Cynthia Typaldos’ Palo Alto Garden
CNPS Garden Ambassador: Cynthia Typaldos
CNPS Santa Clara Valley Chapter
Garden Location: Front and back yard
Garden Size: 3,200 square feet
Year Planted: 2012
People are stunned at the beauty of native plant bouquets. It’s a way to be kind and also do some native plant gardening inspiration and education!
Cynthia Typaldos started her California native plant garden six years ago with the goal to create a native habitat. After gaining approval from her landlord, Cynthia was able to transform the ordinary, lawn dominant front yard into an extraordinary California native plant garden – an oasis for wildlife in a suburban desert. Not only that, but Cynthia was able to use rebates from her utilities to cover the nearly all the costs!
Before starting her garden, Cynthia worked with the Santa Clara Valley Water District and their creek mitigation efforts to have an invasive ivy removed, as it had taken over the fence bordering the yard and the creek. The yard was also full of weeds including crabgrass and oxalis. With some dedicated mulching and weeding, her garden is now virtually weed free!
The cottage-style garden is anchored by a long-blooming island tree mallow (Malva assurgentiflora), while manzanita (Arctostaphylos ssp.), California lilac (Ceanothus ssp.), and coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis) provide a green, lush look all year. Recent additions include a California buckeye (Aesculus californica) and chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum) by the driveway; toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides) and dessert willow (Chilopsis linearis) along the creek side; and a monkeyflower (Mimulus ssp.) and several variety of buckwheat (Eriogonum ssp.) in the center areas. Cynthia also started converting the back yard in the fall of 2017, which now includes a wildflower meadow and natural, mulched path that meanders through the garden.
Attracting pollinators, especially bumblebees, has been especially rewarding to Cynthia. Yet Cynthia’s garden is magnet for not only wildlife, but her neighbors as well! Cynthia has met many of her neighbors who stop by to look at the garden, and admire how it changes over the seasons. Every year in the spring, she uses some of the wildflowers in her gardens to create bouquets in vases. She then gives these to friends and businesses that she frequents. “People are stunned at the beauty of native plants so it’s a way to be kind and also do some education and recruiting!”
Cynthia’s favorite California native plants
- California lilac (Ceanothus ssp.)– Beautiful, unique, and so many choices!
- California buckeye (Aesculus californica) – Great size, shape, and interesting seedpods.
- Coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis) – Looks wild yet so far is manageable in my garden.
About the garden
Garden Location: Front and back yard.
Garden Size: 3,200 square feet
Year Planted: Various parts of the garden were planted at different times, starting from 2012.
Lawn Removal: Sheet mulching with layers of cardboard and mulch.
Design and Installation: Combination of myself and a landscaper.
Style Inspiration: As wild as possible – while keeping my neighbors and landlord happy!
Go-to Native Plant Nurseries: CNPS Chapter plant sales, and Summerwinds in Palo Alto.
Irrigation: Now that the garden is mature, I water every 3 weeks via drip system in summer/fall/late spring. I hand water new plants.
Maintenance: I maintain my garden myself with monthly help from a professional native plant gardener/designer.
Wildlife Spotted: Lots of native birds and insect pollinators, my favorite of which are bees. Also frogs, ducks, lizards, opossums, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and field mice.
Favorite Element: The wildflower meadow in the back.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping a wild look that is still suitable for a suburban neighborhood.
Advice: Get involved with your local chapter! Our chapters have experts that give great talks about key gardening topics, such as easiest garden plants, container gardening, and more. They have plant lists that really help in choosing your first set of plants (and beyond).
Also, participate in the local garden tour. It’s a lot of fun – you get to know your other native plants gardeners plus a whole slew of interesting people in the chapter and those who come to your garden on the tour.
Remember to put the “Native Plants Live Here” sign on your garden to let the neighbors know why it’s so fragrant and beautiful. Pass out bouquets in the spring. Have a space for wildflowers.
California native plants in Cynthia’s garden
- Island pink common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- California buckeye (Aesculus californica)
- Vine hill manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora)
- Pajaro manzanita (Arctostaphylos pajaroensis)
- Narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)
- Coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis)
- Hybrid California lilac (Ceanothus)
- Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
- Mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides)
- Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)
- Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena)
- Purple clarkia (Clarkia purpurea subsp. quadrivulnera)
- Elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata)
- Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
- Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii)
- Sea lettuce (Dudleya caespitosa)
- Bluff lettuce (Dudleya farinosa)
- Santa Cruz Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens)
- Ashyleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum cinereum)
- Saffron buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum)
- California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)
- St. Catherine’s lace (Eriogonum giganteum)
- Red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens)
- Cliff buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium)
- California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
- California coffeeberry (Frangula californica)
- Flannelbush (Fremontodendron ssp.)
- Island snapdragon (Gambelia speciosa)
- Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
- Ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor)
- Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana)
- California goldfields (Lasthenia californica)
- Tidy tips (Layia platyglossa)
- Common madia (Madia elegans)
- Fremont’s bush mallow (Malacothamnus fremontii)
- Santa Lucia bush mallow (Malacothamnus palmeri var. palmeri)
- Malva rosa (Malva assurgentiflora)
- California melic (Melica californica)
- Coyote mint (Monardella villosa)
- Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
- Baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii)
- Foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus)
- Bladder Pod (Peritoma arborea)
- Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
- Hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia)
- Chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum)
- Pink-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum)
- Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri)
- White sage (Salvia apiana)
- Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii)
- Purple sage (Salvia leucophylla)
- Black sage (Salvia mellifera)
- Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea)
- Blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea)
- Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)
- Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
CNPS Horticulture Team