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California Native Plant Society

Santa Clara Valley Chapter

Gardening

Basics of Gardening for Habitat

Understanding the Basics of Gardening for Habitat

What Brings Bees, Butterflies, Moths and Birds to our Garden

What is Gardening for Habitat? Learn why it's important:Melanie Cross's Garden

anise swallowtailReady to get started? Here are some simple steps to transform your garden into a welcoming place for birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife:

  • How can you restore nature in your garden? Dennis Mudd shares his insights
  • Need more information about pollinator plants and bees? Juanita Salisbury answers your questions in this talk
  • Seeking butterfly resources? The Xerces Society is a great resource as well as the Bay Area Wildlife resource website. 
  • Looking for more native seeds? Check out the great selection at Larner's Seeds. Various mixes are also available from Pacific Coast Seeds

Getting Started with Native Plants in your GardenDSC06538 tidytips moth

  • Need help getting started with a native plant garden? Tips are available in this video
  • When should you plant, water, prune, or leave things alone? Helen Popper shares a month-by-month guide for California gardeners.
  • What planting methods and soil will ensure success? Haven Kiers from UC Davis shares some research. 
  • Want to find more California Native plants specific to your area, and the butterflies that use them as host plants? Then check out the wonderful CNPS Calscape website, which includes descriptions and planting information about every California native plant and links to native plant nurseries all over the state. For a user guide to using this amazing resource, watch this talk.
  • Check out the great resources on our website and the numerous talks on native plant gardening and native plant science on our YouTube channel.
  • Need Plants? Find nurseries, seed stores and plant sales using our list of local retailers.
  • Looking for a list of great books for gardening with native plants and for wildlife? Go to our resource page for books.

Activities for Native Plant Gardeners

Melanie Cross's GardenWant to do more? 

  • Join us on a chapter field trip. See what's coming up here or on our Meetup page.
  • Discover flora and fauna in your region and across the globe, and even post your own observations on the iNaturalist app.
  •  Attend the chapter's annual Growing Natives Garden tour
  • Want to see most of California’s native habitats in one location? Check out the Regional Botanic Garden in Tilden Park. 
  • Visit other public gardens with native plants. Here's is a list to get you started.
  • The CNPS state website also has excellent resources and information to get you started with native plant science or gardening, like Bloom! California

Wildflower Seed Planting

Grow Wildflowers - Grow Butterflies!

Acmon Blue ButterflyCNPS Santa Clara Valley Chapter is promoting biodiversiity by giving free wildflower seeds to enthusiastic gardeners who can re-energize the ecosystem in their home gardens. Together, we can bring back butterflies, bees, and birds. The beauty, color, and scent of flowers fill us with joy. Yet, very importantly, to the bees, butterflies and birds, flowers are an essential source of nourishment for their survival. The plants and flowers provide pollen for bees, nectar for butterflies and moths, and essential food for their young, the caterpillars. 

poppies & goldfieldsEach seed packet you receive from us contains California native wildflowers in rich hues of gold, orange, pink, purple and blue that, depending on their mix, will cover an 80-130 square foot area if scattered thinly and allowed space to grow to their natural dimensions.  The flowers will bloom in succession from early spring through late summer. You can disperse these seeds in an area planted with native grasses for a meadow effect. 

Butterflies drink nectar from many different types of flowers, but lay their eggs on just one or two types of host plants that will feed their offspring. The Variable Checkerspot, Silvery Blue, and other butterflies and moths rely on the plants in this packet as a caterpillar food source. The caterpillars, in turn, are essential for the survival of our local birds, since 96% of the birds that visit your yard depend on caterpillars to feed their young. Read New York Times Best Seller Nature’s Best Hope by Doug Tallamy or tune into the video.

Scattering a mason-bee-dee-crop2-small.jpgpacket of native wildflower seeds is a joyful way to restore lost essential habitat while enhancing your gardening experience. We hope you revel in the beauty of the flowers, colorful caterpillars, variety of pollinators, baby birds, and the dance of life in your garden. We offer several varieties of seed packets containing mixes from Larner Seeds:

Click on the links above for detailed planting instructions and descriptions of the seed mixes. For more information, check out the instructions at the Larner Seeds website.

Spread the word to your friends and neighbors. Some neighborhoods are creating “butterfly corridors” with patches of wildflowers and native plants in each of their gardens. clarkias-crop2-small.jpgEnjoy! 

Your Wildflower Ambassadors at CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Chapter 

Contact us with questions at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Resources for Gardeners

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is a science-based organization founded in 1965 with a mission to conserve California native plants and their natural habitats, and increase understanding, appreciation, and horticultural use of native plants. The Santa Clara Valley chapter covers Santa Clara County and southern San Mateo County. Check out the great resources on our website and the numerous talks on native plant gardening and native plant science on our YouTube channel. We also have chapter fieldtrips, online plant sales, and other exciting events like our annual Growing Natives Garden tour. The CNPS state website also has excellent resources and information to get you started with native plant science or gardening. 

Tortoiseshell crop. smallWant to find more California Native plants specific to your area, and the butterflies that use them as host plants? Then check out the wonderful CNPS Calscape website, which includes descriptions and planting information about every California native plant and links to native plant nurseries all over the state. For a user guide to using this amazing resource, watch this talk.

Discover flora and fauna in your region and across the globe, and even post your own observations on the iNaturalist app.

Seek answers to questions:

Why should we grow native plants to save birds and butterflies?  Listen to Susan Karasoff here

How can you restore nature in your garden? Dennis Mudd shares his insights

Where can you find more information about pollinator plants? Juanita Salisbury is an expert who talks about this. 

When should you plant, water, prune, or leave things alone? Helen Popper shares a month-by-month guide for California gardeners.

What planting methods and soil will ensure success? Haven Kiers from UC Davis shares some research. 

Looking for more native seeds? Check out the great selection at Larner's SeedsVarious mixes are also available from Pacific Coast Seeds. Also, Botanical Interests sells “California Color” and “Narrow Leaf Milkweed”.

Need Plants? Find nurseries and plant sales using our list.poppy w bee crop small

Seeking a few more butterfly resources? The Xerces Society is a great resource as well as the Bay Area Wildlife resource website. 

Looking for a list of great books for gardening with native plants and ifor wildlife? Go to our resource page for books.

Need help getting started with a native plant garden? Tips are available in this video

Want to see most of California’s native habitats in one location? Check out the Regional Botanic Garden in Tilden Park. 
Here is a list of public gardens with native plants.

Field Trip! Chapter field trips are listed here or on our Meetup page.

Contact us with questions at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Seed Packet Descriptions and Planting Instructions

Hills of California

These plants are designed to provide a bloom over a period of 3 months. The moths and butterflies hosted by these plants is just a sample, these plants are a host to many more.

Planting Instructions

Fall through winter is the ideal time to start growing California native wildflowers as these have adapted to capitalize on the fall and winter rains (October-February is best). 

Checkerspot neou crop smallChoose A Site & Prepare Your Soil

Choose a spacious site in full sun. Prepare your soil (or several very large pots), by removing all existing growth and debris. If your soil is clay, break it up with some compost or cactus soil (sold at nurseries).

Water thoroughly to help seeds settle into the soil. Continue to water a few times a week, unless it rains, so they don’t dry out after germinating.

After you plant your seeds, let the area ‘go natural’ by leaving the leaf litter on the ground. While many butterflies go into chrysalis on stems or other hard surfaces like branches, many others go into chrysalis in the debris. If you rake or blow it, you could accidentally throw them away.

Avoid using pesticides anywhere in your garden, it will kill the beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, and ladybugs that you are trying to attract. Try to ignore bugs, as they are part of the ecosystem (for instance, hummingbirds eat aphids). If you hose the plant or try to remove pests you may dislodge butterfly or ladybug eggs or kill tiny caterpillars.  Avoid using herbicides as they also poison the ecosystem you are trying to nurture.

Plants In The Hills Of California Mix

Farewell to Spring, Clarkia amoena (hosts White Lined Sphinx Moth, Clark’s Day Sphinx Moth)                              
Mountain Garland, Clarkia unguiculata (hosts White Lined Sphinx Moth, Clark’s Day Sphinx Moth)
Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla (hosts Variable Checkerspot)
California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica (useful to pollinators, hosts Acmon Blue, Dotted Blue, Mormon Metalmark, etc.)
Globe Gilia, Gilia capitata (host to Fairy Longhorn Moth)
Goldfields, Lasthenia glabrata (hosts Small Heliothodes Moth)                                                                                                
Tidy Tips, Layia platyglossa (hosts Small Heliothodes Moth)Linum-lewisii-closeup-crop-small.jpg
Blue Flax, Linum lewisii (hosts Variegated Fritillary)
Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor (hosts Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Gray Hairstreak)
Sky Lupine, Lupinus nanus (hosts Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Gray Hairstreak)
Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus (hosts West Coast Lady, Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Gray Hairstreak)
Five Spot, Nemophila maculate (hosts Funereal Duskywing)
Baby Blue-Eyes, Nemophila menziesii (hosts Owlet Moth)
Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolila – (hosts Bilobed Looper Moth, beloved by bees)

NOTE: A more comprehensive list of the number of butterflies each plant hosts, and details about the plants and butterflies, can be found at Calscape.org

*”Host” = key food source for the caterpillars of these particular butterflies, that co-evolved to specialize over thousands of years. Butterflies die out without these plants.


California Shady Wildflower Mix

The moths and butterflies hosted by these plants is just a sample, these plants are a host to many more.

Planting Instructions

Fall is the ideal time to start growing California native wildflowers, so they can become established and bloom sooner. But you can also sow them in winter or as late as early spring.  This packet covers 80 sq. ft.

Baby Blue Eyes crop smallChoose A Site & Prepare Your Soil. Choose a site with a minimum of 6 hours of sun or dappled shade. Prepare your soil by removing all existing growth and debris.

If your soil is clay, break it up with some compost or cactus soil (sold at nurseries). You could opt to cover the area 4” thick with cactus mix to smother potential weed seeds.

Don’t fertilize the area, as this will not mimic the native soil these plants are used to and could impede their growth

Scatter seeds very thinly and rake them gently into the soil. Don’t cover them with any more soil or they may not germinate.

Water thoroughly to help seeds settle into the soil. Continue to water a few times a week so they don’t dry out after germinating. Or simply wait for the rainy season and water on the dry days.

Try to let the area ‘go natural’ by leaving the leaf litter on the ground. Many butterflies go into chrysalis in the debris and if you rake or blow it, you could accidentally throw them away.

Avoid using pesticides anywhere in your garden, it will kill the beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, ladybugs that you are trying to attract. Avoid herbicides as they also poison the ecosystem you are trying to nurture.

Plants In The California Shady Wildflower Mix

Mountain Garland, Clarkia unguiculata (hosts Clark's Day Sphinx Moth)                                                   Sphinx-moth-crop-2-small.jpg
Chinese Houses, Collinsia heterophylla (hosts Variable Checkerspot)
Baby Blue-Eyes, Nemophila menziesii (hosts Owlet Moth)
Five Spot, Nemophila maculate (hosts Alfalfa Looper Moth)
Farewell to Spring, Clarkia amoena (hosts White Lined Sphinx Moth)
Punchbowl Godetia, Clarkia bottae (hosts Mariposa Forester)
Bird’s Eye Gilia, Gilia tricolor (hosts Spotted Sun Straw Moth)
Grand Linanthus, Linanthus grandifloras (hosts Buckwheat Borer Moth)

*”Host” = key food source for the caterpillars of these particular butterflies, that co-evolved to specialize over thousands of years. Butterflies and moths die out without these plants.

California Pollinator Seed Mix

Includes a seed mix of variety of sun loving California native annuals and perennials that sustain pollinators over a long season. The moths and butterflies hosted by these plants is just a sample, these plants are a host to many more.

Planting Instructions

Bombus crotchii himes crop smallFall is the ideal time to start growing California native wildflowers, so they can become established and bloom sooner. But you can also sow them in winter or as late as early spring. This packet covers approximately 130 sq. ft. 

Use planting instructions from the Hills of California Mix. 

Plants In The California Pollinator Seed Mix

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium (hosts Northern Scurfy Quaker, Olive Arches, Yarrow Plume Moth, Smeathmann's Aethes Moth)
Mountain Garland, Clarkia unguiculata (hosts Clark's Day Sphinx Moth)
Fort Miller Clarkia, Clarkia williamsonii (hosts  Clark's Day Sphinx Moth, White-lined Sphinx, Pacific Green Sphinx Moth, Mariposa Forester)
California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica  (useful to pollinators, hosts Acmon Blue, Dotted Blue, Mormon Metalmark, etc.)Lupinus micrantha densiflorus himes crop small
Central Valley Gumplant, Grindelia camporum (hosts Orange Tortrix Moth, Cremastobombycia grindeliella)
Dense-flowered Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus var. densiflorus (hosts Painted Lady, Acmon Blue, Boisduval's Blue, Silvery BLue, Orange Sulphur) 
Rock Phacelia, Phacelia californica (hosts Oidaematophorus phaceliae, Clepsis fucana, Bilobed Looper Moth, Orange Tortrix Moth)
Great Valley Phacelia, Phacelia ciliata (hosts Bilobed Looper Moth, Orange Tortrix Moth, Geranium Plumed Moth)
Bolander's Phacelia, Phacelia bolanderi (hosts Bilobed Looper Moth, Orange Tortrix Moth, Geranium Plumed Moth)
Serpentine Sunflower, Helianthus bolanderi (hosts Painted Lady, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, California Patch)

Native Plantings in Jeffrey Fontana Park

A beautiful selection of mature and new native plant gardens can be found in Jeffry Fontana Park in San Jose. Wandering through the park, you will find plants from both northern and southern California in a variety of settings.

This is the perfect place to view plants that grow well in San Jose and find ideas for your own gardens.

From buckwheats to monkeyflowers to California fuschias, you’ll see something in bloom year-round. Many of the plants are labelled, making it easy to identify your favorites.

The two original berms were planted in 2011 as an alternative landscape feature to tall trees under PG&E power transmission lines. The plants are well-established and no longer need irrigation.

Five Islands

 

This garden was planted at the beginning of 2018, although the concept was conceived years before. In the words of Patrick Pizzo, its founder:

The concept of the Five Island Project was born about six years ago.  We wanted to create islands or berms much like the two that we first introduced into our park, Jeffrey Fontana, as an alternative landscape feature to tall trees, which have impact on the safe delivery of power transmission by PG&E.  You see, our two parks, T.J. Martin and J. Fontana are contiguous along the PG&E power transmission easement in south San Jose.  Our contribution, toward potential loss of trees, was to develop native plant and shrub alternatives.  This was our first effort.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLGX6CPQBw0

Now near this island is an open area between heritage coast live oak trees, Quercus agrifolia.  Our vision was to have a network of islands/berms in this open area.  Neighbors wanted to have an alternative to weeds and summer dust storms.  The area is about 120 foot by 120 foot.  We envisioned five CA native plant islands in this open area. 

Part of the reason for the passage of time was due to the drought.  The City policy became ‘no new plantings’.  Then, a couple of years ago, with MFPA postured financially to support a major project, the idea came to the fore and I was asked to implement the proposed project.  During the four years leading up to this okay, we had been in multiple conversations with our Parks Department in San Jose about the Five Island Project.  About a year ago, we broke ground. 

The elongated islands are about 35 by 15 foot and of elliptical shape.  The spine is about 2 foot high, tapered to ground level, providing good drainage.  The native soil was removed or ‘dished’; and this native dirt (sand and adobe) was mixed with ‘garden soil’ from Evergreen Supply in San Jose.  It is the lowest grade of organic soil on the market.  The combined soils were used to create the islands/berms.  Each island is sponsored, to raise money to implement the project.  We have five sponsors:  East Bay Wilds, DGDG, Almaden Valley Nursery, PG&E and the past presidents of our organization: MFPA (Martin-Fontana Parks Association):

https://martinfontanaparksassociation.blog

After forming the islands, plants were planted.  Each sponsor selected plants and designed their own gardens.  Directly after planting, drip-irrigation was installed.  We are using Techline drip line with pressure-opened emitters: 1 gallon per hour per emitter.  The emitters are spaced 18 inches apart.  I designed the irrigation system and will relate at the site-visit.  Currently, due to low rain (nothing Jan and Feb), we irrigate every 8 days for 1/2 hour and this is working out fine.  We have a variety of water-need plants on the island, by design, so it will be a challenge to fine-tune any summer watering.   The islands were planted from mid-Jan through the end of February, which worked out great as you recall the beautiful weather (minus rain).  The plants seem very happy with their new homes.

Additional information is available at:

 https://martinfontanaparksassociation.blog/2018/06/19/have-you-been-to-the-islands-yet/

Here is a plant list for the five islands.

Directions: The original two berms and the Five Islands area of the park is across from 1278 Oakglen Way, San Jose. Street parking is available.

Capitancillos Drive Native Plant Demonstration Garden

This garden adjoins over a half mile of Capitancillos Drive in San Jose. It is a labor of love by one of the residents of the neighborhood, supported by other neighbors who live along the way. Started in 1995 with the planting of 125 coast live oaks by Our City Forest (http://www.ourcityforest.org/), it has been maintained and filled in with an extensive collection of chaparral shrubs and plants. It blends beautifully with the Guadalupe Creek riparian zone, which is adjacent to the garden.

Backed by huge granite boulders and the meadow beyond, the shrubs and trees stand out nicely, yet seem to be part of the natural landscape. The plants are hand-watered until established, by Patrick Pizzo, who designed and installed this impressive garden. Lovely established specimens include a variety of ceanothus and manzanitas, sugar bush, spicebush, bush anenome, mountain mahogany, island bush snapdragon, coast silktassel, lemonade berry, sages, coyote brush, coyote mint, buckwheats, monkeyflowers, silver bush lupine, and much more. Plants are labelled, making it easy to find and identify specific cultivars.

The garden provides food and shelter for wildlife from the adjacent Guadalupe Watershed and Guadalupe Creek. Bluebird nest boxes maintained by the Audubon Society provide additional habitat in the garden.

Here is a plant list for the garden.

 

 

Directions: From Hwy 85, go south on Camden to Coleman. Turn left on Coleman, and left again on Redmond, then right on Oak Canyon Drive. Oak Canyon Drive becomes Oak Canyon Place. Continue to the cul-de-sac and turn about. The garden borders the meadow for 0.6 miles. Ample free parking is available on the street next to the garden.

California Native Plants at West Valley College

California native plants dominate the grounds at the West Valley College campus in Saratoga. It’s an excellent place to appreciate a wide variety of mature plants in a garden setting.  Starting from the front of the campus, between the Administration building and Campus Center, one immediately encounters a huge bed of California fuschias fuschias (Epilobium canum)  interspersed with narrow-leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), salvia, coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), California roses (Rosa californica), and blue oaks (Quercus douglasii). When the fuschias begin blooming in late summer, this area becomes a hummingbird haven, filled with  a charm of these tiny birds zooming around each defending their own patch of flowers.

This huge bed of flowers is a wildlife magnet – in addition to hummingbirds, the area is rich with a variety of birds taking advantage of the nectar, seeds and insects. As can be seen in this picture, the flower stalks provide a perfect perch for a pair of lesser goldfinches to enjoy a meal of fuschia seeds.

Behind the Student Center, there is a patio where Redbud and manzanitas have been planted. A variety of native columbines and other flowers can be found in the flowerbeds that surround the building.

The section of Vasona Creek that runs through the campus has also been restored, and is a delightful place to look for wildlife – including brush rabbits, lizards and more. There have even been reports of bobcats in the area. You cCalifornia Fuschiaan find out more about this restoration project at: http://westvalley.edu/committees/Sustainability/Creek_Restoration/

A stroll through campus will reveal even more California natives. You’ll find specimens of blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea), redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens), deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), bush anemone (Carpenteria alifornica), buckeyes (Aesculus californica) and more. There’s even a small bog with carnivorous plants next to the Science building. Be sure to look at the huge blue oak tree in the center of campus – watch it carefully and you are likely to spot the acorn woodpeckers that are often busily at work in it.

The Saratoga Farmer’s Market is held at the campus on Saturday mornings – stop by and get some fresh produce and then take a stroll around campus.

Subcategories

Gardening With Natives

Woolly sunflower, monkeyflower, elegant clarkia, and Cleveland sage in a Sunnyvale gardenDo you want a garden teeming with life? One that changes with the seasons? One that looks stunning? One that saves water, energy, effort, and money? Consider incorporating California native plants in your garden to attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. These beautiful plants will bring seasonal color to your landscape. They will give your California garden a unique sense of place.

This website is for gardeners and home owners who want to learn how to grow California native plants in their landscapes. Visit this site to find out about talks, classes, workshops, garden tours, native plant sales, and other events where you can learn more. Visit this site for plant lists and useful articles on the propagation, growth, and care of native plant gardens.

 Gardening with Natives is a special interest group of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. The group contains a mix of beginners and seasoned professionals, and is a great place to learn. Newcomers are particularly welcome.  Gardening With Natives maintains a discussion egroup where people can ask questions, get answers, offer advice, and stay informed about upcoming events. Sign up below to participate in this forum. Membership is voluntary. Email traffic ranges from 10 to 20 messages a day. You can opt for individual emails or a daily digest.

Email:

The fall Seed Exchange is held at the Peninsula Conservation Center (PCC) in Palo Alto. 

For other queries, contact the Gardening With Natives Steering Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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