“All you need is stones. The Mediterranean garden needs only stones to make native plants feel perfectly at home. The conventional garden needs fertilizer and manure to make plants prosper, but not the native plant garden.” — Pattie Barron, “The Low-Water No-Water Garden”
In her book, Barron succinctly describes how to prepare your garden for the addition of native plants. If your yard in North County already has poor, sandy soil, you are in luck!
But if you happen to have rich, loamy soil, you will need to add crushed gravel and pea gravel until the soil has a crumbly consistency. After digging in your new plants, and they are well-watered, use more gravel as mulch. This will give the setting a rock garden appearance.
“Mediterranean native plants hate getting their roots too wet: compacted, heavy soil holds water, which presents the worst hazard,” Barron writes.
Once your soil and planting area are well prepared, it is time to go plant shopping.
Tony Gurnoe, president and lead arborist of Treehugger Care and Consulting, was the guest at a recent Del Mar Garden Club meeting and recommended shopping at two native plant growers in San Diego County.
“When looking for plants for your native plant setting, utilize those that grow in uncultivated areas. Any of the sages grow wild so they will take well to new gardens. Monkeyflower, primrose and sand verbena and any variety of poppies are all a good start for the new gardener.”
He recommends Moosa Creek Nursery in Valley Center for the largest supply of native plants that have been harvested in their natural environment and brought back to the nursery to propagate.
Moosa Creek grows California natives to create sustainable and wildlife-friendly landscapes. The nursery’s selection of over 400 plants are able to thrive in even the most difficult garden environments.
The nursery’s garden staff recommends visiting moosacreeknursery.com, where all of the plants and their cultivation needs are listed. The website also lists bird, butterfly and wildlife favorites.
To purchase plants that attract butterflies and birds, the staff suggested assorted yarrow, verbena, Matilija poppy and, of course a variety of milkweed. Milkweed is Moosa Creek’s biggest seller and has to be special ordered.
Jose Cohen, Karen Parke and staff are happy to assist gardeners with their selections. Contact them at moosacreeknursery.com or (760) 749-3216.
After you have navigated their extensive catalogue and after your selection is registered, it will be sent to a participating North County garden center such as Anderson’s LaCosta Nursery in Encinitas. Call them at (760) 753-3153.
Although the process might seem complicated, it is worth the extra effort to be able to purchase the perfect local native plant for your landscape.
Gurnoe, available for consultation on any garden issue or for arborist work, can be contacted at [email protected].
In the coming weeks we will follow the latest updates on visiting the springtime wildflower blooms in Anza-Borrego and local state parks.
Jano Nightingale is a Master Gardener and Horticulturist and teaches vegetable gardening classes at the Carlsbad Senior Center Community Garden. Contact her at [email protected] for future classes.