NATIVE PLANT GARDENS
Habitat · Sustainable · Edible · Medicinal
A garden can be so much more than just a pretty facade. When filled with native plants of the region, gardens can support life in ways that commonly planted exotic ornamentals simply cannot. Through millions of years of evolution, regional wildlife has developed unique relationships with native plants, and thus require them for specific food needs. Without native plants, we lose the beautiful creatures that brighten and sustain life as we know it. Not only do native gardens create irreplaceable habitat, they conserve resources, and provide food, medicine and nature connection for people. Plant a native garden and watch beauty come to life.
Native plants fulfill the needs of many by providing specialized food sources, shelter and nesting sites to local wildlife. The habitat garden is a place where the cycles of life are embraced and nature has a place to be.
Flowers grow by the plenty on native ground covers, shrubs, and trees. They serve up sought-after nectar and pollen throughout the day for bees, butterflies & more and still others by night. A bird bath or water feature calls birds in for their daily bathing rituals and invites in a myriad of other guests to quench their thirst.
Rocks and boulders are warming stations for lizards and butterflies. Berry bushes and seeding flower heads become important food sources for birds late in the year. Leaves left to collect on the earth become overwintering sites for many insects (including butterflies). Minimally pruned hedges and trees give birds shelter throughout the year and safe places to nest come Spring. The habitat garden is a welcoming home for all.
Conserving resources, notably water and soil, is paramount in our design ethic at Earth & Spirit. There are many ways to use water more wisely, beginning with a transition away from water-thirsty plants (like turf lawn) to native plants that suit California's dry summer environment. Other tools include: drip irrigation, grey-water systems, pondless water features, rain gardens, and rain-water harvesting tanks.
To ensure the protection of topsoil, we design to minimize erosion and encourage mulching, composting, chemical-free gardening, and minimal tilling.
From berries and nuts to greens and flowers, it's exciting to learn about and grow native edibles. These plants sustained indigenous peoples of California for many thousands of years and it's through their traditional knowledge that today we know about many of these food offerings.
Tasting truly local flavors gives us a special opportunity to more intimately connect with these lands. Most of the foods that we eat daily have origins from afar, but there are many nutritious, tasty, and interesting foods to explore from within the native garden.
Growing any of our own food encourages nature connection, and so we are more than happy to include favorite non-native fruits and vegetables into designs, as well.
So many native plants offer healing properties through their leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, and/ or roots. Just step into the garden to find immunity boosters, pain relievers, cold & flu remedies, and more. To guide the use of these plants, there are numerous books that provide information and preparations (see the Resources page for ideas). The knowledge available is in great thanks to the indigenous peoples of California who've known these plants intimately for generations upon generations.