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Going native in your garden, Part 1 of 3

California native plants, adapted to our climate, can tolerate extended periods of heat and drought in their natural setting and the many plants covering the hills throughout Southern California display great resilience during the long, hot and rainless periods of the year.

After years of drought, our landscapes have benefited greatly from the past two rainy winters and the effects speak for themselves.

To get started on your native garden, here are a few ways to go about it.

Have a landscape plan ready. If you live near open space, look at the hillsides, visit native gardens, preserves, botanical gardens and gather ideas, themes of what you'd like your native, drought tolerant garden to look like.

There are also many low water non-native plants that blend in very nicely with the natives and can complement each other.

Keep in the mind the mature size of the plants you select. Spacing is important when designing a garden. Be patient. Watch the garden develop over time.

Places with native plants you can visit:

• Palomares Botanical Garden, Fallbrook

• San Diego Botanical Gardens, Encinitas (formerly Quail Gardens)

• California Botanic Garden. Claremont, (formerly Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens), an 86 acre garden

• Alta Vista Botanical Gardens, Vista

• Los Angeles Botanical Gardens, Arcadia

• Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano

• FPUD, Fallbrook, their office courtyard has a variety of interesting plants

• Santa Rosa Plateau, north of Fallbrook, beautiful this time of the year

Spring time and early summer are the best time to view native plants as they usually are at their peak. Then again, also recognize the value of what other seasons offer. Once you've had a chance to visit some of these gardens you will have a better idea of what you want your garden to look like. Take photos and jot down plant names and ideas.

Water is a precious resource and what we plant can have a great impact on how much your garden will consume. I'm not suggesting pulling out your existing landscape, but look at what you have and what you want to keep and build on that. Some older plants can have great, distinctive character and work very well in your new drought tolerant garden.

My best suggestion is to do your homework. The end result will be a beautiful earth-friendly garden that will please you and all who visit as it grows and matures.

If this has sparked your interest in growing native plants in your garden, I hope my tips and suggestions have been helpful.

In Part 2 of "Going native in your garden," I will share more information on California natives and other drought tolerant plants.

Roger Boddaert, Maker of Natural Gardens, can be reached at 760-728-4297.

 

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