Kyte, Kathy's photo

Al and Barbara Kyte’s garden


Lot size: 8,500 square feet, 95% native

Garden Age: This forty-five year old garden was planted in stages, beginning in the early 1970s

Years on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: 11

Over the last forty-five years Al, a flyfishing author and teacher, converted his typical suburban lot into a lovely, low-maintenance, park-like landscape. In the beautiful front garden, a streambed located between graceful vine maples provides shaded riparian access to a walk-through chaparral area dominated by mature manzanitas. In the back garden, trails wind through open areas of wildflowers that give way to tall shrubs and small trees such as shore pines, mountain mahogany, and madrone, and finally to tall conifers. A twenty-five foot long stream tumbles down through offset falls, a meander, and a shallow riffle and bird beach area before spilling into a fish and turtle pond.

Other Garden Attractions Gravel path with chairs by drought tolerant mixed border garden bed with trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses in Kyte California native plant garden

  • This stunning garden contains over two hundred species of California natives.  Most of the established plants receive no summer water.
  • Japanese garden concepts have shaped the design of this yard.
  • Mountain mahogany, pines, and toyons create an attractive, see-through canopy.
  • Al, a professional fly fishing author and teacher, artfully designed one straight line in the back garden for his fly casting practice without detracting from the gently-curving natural look.

Gardening for Wildlife Dark branches of open pruned evergreen shrub, Vine Hill Manzanita Arctostaphylos densiflora in Kyte California native plant garden. Saxon's photo

Bird baths and feeders, nesting houses, a shallow stream riffle, brush piles, dust bath areas, and abundant plant cover have attracted over ninety species of birds, including thrashers, tanagers, and black-throated gray warblers and eighteen species of native bees.  Rock outcroppings, wood piles, and sandy areas add habitat for resident sharp-tailed snakes, and fence and alligator lizards.

Garden Talks

11:00 and 12:00 “Gardening for native bees” by Elsa Zisook

1:00 and 3:00 “Al’s best tips from forty five years of planting and growing California natives: a sit-down discussion” by Al Kyte

Plant list

Why Choose California Native Plants?

How I Got Started Gardening with Native Plants: Al Kyte’s story

California Native Plants for Moraga Gardens

Concepts That Guided My Landscaping

Strategies for Obtaining Plant and Garden Materials

Strategy for Attracting Birds

Wildlife in the Garden

Bees Seen in Our Garden


California Native Plant Gardens-Shifting Perspectives


Creating Natural Looking Landscape (handout from talk)


California Native Plants: Strategies for Season-Long Bloom


How to Create a Natural-Looking Landscape


Lessons from Forty-five Years of Gardening with Natives Style in Gardening


A Native Plant Garden for Children, Animals and Adults

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