We had a lot of fun as one of this year's featured gardens:
We started converting a typical Southern California suburban lawn to a native "habitat" in 1996. We were not popular, particularly with real estate agents selling in the neighborhood. In fact, we came to expect threats from the city regarding our "weeds" every time the house next door was up for sale.
Our current neighbors, Steve and Corie, are also native plant enthusiasts. In fact their house is on the tour this year, too.
Finally, in 1999 we had to consult a lawyer since the city of Dana Point had threatened to takes us to court to enforce their "lawn laws."
The advice we were given turned out to be excellent. The attorney recommended we hire a landscaper instead of a lawyer, and simply keep the receipt. If the City followed through with their threats, the Judge would find we had in fact created a "work of art." We retained a landscaper recommended by the Tree of Life Nursery, and he did a great job adding rock features, and finally dressing things up. Another recommendation was find some association with a nature society, or club. That led to the placard pictured above which we have mounted on the front wall.
So why had we gone to all this trouble?
There were two core reasons; aesthetic, practical.
The aesthetic reasons were that we preferred a natural environment to the sterile (even toxic) American Lawn. We selected only locally typical plants, with just one or two rarities for fun. Going into our yard is always interesting. On the average day we see a dozen or more insects from butterflies to bees and more. On the average day there are 5 to 10 different plants in bloom. On the average day we see 5, or 6 species of birds. California Golden salamanders, and Western Alligator Lizards are also residents. Neighbor's kids have used our yard for their science projects.
On the practical side, we have not watered, used fertilizers, or pesticides for nearly 20 years. (We think this is a sort of aesthetic as well). We rarely need to do more than the trim back a very exuberant garden. (During the last few years we did take the added step of using buckets in the shower to collect "warm up" water to use in the Native front yard, and in the backyard vegetable garden).
There are a few posts for readers;
These are just for plants and birds. For additional photos from other locations (and by better photographers) see the excellent website maintained by Prof. Peter Brant of UC Irvine, Natural History of Orange County
These are just larger setting photos.
We have tried to create a habitat that will attract and support insects, and vertebrates. Here are a few successes.
Blossoms. These are just samples of a few of the more "showy" flowers we hope you will like.