Nature Gardening in California

Welcome to the Buckwheat Brings Butterflies blog, a web site designed to share information about nature gardening in Southern California, and how we can support birds, butterflies, and bees when we install plants that are native to where we live.

Gardening is one of my passions. After I moved to Southern California 34 years ago, I became deeply curious about the native vegetation that grows in this region.

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California native plants ready to replace non-native ferns. (E. Wallace)

My curiosity lead me to study natural history at a local college, and then to experiment with installing California plants in my garden. I had some success, but I needed an expert to help me install a nature garden that thrived.

About ten years ago, my husband and I hired a landscape architect to help us remove our grass lawn and replace it with native plants. Our soil was re-contoured, raised in places, and swales were added to capture and save water. A plant palette filled with California natives was installed that was largely successful and beautiful.

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Bush poppy, purple sage, agave americana, verbena de la mena and more.

Watching the native plant garden take shape taught me about design and maintenance. The garden has changed and evolved over the years as I refine my understanding of California native plants, and as conditions in the landscape change. A coast live oak tree has grown huge alongside three sycamore trees, giving me a chance to create shade gardens. I have watched increasing numbers of birds visiting my garden, nesting and raising their young.

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Did you know that California is a diversity hotspot with more native plant species than any other state in the nation? The stunning array of native plant varieties provides rich opportunities to find the best native plants for your garden.

If you would like to enhance your garden with native plants, consider plants that grow locally, and flower all year long to support butterflies and other pollinators. A good place to start is Calscape.org to learn about native plants and also about planting and care of California native vegetation.

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California lilac blooming in springtime.

If you are passionate about gardening like I am, you will find endless opportunities to learn and experiment, all the while supporting wildlife and pollinators.