Ann Dalkey’s Redondo Beach Garden
CNPS Garden Ambassador: Ann Dalkey
CNPS South Coast Chapter
Garden Location: Front and back yard
Garden Size: 1,600 sqft.
Year Planted: 1994
We are delighted with the diversity we get in the middle of an urban landscape because of our California native plant garden. – Ann Dalkey
CNPS garden ambassador Ann Dalkey is a Southern California native who remembers trying to keep her lawn alive in the 1980s drought. That challenge prompted her to replace her front yard with flowering plants, a decision that soon led her to native plants. In 1994, Dalkey converted her front yard to a native landscape and later expanded to her backyard. Dalkey, a retired marine biologist and former science director for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, knew that not only would a native garden help conserve water, it would also provide valuable habitat within the urban landscape.
Today, Dalkey enjoys the variety of wildlife that visits her garden throughout the year: blue butterflies in the spring, mud daubers in summer, yellow butterflies in the fall, and warblers and white-crowned sparrows in the winter. Recently, she developed the Patch Habitat Program in collaboration with the CNPS South Coast Chapter to create native landscapes in residential and urban sites that will connect and improve the environment for the El Segundo Blue Butterfly and other local native species.
Ann’s favorite California native plants
- Desert wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis)—for its magenta spring color
- Coast buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium)—because it’s the host plant for the El Segundo blue butterfly
- California fuchsia (Epilobium canum)—for its red-orange fall blooms that hummingbirds can’t resist
About the garden
Garden Location: Front and back yard
Garden Size: 1,600 ft2
Year Planted: 1994
Design and Installation: My husband, Barry, and I.
Style Inspiration: We hiked the Santa Monica Mountains to gain insight on how native plants are distributed in nature. I chose to design a garden in the wild state, as plants would occur in nature. The 2013 installation is a landscaped garden. Native bulbs are grown in pots. Their seeds are broadcast into the parkway where they’ve become quite abundant!
Go-to Native Plant Nurseries: Matilija Nursery, Theodore Payne Foundation, and Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.
Irrigation: The yard is plumbed with a drip system. In the summer, we water monthly on overcast/foggy days. We also water in the winter if necessary, timing the watering with storms that deliver scant rainfall. There’s one section of the backyard in which the drip system no longer works, but the plants are looking great!
Maintenance: We maintain our garden on a weekly basis.
Wildlife Spotted: Marine blue butterflies, gray hairstreaks, lots of skippers, mud daubers, green sweat bees, and solitary wasps that keep the vegetable garden free of pests. Birds include orange-crowned warblers, house wrens, white-crowned sparrows, juncos, humming birds, black phoebes, and an occasional Cooper’s hawk.
Favorite Element: The Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) located just outside the bedroom window that blooms in spring. This is preceded by the magenta blooms of the desert wishbone plants, the dudleyas, and, of course, the California poppies.
Biggest Challenge: Weeds and leaves. Grasses from the neighbors constantly filter into the yard making weeding nearly a year-round proposition. Leaves from the nearest houses blow into our yard in great abundance.
Advice: Enjoy the seasonal changes in the yard throughout the year. Weeding allows one to experience these changes up close.
California native plants in Ann’s garden
Yarrow, (Achillea millefolium)
Wild onion, (Allium ssp.)
False indigo, (Amorpha fruticosa)
Little Sur manzanita, (Arctostapylos edmundsii ‘Carmel Sur’)
Point Reyes manzanita, (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Point Reyes’)
Radiant manzanita, (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Radiant’)
Sunset manzanita, (Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’)
Paradise manzanita, (Arctostaphylos parajoensis ‘Paradise’)
Sagebrush, (Artemisia pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’)
California aster, (Symphyotrichum chilense)
Goldenstar, (Bloomeria crocea)
California brodiaea, (Brodiaea californica)
Harvest brodiaea, (Brodiaea elegans)
Yellow mariposa lily, (Calochortus luteus)
Butterfly mariposa lily, (Calochortus venustus)
Catalina mariposa lily, (Calochortus catalinae ‘Symphony’)
Beach evening primrose, (Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia)
Small flowered evening primrose, (Camissoniopsis micrantha)
Blue Palo Verde, (Parkinsonia floridum ssp floridum)
Bush monkey flower, (Mimulus aurantiacus)
Blue dicks, (Dichelostemma capitatum)
Bright green dudleya, (Dudleya virens ssp. hassei)
Chalk dudleya, (Dudleya pulverulenta)
Bush sunflower, (Encelia californica)
California fuchsia, (Epilobium canum ‘Catalina’)
Seaside daisy, (Erigeron glaucus)
Conejo buckwheat, (Eriogonum crocatum)
Red buckwheat, (Eriogonum grande rubescens)
Sea Cliff wild buckwheat, (Eriogonum parvifolium)
Sand dune wallflower, (Erysimum capitatum)
California poppy (orange and yellow), (Eschscholzia californica)
Woodland strawberry, (Fragaria vesca)
Lillian’s pink coral bells, (Heuchera abramsii ‘Lillian’s Pink’)
Island alum root, (Heuchera maxima)
Douglas iris, (Iris douglasiana)
Hybrid iris, (Iris douglasiana)
Bladderpod, (Isomeris arborea)
Giant coreopsis, (Leptosyne gigantea)
Scarlet monkey flower, (Mimulus cardinalis ‘Santa Cruz Island Gold’)
San Clemente Island chicory, (Munzothamnus blairii)
Nodding needlegrass, (Nasella cernua)
Matilija poppy, (Romneya coulteri)
Purple sage, (Salvia leucophylla)
Blue-Eyed grass, (Sisyrinchium bellum)
Bridge’s triteleia, (Triteleia bridgesii)
White brodiaea, (Triteleia hyacinthina)
Wally basket triteleia, (Triteleia laxa)
California bay, (Umbellularia californica)
CNPS Horticulture Team
Dear Ann, I love the story of your California native plants. You are very inspiring to me as we have recently taken on the task of helping our local native garden located on Newton St.and Walnut st. in Torrance Ca. There, Carol is the only person that has been trying to keep it alive but with the time it has gotten overgrown and full of weeds. The garden attracts many wild life and has a lot of potential to look amazing. I would like to know more about how to help. Your web page is full of great info. Do you have any books published on the subject? I love how you have a list of natives and that is what we would like for this little gem 💎 on Newton St. If you can please write me back with any comments. I can send you pictures of the garden too.
Hi Ann, I want to replace my lawn & garden with California native plants. I’m looking for a knowledgeable person to design the front & back yards and parkway, advise me on each step, or possibly install the new garden… all for very little money! Not sure if I’m dreaming or delusional, but… any possibility you could help, or at least provide contacts of people who might?! Any and all help is hugely appreciated!