Pleasanton Weekly

- March 28, 2014

Tour gardens, learn about native plants

10th annual event offers Music in the Gardens

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

More and more homeowners are discovering the joys — and lower water bills — of yards filled with native plants rather than lawns and other vegetation that require a lot of care. The 10th annual Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour takes place this year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 4.

The free, self-drive tour will include low-maintenance gardens in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that have 60% or more native plants, showcasing a variety of gardens, from large parcels in the hills to small lots in the flats.

Visitors will be able to learn how to select and care for California native plants, lower their water bills, design a low-maintenance garden, attract butterflies, birds and bees, and garden without using pesticides. More than 40 garden talks are scheduled at select gardens, as well as plant sales and workshops.

To celebrate the tour's 10th anniversary, a Music in the Gardens feature has been added with Appalachian dulcimer, lutes, flutes, banjos, guitars, Renaissance and folk music, and the a cappella Berkeley Community Chamber singers.

Although no Pleasanton homes are on the tour this year, there are two in Livermore. The others are located throughout the East Bay. This is an excellent chance to see what plants work in environments similar to your own, as well as to talk to the homeowners and get references for landscaper and designers.

Preregistration for the tour is required at www.bringingbackthenatives.net, and more than 6,000 people are expected. The website also has a list of the homes and their special features, and information about gardening and nurseries that specialize in native plants.

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