2013 Select Tours
Exclusive, Guided Tours of Inspirational Native Plant Gardens, offered in April and May of 2013
$30 per person/tour (Choose carefully—no refunds or exchanges)
Select Tour #1 [PAST] & #2 [PAST]
Gardening with Nature in Mind
Tour #1: Saturday, April 6, 10:00 – 3:00
Tour #2: Sunday, April 7, 10:00 – 3:00
Lead by Judy Adler, and held at her garden in Walnut Creek
Join renowned environmental educator Judy Adler in this in-depth tour of her half-acre Walnut Creek garden. Judy’s suburban garden, part farm, part classroom, part nursery and part nature preserve, features happy chickens, a rainwater harvesting system, a pond, and many California native and/or pollinator friendly plants. Judy’s was one of the first gardens to be certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, and it is now certified as a habitat for pollinators by the Xerces Society.
Contemplating incorporating chickens in your garden? Tour Judy’s coop and get the scoop on space, light, predator protection, roosting poles, nest boxes, and more.
Curious about pond construction and management, or installing a rain harvesting system? Judy’s rain water storage system stores more than 10,000 gallons of winter rainwater for summer use. Rain water is used to refill her large pond, and also to irrigate the edibles in her garden and orchard. Learn how-to, why, and the cost of installing a rainwater-harvesting system.
Interested in incorporating native plants with edibles and Mediterranean plants? The garden contains more than 400 plant species, many of them native to California, drought tolerant, and attractive to wildlife. Judy’s garden has been planted with more than thirty-five fruit trees, canes, and vines, including a number of unique varieties, including Nubiana plums, Stella cherries, Seckel Pears, Sanguinelli blood oranges, Minneola tangelos, kiwis, Hachiya persimmons, and Fuji apples. The eclectic collection of plants in this garden is sure to delight. Bring your questions!
Want to learn more about the importance of saving seeds, and how to do it? Tour the recently-constructed seed-storage shed and learn how to prepare and store seeds.
Browse the Adler Horticultural Library, and receive printed resource information on the topics discussed throughout the day. Bring a brown bag lunch, and enjoy it in the garden. Plants from Mountain Mama’s Nursery will be available for sale during breaks, at lunch, and following the workshop.
You can count on Judy to share, with great honesty and humor, the reason for and real story behind each of the sustainable features of her 30 year old garden.
Bring a lunch to enjoy in the garden.
Judy Adler is an environmental educator and consultant who has received numerous prestigious awards for her work. She teaches ecology to hundreds of schoolchildren during unique outdoor field trip experiences through her business, Diablo Nature Adventures.
What past participants said:
“It was a fabulous day, and I learned a lot from Judy.”
“Judy opened my eyes to issues that I had not thought about before – leaving brush on the ground for shelter/habitat, no toxins in, no organic out, and saving seeds. The water reclamation project looks doable for us and we are making a plan to do it here.”
“Being around Judy’s energy and learning from her today was pure pleasure.”
Select Tour #3 [PAST]
Meet the Do-It-Yourselfers: Kate Sibley in Richmond, Leslie Zander in Albany, and Christine Meuris in Berkeley
Sunday, April 14, 10:00 – 3:00
Richmond, Albany, and Berkeley gardens
On this tour of three gardens you’ll hear about the lessons learned by do-it-your-selfers. Go ahead, ask about: how lawns were removed and plants chosen; which reference books were most useful; irrigation; the costs of materials, and where they were bought; how these homeowners proceeded with the design and installation; garden maintenance; and about the ups and downs of installing a native garden on your own.)
We’ll meet at Kate Sibley’s Richmond garden at 10:00. Prior to their conversion, the front and back gardens consisted of water-thirsty, boring lawns—and one giant and overwhelming juniper. Today the gardens are a vibrant mix of California natives and Mediterranean plants. In the spring clarkia and poppies bloom cheerfully between native drought tolerant sages and California lilacs. Numerous kinds of buckwheats, including rosy, giant, and Santa Cruz, provide color in the summer months, complemented by various blooming dudleyas. In the back garden, vegetables are grown in raised beds. Kate’s partner, Cindy, designed and installed the small pond and waterfall. Kate and her niece, Sera, designed the landscape, which opens new sights and delights to visitors as they move through the gardens. The diversity of plants of varying heights, and the small pond and waterfall attract bushtits, phoebes, California towhees, American goldfinches, chickadees, white-crowned sparrows, cedar waxwings, and many kinds of bees and butterflies.
A fifteen minute drive will bring us to Leslie Zander’s garden in Albany. The plant palette in this small, sunny front garden, which was designed and installed by Leslie and designer Donald Tarahonich, is a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees that provide a changing landscape throughout the year. In spring the garden is awash in color, from the abundant white blooms of the California buckeye and bush anemone, to the deep lavender of the California lilac, and the exuberant mosaic of yellow, blue, and orange in the annual wildflower understory. In winter, the garden features the elegant structure of the California buckeye and towering elderberry surrounded by the evergreen California lilac and three kinds of manzanita. This garden is an inspiration for converting a small yard into an interesting, low-maintenance wildlife habitat. During WWII this home was one of 20 million Victory Gardens. Leslie is renewing the tradition of growing vegetables at home; note the raised planter beds running up the driveway. The diversity of plant heights, from trees to shrubs to low-growing groundcovers, provides shelter for wildlife. Native plants provide berries, seeds, and nectar for goldfinches, white crowned sparrows, doves, orioles, and hummingbirds. The avian action attracts Cooper’s hawks. Bumblebees, honeybees, and buckeye and painted lady butterflies are frequent visitors. Praying mantis and walking sticks have also been observed in the garden. Bring your own lunch and drink to enjoy in the garden.
A seven minute drive will bring us to Christine Meuris’ garden, which she designed and installed herself. The design for this intimate, charming, and child-friendly garden was inspired by the majestic buckeye that set the theme for this shady oasis. The airy gazebo, with its intriguing and attractive salvaged windows, welcoming hammock (nestled in a corner and surrounded by waving bunchgrasses and flowering currant), and child’s swing attest to the use this garden receives. An existing concrete path was broken out (concrete was also collected from construction projects) and re-used to make raised beds that improved poor drainage. Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ and elderberry create a living screen between the garden and adjacent park. Swallowtail and painted lady butterflies, hummingbirds, finches, juncos, towhees, and woodpeckers are attracted to the native grape and elderberries, the buckeye flowers, and the groundcovers, shrubs, and trees of varying heights.
Select Tour #4 [OPEN]
How to Install a Netafim Drip Irrigation System and SmartTimer, Plant California Natives, and Receive up to $500 for Doing So!
Saturday, May 18, 10:00 – 3:00
We’ll meet at Craig Somberg’s garden in Lafayette. Six months ago the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour held a “Mow no Mo’!” sheet mulching workshop at Craig’s garden, and 1,750 square feet of lawn disappeared in a day. (And, instantly, the time Craig used to spend watering, mowing, raking, and weeding every week-end was freed up!)
Now Craig’s garden is ready for drip irrigation and a Smart Timer to be installed, and for the plants to get into the ground. If you are the kind of person who likes to learn by doing, this is the workshop for you!
Staff from the Contra Costa Water District will discuss the water conservation benefits of removing your lawn, and provide information on SmartTimers, including how they can save you time and money. They will also bring handouts on and provide information about the District’s Landscape Rebate Program. (Yes! You can receive up to $500 for removing your lawn and replacing it with water-conserving plants!)
Staff from the Urban Farmer will provide an introduction on drip irrigation, including the benefits of Netafim; the parts needed and layout of the system; and a demonstration on how to assemble the drip irrigation. After questions are answered, participants will be split into groups, where they will, under guidance, install the drip system.
When about half of the drip lines are in place we’ll take a break while Kelly describes the plants she has chosen and why, and demonstrates how to plant them.
Bring a lunch and something to drink. After dining on plastic chairs comfortably situated in the driveway and garage, workshop participants will spend the rest of the afternoon as they choose, either planting, or installing the drip system.
Select Tour #5 [OPEN]
“Mow no Mo’!” or “How to Remove your Lawn, Select Native Plants, and Design a Water-conserving, Pesticide-free garden that Attracts Wildlife
Sunday, May 19, 10:00 – 3:00
Lafayette and Concord gardens
Linda and Ken Hargreaves’ garden, Lafayette, and Roy and Rosadelia Detwiler’s garden, Concord
Led by Kelly Marshall of Kelly Marshall Garden Design, Chris Dundon, Water Conservation Supervisor for the Contra Costa Water District, and Kathy Kramer, Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour Coordinator (Lafayette and Concord gardens)
In this hands-on workshop the group will start at Linda and Ken Hargreave’s Lafayette garden, which currently has a lawn, but won’t when we are through with it! If you have them, bring a labeled long-handled shovel, a rake, and gardening gloves, as we will spend a couple of hours sheet mulching the lawn away—cutting back turf, shoveling compost, laying cardboard, and spreading woodchips. We’ll work here until everyone has had a chance to try everything. By the time we leave this garden you’ll be completely comfortable with the thought of tackling your own turf.
After shaking the woodchips off our pants we’ll mosey down the block to neighbor Craig Somberg’s front garden, which was sheet-mulched last fall. Go ahead, stick a shovel in the soil and see if you think the garden is ready to plant. Take a look at the Netafim drip irrigation system, which was just installed (on the previous day, by other Select Tour participants!) and check out the plants.
Fast forward several years; we’ll visit the beautiful Concord garden of Roy and Rosadelia Detwiler’s garden, which was once lawn, but has been transformed into a water-conserving, pesticide-free habitat for wildlife. Numerous seating areas are scattered about this garden; settle into one of them and enjoy your brown-bag lunch in the garden—you’ll want to linger in this lovely, tranquil haven. After lunch we’ll tour the garden with Kelly and learn about how the design process was thought through, why these plants were selected for this garden, which plants and garden features attract wildlife, and more.
Inspired by the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour, the Detwilers hired Kelly to revitalize their garden. As you will see, Kelly, undaunted by the existing tired Japanese garden and struggling lawn, unleashed her considerable creative powers. The resulting vibrant, unrepressed garden not only brims with color, but it also features two ponds (one with a waterfall) and a bog, which feed into each other through an artful series of channels cut through the flagstone paths separating them. The front and side lawns have been replaced with a series of garden rooms, including a shady fern garden, edible garden, and a succulent garden, which features tile accents. This garden attracts wildlife: Pacific chorus frogs found the pond on their own. Twenty species of birds are frequent visitors. Hummingbirds and quail have nested in the garden; the quail parents raised eleven chicks in the back yard. The bog attracts flocks of robins, which frolic happily in the shallow water. Don’t miss the “before” photos!
What past participants said:
“This was a fabulous workshop and it was so useful to actually take part in the mulching process. There is nothing better than the hands on experience. Thank you so much, a really enjoyable day.”
“This was great. I have read many articles on sheet mulching, but until you experience the entire process up front and personal, you just don’t get it. Thank you.”
“The process of learning how to sheet mulch was great. We were a bit intimidated by the process but now are confident that we can complete our project and do it well.”
“I enjoyed the low key, casual, up-beat, can do atmosphere. It was wonderful to be among others who are interested in learning and exploring new possibilities. Thank you!”