I'd never landscape gardened before so I checked out every single gardening book from the library where I worked and kept them for the better part of a year. If the east county was lacking in new gardens that year, you can blame me. I took every single one.
|Backyard in 2010
|Before I replaced the fence and had the slab removed
My favorite to read was the Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes. The pictures are beautiful and plentiful and the descriptions are thorough. I also signed up for the Backyard Habitat program, so I could buy native plants on the cheap. It was a good way to get my garden started at a time when I had no money. At one point I thought I'd have a 100% native garden but then I discovered that other plants exist. Really great plants that I like a lot!
|I like you too, Oregon iris. You can stay.
I got certified as "backyard habitat" at the silver level in 2011, which awarded me a metal sign, continued participation in plant sales, and bragging rights. It also nourished the part of me that enjoys meeting arbitrary goals.
|Did you know that Geum triflorum is native to the PNW? I bought it
because it was pretty.
The volunteer they sent to evaluate my yard in 2011 didn't have the broadest plant knowledge and I had to bicker over some plants with her. She was also hellbent on me removing my bamboo. I exacted my revenge my planting a lot more of it in subsequent years.
|Dichelostemma ida-maia is another plant that I bought without realizing it was native.
I had to get recertified this year and I didn't want any quibbling so I came armed with spreadsheets and a diagram. I printed the map Greg created of our yard and labeled where all the natives lived. I cataloged every native in our garden and I was shocked to discover that we had 59 unique species. I ran out and bought Thalictrum occidentale so I could round it out to 60, because . . . math? even numbers? I don't know.
|Meadow rue (Thalictrum occidentale)
The volunteer who judged my garden this time was much friendlier and didn't give my bamboo the side-eye. He also informed me that I had easily qualified for gold certification and was this close to platinum, which made me crazy. You just gave me a new arbitrary goal and informed me I'd failed!
|Clarkia amoena, one of our prettiest native annuals
Maybe platinum is in my future or maybe I won't care anymore. I think this is a great program, even if I have a few quibbles with it. The plants I've purchased through them have been terribly root-bound and they don't perform as well as plants I've bought from nurseries, though they certainly cost a lot less. It's been a couple of years since I bought from them, so I hope they're improving. I also wish there was room in the program for certain non-natives.
|Hummingbird feeding from non-native Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' on January 7th.
My last complaint, because I am nothing if not a complainer: don't take pictures of people with a wide-angle lens. It's so unflattering.
Do you have native plants in your garden? What's your favorite? The pointlessly competitive part of me thinks I should incorporate more, so I can get to 75 species. Maybe then they'll give me a wristwatch or a commemorative clock.