Pete di Girolamo’s San Diego Garden
CNPS Garden Ambassador: Pete di Girolamo
CNPS San Diego Chapter
Garden Location: Front and back yard
Garden Size: 1200 SF front yd., 1200 SF back yd.
Year Planted: 2002
I felt the need to transition my garden to native plants to not only help conserve water, but to also provide habitat for native birds, animals, and insects.
Pete di Girolamo has been gardening with California native plants at his home in North Park, San Diego for the past 16 years. A lifelong Californian with hiking and camping experience throughout the state, Pete developed an interest in native environments. He felt the need to transition his garden to native plants to not only help conserve water, but to also provide habitat for native birds, animals, and insects.
Pete’s garden has been on multiple garden tours in recent years, and even won the City of San Diego “Low-Water Use” award. His garden has also provided him an outlet to be creative and apply his interest in the arts. He enjoys the combination of seasonal changes that occur in his native garden, and its overall peacefulness. A retired architect, Pete is now an active docent at Torrey Pines Reserve, and serves on a couple of native plant oriented committees.
Pete’s favorite California native plants
- Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos ssp.)—I have about 8 varieties in yard that provide great textures all year.
- Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)—I have several in yard, a couple pruned as trees up to 16ft.
- Island oak (Quercus tomentella)—This is a 35-foot accent in my yard.
About the garden
Garden Location: Front and back yard.
Garden Size: The front yard and back yard are each 1200 square feet.
Year Planted: 2002 to present.
Lawn Removal: Hand dug it out!
Design and Installation: I did both myself.
Style Inspiration: My garden is a mix of the best of the state’s natural areas. There are also some artistic aspects that come from interests in arts and crafting.
Go-to Native Plant Nurseries: Tree of Life Nursery, Moosa Creek Nursery, and RECON.
Irrigation: Hand watering as needed depending on the season and rainfall variations.
Maintenance: I do, varying from weekly to monthly.
Wildlife Spotted: Native birds, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, fox, lizards, butterflies, and bees.
Favorite Element: Contrasting plants.
Biggest Challenge: Adjusting plants desired to using those that reflect local climate and soil.
Advice: Get in touch with your yard, be patient and flexible, and keep learning. Don’t be afraid to prune some if you want to keep the landscape in balance for a smaller home.
California native plants in Pete’s garden
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Location: F-front yard, B-backyard|
|Indian mallow||Abutilon palmeri||B|
|Compact chamise||Adenostoma fasciculatum ‘Black Diamond’||F|
|Prostrate chamise||Adenostoma fasciculatum ‘San Nicholas’||F,B|
|Century plant||Agave americana, variegated||F|
|Shaw’s agave||Agave shawii||F|
|Wild onion||Allium variety?||F|
|San Diego ragweed||Ambrosia pumila||F,B|
|Carmel Sur manzanita||Arctostaphylos edmundsii ‘Carmel Sur’||F,B|
|Emerald Carpet||Arcto. ‘Emerald Carpet’||B|
|Del Mar manzanita||Arcto. Glandulosa ssp. Crassifolia||F|
|John Dourley manzanita||Arcto. ‘John Dourley’||F,B|
|Lester Rowntree manzanita||Arcto. “Lester Rowntree’||F|
|Sunset manaznita||Arcto. ‘Sunset’||F,B|
|Franciscana manzanita||Arcto. hookeri franciscana||F|
|Wayside manzanita||Arcto. hookeri ‘Wayside’||F|
|Dr. Hurd manzanita||Arcto. manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’||F|
|Pacific Mist manzanita||Arcto. ‘Pacific Mist’||F|
|Canyon Gray sagebrush||Artemisia colifornica ‘Canyon Gray’||B|
|Montara sagebrush||Artemisia colifornica ‘Montara’||B|
|David’s Choice sagebrush||Artemisia pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’||F,B|
|Dwarf coyote bush||Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’||F|
|Blue grama grass||Bouteloua gracilis||B|
|Beach evening primrose||Camissonia cheiranthifolia||F,B|
|California meadow sedge||Carex Pansa||B|
|Dark Star ceanothus||Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’||F|
|Sunset rock rose||Cistus x pulverulentus||F, not native|
|Western redbud||Cercis occidentalis||F|
|Western mountain mahogany||Cercocarpus betuloides||B|
|Britton’s chalk dudleya||Dudleya brittonii||B|
|Lance leaved dudleya||Dudleya lanceolata||B|
|California fuscia||Epilobium canlifornicum||F|
|Santa Cruz Island buckwheat||Eriogonum arborescens||F,B|
|Dana Point buckwheat||Eriogonum fasciculatum ‘Dana Point’||F,B|
|Red buckwheat||Eriogonum grande var. rubescens||F,B|
|Douglas iris||Iris douglasiana||F|
|Texas ranger||Leucophyllum frutescens||F, native to Big Bend TX|
|Fern-leaved Catalina Ironwood||Lyonothamnus foribundus ssp. Asplinofolius||B|
|Chaparral mallow||Malacothamnus fasciculatus||F|
|Purple needlegrass||Nassella pulchra||F|
|Feltleaf everlasting||Pseudognaphalium microcephalum||B|
|Coast live oak||Quercus agrifolia||F|
|Island live oak||Quercus tomentella||B|
|San Bruno coffeeberry||Rhamnus californica ‘Mound San Bruno’||F,B|
|White sage||Salvia apiana||F|
|Autumn sage||Salvia greggii||F|
|Purple sage||Salvia leucophylla||F, not native|
|Jade Carpet black sage||Salvia melifera ‘Jade Carpet’||F,B|
|Creeping sage||Salvia sonomensis||F,B|
|Bee’s Bliss sage||Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’||F,B|
|Hummingbird sage||Salvia spathacea||B|
|Blue-eyed grass||Sysrinchium bellum||F|
CNPS Horticulture Team