The beautiful cycle of natural connections between native plants and native pollinators is the focus of this garden. A variety of perennials and shrubs that bloom throughout the seasons offer sustenance for a diversity of pollinators; each section of the garden focuses on some of the plants favored by a specific type of pollinator. This slideshow describes the building of this garden at the Bay Model in Sausalito in 2018-19.
The beautiful cycle of natural connections between native plants and native pollinators is the focus of this garden. A variety of perennials and shrubs that bloom throughout the seasons offer sustenance for a diversity of pollinators; each section of the garden focuses on some of the plants favored by a specific type of pollinator.
The planting bed is about five feet wide and, in total, about one hundred feet long, curved in a horseshoe shape. Two existing coast redwood trees anchor the site; they were planted in 1987 by Bay Model head ranger Chris Gallagher. Other than that, the bed had lain fallow for a number of years; the soil was poor and heavily compacted. An old ornamental pear tree in bad shape was removed, as were a handful of non-descript non-native plants. Chris had envisioned a pollinator garden in the space and gotten funding for it; the Marin chapter provided plant expertise, labor, and a vision for what it could become. It turned into a very successful collaborative project!
Planning for the garden began in the fall of 2017 with Laura Lovett, Charlotte Torgovitsky and Kristin Jakob pouring over extensive lists of native plants and creating smaller lists for each individual pollinator section of the garden. Plants were grouped into specific habitats for hummingbirds, songbirds, butterflies, and monarch butterflies; native bees will enjoy all of it. Choices were difficult, both because of limited space, but also because we had a height restriction. To preserve the water view from the lobby of the building, they asked that plants not be more than about four feet at maturity.
All plants chosen for the garden are commonly available and native to Marin County; we did not introduce plants from other ecoregions of the state. Once we had the list of plants figured out, Charlotte’s group of volunteers for Home Ground Habitats started propagating and sourcing as many as possible, adding to the stock over the year as plants became available so they were on hand when we were ready to plant them. Thanks to good garden prep and cool, sunny Sausalito weather, the garden has grown in much faster than anticipated and was full of bloom by the first spring.
Educational signage, with artwork by illustrator Maryjo Koch and design by Laura Lovett, was added to help visitors understand which area is for which pollinator. A free brochure lists the plants growing in the garden—plus some alternate choices—organized by pollinator, and a brief description of what is unique about each. There is also a plant list. Each species of plant in the garden has a label, although some species will come and go according to the seasons.
We owe a huge THANK YOU to all our volunteers from Marin CNPS, SPAWN, and the Bay Model. We could not have done it without all our cheerful helpers! We will continue to maintain and upgrade the garden and welcome volunteer help. Sign up for our monthly electronic e-bulletins to receive notice of workdays in the garden.
Our hope in undertaking this project is that people will come visit and see how beautiful and easy it is to create a garden with California native plants, and be motivated to do the same at home. Pollinators are essential to the food web, as well as being a source of delight in our gardens. We encourage everyone to be more aware of the needs of these tiny creatures that provide such valuable services for all other life on earth.
[Special note: the garden is featured in the Summer 2019 issue of CNPS’s Flora magazine!]