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A Small Urban Native Wildflower Garden

Articles: A Small Urban Native Wildflower Garden

A solid carpet of annual seedlings surrounds a large clump of Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana) in March. Author’s photographs

The California native section of my garden began in 1990, after my husband and I moved into the McKay-designed house in an area of Palo Alto known for its collection of one-story, mid-50s modernist homes. Located on a corner lot, we have a broad sweep of property facing the street. The entire lot is a mere 6,500 square feet, and the area devoted to natives is a 1,350 square foot section between the fence and the sidewalk. The inner garden includes a mix of California natives and mediterranean-climate plants. Nineteen years ago, I knew little about such plants, but that changed when I enrolled in nearby Foothill College’s horticulture program, launched my garden maintenance business, and began to work on my own garden.

The garden we acquired came with a lawn, diseased firethorns (Pyracantha), Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis), brick-bordered beds, and the sterile, overly tidy look of a garden tended by mow-and-blow gardeners. Much of the land outside the fence was shaded by three stre...


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