Plant a Native Garden to See Real California Wildlife at Home

To the editor: From my experience designing and planting two California native plant gardens, I can attest to the positive impact a native plant garden has on local pollinators and the soil. (“This is what’s wrong with Southern California’s perfectly drought-tolerant landscaping,” Opinion, Dec. 24)

My home garden in the Bay Area was full of birds, bees and butterflies. Here in Orange County, my garden is newly planted, but I have already seen critical species of caterpillars and native bees visiting the plants as they begin to bloom.

There’s another benefit to planting California natives: no grass, you don’t need a lawn mower, and because natural leaf fall promotes healthy soil, you don’t need a leaf blower.

We need more growers to produce California native plants and help educate gardeners. And, as op-ed author Charles Miller points out, we need our water districts to understand the importance of biodiversity and not just focus on saving water. My own local water district has a “save water only” approach.

Beyond the environmental and practical benefits, the joy that a native plant garden brings is incalculable. A garden like this draws me outside like no other. They make me happier than I can adequately express.

Karen Fisher, San Juan Capistrano


To the editor: I was born in Pasadena, but to see native trees and shrubs I needed to hike through the San Gabriel Mountains or deserts. Cities are deserts of wildlife and people are not aware of the absence of birdsong around their homes.

Exotic plants are more susceptible to diseases, so fungicides, pesticides, and artificial fertilizers are needed to keep them healthy. None of this is good for the environment or our children.

Bruce Stenman, Prunedale, California.


To the editor: Miller’s article on the environmental importance of using native plants was well done. However, he failed to mention a fantastic resource for native plant enthusiasts and converts.

On the California Native Plant Society’s Calscape website, you can type your ZIP code to see a complete list of plants native to your area, including detailed information on caring for them. It is a practical and useful site for anyone making the transition from ornamental plants to California natives.

JoAnne Skinner, Albany, California.

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