California native plants foster a strong sense of place

Places said to have a "sense of place" have an identity and character that is deeply felt by local inhabitants and visitors. Below are examples of gardens whose character is formed by California native plants. 


Marin county native garden design
Many of the plants in the foreground also grow on the ridge seen in the distance, promoting a connection between the cultivated and wild spaces.

Echoes of the Far View

A row of California Wax Myrtles and Manzanitas forms a thick hedgerow along the fenceline on the left. It is pruned to frame the far view of the ridge and hide houses and neighboring properties. In front of the hedge are lower-growing native annuals and perennials.


Marin county native garden designers
Native plants complement an old apple orchard.

Aromatic Groundcovers in the Orchard

These mature apple trees are underplanted with native groundcovers. Under the tree on the right are Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea), which releases a pleasant fragrance when crushed, and California Meadow Sedge (Carex praegracilis). The grass under the tree on the left is Leafy Reed Grass (Calamagrostis foliosa) which has showy seed heads starting in the spring. Native grasses are a caterpillar food source for Grass Skippers and the California Ringlet. In the background are Silver Lupines, Monkeyflowers, and a mix of other annual and perennial native wildflowers.


Marin county native garden designer
Early-blooming Ceanothus

The Colors of Spring

Early in March, Ceanothus maritimus 'Valley Violet' is in full bloom. Arctostaphylos 'Louis Edmunds' and Pacific Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica) can be seen in the background.


Marin county native garden design
Late summer in a mostly native garden.

Late Summer Calm

This photo captures the late summer feeling of a native garden. On the right, Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) is going dormant and the leaves are turning yellow. In the foreground is a young Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) with two Silk Tassels (Garrya elliptica) directly behind. In the upper left of the photo are young Manzanitas and further back is a large California Lilac (Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman'). The texture and color give this garden a relaxed feel and a strong sense of place.

Next: The Habitat Garden


Marin county native garden design
Western Blue Flax (Linum lewisii) and Mountain Garland (Clarkia unguiculata)


Helianthus bolanderi (serpentine sunflower)
Serpentine Sunflower (Helianthus bolanderi) with Mountain Garland (Clarkia unguiculata)