Western native plants in garden


Welcome to Granite Gardens Rare Plants

About 25 years ago, I decided to surround our house with gardens.  The Great Experiment started. We wanted to grow plants that felt appropriate to the area, plants that did not need a lot of water, and would be comfortable with our hot and dry mediterranean climate.  I started ordering obsessively from dozens of plant vendors and seed lists. We trialed thousands of species.  I killed most of them, but there were plants that not only survived, but thrived. Our gardens are now occupied by those survivors.   And this website is a testimony to them.

This is a very special list of plants that gone through rigorous testing in order to be here.   They have survived heat, drought, broken irrigation systems, teaming hordes of rodents, dogs, and general neglect.    

Our garden is in the Sierra Foothills, at an elevation of about 2000 feet.  Our summers are very hot, with many days over 100° F.  The heat starts as early as May, and lasts until October.  Our winters are  relatively mild for the Sierras, but we get snow every year, and temperatures can easily drop down to the teens. Most of these plants are actually from much higher elevations and would prefer cooler winters and a lot more snow.  We found that mountain and alpine plants did better for us than coastal species.

Many of these plants are western natives, but we have also had success growing plants from Turkey, the Balkans, and other high Mediterranean climate zones.   Most of these plants thrive in a rock garden environment.  The slopes, mounds and berms of a rock garden provide the drainage these plants need.  Larger rocks and boulders provide protection for plant roots.  Using a gravel mulch increases drainage at the crown, and provides additional insulation.   The gravel mulch makes weeding easier, but it also promotes self-sowing.  And many of our plants remain persistent in our gardens by sowing themselves about.

These plants were selected to survive dry heat. There are sections of the garden that are not watered at all, while the rock garden and Mediterranean gardens are watered about every week or so.  Many of these plants, especially the California Natives, could probably survive on less.  Gardeners at higher elevations could probably get by on less as well.

For information on the plants were have grown, visit our Plant List.

For information on battling deer, gophers, and other quandaries, visit the Cultivation section.