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Casa Dos Rios Gardens: Mainly for Wildlife

Articles: Casa Dos Rios Gardens: Mainly for Wildlife

Skippers on Aster chilensis in autumn. Author’s photographs, except as noted

Casa Dos Rios is our much-loved, wild, and wonderful piece of land at the foot of Mt Madonna in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Gilroy, California. The feelings I have for the land grow deeper with each new experience. While it goes without saying that the land will outlive me, I constantly strive to better the care I give to it, trying to out-think my prior plans, trying to out-learn my prior understandings, trying to out-see what I missed in hundreds of walks around the property.

After years in Silicon Valley, we hankered for quieter country surroundings. We found Casa Dos Rios in 2004 and spent the next three years remodeling the house and installing a semiformal California Native Wildlife Garden—a garden whose purpose is to serve wildlife. Casa Dos Rios encompasses approximately fourteen acres, about half of which is riparian corridor and half is vineyard and a house. Two creeks merge on the property, creating a flood plain during heavy storms. The first is Uvas Creek, which is dammed just north of us and is managed to run year-...

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