Clara Lai and Howard Torf’s garden

Walnut Creek

Lot size: 1,500 sq. ft.front, 2,000 sq. ft. back, 400 sq.ft. side gardens on tour, 95% native

Garden Age: Garden was installed in 2008

Years on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: New this year!

Showcase Feature
This garden was formerly solid lawn, bordered by view-blocking hedges. Now the hedges are history, as is the turf in the back garden. (The amount of lawn in the front has been reduced.) The inspiration for this tranquil garden was nearby Mt. Diablo, home to hundreds of species of native plants that are adapted to severe summer heat. Many of those natives, including bunchgrasses, mugworts, coffeeberry, golden bush, and desert olive, were propagated and grown out by Pete Veilleux of East Bay Wilds, who designed and installed this horticultural haven. The triangular side garden, planted on an undulating boulder-strewn berm, contains sages, buckwheats, California lilac, manzanita, and woolly sunflowers.

Lai12Other Garden Attractions
• Clara is “thrilled” with the garden; a cut flower aficionado, Clara creates two to three bouquets a week with the colorful flowers from her garden. “They are absolutely gorgeous: delicate, fragrant and unique,“ she notes.
• Designer Pete Veilleux will be at this garden throughout the day to answer questions.
• Large, artistically placed boulders in the front garden provide visual interest.
• The inviting tumbled stone path in the front garden narrows as it wends toward the persimmon tree, giving the illusion of distance.

·      The California Native Plant Society will be selling native plant reference books; join and enter a raffle for prizes.

·      The Contra Costa Water District will have hand-outs on their Cash-for-Grass program, as well as other water-saving tips.

Gardening for Wildlife lai14_0

Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees adore this garden.

Garden Talks

10:30, 1:30 and 3:30 “How to remove your lawn, and get paid for it too!” by a Landscape Water Conservation Specialist from the Contra Costa Water District

11:00 and 2:00 “Selecting plants for areas with hot, dry summers:  Using Mt. Diablo plant communities for inspiration” by Pete Veilleux

Plants Available
East Bay Wilds will be selling native plants.

Native plants availabie for sale at the Lai/Torf garden

Lush lawns giving way to water-friendly meadows

Clara Lai and Howard Torf’s plant list

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