I just spent the weekend with my Aunt and Uncle in their beautiful home in Del Mar, California down in San Diego. We were discussing re-landscaping their property and the subject of native plants came up. As I discovered they knew little to nothing about natives and their benefits, I thought about how many other people may not understand the importance of natives. So here's my own little crash course lesson with some of my own photos to boot...
California Coast Live Oak
The California Native Plant Society defines native plants as those being here before European contact. They say, "Our native plants, having evolved here, are ideally suited to perform, such ecological services as manufacturing oxygen and filtering impurities from our water. These plants also do the best job of providing food and shelter for native wild animals. "
"That's all well and good, but what does that mean to me?" you might ask. Well, you will save time and money, and you'll reduce air pollution by significantly reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water and lawn maintenance equipment. The bottom line is that this means you save money by planting natives, pretty cool huh?
So where does one get these native plants? No, don't go digging up the natural hillsides and local state parks just yet, there are nurseries that cater specifically to the native plants of your area. For southern California, an amazing nursery is the Tree of Life Nursery, off Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano. Although they are mostly wholesale, they do allow retail shoppers in on Thursdays and Fridays 9-4pm. It's not suprising that there have been good bird reports from there, after all they are native plants.
Here's some resources:
The top link is about the water conservation aspect of natives
Natives for Your Neighborhood Website