Natives are the Answer!

For many years I have tried to find something to grow successfully in the front of my house. It is facing south so I wanted to have something that was heat resistant and drought tolerant. I tried low-growing manzanita, but I don’t think I watered it enough for it to get established. Most recently, I put in a bunch of low-growing succulents that have a lovely pink flower. I managed to water it well at first, but as the summer went on it got to be too much and failed in the intense heat. Sigh!

For a few years, I watched as the California Poppies that are volunteersin the yard, decided to take over that challenging area.

California Poppies

That made me happy for a while, until I realized (after a hot hike and the delicious aroma of the sages) that it might be possible to plant some native sages. Every time I hike around here, like at Black Diamond Mines or Mitchell Canyon among other places, I smell the tantalizing aroma of the sages when they bloom. It turns out that it is actually their leaves that have such an enticing scent! My favorites are black sage, pitcher sage and mugwort. Finally, I decided last year to find the black sage that I absolutely love.

Black Sage blooming
Pitcher Sage blooms

Luckily, I found some at Morningsun Herb Farm that would fit my hot, south-facing front yard perfectly! Last year I planted Black Sage and a couple of other sages whose names I don’t remember. I found Pitcher Sage with lavendar blooms (not the white I see in the wild) at another local natives nursery that, sadly,went out of business last summer. I also, added some Penstemon, another native that thrives in this area. The Calendulas I planted in back have spread to the front and have added themselves to the colorful array.

This year, the whole front is alive with brilliant colors! It feels welcoming and happy and requires no fuss at all.

Salvia with purple stalks
Salvias in front
Poppies, Calendula, Penstemon









I ‘ve found that natives are a wonder to plant in all areas of the garden. They thrive and are drought tolerant. Their native beauty is stunning and the variety is endless. My friend, Christine, gave me some mugwort from her garden. The mugwort is happily growing in the side yard. It doesn’t like as much sun so I also planted some under the oak tree. I wasn’t sure if it would do well as it was in a hard spot to water. But, it is back this spring and has actually added more plants as I was hoping!

Sticky Monkeyflower
Sticky Monkeyflower blooms


Other natives I have growing in my side garden are Sticky Monkeyflower, Blue-eyed Grass and Evening Primrose. This photo of the Evening Primrose shows its growth right now. The flowers haven’t started blooming yet.

Blue-eyed Grass
Evening Primrose








Each spring, we enjoy more and more natives volunteering in our yard. To many people, they are weeds, but to us they are a sign of a healthy yard. We have mallow, mustard, cleavers, purslane, and miner’s lettuce – all edible plants that volunteer each year. Some have already come and gone and others are on the way soon.

Blooming Mustard
Miner’s Lettuce

One of the happiest volunteers I have each year is the Feverfew. This is a lovely herb that makes me happy whenever I see it. It was growing in the far back corner of our yard when we first moved in. Now it finds many perfect places to show its sunny face. It’s a great addition to herbal teas in the summer, a bright bouquet and is traditionally known as a remedy for migraine headaches.

Feverfew Patch
Feverfew trio




What natives are growing in your garden? Look around and see what wants to share life with you.

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