The reduced lawn in Michael Graf's El Cerrito garden left room for wide, gently curving beds that are bordered by buckeye, oaks and native grape, which create a peaceful oasis in this busy urban area.

Michael Graf ’s garden – #2

El Cerrito

Lot size: Lot size 1/10th acre back garden, 80% native

Garden Age: Native garden was planted in stages, beginning in 2000

Years on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: 6

Showcase Feature

Michael has turned an area that formerly contained only exotics into a charming native plant garden.  Wide, gracefully curving garden beds, provide the drainage that most natives need, wrap around a reduced lawn. Recently Michael designed and installed a pond; the peaceful sound of falling water attracts winged and two-legged visitors alike. Currants, ferns, monkeyflower, and bee plant flourish in the shady part of the garden; stately, mature manzanitas anchor the sunny side. Chinese houses and clarkia brighten this attractive garden in spring.


Other Garden Attractions Thumb

  • Bring your copy of Plants of the Tahoe Basin, and ask Michael, the author, to sign it.
  • Buckeyes, oaks, and a flannel bush create privacy screens along the fenceline.


Gardening for Wildlife graf-7

The diversity of natives attracts flocks of birds, including white-

and golden-crowned sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers, and kinglets. Decomposing logs provide nooks and crannies for slender and arboreal salamanders. Pacific chorus frogs and newts are also at home in this garden.  Metallic blueish-black pipevine swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on the Dutchman’s pipevine, the only host plant for the stunning butterfly. Bees love the manzanitas, California lilac, bee plant, penstemon, and annual wildflowers, and hummingbirds are attracted to the black, purple, white- and hummingbird sages, as well as bush monkeyflowers and Channel Island snapdragon.

Plant list

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