Connect with California natives online with Sundays in the Garden
The Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour is going online for three Sundays this year and will include two Clayton gardens.
Tour gardens will be featured in a series of live garden visits with passionate garden owners and the talented designers of 25 of the Bay Area’s most beautiful and inspiring landscapes. They’ll show viewers what’s happening in the garden now, feature their favorite natives, describe the native plant gardening resources they use most and provide tips for those just getting started.
Inspiring speaker and best-selling author Douglas Tallamy will kick off the free Sundays in the Garden event at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 26. His talk will be followed by the livestreamed garden visits, which will be hosted on Zoom and livestreamed on YouTube.
Travel back to ancient Rome
Clayton resident Nancy Niemeyer is passionate about both nature and archaeology. These interests intertwined in the garden she designed and installed, which was modeled on ancient Roman gardens.
The rectangular courtyard, planted with colorful natives, leads past art pieces – such as the captivating sculpture of a woman with flowing robes and thick, wavy hair; a black-on-white geometric patterned mosaic that Niemeyer designed and created; and pedestals that both frame the garden beds and function as seats.
She installed the plants in the wide, densely planted beds in choreographed, semi-formal groups to create a sense of symmetry in this collector’s garden, which contains more than a hundred varieties of native plants.
Other garden attractions include a fluted fountain that provides water for wildlife, and a beautiful garden nymph sculpture that faces the street, to provide enjoyment for passersby.
This garden was, until recently, a large lawn; water use in the front yard dropped by 75 percent since the lawn was removed.
Luring in the birds
In 2007, long-time Clayton resident Kelly Marshall, owner of Kelly Marshall Garden Design, and her husband, Mike, wanted to transform their dull front lawn into a native plant haven for wildlife. She selected a hardy and colorful array of natives that could take Clayton’s hot summers, added a fountain, strategically placed seating areas and paths, and the front garden became a lovely place enjoyed by the family, and even the neighbors.
Finally, they decided to let the back lawn go as well. In its place, she created a drought-tolerant meadow of bunchgrasses and flowering native perennials, along with a small waterfall and shallow bog that provides water to a variety of garden creatures.
Forty species of birds and a plethora of butterflies and bees are drawn to this garden by the sound of splashing water, the pond, and the diversity of native seed-, berry- and pollen-bearing plants. Soon after the garden was transformed, a pair of bluebirds came to raise their chicks in the nest box that had gone unnoticed for years. A bevy of quail forage happily in the back garden. Other visitors include fox and Pacific chorus frogs. Bats swoop overhead in the evening, noshing on mosquitoes. To keep birds safe, the family cat is kept indoors.
The free Sundays in the Gardens will be 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 26, May 3 and May 10. Pre-registration is required at bringingbackthenatives.net. Visit the site for a schedule of garden visits.