CNPS Panamint Daisy Logo
California Native Plant Society

Santa Clara Valley Chapter


Native Plantings in Jeffrey Fontana Park

A beautiful selection of mature and new native plant gardens can be found in Jeffry Fontana Park in San Jose. Wandering through the park, you will find plants from both northern and southern California in a variety of settings.

This is the perfect place to view plants that grow well in San Jose and find ideas for your own gardens.

From buckwheats to monkeyflowers to California fuschias, you’ll see something in bloom year-round. Many of the plants are labelled, making it easy to identify your favorites.

The two original berms were planted in 2011 as an alternative landscape feature to tall trees under PG&E power transmission lines. The plants are well-established and no longer need irrigation.

Five Islands


This garden was planted at the beginning of 2018, although the concept was conceived years before. In the words of Patrick Pizzo, its founder:

The concept of the Five Island Project was born about six years ago.  We wanted to create islands or berms much like the two that we first introduced into our park, Jeffrey Fontana, as an alternative landscape feature to tall trees, which have impact on the safe delivery of power transmission by PG&E.  You see, our two parks, T.J. Martin and J. Fontana are contiguous along the PG&E power transmission easement in south San Jose.  Our contribution, toward potential loss of trees, was to develop native plant and shrub alternatives.  This was our first effort.

Now near this island is an open area between heritage coast live oak trees, Quercus agrifolia.  Our vision was to have a network of islands/berms in this open area.  Neighbors wanted to have an alternative to weeds and summer dust storms.  The area is about 120 foot by 120 foot.  We envisioned five CA native plant islands in this open area. 

Part of the reason for the passage of time was due to the drought.  The City policy became ‘no new plantings’.  Then, a couple of years ago, with MFPA postured financially to support a major project, the idea came to the fore and I was asked to implement the proposed project.  During the four years leading up to this okay, we had been in multiple conversations with our Parks Department in San Jose about the Five Island Project.  About a year ago, we broke ground. 

The elongated islands are about 35 by 15 foot and of elliptical shape.  The spine is about 2 foot high, tapered to ground level, providing good drainage.  The native soil was removed or ‘dished’; and this native dirt (sand and adobe) was mixed with ‘garden soil’ from Evergreen Supply in San Jose.  It is the lowest grade of organic soil on the market.  The combined soils were used to create the islands/berms.  Each island is sponsored, to raise money to implement the project.  We have five sponsors:  East Bay Wilds, DGDG, Almaden Valley Nursery, PG&E and the past presidents of our organization: MFPA (Martin-Fontana Parks Association):

After forming the islands, plants were planted.  Each sponsor selected plants and designed their own gardens.  Directly after planting, drip-irrigation was installed.  We are using Techline drip line with pressure-opened emitters: 1 gallon per hour per emitter.  The emitters are spaced 18 inches apart.  I designed the irrigation system and will relate at the site-visit.  Currently, due to low rain (nothing Jan and Feb), we irrigate every 8 days for 1/2 hour and this is working out fine.  We have a variety of water-need plants on the island, by design, so it will be a challenge to fine-tune any summer watering.   The islands were planted from mid-Jan through the end of February, which worked out great as you recall the beautiful weather (minus rain).  The plants seem very happy with their new homes.

Additional information is available at:

Here is a plant list for the five islands.

Directions: The original two berms and the Five Islands area of the park is across from 1278 Oakglen Way, San Jose. Street parking is available.

Capitancillos Drive Native Plant Demonstration Garden

This garden adjoins over a half mile of Capitancillos Drive in San Jose. It is a labor of love by one of the residents of the neighborhood, supported by other neighbors who live along the way. Started in 1995 with the planting of 125 coast live oaks by Our City Forest (, it has been maintained and filled in with an extensive collection of chaparral shrubs and plants. It blends beautifully with the Guadalupe Creek riparian zone, which is adjacent to the garden.

Backed by huge granite boulders and the meadow beyond, the shrubs and trees stand out nicely, yet seem to be part of the natural landscape. The plants are hand-watered until established, by Patrick Pizzo, who designed and installed this impressive garden. Lovely established specimens include a variety of ceanothus and manzanitas, sugar bush, spicebush, bush anenome, mountain mahogany, island bush snapdragon, coast silktassel, lemonade berry, sages, coyote brush, coyote mint, buckwheats, monkeyflowers, silver bush lupine, and much more. Plants are labelled, making it easy to find and identify specific cultivars.

The garden provides food and shelter for wildlife from the adjacent Guadalupe Watershed and Guadalupe Creek. Bluebird nest boxes maintained by the Audubon Society provide additional habitat in the garden.

Here is a plant list for the garden.



Directions: From Hwy 85, go south on Camden to Coleman. Turn left on Coleman, and left again on Redmond, then right on Oak Canyon Drive. Oak Canyon Drive becomes Oak Canyon Place. Continue to the cul-de-sac and turn about. The garden borders the meadow for 0.6 miles. Ample free parking is available on the street next to the garden.

California Native Plants at West Valley College

California native plants dominate the grounds at the West Valley College campus in Saratoga. It’s an excellent place to appreciate a wide variety of mature plants in a garden setting.  Starting from the front of the campus, between the Administration building and Campus Center, one immediately encounters a huge bed of California fuschias fuschias (Epilobium canum)  interspersed with narrow-leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), salvia, coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), California roses (Rosa californica), and blue oaks (Quercus douglasii). When the fuschias begin blooming in late summer, this area becomes a hummingbird haven, filled with  a charm of these tiny birds zooming around each defending their own patch of flowers.

This huge bed of flowers is a wildlife magnet – in addition to hummingbirds, the area is rich with a variety of birds taking advantage of the nectar, seeds and insects. As can be seen in this picture, the flower stalks provide a perfect perch for a pair of lesser goldfinches to enjoy a meal of fuschia seeds.

Behind the Student Center, there is a patio where Redbud and manzanitas have been planted. A variety of native columbines and other flowers can be found in the flowerbeds that surround the building.

The section of Vasona Creek that runs through the campus has also been restored, and is a delightful place to look for wildlife – including brush rabbits, lizards and more. There have even been reports of bobcats in the area. You cCalifornia Fuschiaan find out more about this restoration project at:

A stroll through campus will reveal even more California natives. You’ll find specimens of blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea), redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens), deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), bush anemone (Carpenteria alifornica), buckeyes (Aesculus californica) and more. There’s even a small bog with carnivorous plants next to the Science building. Be sure to look at the huge blue oak tree in the center of campus – watch it carefully and you are likely to spot the acorn woodpeckers that are often busily at work in it.

The Saratoga Farmer’s Market is held at the campus on Saturday mornings – stop by and get some fresh produce and then take a stroll around campus.

Where to Buy Native Plants

Here are sources for California native plants in the Bay Area and beyond:
Call before visiting nurseries. All cities are located in California, USA. Also see the California Native Plant Link Exchange for additional sources for native plants.


All links will open a new browser window
Annie's Annuals & Perennials 740 Market Ave.
Richmond, CA 94801
(510) 215-3301
Retail and mail order nursery with a large section dedicated to native plants.
Bay Natives 10 Cargo Way
San Francisco 94124
(415) 287-6755
Wholesale and retail nursery with a wide selection of rare and endemic Bay Area native plants as well as choice species from across the state.
Berkeley Horticultural Nursery 1310 McGee Avenue
Berkeley 94703
(510) 526-4704
Retail with one section devoted to natives.
California Flora Nursery PO Box 3, Somers and D Street
Fulton 95439
(707) 528 8813
Uncommon perennials, Mediterranean and California natives. Both wholesale and retail. Call for open hours.
Capital Wholesale Nursery 2938 Everdale Drive
San Jose, CA 95148
(408) 239-0589
Uncommon perennials, Mediterranean and California natives. Both wholesale and retail
Central Coast Wilds 336 A Golf Club Drive
Santa Cruz 95060
(831) 459-0656
California native seeds, plants, revegetation, consulting, and habitat restoration for professionals and home gardeners.
East Bay Wilds Native Plant Nursery 28th Ave at Foothill Blvd
Fruitvale District of Oakland
Call for hours. Native plants plus demonstration garden.
Grassroots Ecology Native Nursery Foothills Park
Palo Alto
A wholesale nursery growing local native stock. Open to professionals by appointment.
Larner Seeds PO Box 407
235 Grove Road
Bolinas 94971
(415) 868-9407
Mail order seeds and California native wildflowers, perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Demonstration garden. Retail plants at the nursery from October through July.
Las Pilitas Nursery 3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
(805) 438-5992 
Mail order and on-site nursery. Planning tool gives you an instant native plant list for your ZIP Code, soil type, sun/shade exposure, wide variety plant purchases available. Deer problems link. Extensive native plants lists.
Linda Vista Native Plants San Jose.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
By appointment. Occasional public sales announced to their email list.
Mission Blue Nursery 1 Mountain Flora Parkway
Brisbane, CA 940056
(415) 467-6631
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Quarterly and by-appointment sales. Mission Blue Nursery grows plants entirely from seeds and cuttings collected on San Bruno Mountain.
Mostly Natives Nursery 54 B Street, Unit D
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
(415) 663-8835
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wholesale and retail coastal natives and drought-tolerant plants. Call for open hours.
Native Here Nursery 101 Golf Course Drive in Tilden Regional Park
Berkeley 94708
(510) 549-0211
Alameda and Contra Costa County natives. Nursery is operated by East Bay CNPS for East Bay Regional Parks District. Tuesday noon-3pm, Friday 9am-noon, Saturday 10am-1pm.
Native Revival Nursery (831) 684-1811 Online-only. Wholesale and retail seeds and plants, contract collection and growing, revegetation and restoration. 
Oaktown Native Plant Nursery 702 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA
(510) 387-9744
Retail and wholesale. Offers contract growing for restoration and large landscaping projects.
Our City Forest 1000 Spring St.
San Jose, CA 95110
Pacific Coast Seed 533 Hawthorne Place
Livermore 94550
(925) 373-4417 or (800) 733-3462
Wholesale or through local nurseries. Wildflower and grass seeds.
Payless Nursery 2927 S. King Road
San Jose 95122
(4080 274-7815
This independent nursery devotes a section to a varied selection of native trees, shrubs and perennials. Address your native plant questions to Wanda Olson.
Rana Creek Nursery 7480 Williams Ranch Road
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 659-3820
Native grass seed production and four-acre native plant nursery. Wholesale only. Revegetation, seed, container, and bare root plants.
Regional Parks Botanic Garden Southpark Drive and Wildcat Canyon Road in Tilden Regional Park
Berkeley 94708
(510) 841-8732
Retail plants on Thursday 10am-noon. Seed is available in Visitor Center in fall and winter. April Spring Plant Sale.
San Diego Chapter, California Native Plant Society seed store

Contact Form
San Diego, CA

Sells California native seeds primarily from Southern California in small quantities for home and demonstration gardens
Seedhunt PO Box 96
Freedom 95019
Mail order annual and perennial seed with hard to find selections and about one-third native
Sierra Azul Nursery & Gardens 2660 East Lake Avenue (Highway 152)
Watsonville 95076
(831) 763 0939
Mediterranean, native, and water-conserving plants for California displayed in demonstration gardens as well as the nursery.
S&S Seeds P.O. Box 1275
Carpinteria, CA 93014
(805) 684-0436
Wholesale seeds, with $150 minimum order. 
SummerWinds Nursery 725 San Antonio Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 493-5136
Retail. There are several locations, but the Palo Alto store has the best selection of natives. Ask for Judith for assistance.
Suncrest Nurseries, Inc 400 Casserly Road
Watsonville 95076
(831) 728-2595
Wholesale only. See website for retail outlets. Develops new and unusual coastal plants with some natives.
Tree of Life Nursery PO Box 635
33201 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano 92693
(949) 728-0685
Wholesale and retail. Contract collects and grows. Round House Plant Store has plants and books for home gardener.
Watershed Nursery 601 A Canal Blvd.
Richmond, CA 94804
(510) 234-22225
Retail native plants. Contract collects and grows.
Yerba Buena Nursery 12511 San Mateo Rd. (Hwy 92)
Half Moon Bay
(650) 851-1668
Retail native plants with some seed. 


All links will open a new browser window Top of Page
Strybing Arboretum Arboretum and Botanical Gardens Golden Gate Park, 9th Ave at Lincoln Way, San Francisco (415) 661-1316 Saturday sales with one for natives in the autumn.
University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley (510) 642-3343 Autumn sale with some natives that are hard to find.
University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum Empire Grade at Western Drive, Santa Cruz (831) 427-2998 Joint sale with CNPS Santa Cruz Chapter in April.


All links will open a new browser window Top of Page
California Gardens   Extensive list of California native plants. Pictures and plant descriptions. Ojai, California e-business.
California Native Grass Association   Information packets, seed sources, workshops, website resources. Primary focus is grassland restoration, but resource list is broader.
El Nativo Growers Inc (626) 969-8449 Good source of information on natives in the landscape. Wholesale only.
The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants Inc. 10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley 91352 (818) 768-1802 Promotes and restores landscapes and habitats, propagates and sells native plants and educates about native plants. Sells native seeds in quantity.

Local Perennial Native Grasses

by Sally Casey, April 1999

Full Sun Grasses
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
Danthonia californica California Wild Oat Grass Apr - June To 40", generally 2½' to 3'
Danthonia californica americana Hairy California Wild Oat Grass Apr - May Shorter than species; hairy sheath
Festuca idahoensis Blue Bunch Grass Apr - June To 40"; generally lower; open panicle
Festuca rubra Red Fescue May - June To 40"; open panicle
Hordeum brachyantherum Meadow Barley Apr - June To 28"; inflorescence a spike
Koeleria macrantha June Grass Apr - June To 24"; inflorescence an interrupted spike
Melica californica Western Melica Mar - June To 52"; generally 3'; dies down in summer
Nessella cernua Nodding Needle Grass Apr - May To 3'; inflorescence more delicate than N. pulchra
Nesella pulchra Purple Needle Grass Mar - June To 40"; generally 2½' to 3'
Poa secunda secunda Pine Bluegrass Feb - May To 40"; generally 24"
Partial Sun - Shade Grasses
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
Bromus carinatus California Brome Annual - Biennial Mar - July 40" - 48"; open panicle
Elymus californicus California Bottle Brush Grass May - July To 80"; generally 6'
Melica imperfecta Small Flowered Melica Mar - June To 44"; generally 24" - 30"; inflorescence open
Melica torreyana Torrey's Melica Mar - July To 40"; generally lower, spreading; inflorescence strict
Muhlenbergia rigens Deergrass June - Sept Leaves to 2½' to 3'; spiked inflorescence to 5'; dramatic
Shade Grasses
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
Bromus laevipes Woodland Brome Grass May - July To 3'; generally lower; inflorescence folded hand
Deschampsia elongata Slender Hair Grass May - July Low tuft, inflorescence to 40", generally lower
Festuca californica California Fescue Mar - May 3' +; open panicle
Festuca occidentalis Western Fescue Apr - July To 40"; generally lower; open panicle
Hierochloe occidentalis California Vanilla Grass Jan - May To 36"; generally lower
Melica geyeri Geyer's Onion Grass Mar - July To 80"; generally 4'; bulbous base
Melica subulata Alaska Onion Grass Mar - July To 48"; bulbous base
Trisetum canescens Tall Trisetum May - Aug To 32"
With one exception (Muhlenbergia rigens), all of the above grasses are found between Route 280 and Skyline. Muhlenbergia rigens grows from Monterey County south, in the central valley, the foothills of and in the Sierra Nevada mountains east to Texas and into Mexico.

CULTURE: Plant 4" or gallon can size in late fall just before the rains. Use compost (but no fertilizer) as a mulch. March is the second-best planting time.

SOURCES: Most of the common names and blooming periods are taken from Thomas' Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California; heights are from Munz' A California Flora; modified heights are my local observations.


Gardening With Natives

Woolly sunflower, monkeyflower, elegant clarkia, and Cleveland sage in a Sunnyvale gardenDo you want a garden teeming with life? One that changes with the seasons? One that looks stunning? One that saves water, energy, effort, and money? Consider incorporating California native plants in your garden to attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. These beautiful plants will bring seasonal color to your landscape. They will give your California garden a unique sense of place.

This website is for gardeners and home owners who want to learn how to grow California native plants in their landscapes. Visit this site to find out about talks, classes, workshops, garden tours, native plant sales, and other events where you can learn more. Visit this site for plant lists and useful articles on the propagation, growth, and care of native plant gardens.

 Gardening with Natives is a special interest group of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. The group contains a mix of beginners and seasoned professionals, and is a great place to learn. Newcomers are particularly welcome.  Gardening With Natives maintains a discussion egroup where people can ask questions, get answers, offer advice, and stay informed about upcoming events. Sign up below to participate in this forum. Membership is voluntary. Email traffic ranges from 10 to 20 messages a day. You can opt for individual emails or a daily digest.


The fall Seed Exchange is held at the Peninsula Conservation Center (PCC) in Palo Alto. 

For other queries, contact the Gardening With Natives Steering Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  YouTube icon Facebook icon Instagram icon Meetup icon Twitter icon