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GOING WILD WITH NATIVES: From The Archives – Mike Evans Big I.D.E.A.

By editors, for Let’s Talk Plants! May 2024. Originally published in May 2009, No. 176 under “April Meeting Report”.

Image created in WiX using AI tools on April 30, 2024.

From The Archives – Mike Evans Big I.D.E.A.

I’ve always enjoyed the passion that April (2009) speaker Mike Evans (founder of Tree of Life Nursery) brings to his talks, and, from the enthusiastic response at our meeting, it was clear that his message reached appreciative ears.

Mike’s description of a native plant garden as, “an easy place to be in,” and one that allows the gardener to “avoid too many rules,” struck a positive note. He’s correct, of course, that California natives planted in California gardens are quick to attract local wildlife, and that a garden of natives is more than an exercise in water conservation. It is a way to connect with the local environment, a relief from the order and structure of more formal gardens, and an opportunity to engage yourself, and your family (especially the younger ones) with local nature.

Mike showed many images of native plants in the wild and in gardens, reminding us that, “our environment does shape who we are.”

His description of a garden as needing, “care and love, not maintenance (which is what you perform on a car),” is right on. For a great garden that you can really enjoy, follow his I.D.E.A. suggestions:

“Identify a theme, Design accordingly, Engage with it (especially kids), and Admire it.”

Creating a native plant garden is more like making a painting than taking a snapshot – you try to capture the essence of the larger natural landscape rather than trying to get it “exact.” Even a pot of native plants will bring hummingbirds and insects to your yard, and sometimes that’s enough if all you have is a very small space. Thanks, Mike, for reminding us that we don’t need to be slaves to our gardens, that we should plant something relaxing, and that we should make the time to get the younger generation interested in nature so that they appreciate it in the larger context.



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