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Two months ago I had the opportunity to visit the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, located in Claremont, CA.  Plants I once considered ‘ho hum’ when I lived in Southern California, (in my defense, I didn’t have my degree in horticulture yet) I now have a new appreciation for living in the Pacific Northwest.   While we have an unbelievable plant palette available to us in the Puget Sound Region, there are plants that just wouldn’t make it here, that thrive in the arid Southern California climate.

Agave utahensis

Agave utahensis

I didn’t know this previously, but California is home to over 6,000 native plants – the richest native flora of any state in the United States.   Unfortunately, approximately 1,100 of these species are considered rare or endangered.  The Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden has played an active role in conserving this bio-diversity for future generations to enjoy.  To learn more about their conservation program visit their page about native plant conservation.

Here are just a few of the (what I now consider exotic) plants we saw while visiting the botanical garden

Coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia

Cactus quills

Cactus quills

Sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus

Sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus

With the ongoing drought in California, it’s especially important for residents to use drought tolerant plants when considering a new landscape.  Most California natives are drought tolerant. 

If you life in Los Angeles County be sure to check into LA County Waterworks Districts Cash for Grass program.  They’re offering property owners $1 for every square foot of grass replaced with water-efficient landscaping through the Cash for Grass Rebate Program, up to 5,000 square feet.  That’s $5,000!  Boy, I’d jump at that opportunity!

White sage, Salvia apiana

White sage, Salvia apiana

 

The Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden is also home to an extensive native plants nursery, the Grow Native Nursery with locations in Claremont and West LA.  What better way to multi-task than by supporting a local botanical garden while converting your garden to a gorgeous low-water use yard…  all while getting paid to do it!

Twisted manzanita, Arctostaphylos sp.

Twisted manzanita, Arctostaphylos sp.

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