garden has been California natives, but there are also have herbs that are used for teas, and a small vegetable garden. Along the way, some South African plants have been added and some that grow in areas near California. There are also some air plants brought from Florida that happily live in manzanitas. The front was begun in 2006 and on to the back in ‘07, with the removal of giant queen palms and a myriad of roots. It has been endless work, but the rewards have been far greater.
Garden #8—Huntington Beach
Visit an early stage native garden, only a year and a half old. Find out what works. Soils were amended with organics in very clayey soils, plans made for high and low flow runoff, height structure added with berms, shady areas accounted for , and a few trips made to Tree of Life Nursery for container stock. Annuals were showy the first season, and the perennials will establish and take over in width and height. Five sages, a couple buckwheat, 10 Dudleya, and a couple beach surprises fill out the yard. All designs, layout, earthwork, paths, amendments, planting and seeding were done by one person, a satisfied homeowner—the best restoration project I’ve ever been involved with.
Gardens #9—Huntington Beach
The primary goal for this large front yard was to provide habitat for birds. lnstalled just five years ago, it has grown up to blend right into the neighborhood. Close inspection reveals a variety of happy mature native shrubs. Ceanothus ‘Concha’, Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’, a ‘Howard McMinn’ Manzanita, and a large Toyon have found happy homes in this garden. Intermingled are Verbena lilacina, ‘Fairy Duster’, some Salvias, and other treasures. Non-native Dymondia has taken over the parkway, but it is certainly durable.
Gardens #10—Fountain Valley
This landscape was designed for a final project in the Introduction to Landscape Design class at Orange Coast College Horticulture Department. As this design was for the parents’ house, et was designed for their interests and tastes while fitting the native framework. Both expressed an interest in flowering plants that would attract native birds, butterflies, and bees, and create a habitat while providing beautiful flowers and creatures to watch and enjoy. The idea that the garden would eventually conserve more water was even better. After installation of the efficient drip irrigation tubing and mulching, the garden was complete. . . or was it? Maintaining natives proved to be a challenge. A few plants were lost with over or under watering, but overall the project is a success. Native gardens are beautiful and good for our environment.
Garden #11—Dana Point
The conversion of a typical Southern California suburban lawn to a native "habitat" began in 1996.There were two core reasons: aesthetic and practical. The aesthetic reasons were that the owners preferred a natural environment to the sterile (even toxic) American Lawn. They selected only locally typical plants, with just one or two rarities for fun. Going into the yard is always interesting. On the average a dozen or more insects from butterflies to bees and more are to be seen. On the average day there are 5 to 10 different plants in bloom and 5 or 6 species of birds. Neighbors’ kids have used the yard for their science projects. On the practical side, the owners have not watered, used fertilizers, or pesticides for nearly 20 years.
Garden #12—Dana Point
A small front yard garden that has been an experiment in the formal treatment of native plant material, the garden is in contrast to its naturalistic native garden neighbor and seeks to use native plants in traditional modern garden arrangements. The experiments have not always worked; the first attempt at a hedge with Pacific Waxleaf Myrtle died of disease; the Wild Rye meadow became a tangled mess of dead and dying grasses; and a windstorm blew down much of the chaparral hedgerow earlier this winter. The garden currently consists of two experimental spaces: a Channel Islands-themed parkway and a front yard dominated by chaparral species. The ultimate goal of the front yard space is to create a chaparral tunnel in which a car can be parked.
Garden #13—Dana Point
The homeowner wanted to take advantage of ocean views by building a small patio, but desired some privacy from the street while spending time there. Drought tolerant (California friendly) year-round color and fragrance in addition to providing native wildlife sanctuary were of utmost importance. To accomplish all, large screening plants of Toyon and Tecoma stans yellow bells were placed as a natural screen while providing fragrance, color and attractive wildlife viewing spots from the patio. For fragrance a Cleveland sage is placed nearby. Strategically situated milkweeds attract Monarch butterflies and are placed in spots that won't be obvious when the caterpillars eat all but the stems! Hummingbirds come for many plants including coral fountains, Calliandra red fairy duster, Penstemon Margarita BOP, CA fuchsia and yarrow. A streambed is represented via drought tolerant grasses—Purple Three-awn, Aristida purpurea—which when moving in the wind mimic the movement of water. Splashes of vibrant coral fountains and bulbine create a casualness that contrast with structural agaves such as blue glow, Mediopicta 'Alba" and Agave Parryi. The beautiful and architectural structure of the Byrd Hill and Peninsular manzanitas will grow to be focal points in the years to come.
Garden #14—Capistrano Beach
This compact front yard shows off the stars of 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.
Garden #15—San Juan Capistrano
The front yard was planted ten years ago with a Baja California and desert theme, with the main exception a large Refugio manzanita. The desert and southern coastal plants do very well in the full sun, and include some unusual species such as Nolina interrata, and a Jojoba shrub next to the front door. Mature Agave shawii and Agave multifilifera accent a wide variety of flowering shrubs and other native plants.The back yard is accessed through a narrow side yard that displays some of the plants that can be used successfully and beautifully in narrow, mostly shady areas. A seedling Ceanothus grewoverheadnext to the back yard patio, and a 20-foot mountain mahogany shows what an outstandingly beautiful and easy plant this can be for any yard, even in a narrow space. Dudleyas are used in wide variety, both in pots and in the ground