Going native in the garden

I arrived steeled for a riot, boots laced up, garden gloves on and wheeled crate at my side. I’ve heard about these native plant sales. The quantities are so limited

Iris douglasiana gone wild at Strawberry Peak! (Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

Iris douglasiana gone wild at Strawberry Peak! (Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

that ordinarily mild people, it is said, go wild at them. Turn your back, and there go all four of the Rosa californica you’ve hankered for years to adopt. Turn too fast, and get whacked in the thigh with a two-quart nursery pot of Iris douglasiana.

You can’t just go out in the national forest and dig up these things. It’s illegal. What grows in the forest stays in the forest. It is not for domestication.

Thirty-five dollars later, I proudly owned a California wild rose, a Humboldt lily and a matilija poppy that will produce platter-size flowers resembling fried eggs. All will tuck into the new garden at the top of my property.

My neighbor has made grand plans for my garden there, which she sees from her kitchen window. The plans involve rows of lavender inspired by photos of Provence and the so-called “old” roses that Napoleon and Josephine grew at Malmaison. The perfume would satiate us and the beauty would stun us. But the garden would not be wild.

My imagination, especially now in the drought, crowds my garden with a riot of orange-tinged blanket flowers, fiery penstemons, golden yarrow and blue California lilacs. I want a fence made of sunflowers and hollyhocks and a pergola made of pallets with a bamboo shade. Everything would look More

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