What to plant now for a garden full of beautiful blooms, abundant edibles—or both
In the bright spring sunshine, this Bay Area backyard--featuring California poppies, blue-eyed grass, white meadowfoam, Pacific Coast irises, and magenta-flowered Salvia--looks as vibrant as the wildflower fields of Southern California’s Antelope Valley after a rainy winter. California poppies blaze in shades of orange; splashes of white meadowfoam and pink checkerbloom fringe the paths. Bees buzz and butterflies dance among the petals.
Owner Melanie Cross, who converted a lawn into this wildflower fantasia, has opened her garden to visitors on a Going Native Garden Tour. Armed with notepads and cameras, would-be native gardeners gather ideas and information for fall planting in their own yards. Fortunately, Cross is an enthusiastic evangelist. “I love native plants,” says Cross, who found inspiration for her garden in the fields around her childhood home in rural Southern California. “Wildflowers have evolved in this place. They’re important to birds, butterflies—the web of life. We humans take away from the natural habitat. I wanted to give back.”
Get inspired: Visit dozens of Bay Area gardens on the Going Native Garden Tour (free; gngt.org; at some sites, you can buy plants). For other tours, visit the California Native Plant Society (cnps.org).