An amazing young native plant garden in San Jose

I'm not very active in my garden right now - so I want to introduce you to a gardener who is so energetic she would make three of me.

What Mary's garden used to look like
Mary's garden used to look like these...

I met - I'll call her Mary to protect her privacy - through sharing plants and seeds I'd propagated. I visited her garden for the first time a couple weeks ago. Mary is one of the most earnestly committed wildlife and native plant gardeners I know.

Mary purchased her home, which is in the middle of San Jose, less than a year ago -- and has completely transformed it from a lawn-with-edging type sterile landscape to one that supports local wildlife, and is sustainable, and just wonderfully full of native plants.

It is a young garden so many of the plants are not yet mature - but there are so many and on a budget this lady has done amazing things.

In the front yard
In the front yard

Looking back into the back yard, from the gate to the riparian area
Looking back into Mary's back yard from the gate into the riparian area

One reason she bought the property was because beyond the huge fenced back yard, it extends down to  and across a creek. This area is very weedy, and Mary is introducing natives to help compete with the weeds, and is taking a very patient approach.

The riparian area, and stream
The riparian area, beyond the fence
The riparian area features California chestnuts, a large eucalyptus, and Mary's favorite tree of all - a coast live oak, as well as young trees and shrubs Mary has planted - blue elderberry, buckeye, thimbleberry, coyote brush, and more I'm forgetting, I am sure.

Mary's favorite plant - the big live oak
Mary says: "My most precious plant: supports 500 wildlife (mamals, birds, amphibians) and over 5000 different insects, according to Nancy Bauer's book 'The California Wildlife Habitat Garden: How to Attract Bees, Butterflies, Birds, and Other Animals.' (Not an exact quote)."

Mary cherishes every one of her plants, and pays special attention to each one's needs. This is a madrone that I gave her in a gallon pot. This one is in a sunny spot, and knowing that madrones grow up through other trees then hit the sunlight, she is protecting this young one until it is bigger. It is very healthy inside there. The trellis on the wall is to diminish the heat reflecting off that wall.

Baby madrone, Arbutus menziesii, and monkey flower
Mary's Madrone, protected from harsh sun

One feature plant in the garden is narrow-leaved milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis.

Narrow leaved milk weed - Asclepias fascicularis
Mary has planted a lot of milkweed for the butterflies - and was thrilled to see a monarch just a few days before I visited. She's hoping some will lay eggs here - this is their larval food.

You can see more photos I took of Mary's garden, with many more plants than I have mentioned here, in this Flickr album. I hope to visit again in spring, when so many of these plants will be blooming.

It's so rewarding to see how Mary is having such success with many plants I propagated - buckwheat, monkeyflower, thimbleberry - as well as many other plants from other sources too. So I'll just bask in her glory, till I get back in the swing of things on the Country Mouse estate!


Terra said…
Bless her heart, this lady is doing good work creating a city haven for God's critters. I do the same in my own way.
Jason said…
Great work by this gardener. I have black and red elderberry in my yard, would very much like to see her blue elderberry with flowers and then fruit.
Bernie H said…
Wow, this lady has worked miracles to transform her garden in just one year. What wonderful work she has done. Very inspiring.
James said…
The riparian zone looks like it'd be a lot of fun to plant once the fennel is out of there. You're not the only one taking it a little easy in the garden so it's a good motivator to see someone with a little more energy!
that is SO encouraging to see. Here's hoping some of the neighbours are intrigued enough to follow suit!