California Native Plant Society's Annual Garden Tour
By Booka Alon and Brett Stephens
On April 29th, the California Native Plant Society’s Yerba Buena chapter hosted a tour for native plants enthusiasts and the native-plant-curious. The tour featured 23 private homes, and three public gardens.The course wraps through the city, from sandy soil of Ocean Beach, south to Ingleside and extends as far east as the serpentine rock of Potrero Hill. All microclimates are represented in the extensive summaries on the CNPS tour homepage. This year SF Landscapes hosted two gardens, Alemany Farm, and 42 Westwood.
Among the highlights of Alemany Farm is a riparian area, fed by hillside seeps. This mostly year round flowing creek, is perfect habitat for Mimulus guttatus, red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), currant, (Ribes sanguineum), bee plant (Scrophularia californica), cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) and many others. The creek winds down a gentle slope then feeds a large man-made pond centering the farm. The tulle grass and cattails bordering the pond is home to the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), and is regularly visited by egrets, ducks, and other bird species. The farm also features hillside grasslands of purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra), blue oat grass (Elymus glaucus) , and blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum). Several hedgerow and scrub areas of coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), California lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus) , yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and lupine (Lupinus Arboreus) checker the farm around row crops and orchards.
42 Westwood is a three year old garden designed by Brett Stephens of SF Landscapes. The garden features a corner Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ tree, surrounded by a swath of hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Point Reyes’ creeper, and beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis). In the shadier and more moist areas grow Mimulus cardinalis, juncus, red-twig dogwood, and Dutchman’s pipe vine (Aristolochia californica), to name a few.. In the center of the garden is a water flowing monolith that attracts and provides water to all kinds of wildlife. At the base, grows a ring of local huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum). In the permeable driveway, grows Carex pansa, red fescue, and Festuca glauca.
The Native Garden Tour is a yearly endeavor, brought to life through the Yerba Buena chapter of the CNPS and dozens of volunteers. Its mission is to inspire others to consider planting native plants, educate people about native habitat and encourage water conservation when designing outdoor spaces.
Below are some of the natives mentioned at Alemany Farm:
Blue-eyed grass Cow Parsnip