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Designing a Garden of Native Plants

Articles: Designing a Garden of Native Plants

Ceanothus in bloom and low-growing baccharis harmonize with the cool green hillsides of spring. Photographs by the author.
Well designed native plant gardens are beautiful as well as responsive to the need to conserve water in areas with a growing population and low or fluctuating water supply.
Being all too susceptible to the beauty of plants, I must, as a designer of gardens, continuously guard against my own inclination to include far too many kinds of plants. Yet when Bill and Peggy Grier first approached me to design their garden, one of their goals was to include as great a diversity of native plants as possible. With some trepidation I prepared a preliminary design for the garden and managed, without bursting the compositional seams of the one-acre site, to include forty or fifty kinds of plants. They received the plan enthusiastically, but commented that they had hoped for twice that quantity. I promptly, and willingly, complied.

The Grier garden is set in a fairly steep, sloping bowl roughly 200 feet above the floor of Happy Valley in Lafayette, California. The house, patio, and pool are on a shel...


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