Advice from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa County
Client: I'm in the process of getting ready to convert my front garden to California natives, primarily to conserve water and provide wildlife habitat. Do you have recommendations on native plant selection and where to obtain the plants?
East Bay MUD - Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates - a wonderful resource for Mediterranean plants suitable for our climate, providing numerous pictures and lists. An online version , Summer-Dry (at (http://summer-dry.com/) , provides a slide show, a plant list with pictures, and plant lists by type.
Bay-Friendly - The Bay-Friendly Gardening Program (now renamed Rescape California) offers the home gardener an array of tools and resources, from the free 70+ page Bay-Friendly Gardening handbook (see the plant lists in the publication at http://rescapeca.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Bay-Friendly-Gardening-Guide.pdf), to classes, seminars, locations of public Bay-Friendly gardens, and even instructions on how to have your own garden certified as Bay-Friendly.
California Native Plant Society - provides plant lists by type and with photos, all sortable. See http://www.cnps.org/.
While Master Gardeners cannot provide referrals to specific native plant nurseries, a Google search at "native plant nursery east bay" reveals several options available to you. Also, the California Native Plant Society has a list and map of where native plants can be purchased at http://www.calscape.org/plant_nursery.php. While these nurseries specialize in native plants, almost every nursery now includes native plants in their inventory.
Have fun in your search for the perfect native plant design for your front garden.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Blog Editor's Notes: While the use of only California native plants may be your goal, you may want to also consider Mediterranean plants which usually require a planting environment similar to most California natives (Contra Costa County is considered a Mediterranean climate.) Some also provide wildlife benefits as well. This will increase your plant selection significantly. Also, some water utilities provide significant cash rebates if you design and plant your front garden using their guidelines AND with their prior approval of your plan. Consult your water utility's website if they currently have such a program.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (VLT)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/).