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Native plants can save water, attract wildlife

A brown and yellow giant swallowtail butterfly sits on ceanothus or California Lilac.
A brown and yellow giant swallowtail butterfly sits on ceanothus or California Lilac.

Thinking of doing a little re-landscaping this fall? Wishing your landscaping could thrive with less work and water?

The Master Gardener Advice to Grow By presentation this Saturday will give ideas for low-maintenance landscaping through use of native California plants.

Fall is the time to plant California native perennials, shrubs and trees when the soil is still warm and winter rains are just around the corner. The winter is a prime time for the roots of newly planted shrubs and trees to become established, which will help them survive on little supplemental water during the first summer and if we are lucky, perhaps no additional water in the years that follow. Remember, most California native plants prefer our Mediterranean climate, with distinguishable hot dry summers followed by wet winters.

The days when “native plant garden” meant a dull, gray, dry-looking landscape are over. Today’s wide choice of native plants can provide greenery and varied colors of flowers — plus giving benefits of adaptation to the local climate, low to moderate water usage and resistance to pests, provide nectar to native insects and habitat to wildlife. Many natives are ignored by deer, or if they are nibbled, can shrug off the damage.

Two examples of easygoing natives are manzanita and Ceanothus (California lilac) — either of these plants is available in varieties ranging from ground cover to small tree when mature; both are lush green and attractive in many settings. Colorful perennial flowers such as penstemon and coral bells will also be discussed.

In addition, Saturday’s presentation will include a talk about monarch butterflies and the importance of milkweed for their survival. The guest speakers are a group of volunteers through the Central Coast Natural History Museum who help raise funds to support the state park locations and volunteer as docents.

Come visit the Garden of the Seven Sisters from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday to learn about sustainable gardening with native plants. Dress for variable weather — hats, sunscreen and sweaters — and bring a chair if possible.