California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

June 2014

The 2014 Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour

The 10th Annual Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour took place Sunday, May 4th 2014.  This free, award-winning tour featured thirty-six Alameda and Contra Costa county gardens that are pesticide-free, water-conserving, provide habitat for wildlife, and contain 60% or more native plants. This self-driven tour showcases a variety of gardens from large parcels in the hills to small lots in the flats. A new feature for 2014 was live music that was performed at sixteen gardens and native plant nurseries. Native plant sales and more than fifty talks were offered at select gardens. Over 6,000 people registered for this event.

Donna Bodine is a featured volunteer, whose garden has been on display in the past. This year, she decided to switch roles and take the full tour with a friend. She shares with us an account of her perspective as both a past host and as a current year visitor on the Brining Back the Natives Garden Tour:

“Yesterday on the 10th anniversary of the Natives tour, my friends and I visited Bayside gardens and a plant nursery. I talked with Lois Simonds, who designed and installed Nancy Warfield and David Gray's garden in El Cerrito. Lois solved drainage problems with a lovely naturalistic rock swale design that infiltrates and disperses stormwater runoff throughout the garden. Plants are strategically grouped into hydrozones for irrigation, including a meadow, wetland, shade garden and a raised bed area for plants requiring good drainage.”

Dry creek bed at Nancy Warfield and David Gray's garden in El Cerrito

Carol Baird and Alan Harper's extensive Oakland garden was established over about 10 years using the Bradley Method, which is a strategic, low intensive restoration method developed by Joan Bradley (author of Bringing Back the Bush). Other highlights included refreshments such as Manzanita berry and Yerba Buena tea, nettle pesto and roasted Bay Laurel seeds (delicious and reminiscent of coco nibs). We could have stayed longer listening to music by Douce Ambiance by the pool.

Aquilegia formosa at Carol Baird and Alan Harper's garden in Oakland [view larger]

Oaktown Nursery in west Berkeley [view larger]

We ate our lunch at Oaktown Nursery, which is located next to the railroad tracks in west Berkeley with views of Aquatic Park. Plants at Oaktown are mostly grown from seed obtained from local open space areas with collection permits. The selection of bulbs such [as] Allium and Brodiaea was impressive. I left with four 1-gallon pots loaded with hard to find Fritillaria affinis (special tour price of $12 each) and my friend bought Anemopsis californica (Yerba mansa).

At the California Native Bee Garden at UC Berkeley, the numerous varieties of Phacelia, especially the species viscida appeared to be most popular with the bees. I learned that if you're interested in attracting my favorite bee, the brilliant Ultra Green Sweat bee, plant Sphaeralcea ambigua (Desert Globemallow). I also talked with Dr. Gordon Frankie about how to make “houses” for native bees that don't nest in the ground.

The California Native Bee Garden at UC Berkeley

Houses for native bees at the California Native Bee Garden


The Garden Host Perspective

Al Kyte

In my nine years as “garden host” on the Bringing Back The Natives tour, I consider this year’s tour as most closely approaching the “ideal” tour experience I have seen yet.

The seventy-degree temperature and beautiful guitar background music set a mellow, pleasant tone for the day. Everyone--family, friends, volunteers, and strangers--seemed to respond in positive, enthusiastic ways. If I count children and people I let walk through our yard after hours, I had 500 visitors for the first time. That’s not bad for a place like Moraga, that is well off the beaten path.

Read the full article here


Los Angeles County recognizes Rosi Dagit, CNPS volunteer

The Los Angeles County Commission for Women, for the 29th year, honored women for their contributions to promoting equality. The Commission for Women was established in 1975 in order to “...represent the special interests and concerns of women of all races, ethnic and social backgrounds, religious convictions, sexual orientation and social circumstances.”

The Commission recognized dedicated women at their “Women of the Year” Awards and Scholarship Luncheon in March. Our own CNPS Volunteer, Rosi Dagit, was one of the honorees.

Rosi Dagit is an environmental scientist who has worked in the Santa Monica Mountains area for more than two decades. Rosi, who was chosen for the honor by Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, is the senior conservation biologist and educator for the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. She is currently a Senior Conservation Biologist at the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, where she teams with landowners, community stakeholders and local governments to turn information from field studies into policies.

Dagit has served as a volunteer with Arson Watch and the Topanga Canyon Docents. She has taken part in annual surveys of the endangered Steelhead Trout and Tidewater Gobies, as well as western pond turtles, bat bridges and California's native oaks.

She also organized the Topanga Creek Stream Team, whose yearly creek clean-ups include the removal of wrecked cars from the creek. She has published a children's book called "Grandmother Oak" to help fund the planting of oaks at Topanga State Park.

Currently Rosi serves as a member of the Los Angeles County Environmental Review Board and leader of the Topanga Creek Stream Team. Rosi is also a member of the Los Angeles County Beach Commission, technical advisor for the CA Oak Foundation and former member of the City of Malibu Environmental Review Board.

Her book, Grandmother Oak, is available through the CNPS store. It is a sweet children's book that tells the tale of a great oak that has been standing watch on a ridge in Topanga State Park for over 200 years, where it has witnessed various periods from the time of the Tongva Indians through the Spanish rancheros, up to today's visitors.


Sea Ranch turns 50

As CNPS begins to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, so will a place that resonates with native plant lovers: The Sea Ranch. To mark its 50th anniversary, the community is planning a full year of celebration that will last from Memorial Day 2014 through Memorial Day 2015, and will include workshops, lectures, concerts, hikes and parties geared for adults, children and families.

According to their website, “Originally founded in 1964 on a 5,200-acre site that was once the home of the Del Mar Ranch, the Sea Ranch is an intentional community focused on living in harmony with its coastal environment. It covers a 10-mile stretch of California's Sonoma County coast, and while its population has grown over the last 50 years the community still celebrates the sustainable and ecologically sensitive principles upon which it was founded.”

Photo by Jonathan Raymond

According to the 2013 Comprehensive Environmental Plan of The Sea Ranch the history of the Sea Ranch started “A half-century ago [when] a visionary developer and a group of like-minded architects and designers conceived a grand experiment called “The Sea Ranch.” Their challenge was to demonstrate that people can inhabit a beautiful and fragile land located along a wild stretch of the California coast without destroying it. Adherence to their original architectural and design concepts resulted in the evolution of an "intentional community" that is unique on the California coast, if not the world. It is the willingness of The Sea Ranch community, past and present, to engage in informed planning for its future, and to instill in its membership an enduring commitment to environmental stewardship and community service, that makes this experiment successful”.

Native plants abound
There are over 300 native species represented. Their plant communities vary from coastal sage scrub to redwood and fir forests. Sea Ranch sea creatures includes whales, sea lions, dolphins, sea urchin, shrimp. Land animals include deer, fox, bobcat, cougar, wild pig, and occasionally bear. Over 220 species of birds have been sighted at The Sea Ranch, including, most commonly, pelican, gull, cormorant, California quail, Stellar. The area is also the northernmost wintering area for the Monarch butterfly.

The Covenant
Their community is governed by a Covenant that includes the following clauses:

"It must be assumed that all owners of property within The Sea Ranch, by virtue of their purchase of such property, are motivated by the character of the natural environment in which their property is located, and accept, for and among themselves, the principle that the development and use of The Sea Ranch must preserve that character for its present and future enjoyment by other owners.

It is also assumed that those who are entrusted with the administration of The Sea Ranch will discharge their trust in full recognition of that principle and, to the extent consistent therewith, will foster maximum individual flexibility and freedom of individual expression."

To align with their covenant, Sea Ranch designers placed restoration of the natural setting at the top of their list. They conducted studies to determine native flora and fauna, soils and climate and enacted landscaping projects to ameliorate areas damaged by logging home construction, and overgrazing of meadows. They planted thousands of trees, native grasses, and wildflower seeds.

The First 50 Years of Community
A uniquely Californian sense-of-place developed here; and a sense of community. Homes built after the initial period mainly stayed true to the ethos. Projects to restore further open spaces have been completed. Ongoing standing committees look after land use planning issues, landscape and vegetation management, trails and recreation, and preservation of native biotic communities.

The grand experiment that they started in the 1960s has so far seen success and continuity. They continue to steward their part of the coastline. Their unique governing structure still supports their goals for natural surroundings.

No community is perfect, no place is without forthcoming change. Sea Ranch reminds us,however, that a forward-thinking era was the impetus for CNPS as well as this interesting community on the coast of California. We salute Sea Ranch and CNPS on 50 years of success in preserving and using native plants for the benefit of our personal enjoyment and the health of the planet.



Schools can get DROPS of money

The State Water Resources Control Boardis developing a new grant opportunity called the Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools, or DROPS (even the State Water Board can have a sense of humor). The grant can include schools that want to create native gardens. Many of our chapter volunteers are involved in school garden projects, so this will be welcome news for them. As the voice of CNPS, you can help spread the word.

DROPS will be focused on projects that address stormwater pollution. The Water Board is looking for projects that relate to water quality improvement, water conservation, water supply augmentation, greenhouse gas reduction, energy savings, and an increased awareness of water resource sustainability. If the project can show multiple benefits, all the better.

The Water Board is working on the program details and guidelines that will meet the needs of schools and school districts and establish program objectives, applicant and project eligibility, grant funding and match requirements, and project selection criteria. Program guidelines will be ready by late summer.

The grant process is open to schools and schools districts, which means only they can apply. You can play a role in DROPS by encouraging your local schools and districts to apply; supply information such as plans for gardens, plant lists and water use statistics; and help them craft a good project. If your school/district receives an award, you can help them implement their project. Be forewarned: this is a time-consuming effort and the requirements are very detailed, so don't wait until the last minute to reach out.

The guidelines will most likely be published at the beginning of the school year. During the busy fall semester, the guidelines can work to ensure teachers, parents and administrators have the time and resources they need to perfect and polish their proposals. Submissions will be due sometime after Thanksgiving and awards will be made in early 2015.

The projects can include rain gardens, sustainability gardens, rain barrel projects, water conservation projects and other fun, bright ideas. Of course, native plants will be a key component. This is not a funding source for high-water use vegetable gardens, but what about a native edible garden with low-water using species? What about a project to create a native wetlands? These are the sorts of projects that the Water Board is looking for.

A difficult aspect of these projects is that the grant money must be spent by 2019 and there is no money for ongoing maintenance. Plan to include training of the current maintenance staff so they understand how to care for native plants and can incorporate that into their normal maintenance routines. That will ensure long-term success. You may also need to build in information about how the school or district will continue the project in the years past 2019.

More Information
For more information follow the link below to a webinar workshop that was held to discuss and obtain input on the proposed DROPS program objectives, applicant and project eligibility, grant funding and match requirements, and project selection criteria.
DROPS Workshop Webinar:

This workshop will also be repeated in San Diego and broadcast live. There will be an opportunity ask questions and provide opinions, either in person or via the webinar (webcast at

Get on the Water Board email list at

Funding Information:

  • Eligible Applicants: public schools, school districts, and federally recognized tribes
  • Eligible Project Types: Projects designed to address the drought by capturing, treating, infiltrating, or reusing stormwater while providing multiple benefits including water quality improvement, water conservation, water supply augmentation, greenhouse gas reduction, energy savings, and an increased awareness of water resource sustainability
  • Funding Available: Approximately $25 million
  • Funding Source: Proposition 13 & 40
  • Loans or Grants: Grants
  • Application Due: Fall 2014

Now is the time to reach out to school teachers, district administrators and PTA members to let them know this is on the horizon!


Chapter Events - A Sampling from Around the State

To connect to your local chapter, or to find other events in your region, see this page for a list and map of CNPS chapters. Even more events from CNPS chapters and partners can be viewed on the Horticulture Events Calendar.

Yerba Buena Chapter
Program Meeting: San Bruno Mountain's Biodiversity: The Challenges and Opportunities
Thursday, June 3, 7:30 PM

San Bruno Mountain is completely surrounded by a metropolitan area of a million people, yet is unknown to more than 99% of them. San Bruno Mountain Watch has been its principal protector, and in recent years there has been a more vigorous and focused effort to preserve its scientific and conservation values. Joe Cannon has been central to this energized effort. In this talk, Joe will explore the high regional value of San Bruno Mountain by highlighting its diversity of micro-climates, plant communities, populations, and species -- emphasizing its rare and endangered species as well as its locally rare plant populations. He will also talk about how the Yerba Buena Chapter of CNPS can engage in conservation of this, the largest and most diverse biological reserve in its area. Location: Recreation Room, Francisco County Fair Building. 9th Avenue & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park.

South Coast Chapter
"Munchings at the Marsh" - Dinner and Twilight Walk
Monday, July 7, 6:00 PM

The July 7 meeting will be a buffet-style "picnic" in the main hall of the Madrona Marsh Nature Center. Pizza will be provided and you may bring a dish to share if you wish. Madrona Marsh Manager/Naturalist Tracy Drake will offer some remarks as we finish dinner, and then we will walk out on the Preserve for a twilight stroll. While at the Nature Center, you can also see the Exhibit Hall and its treasures, or inspect Tony Baker's excellent native plant garden around the perimeter of the building. Madrona Marsh Nature Center, 3201 Plaza Del Amo, Torrance, CA 90503.

Santa Clara Valley Chapter
Talk: "Your Lawn Is Dead, Now What?"
Wednesday, July 9, 7:00-8:30 PM

You stopped watering your lawn because of the drought and because you want something new, but now the grass is brown and crispy. What do you do? Come to this talk and be inspired to create a beautiful, water-wise garden! See a variety of no-lawn landscaping styles and ideas. Get professional tips on removing that brown, weed-filled patch, learn to choose climate-adapted native plants, and find out how you might still qualify for landscape rebates. Presenter Deva Luna is a Bay Friendly-certified landscape designer who has been teaching and speaking about horticulture for 15 years. Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Rd, Los Altos. (650) 948-7683.

Sierra Foothills Chapter
Field Trip: Bell Meadow Research Natural Area
Saturday, July 12, 9:00 AM

Leader – Bob Brown. Hiking Level: Moderate only because of elevation. Bell Meadow is located within the Bell Meadow Research Natural Area (RNA) near Pinecrest in the Stanislaus National Forest. We’ll see a large number of species typical of mid-elevation mountain meadow habitats. In some years we've seen more than 100 species on a single outing. Meet at 9:00 AM at the back of the parking lot between the Sonora McDonalds and Kohl’s in the Junction Shopping Center off of Mono Way in East Sonora. Bring lunch/snacks and plenty of water. For more info, contact Bob at 209-928-9281 or email.

Santa Cruz Chapter
Program Meeting: Native Plant Gardening for a Water-Challenged Future
Monday, July 14, 7:30 PM

Susan Krzywicki is the Horticulture Program Director for the California Native Plant Society. She has been a native plant landscape designer in San Diego, as well as chair of the San Diego Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Gardens Committee. This presentation will introduce you to the benefits and approaches to native plant gardening! Lower your water bill, reduce yard maintenance, and attract wildlife to your home with native plants.

Bristlecone Chapter
Field Trip: Aspendell to North Lake
Saturday, July 19, 7:00 AM

Leader: Michael Honer. This hike will travel along a vague stock trail from Aspendell to North Lake, stopping here-and-there to catch our breaths, note native plants, and take in big views of the Bishop Creek Canyon and Sierra divide. It'll be about an 800 ft. climb, but we can do it at a botanically-leisurely pace. Wear good hiking boots, dress for exposed sun (could get hot), bring a sack lunch and drinks. We plan to get back to the cars around 3:00 PM.

Orange County Chapter
San Onofre State Park - Beaches and Bluffs
Sunday, July 20, 8:40 AM

San Onofre State Beach is a rare 3,000 acre scenic coastal park, just south of San Clemente and the Orange County line. The park is divided between an inland coastal sage scrub portion along San Mateo Creek and a coastal strand paralleling the ocean. During this visit we explore a portion of the ocean facing bluffs, then travel down to the sand and visit dune, coastal strand, and coastal canyon habitats and their varied plants. Meet at 8:40 AM in the main parking lot at the San Clemente High School on Avenida Pico, 0.3 mi. east of I-5 or meet at 9 AM in the parking lot at hte beginning of Trail 1 within San Onofre State Park (entrance off Basilone Road). Please note: the San Clemente High School area does not require any fees and cars can be left at this location, whereas the state park requires a day use entry fee of $15. Bring sunscreen, hat, water, camera, and enthusiasm. Total trip is about three miles and about three to four hours.

El Dorado Chapter
Program Meeting: Butterflies and Their Plant Interactions
Tuesday, July 22, 7:00 PM

Beginning with the July meeting, there is a new chapter meeting venue: the Planning Commission Room, Building C of the County Government Center, 2850 Fairlane Court, Placerville. If approaching from Highway 50 on Fair Lane, turn left at the top of the hill onto Fairlane Court and drive down the hill to the large parking lot in front of Building C. The Planning Commission Room can be entered from the right side of the building's atrium. Program presented by Greg Kareofelas. Check out the album of butterfly photos on the chapter website for a preview!

North Coast Chapter
Trinity Monkeyflower Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
Saturday, July 26, 9:00 AM

Location: Horse Mountain Botanical Area. We will first locate a known site of the recently described Erythranthe trinitiensis, a yellow monkeyflower that occurs on serpentine in wet meadows and on roadsides. Once we establish a visual image of the plant and its habitat, we will spread out in search of more sites of this rare species, which CNPS recently ranked as 1B.3, generally within 1/4 mile of roads. Meet at 9 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd, Arcata) to carpool to Horse Mountain. Bring lunch, water, boots, and protection from the sun. Return late afternoon. Please contact John McRae at 707-441-3513 or via email.

Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Susan Krzywicki
  • Donna Bodine
  • Al Kyte
  • Deidre Kennelly
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Donna Bodine - Oaktown Nusery in West Berkeley
  • Al Kyte at the East Bay Wilds Nusery talking about his longstanding love of native plant gardening, photo courtesy Al
  • Grandmother Oak Cover
  • Craven Alcott - Native Plant Committee Chair Scott with TSR members Marilyn Green and Jane Schuler-Repp
  • Plant gardening, photo courtesy Susan Krzywicki



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