Spring garden tours showcase stunning local gardens

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Apr. 15, 2022) — With spring in the air and pandemic restrictions easing, two local garden tours return to showcase the East Bay’s beauty.

The Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour will begin with an online event April 16-17 and then in-person tours April 30 and May 1. The Clayton Gardens Tour will feature five homes on May 6-7.

It’s only natural

The natives tour focuses on private gardens that are water-conserving, pesticide-free, provide habitat for wildlife and contain 70 percent or more native plants. Four Clayton and two Concord gardens will be included 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1.

Clayton resident Nancy Niemeyer intertwined her interests in nature and archaeology in her garden modeled on ancient Roman style gardens. The rectangular courtyard, planted with a riot of colorful, water-conserving natives, leads past art pieces, a fountain and pedestals.

In 2007, Clayton residents Kelly Marshall and Mike Weidner transformed their front lawn into a low-maintenance native plant haven for wildlife. In the back is a drought-tolerant meadow with a shallow bog that provides water to a variety of garden creatures.

Clayton’s Karen and Jeremy Amos sheet-mulched away their large, thirsty lawns – and cut their water bill in half. A rebate from the Contra Costa Water District’s Lose the Lawn and Grow a Garden program helped pay for the project.

Hummingbirds and bees

Lauren Kindorf of Clayton received a $1,000 rebate from the water district to help transform her lawn into a garden. Four types of manzanita provide structure and greenery throughout the year, delighting hummingbirds and native bees.

Also using a water district rebate, Concord resident Laura Spain sheet-mulched her lawn away to make a habitat for wildlife. Fifteen species of birds, native bees and butterflies now visit the garden.

Concord residents Dan and Lisa Wanket’s charming front and back gardens contain a waterfall, stream and shallow pond that draws in birds for bathing. Evergreen prostrate California lilac functions as groundcover, delighting bees in springtime.

The online natives tour kicks off at 10 a.m. April 16 with a presentation by inspirational author Doug Tallamy. The in-person tours on April 30 will feature Bayside gardens. Tours are free but donations are accepted. Pre-register at bringingbackthenatives.net.

Thirty years of beauty

The 30th Clayton Gardens Tour begins at the Clayton Museum, 6101 Main St., where attendees can pick up tickets and view drawing prizes.

Sponsored by the Clayton Historical Society, the May 6-7 tours spotlight a homeowner who created a peaceful tropical oasis of water sounds and an intimate spot to relax and enjoy nature. Another resident recently renovated his entire yard to be drought-tolerant.

Loaded with interesting cactus and a wide variety of succulents, it’s filled with color and texture to entice butterflies and hummingbirds.
Clayton tour tickets are $35 in advance; $40 in person. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days. For more information, please visit claytonhistory.org.