Ask anyone who gardens with California natives to name a good, comprehensive book on that subject and you’ll always get the same answer: Marjorie Schmidt’s Growing California Native Plants. In fact, this has been the one and only broad, book-length reference for native plant gardeners since it was published in 1980. But that is about to change with the publication this fall of an excellent new book on California native plant gardening written by three leading experts in the field.
Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O’Brien have combined their deep knowledge of and extensive experience with California plants into a thorough and charismatic guide that speaks to both novice and expert gardeners throughout the state. Four introductory chapters present the history of California native plant horticulture, descriptions of California plant communities, a guide to designing the native garden, and a thorough discussion of native plant care. The book contains detailed profiles of 200 native plants ranging from grand trees to ephemeral annuals, selected for their reliability, availability, aesthetic value, and disease resistance, along with briefer descriptions of 300 more. In addition to such common favorites as Ceanothus are less well-known but equally garden-worthy natives like Comarostaphylis diversifolia (summer holly).
Paying tribute to Schmidt’s book but taking the form a step further, the authors have composed 30 lists of plants well suited to specific landscape situations or possessing special attributes, along with information on places to see and purchase native plants. California Native Plants for the Garden is generously illustrated with beautiful color photographs in a welcoming layout. This engaging and comprehensive guide will be a valuable addition to any gardener’s library.