San Miguel Island Buckwheat - Eriogonum grande var. rubescens, has red to pink flowers that bloom from June through October. Read more about our featured pollinator-friendly, native buckwheats below.  

Upcoming Events 

Ruth Bancroft Garden's 22nd Annual Sculpture in the Garden
Tuesday-Sunday, June 17th - July 17th

For one month every year the Ruth Bancroft Garden transforms into an outdoor, open to the public, living art gallery. 

The Garden's world-class collection of succulent and drought-tolerant plants provides a spectacular backdrop for artists to display their works.  

Regular admission fees apply.

Art & Swing Sunset Social
Friday,  July 15, 5:00 — 8:00 pm

Come for a visit on the last Friday of  the Ruth Bancroft Garden's 22nd Annual Sculpture in the Garden, juried exhibit and art sale. Enjoy an early evening of live music, food, and locally brewed beer. Member Admission $20/General Admission $25. Advance purchase required. Food and drinks sold separately.

Click below for more visitor images of art in the Garden from 

Succulent Success for Beginners
Saturday, July 9 10:30am - 12:00pm

New to succulents? Come over to the Garden for some of the basics to get you going... Pre-registration is required for this workshop. $20 Members Price. $25 General Admission


Water Condition Updates – June 2016

Jun 17, 2016 -

Thanks to better winter precipitation, 2016 is California’s wettest year since the drought began in 2012. However, the drought has not ended.

California is a big state, and an average winter in Northern California does not compensate for four prior years of statewide drought.

Ending a drought means having enough precipitation and runoff throughout the state to ease drought effects, and this year will not get us there.

Study shows Sierra snowpack 3 years away from pre-drought levels...

Jun 22, 2016 - By Kevin Schultz - SF Gate

The Sierra snowpack, which is responsible for more than 60 percent of California’s water, won’t likely make it back to its pre-drought levels until 2019, scientists said in a study published this week, dashing the hopes of those who believed one extremely wet El Niño year could alleviate the state’s water crisis.  

In the study, published Tuesday in a journal of the American Geophysical Union, scientists from UCLA concluded that there is a more than 70 percent chance that the Sierra snowpack will take three years to make it back to average levels, after reaching a historic low in March 2015. 
How to get your landscape through summer
- without turning up the water!

While native and climate-adapted gardens may take summer in stride, the long, dry days of July and August and late-day heat of September can be stressful on our non-native landscapes.  This summer as we all check our thermometers and key-in our controller schedules, we'd like to revisit a few key points to help keep our landscapes beautiful, healthy, and safe!

Did you know that a traditional, green, cool-season turf-lawn requires the most water in the landscape (the only other culprit that comes close is evaporation from an uncovered pool or spa), especially in the summer. But letting your lawn "go brown" is not necessarily the best solution for our landscape, it's soil health, and it's longterm aesthetic potential. We'd like to share a few tips to keeping your existing lawn looking good! 
  • You can mow less often to keep it green! A longer lawn has more surface area for photosynthesis (meaning a more extensive root system that's more efficient at absorbing water). A longer lawn keeps soil temperatures cooler and reduces evaporation, and has increased moisture reserves in root and leaf tissue. A longer lawn is a more drought-resiliant lawn!
  • Apply a bio-char soil amendment. One application lasts a lifetime, and will increase your lawns capacity to retain water, effectively reducing your watering needs. Try locally manufactured Sonoma Biochar, or Pacific Bio-char, CoolTerra.
  • Lawns that have been pampered can still thrive on a lot less water, but may need time to grow more extensive root systems. Over the next few weeks, gradually reduce the amount of times you water... once a week is more than enough for many lawns to survive the summer heat until fall rains come. 

MULCH, MULCH, MULCH! This is by far the easiest, least expensive, and most drought-friendly way to help your landscape conserve water.
  • Apply clean, weed-free, well-composted organic mulch made from recycled or post-consumer materials. 
  • Avoid synthetic products such as rubber mulch, landscape fabric, or other heat retaining materials such as lava rock, large stones or black-dyed wood chips.
  • Don't remove what's there - cover it with a simple, good looking 2-4" layer of mulch that will reduce water loss from your soil from evaporation, stabilize soil temperature, and actually improve your soil's structure, health and water absorption capacity.
  • By letting the mulch and passing time create a vibrant soil ecosystem, you'll be increasing your property value and creating a healthy landscape to plant into when you're ready to invest in new landscape plants.
  • We recommend planting in the fall, when the seasonal precipitation will help new plants get established without having to rely on municipal water or worry about irrigation regulations. 
  • CLICK HERE to get a list of mulch vendors, rebates and discounts on StopWaste's new Lawn to Garden website. 
Trees provide shade and keep soil temperatures cool, they create habitat and oxygen, sequester carbon, and reduce air pollution. They are expensive to replace and contribute the most to property value. Here are a few great links to information on keeping your trees healthy while trying to conserve water in your landscape. 
  • THIS ONLINE ARTICLE from Sunset Magazine highlights some drought-centric tree-care tips, as well as other gardening and landscaping advice. 
  • The Sacramento Tree Foundation put out THIS PUBLICATION with lots of great info on helping both young and old trees survive the drought.  
  • And of course, our friends at have compiled a GREAT LIST OF STEPS to care for the trees in your landscape.  
  • They've also linked to an easy-to-read INFOGRAPHIC from the California Urban Forests Council. 
It doesn’t take a mighty wind or perilous winter weather to cause branches to break and cause damage to your home, car and yes even you, family or neighbors... CLICK HERE  for the full blog post on "summer limb drop" from Cagwin & Dorward. 
  • Pruning is the best way to reduce the chances of Summer Limb Drop, not to mention that regular maintenance helps reduce the chances of damage from high winds or winter storms. I recommend weight reduction for the long lateral limbs.
  • Water your trees infrequently with heavy soakings. This promotes healthy root systems and improves the trees vascular system functions.
  • Disease and insect prevention/control helps reduce stress during the long California summers.
  • Heritage trees or large trees located near homes or high traffic areas should be inspected annually.
Lastly, we'd like to leave you with a few more tidbits to help you care for your trees this summer: 
  • Always WATER EARLY IN THE MORNING, while trees are evapotranspiring, before it gets too hot. Tree roots DO NOT absorb water during the hottest parts of the day. 
  • DO NOT FERTILIZE drought-stressed trees - they are unable to absorb the nutrients and fertilization can damage their root systems.
  • For tree inspections & pruning, always hire a tree-care company that employs CERTIFIED ARBORISTS


Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and the office is bustling! We've got two new faces helping things hummm along this summer. Our new summer intern Ian, a Merritt College Landscape Architecture student, is keeping busy helping us get ready for the 2017 Bringing Back the Native's Tour. Meanwhile, Mason is putting his skills to work helping with some much needed digital housekeeping before heading back to the University of Washington in Seattle this fall. Thanks guys! 

Stay tuned for updates to our website and Houzz page!


All of our past seasonal newsletters are now available for browsing on our website! CHECK HERE for previous issues. 


Eriogonum grande var. rubescens flowering in late summer; groundcover lawn substitute, California native plant garden tapestry. Photo by Saxon Holt -  Celebrate (more) plants of Summer Dry Gardens at

California Native Buckwheats (Eriogonum)

Summer is the time for Buckwheats

Buckwheats are low water-use, evergreen perennials, and pillars of their plant community. They are some of the most popular nectar sources for butterflies and other pollinators, and great nectaries for many insect predators. One plant can have hundreds of insects interacting with it at once - bringing life and vibrancy to our gardens.  

Their colorful blooms last all summer, turning a rusty, chocolatey brown in the fall. They are stunning planted with native sages, around boulders, and against brickwork. Most do very well in interior gardens - only needing part-shade to survive the hot, dry summers. Plant with native Penstemons and Epilobiums for garden color April - December. 

The delicate form and texture of buckwheats like the pink Eriogonum grande var rubescens (above) or bright yellow-blooming Eriogonum umbellatum var. polyanthum look great planted in rock gardens and dry stream beds.  A large buckwheat like Eriogonum giganteum - St. Catherine's Lace can anchor a landscape, getting 6-8' tall and wide and providing food and habitat for native pollinator and bird species.


We are happy to help you and your landscape through the drought with intelligent, water-conserving irrigation solutions.

A landscape water survey includes:

  • An inspection of your current irrigation system for efficiency and leaks
  • A customized irrigation schedule that makes sense for your system, climate, soil and plant types
  • A personalized water budget for your landscape based on your needs and local municipal requirements
  • Specialized recommendations for your property and micro-climates.   

Not only will smart water management reduce water waste, lower your water bills and save money - it also means healthier, longer lived plants, and a better return on your landscape investment.

QWEL certified professionals have been trained on principals of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation system design and maintenance, and irrigation system programming and operation. 


CONSERVATION IS STILL ESSENTIAL (and in many cases mandatory!)

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