2017 California Native Plant Society Garden Tour

by Cassandra Winston, BTN Communications Intern

It’s about that time again…On Saturday, April 8th, the California Native Plant Society is holding their Annual Spring Garden Tour! A Back to Natives design in Santa Ana’s celebrated Floral Park Neighborhood will be featured on the tour! Every year the California Native Plant Society, also known as CNPS, holds a garden tour that showcases beautiful landscapes that are mostly made up of native plants. The gardens demonstrate that native plants look as attractive in a front or back yard as they do in wide open spaces.

Speaking of backyard, did we mention Back to Natives will be featured on the 2017 Tour? Back to Natives has been part of the annual CNPS Garden Tour for at least seven years (we’ve lost track), and we will also be featured in this year’s tour. This year tour participants will be able to see the newly installed backyard design in addition to the front which has grown exponentially since the Floral Park Home was featured in 2016.

Back to Natives’ landscapes are unique due to their ability to adapt to unpredictable climate. Drought resistance features include micro irrigation systems that conserve water by distributing it directly to individual plants – not to the entire landscape – and only as needed. Individual heads are also adjustable so that different plants in a station can receive different amounts of water while that station is active.

Looking back on the recent heavy rain events, minor floods are possible. What happens to all that excess water from the downpour? Well, Back to Natives also installs landscape drains – we call them gravel burritos – underground to carry excess water away from the house and away from the plants so that they do not drown. Instead excess water is diverted underground to replenish the aquifer. Soil excavated from installing landscape drains and hardscape is retained on site and used to create topography in most landscapes. The soil is saved from the landfill while the native plants are given the chance to thrive on a well-drained slope. The mounds even give the landscape additional visual interest and a sense of privacy.

Make sure to visit the Back to Natives landscape at the CNPS Garden Tour on Saturday, April 8th to check out our garden first-hand. According to CNPS, it is “one of several outstanding, successful, beautiful Orange County gardens on the tour.” The event is from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. and tickets are free! Register at occnps.org for admittance; a guidebook with information and directions to all of the gardens will be included as well. This Back to Natives landscape will also make an appearance at 25th Annual Floral Park Home & Garden Tour on April 29 and 30. More info at floralparkhometour.com .

Visit our education page to learn more. If you would like to donate to Back to Natives, click here to see how you can make an impact on your community and environment. Nature thanks you.

What Native Plant Landscaping is NOT

landscape-design
A Back to Natives Native Plant Design. Want your own? Click HERE.

Sometimes native plant landscaping gets a bad rap. That is because there are those who feel that a native plant landscape simply means deciding to not mow, and neglecting to research the plants that are actually native to their area. They do not create a design or develop a plan. I perform habitat restoration, but I also use my skills to create beautiful and sustainable native landscapes here in California. I always use a plan and then maintain the landscape for the animals, but also considering the aesthetic appearance of the plantings. Without some modicum of design, your neighbors will not appreciate the beauty of locally native plants and want them in their yard.

A beautiful, mature native plant landscape by Back to Natives.
A beautiful, mature native plant landscape by Back to Natives.

Don’t fall prey to hubris and think that just because you planted it, or just didn’t bother to mow it, that you created a natural wildland beneficial to you, your neighbors and to local wildlife. Yes some native animals can use a nonnative weed lot, but it is subsistence living for them, not thriving, quality habitat. A weed lot with no rhyme or reason in your front yard creates enmity around the idea of native gardens, not encouraging the use of local natives in landscaping! This gives a bad name and a black eye to what I and so many others are trying to accomplish, namely to show the real beauty of native landscaping, with little to no maintenance and little to no irrigation.

Just ceasing to mow is not landscaping. It is being an inconsiderate neighbor, and an irresponsible environmentalist by allowing nonnative invasives to establish a seed base from which to invade nearby natural areas! Yes some native animals can use nonnative weed lots to subsist, but weed lots are not viable long term habitat for native animals to thrive in. We must work to turn weed lots into habitat areas. – Reginald Durant, BTN Executive Director

Looking to buy some native plants? The Back to Natives Nursery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10AM to 3PM. We have numerous species of locally native plants for sale! Please email us to inquire about plant availability, and PLEASE obtain directions before getting in your car! The best directions can be found on our website. See you soon!