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Old 03-10-2000, 12:11 PM
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Default help! native plants for clay soils: Oakland hills

We have bought a house in Montclair that borders a creek and private lake. Our backyard is steeply sloped, and appears to have a mix of native and non-native plants. We would like to restore our backyard if possible, but don't know anything about suitable plants for clay soils.</p>
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Old 03-15-2000, 03:44 AM
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Default Re: help! native plants for clay soils: Oakland hills

See my reply to Joseph above 'Starting Over' for some good general books on native gardening. And see Chris Clifford's answer to the same inquiry for some interesting literature speculating on what the East Bay flora might have been like before European settlement.

You need to consider all the factors on your site when deciding what to plant in your garden: Soil, exposure, moisture, wind, termperature range, etc. What native plants, if any, are 'there' without anyone's having planted them? What plants were likely there before the weeds took over? And what plants would do well and look appropriate even if they weren't there in the past?

A good place to look for anwers is in the East Bay Regional Parks close to where you live. Despite horrendous weed invasions, many native species remain. The East Bay Regional Park Botanic Garden in Tilden Park and the University of California Botanic Garden in Strawberry Canyon have native gardens where you can learn a lot about native plants both from looking at the plantings and from talking to the people who work there.

If you plant a naturalistic garden using locally native plants you won't really be 'restoring' your property to its natural state. That isn't possible. What you will be doing is creating an idealized picture of a natural landscape, which, in a sense, is what all garden makers do.</p>
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