The Coastal Gardener: Celebrate California Native Plant Week in your own way

April 15, 2011|By Ron Vanderhoff
  • Native plants such as the Encelia Calfornica on the left and right and the California Poppy, center, are being planted on Loma Ridge at the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmark.
Native plants such as the Encelia Calfornica on the left… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Spring has finally arrived. The sun is shining, and here in Southern California that means gorgeous wildflower blooms. Our state is home to an amazing array of plant diversity, ranging from redwoods to palms, pines to succulents. California is one of the most botanically rich regions in the world.

With this amazing diversity comes threats to our native plants, especially through urbanization. As more homes are built, more lawns need to be cared for. More boxwoods, camellias, petunias and geraniums mean less poppies, sages, lupines and oaks.

Our state's native plants ultimately give way to their cultivated cousins. Of course, that means more water, a resource that is already limited in the West.

In a much-celebrated move, the California state legislature last year declared the third week in April to forever be California Native Plant Week. Throughout the state, at gardens, nurseries, nature preserves and schools, the week ahead will celebrate California's diverse and wonderful native flora.


I encourage gardeners to participate in California Native Plant Week in your own individual way. Here are a few suggestions:

•With a friend, take a walk in a natural area and pay special attention to the plants. Perhaps your visit might be to Crystal Cove State Park, one of the preserves in Laguna Canyon, or even a bit further afield in the foothills of our Santa Ana Mountains. Orange County has dozens of choices. (Drop me a note if you want more suggestions — maybe I'll join you)

•Visit a local botanical garden or arboretum and visit the California native plant section. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the premier native garden in California, is in Claremont, less than an hour away. Even nearer are the native plantings at The Fullerton Arboretum or the outstanding native garden at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

•Participate in the Orange County Native Plant Garden Tour. This is a free, one-day self-guided tour of gardens throughout Orange County that feature all or mostly native plants. The date of this year's tour is May 7, but you can make your commitment to attend this week. Addresses and driving directions will be available the week before the tour. For information go to

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