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Penny Spear and Kathleen Lowe’s garden – #35

Pleasant Hill

Lot size: 1,800 sq. ft front garden is 85% native, 3,000 sq. ft. back garden is 65% native, and 150 sq. ft side garden is 50% native

Garden Age: Garden was installed in stages, beginning in 2002

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

Showcase Feature
Over the years Penny and Kathleen have removed forty Italian cypresses, junipers, lawn, failing retaining walls, a lot of concrete, and a sea of oxalis from their large corner lot. In their place Penny designed, and Penny and Kathleen installed, a water-conserving native plant garden that attracts wildlife. The trees and very large shrubs—coast live oak, valley oak, California lilac, toyon, and redbud—have all been planted since 2002. (Birds also plant many toyons and oaks on this lot.)

Other Garden Attractions spear-and-lowe-1-of-14-1
• Most of the front garden is not watered at all.
• Weeds are pulled by hand; no pesticides are used in this—or any!—Tour garden.
• The front garden decorative screen was made by Penny. (In the summer, scarlet runner beans climb the uprights.)
• An inviting day bed has been tucked into a corner of the back garden, which contains a mixture of native plants and edibles.
• Rainwater from the downspouts at the rear of the house is kept on site, providing a deep watering to the valley oak, and replenishing groundwater.
• Check out the “before” photos!

Gardening for Wildlife spear-and-lowe-1-of-14-5
Seed and hummingbird feeders, a birdbath, two fountains, berries (toyon and elderberry), acorns, and nectar and pollen bearing wildflowers attract nearly thirty species of birds (including woodpeckers, western tanagers, and cedar waxwings), as well as butterflies, and native bumble and carpenter bees. Bare dirt is left for birds to scratch in. Occasionally, a Cooper’s hawk perches in a tree in the back garden, checking out the avian activity below.

Plants, listed where they are found in the garden

Plants listed alphabetically

Bird list

More photos: