Gardening With A Wild Heart - Judith Lowry's Blog

Why Natives?

Plant communities have secrets. Some we know, most we do not. They have to do, among other things, with plant interactions with insects, birds, and mammals. Some are of staggering complexity. In too many cases, we glimpse the mystery only as the plants vanish before our eyes.

Not only do plants connect with other living organisms in the soil, but also in the ways that they feeds, shade, and shelter myriad creatures, regarding the details of which interactions we are about as sophisticated as a kindergardener is about the workings of a computer.

We need to save all the pieces of the puzle, hence our offerings of some of the less obviously showy plants, such as Coast plantain, Plantago subnuda, California beeplant, Scrophularia californica, or California horkelia (Horkelia californica). In the particular kind of soil found under an old-growth coyote bush, in the small mammal-created pathways around a creosote bush, in the mycorrhizal connections found between root and soil, clues to the mystery are found.

Our Motto: A Plant is not a Couch

By popular request, we are bringing back our longtime motto: A Plant is Not a Couch. Here's what we mean.

Many customers, especially those new to gardening, seem victims of "plant anxiety." They want to know exactly what will do what and where. But gardening is not interior design, and the great part is, there are no absolute certainties. Gardening, especially the kind we promote, is about learning.

A plant is alive, therefore full of surprises. And every gardener's situation is different, especially in California, land of the microclimate. Part of the fun of plant exploring here lies in the unexpected occurrences of species. "Oh! I didn't know California chia grew here." Or, "Why can't I grow evergreen huckleberry, when my friend down the street can?" Or, "Not seen here in 50 years, yampa is thriving again in my garden!"

Give it your best efforts, and then relax.   Give territory to the plants of our place, and they will give back to you, but maybe not in exactly the way you imagined. Begin the easy, hard, challenging, unexpected, discouraging, nourishing, and always interesting interaction with the plant world called gardening.