Mother Earth Living

Going Native: A Palo Alto, California, Native Garden

A California gardener transforms a pedestrian front yard into a spectacular showcase for native plants.

A California wild lilac (Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman') tumbles over Ann Krohn's front gate. The magnolia tree (upper left), one of very few non-native species in the yard, has been here for 17 years, long before Ann moved in.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
Its blooms look delicate, but the Douglas' iris (Iris douglasiana) was one of the most important sources of rope- and basket-making fibers for California native tribes.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
Ann's blue elderberry tree (sambucus Cerulea) complements the front of the house, while native flowers and grasses form a beautifully wild front yard.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
Looking at its unique flowers, it's easy to see how bird's-eyes gilia (Gilia tricolor) got its name.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
Ann says her Channel Island tree-poppy (Dendromecon harfordii) blooms almost nonstop year-round.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
Though Ann dries purple sage (Salvia leucophylla) and brings it indoors for its pleasant aroma, it seems to repel cats from her garden.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
The tall, neutral blooms of island alumroot (Heuchera maxima) add interesting texture to the bold purple of the Douglas' iris and bright yellow accents of California poppy.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
Bird's-eyes gilia and California poppies reach toward the sky. Ann's many varieties of poppies cross-pollinate on their own, producing surprising new colors every year.
Photography by Barbara Bourne
Ann's front walk is flanked by a variety of California poppies, Douglas' iris, California native bunchgrass (Festuca californica) and more.
Photography by Barbara Bourne

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