Books on Gardening with California Native Plants

Books on Gardening with California Native Plants

Bringing Nature Home

by Douglas Tallamy
Timber Press, 2009 paperback

As development and habitat destruction accelerate, there are increasing pressures on wildlife populations. In Bringing Nature Home, Douglas W. Tallamy reveals the unbreakable link between native plant species and native wildlife—native insects cannot, or will not, eat alien plants. When native plants disappear, the insects disappear, impoverishing the food source for birds and other animals. But there is an important and simple step we can all take to help reverse this alarming trend: everyone with access to a patch of earth can make a significant contribution toward sustaining biodiversity by simply choosing native plants. By acting on Douglas Tallamy’s practical and achievable recommendations, we can all make a difference.

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard

by Douglas Tallamy
Timber Press, 2020 hardcover

Nature’s Best Hope shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy. Even more important, it’s practical, effective, and easy—you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own yard.

The Nature of Oaks

by Douglas Tallamy
Timber Press, 2021

Oaks sustain a complex and fascinating web of wildlife. The Nature of Oaks reveals what is going on in oak trees month by month, highlighting the seasonal cycles of life, death, and renewal. Includes practical advice about how to plant and care for an oak, along with information about the best oak species for your area.

California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists

By Frankie, Thorp, Coville
Heyday Books, 2014 paperback

California is home to over sixteen hundred species of undomesticated bees – most of them native – that populate and pollinate our gardens, fields, and urban green spaces. In this absorbing guidebook, some of the state’s preeminent bee and botany experts introduce us to this diverse population. In addition to opening our eyes to the beautiful array of wild bees in our midst, California Bees & Blooms provides information on fifty-three bee-friendly plants and how to grow them.

California Native Gardening: A Month-by-Month Guide

by Helen Popper 
University of California Press, 2012 paperback

This is the first month-by-month guide to gardening with native plants in a state that follows a unique, nontraditional seasonal rhythm. Beginning in October, when much of California leaves the dry season behind and prepares for its own green “spring,” Helen Popper provides detailed, calendar-based information for both beginning and experienced native gardeners. Each month’s chapter lists gardening tasks, including repeated tasks and those specific to each season. Popper offers planting and design ideas, and explains core gardening techniques such as pruning, mulching, and propagating.

The California Native Landscape: The Homeowner’s Design Guide to Restoring its Beauty and Balance 

by Greg Rubin & Lucy Warren 
Timber Press, 2013 paperback

This book shows homeowners how to succeed with natives and how lush, colorful, and thriving their landscape can be. The authors stress the importance of smart garden design and combining the right plants to promote the natural symbiosis that occurs within plant communities. Native plants also play an important role in creating fire-resistant landscapes, and this new book has cutting-edge information on this crucial topic. With its unique combination of proven techniques, environmental wisdom, and inspiring design advice, this is an essential resource for all California gardeners who want to create a beautiful, ecologically appropriate, and resource-conserving home landscape.

The California Wildlife Habitat Garden: How to Attract Bees, Butterflies, Birds, and Other Animals

by Nancy Bauer
University of California Press, 2012 paperback

This attractive, practical guide explains how to transform backyard gardens into living ecosystems that are not only enjoyable retreats for humans, but also thriving sanctuaries for wildlife. Beautifully illustrated with full-color photographs, this book provides easy-to-follow recommendations for providing food, cover, and water for birds, bees, butterflies, and other small animals. Emphasizing individual creativity over conventional design, Bauer asks us to consider the intricate relationships between plants and wildlife and our changing role as steward, rather than manipulator, of these relationships.

Designing California Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach

by Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook 
University of California Press, 2007 paperback

This book was created with the aim of conveying the awesome diversity and beauty of California’s native plants and demonstrating how they can be brought into ecologically sound, attractive, workable, and artful gardens. Structured around major California plant communities—bluffs, redwoods, the Channel Islands, coastal scrub, grasslands, deserts, oak woodlands, mixed evergreen woodlands, riparian, chaparral, mountain meadows, and wetlands—the book’s twelve chapters each include sample plans for a native garden design accompanied by original drawings, color photographs, a plant list, tips on successful gardening with individual species, and more.

The Drought-Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants for a Lush, Low-Water Landscape

by Greg Rubin & Lucy Warren 
Timber Press, 2013   

Water, the precious source of life, can no longer be taken for granted and must be utilized wisely—nowhere more so than in the landscape. Reducing our water usage in the landscape does not have to mean bare earth, paved front yards, or sand and cacti. When we take the time to learn from nature, we open up a wealth of amazing possibilities already available and waiting to be utilized—thousands of plants unique to our area.

Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates: Plants for a Lush, Water-Conscious Landscape 

by Nora Harlow and Saxon Holt
Timber Press, 2021 paperback

Selecting plants suited to your climate is the first step toward a thriving, largely self-sustaining garden that connects with and supports the natural world. This guide to native and climate-adapted plants for summer-dry, winter-wet climates of North America’s Pacific coast explains what these climates share, how and why they differ, and how you can choose to make gardens that maintain and expand local and regional biodiversity.

Growing California Native Plants

by Marjorie Schmidt and Katherine L. Greenberg
University of California Press, 2012 Second Edition, paperback

Growing California Native Plants is the ideal hands-on native plant guide for both experienced and novice gardeners. Lavishly illustrated with 200 new color photographs, drawings, maps, and charts, this concise and easy-to-use reference covers trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, grasses, and vines, and includes a plant selection guide for quick reference. The authors, whose combined experience spans six decades, take California’s summer-dry climate and restricted water supplies into account and provide helpful notes on companion plants and gardening with wildlife.

The Landscaping Ideas of Jays: A Natural History of the Backyard Restoration Garden

by Judith Larner Lowry 
University of California Press, 2007 paperback

Elegantly organized by season, this lyrical yet practical guide to backyard restoration gardening celebrates the beauty, the challenges, and the rewards of growing native plants at home. Drawing on her experiences in her own garden, Lowry offers guidance on how to plan a garden with birds, plants, and insects in mind; how to shape it with trees and shrubs, paths and trails, ponds, and other features; and how to cultivate, maintain, and harvest seeds and food from a diverse array of native annuals and perennials.

Native Treasures: Gardening with the Plants of California

by Nevin M. Smith 
University of California Press, 2006 paperback

A highly respected horticulturalist and practitioner who is also a gifted writer, Smith shares his years of experience growing native California plants in this lively, informative book. Rather than being a systematic “how-to” manual, Native Treasures combines Smith’s personal thoughts, sometimes maverick opinions, and matchless expertise with practical advice on selected groups of native plants and their culture. The author explains how California’s diverse terrain, climate, and geology support a wealth of plant species—more than 6000—and offers suggestions for designing with most of the major natives in cultivation, as well as with some more obscure but garden-worthy groups.

A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future

By Benjamin Vogt
Univ of Illinois Press, 2023 paperback

Vogt addresses why we need a new garden ethic, and why we urgently need wildness in our daily lives. He examines the psychological issues around climate change and mass extinction as a way to understand how we are short circuiting our response to global crises, especially by not growing native plants in our gardens. Simply put, environmentalism is not political, it’s an ethical rewiring of our animal brains—and social justice for all marginalized species facing extinction. By thinking deeply and honestly about our built landscapes, we can create a compassionate activism that connects us more profoundly to nature and to one another.

Out of print, but worth searching for. 

California Native Plants for the Garden

by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O’Brien
Cachuma Press, 2005

This is a comprehensive resource featuring more than 500 plants and illustrated with 450 color photos. It describes the best California species for gardens and provides detailed advice on their cultivation–from landscape design and installation to watering, pruning, and pest control. Regardless of where you live or your level of horticultural expertise, California Native Plants for the Garden will help you discover the joys of growing California’s remarkable plants.

Reimagining the California Lawn: Water-Conserving Plants, Practices and Designs 

by Bornstein, Cross and O’Brien
Cachuma Press, 2011 paperback

Features water-conserving plants from around the world and offers design ideas and practical solutions to help you create a vibrant garden that complements our Mediterranean climate. From greenswards and meadows to succulent and kitchen gardens, this book presents alternatives to the traditional lawn that can reduce water use, beautify the landscape, and attract birds and butterflies. Its detailed text provides information about how to plan, install, and maintain an attractive landscape that can replace your lawn and describes hundreds of water-thrifty plants from California and other Mediterranean climates of the world.

Seed Propagation of Native California Plants 

by Dara Emery
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1998 paperback

This easy-to-use reference is designed for the increasing numbers of serious home gardeners, commercial nurserymen, and members of the professional horticultural and botanical community who want to propagate the native flora of California. Such information is vital if we are to meet the challenges of limited water for our landscapes, revegetation of our open space, and the preservation of endangered species. 

Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses: Gardening with California Monocots

Edited by Nora Harlow and Kristin Jakob 
University of California Press, 1999

California boasts one of the richest assemblages of native plant species in the world, and among the state’s most beautiful flowering plants are its monocotyledons–a large and varied group including lilies, irises, grasses, orchids, agaves, and even palms. Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses, created under the auspices of the California Native Plant Society, tells how to grow California monocots in the garden. Beautifully illustrated with color photographs and line drawings, the book contains valuable information on exactly which species are best adapted to garden conditions, how to grow them, and where to obtain them from nurseries and mail-order suppliers.


2019 Native Plant Propagation Classes

2019 Native Plant Propagation Classes

Vegetative Propagation or Cloning    Saturday, September 14, 10:00 a.m.– 1:00 p.m.

Did you know that plants posses “toti-potency”? That means every living cell of a plant has the potential to grow all the other functional parts of a new plant! Propagation of cuttings is, in essence, cloning. In this class we’ll look at a number of different plant species to learn about specific methods and mediums, and the timing critical to getting the best results from cuttings. We’ll also discuss the important life support systems necessary to grow vigorous, healthy plants from cut-tings. And we’ll practice one of the simplest methods of propagation by dividing some perennial plants. You’ll learn which species respond best to this method and when to do it.     Instructor: Charlotte Torgovitskye309882058