Saturday plant sale helps others develop habitats of their own
Anybody who believes their outdoor patio, balcony or backyard is too small to garden needs to talk with Betty Young.
The figured out Santa Rosa native plant enthusiast declined to state “no can do” when she moved into a mobile house with a tiny front yard filled with nothing but red-and-white rock and a single rhododendron.
Young is a little bit of an outlier in her park. She declined to follow the crowd and rather put in a garden that, even in October, is still flowering with native plants and buzzing with bugs.
Her garden, still sporting color with California fuchsia, goldenrod and white California asters, is proof that even the tiniest of areas can become protects for native plants and method stations for beneficial wildlife.
Captivated? Young is just among the specialists who will be on hand helping out and answering concerns at Saturday’s yearly plant sale from the California Native Plant Society’s Milo Baker Chapter. Young directs the society’s native plant nursery at the Laguna Structure in Santa Rosa, where the sale will be held.
Young, who has a bachelor’s degree in plant science, brings years of professional experience to the volunteer job, including 17 years managing 6 nurseries in Golden Gate National forest devoted to propagating and growing native plants for repair tasks. In retirement, she’s still devoted to the cause of native plant gardening, through the Native Plant Society.
But she knows other garden enthusiasts seeking to change to natives might have problem with tough questions. What should I plant? Where should I plant it? How should I preserve it? Just how much watering will it require?
So in collaboration with fellow chapter member April Owens, Young has written a primer on what to do (location plants together that have similar water requirements) and what not to do (don’t plant too close together and don’t over-water plants). “Sonoma County Native Plant Garden Enthusiast: How to Get going,” will be offered to purchase for $20 at the sale and through the society.
“The technique to native gardening is actually different,” stated Young, who got her start right out of UC Davis by working in standard, official gardens at Filoli, the historical estate in Woodside.
“Some people are nervous,” she stated. “They do not understand if they must water something or not water. I do (water) when I plant (and) never ever water after that.”
That’s the beauty of native plants. Since they are adjusted to the climate they developed in, they can manage with the precipitation, soil and other growing conditions that are regular for that environment.
Young’s new guide is even more specific. It hones in not simply on California natives, but native plant gardening in Sonoma County. The plants and varieties included in the book are all Sonoma County locals. And by planting them, garden enthusiasts here can supply food, nectar and shelter for local native wildlife, including a number of the 1,600 native bee types in the Golden State.
Some of Young’s favorites are the California fuchsia, the Douglas iris and the Ithuriel spear, all garden showstoppers that do not need much, if any, extra irrigation.
For her own garden, she initially opted for a blue-and-yellow palette with baby blue eyes and Douglas iris, among others. However when the blossoms faded in the summer, she shifted to orange with California fuchsia. She also made room for pipevine, or Dutchman’s pipeline, which is the host plant for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.