Growing Natives


These past five years, Southern California has been gripped by a severe drought.  This is a semi-arid region, which on a good year, averages 12-16 inches.   In In three of the five years, we’ve hoovered around 4 inches.  Last year we received about 6 inches and a bit over 6 inches this year (so much for “El No-show”)

Southern California remains locked into its worst drought on record.

… there’s still two or three entire years of rain missing since this drought began five years ago

Read full article >

Although we are conservative when it comes to our water use, besides using clay pot irrigation, we are looking at ways to adapt our garden to use even less water. 

For instance, in the herb garden, can we move away from the traditional culinary sage and grow a more native sage?  Instead of french lavender, can we substitute  a hardier desert lavender?  We love sunflowers– so what about a California native sunflower?  These plants not only use less water, but also they also play a key role in attracting beneficial insects and native pollinators.

 “Native plants are best adapted to deal with the variability of local climate as well as the challenges of climate change. California’s long drought has underscored the sustainability benefits of native plants for Southern California. River restoration efforts in the Arroyo Seco and along the Los Angeles River have accentuated the largely unmet need for native plants that are regionally sourced and genetically appropriate. In addition to these restoration efforts, it is now imperative that Pasadena and Southern Californians focus on transforming the landscaping of our homes, parks and businesses to meet the challenges of drought and climate change. Native plants are a uniquely appropriate solution

Our homestead is only five minutes away from one of Pasadena’s most precious assets, the Arroyo Seco and now the home of Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery


On Sunday, we hosted a Native Plants Workshop presented by Nicholas Hummingbird.   And what a great and educational workshop it was!  Nick Hummingbird is the Hahamongna Nursery Manager and has worked on the Channel Islands doing large-scale habitat restoration with the National Park Service. He’s also received training from Theodore Payne Foundation and Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden in Claremont. 


I like to forge or wild harvest on my hikes in the Arroyo Seco for sage, nettles or even elderberries.  But I respected the point that Nick made during his talk, that thanks to the places like the Hahamonga Nursery,  take a step further and bring the natives into our urban landscape instead of foraging.   With the drought, such wild harvesting is not only jeopardizing the plant health but also the wildlife that depend on it for food.

Pasadena is rich in  agricultural and horticultural history.  With programs like our city’s Turf Removal Rebate program (which was so popular it, sadly, ran out of funds) and now with the ever growing Hahamongna Nursery, we can transform and revitalize the urban landscape with biodiversity by installing low maintenance and water-smart gardens and landscaping.

Nursery Location

Hahamongna Watershed Park
4550 Oak Grove Dr. (at Foothill Blvd.)
Pasadena, CA 91103

Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery is located in the back of the former US Forest Service ranger station in the Annex section of Hahamongna Watershed Park, south of Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

If you missed Sunday’s workshop, we are hoping to have Nick back again for another and perhaps even a “pop up” plant sale.  Watch our upcoming events or be put on our email list for homestead happenings.


  1. Denise Sawyer says:

    Excellent! We are a native and woodland plant nursery in Maine ( over 25 years and going strong!) and love seeing work being done across the globe! Fine blog and very fine work you are all doing there on your small but vibrant plot! Important life work for sure!
    Best to you all, denise Sawyer Fernwood Nursery

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