by LESLIE LIPTON

In the spring I make coffee, feed the birds, and wander in my garden.  I’ve been known to lose my coffee cup.  Why?  The joy disorients me.  My mostly-native YLP garden explodes with color and life. Buzzing calms my overactive brain while naughty squirrels dizzy me, and lizards do push-ups. And the birds, the birds.

A couple of years ago, neighbors began pulling into my driveway as I worked on the garden out front.  The CA native sages and grasses I planted, against the backdrop of oaks and boulders, caught their eye. “The deer don’t eat that?” they asked.  When I posted the sign saying “Native Plants Live Here,” suddenly I became known as “The Native Plant Lady.”  I’ve been called worse.

In 2001, I moved to the mountains of Kern County.  Longing to beautify and bring wildlife back to my desolate mountain property, I read all I could about California native plants.  Deer ate nearly everything I planted, and I kept learning.  By 2005 the yard began to sing with beauty, and several years later it was a symphony.  Wildlife of all types showed up, and my home was transformed.  

Moving here, I put my experience to work on my YLP acre, where I now have a maturing landscape of drought-tolerant, deerproof, fire-safe plants that provide habitat for the critters I love. The visibility of my native planting, along with interest from a number of homeowners and members of Ladies of the Lakes, led to last fall’s creation of NATIVE PLANTS LIVE HERE. We are a group of folks who, after years of disappointment and frustration, are now open to a different way to garden.

NATIVE PLANTS LIVE HERE Is a diverse group of mostly YLP folks who share a common desire to create beautiful, sustainable gardens on our properties.  Through meetings, classes, a website, and social media, members have come to understand and embrace California native plants, and are loving the results.  Now there is hope and optimism for bringing more life and color to their yards. 

As you may have noticed from the profusion of poppies at the corner of Long Hollow and the Parkway, we have created a CA native plant community garden at the Equestrian Center (see photos in gallery below). NATIVE PLANTS LIVE HERE received support from both our homeowners’ association and the Ladies of the Lakes to get the garden established, and we are caring for the garden using sustainable garden practices.  The planned inclusion of signage, educational materials, and seating, will provide our community members with a beautiful and relaxing demonstration garden – along with a chance to get to know the plants that are likely to succeed in their own yards.

In future newsletters, you will see information about recognizing and caring for your existing native plants, and how to get started gardening with natives on your own property.  We will come to understand, appreciate, and protect the native treasures so abundant in our gorgeous community, including oaks, pines, and manzanita.  We will also become familiar with a group of CA native plants that are likely to succeed in YLP gardens, and how to plant and care for them.

After seven years here, I now feel that I am home, through planting natives and sharing that experience with others in YLP.  Let’s put down some roots together and create a network of life here, in our shared community.

Join our group by signing up at www.nativeplantslivehere.com

Find us on Facebook and Nextdoor.

A look at Leslie’s garden & our Equestrian Center garden

CA native plants on our YLP list are available locally at Thicket & Vine, and at Intermountain Nursery in Prather.