California Native Plants for the Garden

Los Olivos might seem like an unlikely address for a publishing
house, but in this electronic age, anything is possible. Cachuma
Press does indeed have its headquarters in Los Olivos and the
principal editors, graphic artists, and proofreaders all live in
Santa Barbara County. Their latest publication, California Native
Plants for the Garden, is also authored by one very local woman,
Carol Bornstein, and two other Southern California residents, David
Fross from Arroyo Grande and Bart O’Brien, a fifth-generation
Californian from Claremont. Their collaboration has resulted in a
beautiful, useful, and well-written book all about gardening with
California native plants.

Introductory chapters give an overview of the subject including
a short history of the use of California natives in the landscape
and nursery industry, as well as a fine introduction to the
diversity and uniqueness of the local zone known as the California
Floristic Province. This geographic region contains one of the most
diverse sets of plants in the world — approximately 6,300 different
taxa (species and their subsets such as subspecies, varieties, and
forms) — and covers most of the state, and even extends into Baja
California del Norte. Also included is a chapter discussing issues
relevant to designing a garden that incorporates California natives
and another devoted to maintenance of these special plants. Of
particular relevance is the detailed advice on watering methods and
regimes necessary for these summer-drought adapted plants. The
majority of the book, though, is made up of plant profiles for
“more than 200 featured plants as well as another 300 species,
cultivars, and hybrids that are more briefly described.” Each
profile includes information about the plant type (tree, shrub,
etc.), the geographic zone where it can be expected to grow well,
how much light it will need to thrive, what type of soil it is
adapted to, how much water it will require during the year, and its
natural habitat and range. For some entries, the main species is
appended with information about related species or cultivars. The
20+ manzanita (Arctostaphylos) selections, for example, are divided
up by ultimate size and discussed in more than seven pages of text
and photographs. The photos, by the way, are crisp and complement
the text very well throughout the book. Available in hardback or
soft bound, it is on sale now at local bookstores including
Chaucers, Tecolote, and, of course, the Santa Barbara Botanic
Garden gift shop. The public is invited to a free lecture and book
signing with the authors on Thursday, December 15, 7:30 p.m., at
the Solvang Branch Library on Mission Drive. It is hosted by the
Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society.

Virginia Hayes, curator of Ganna Walska Lotusland, will
answer your gardening questions. Address them to Gardens, The
Independent, 122 W. Figueroa St., S.B., CA 93101. Send email to


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