Clark didn't know much about native plants but she liked the idea and went on the Bringing Back the Natives tour two years ago.
"I saw one yard where it didn't look as wild and random as some of the gardens I'd seen," she recalled. "I didn't want it to look like it was in the mountains. I wanted it somewhat structured."
Clark contacted the landscapers and gave them a list of plants she wanted.
"They planted it, and since then I've been swapping and adding my touches to it," she said. "I'm a gardener. I maintain it, and I add to it. But it was such a big expanse that I couldn't get the vision. I worked with them on the design."
"I've had to replace some plants along the way that couldn't handle our heat out here," she added, cautioning others to remember the high Tri-Valley temperatures when shopping at nurseries in the Berkeley-Richmond area.
Clark is pleased with her new garden.
"I'm very happy for a couple of reasons," she said. "Maintenance -- we don't have to do something every week, like with a lawn.
"I'm really happy thinking that this is a garden that's really good for wildlife," she continued, "and I'm saving water."
She loves sitting on the patio enjoying the butterflies, the bees and the birds.
"It's just wonderful -- through the fountain I can see the hummingbirds out there," she said.
Clark is happy to open her garden to the tour this year, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, May 5.
"I think the idea of putting in native plants is really a good one," she said."I learned from going on that tour, and I would like to teach other people."
The self-guided Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour features 40 gardens in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Tomorrow is the last day to register, at www.BringingBackTheNatives.net.
A booklet is mailed with the list of homes and 20 tickets for admission; most people visit four to six gardens. Although the tour is free, donations of $15 are encouraged because funding from public agencies has been cut.
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