By Ken Gland.
All photos courtesy Dennis Mudd, 2020
The Poway Garden Tour this year was cancelled as we all know, but Dennis Mudd, whose garden was to have been on the tour, kindly sent us photos to hold us over until we can tour it for ourselves once again. We asked him some questions and these are his responses . . .
How long have you been at this garden?
About 20 years. I didn't really start working on it myself until 2004 though. That's when I started a long process of figuring out how to garden with native plants and convert my property into a nature reserve.
Did you garden before this?
No. I was too busy with my work until 2004. But I did a lot of mountain biking before that, which gave me a strong appreciation for being in nature. When I had the time to look up from my work, I decided I wanted to recreate the nature I was riding through in my own garden.
What is your zone?
My sunset zone is 21.
Who taught you to garden? A grandparent or parent?
I'm really self taught. The philosophy I gradually developed was to mimic nature as much as possible, by choosing plants that naturally belong where I live, and then mimicking natural irrigation for our area (ie no direct irrigation especially during the hot months), and natural mulching and pest control. I did a lot of research to figure out which plants naturally belong where I live, and then looked carefully at the natural conditions they grew in. I just tried to copy that when I grew those plants in my own garden.
What’s your favorite plant?
My favorite plant is Coast Live Oak. They're really the keystone species for the most beautiful areas around where I live. They're tough, beautiful and support a huge amount of wildlife. And they make the soil much better for all the plants in the garden by supporting mycorrhiza in their extensive root systems, and dropping plenty of leaf mulch.
This spot right here overlooking our little canyon. My wife and I crack a bottle of wine most evenings and watch the sunset and birds go by from a little bench on this spot. We've seen over 50 species of birds in the garden over the past several years.
How is your soil?
I've got all different types it seems. Clay in the front yard, loam in the upper back yard, and sandy fill dirt down the bank. Every year all the soil gets a little richer thanks to leaf mulch and mychorrhiza.