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This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

How to Make a School Garden with California Native Plants

Some native plants  can survive a summer with no water. Other native plants have most of their flowers when school is in session. Combining this   diversity that you can have  class room activities with native plants and kids for much of the school year. The plants listed below are as non-toxic as possible and fairly easy to keep alive.
From the planning, through  planting, growing and studying should be done with the class. Make it an exercise like PE.  Measure out  the dimensions of the area to be a native garden. Calculate the sq. ft. make sure there is some water source, at least a faucet. discuss all this with the class. Show the class how to plant the garden using the sq. ft. per plant listed below. A simple table adding the subtotal sq. ft. for each group of plants should be something the kids can understand as soon as they can multiply.(see examples and bottom of page)
Put the larger plants at the back, or if there is not back in the middle. For less money use the larger sq. ft. plants, bigger area, use more plants.
If you do not have any money, there are some grants out there for school gardens. If that doesn't work, walk the kids over to a section of garden at the school and pretend to replace it. You can do all the activities, pretending to replace the garden and make it into a proposal for the grants.

Northern California Garden (north of San Luis Obispo)

Arctostaphylos densiflora Sentinel Manzanita Sentinel Manzanita    10 sq. feet   3 foot tall
Arctostaphylos Sonoma Manzanita Bush  Stanford Manzanita  10 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall
Artemisia californica California Sagebrush  10 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall
Asclepias fascicularis Narrow leaf Milkweed      3 sq. ft.  2 ft. tall
Ceanothus Snowball  10 sq. ft. 3 ft. tall
Eriogonum parvifolium  Cliff  Buckwheat 4 sq. ft. 1 ft. tall
Monardella villosa  Coyote Mint 1 sq. ft. 1 ft. tall
Penstemon heterophyllus; Foothill Penstemon; 1 sq. ft.  1-2 ft tall
Ribes indecorum  White Chaparral Currant 20 sq. ft  5 ft. tall
Salvia brandegei Brandegees Sage  8 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall
Salvia Celestial Blue Purple Sage   6 sq. ft.  3 ft. tall
Salvia spathacea  Hummingbird sage 6 sq. ft.(and spreading)1 ft.tall
Stipa pulchra  Purple Needle Grass 1 sq. ft. 1ft. tall
Zauschneria californica(any cultivar) Hummingbird Fuchsia  2 sq. feet 1 ft. tall

San Joaquin and Southern  California Garden (not hardy below 20F)

Arctostaphylos pungens  Mexican Manzanita 20 sq. ft. 5 ft. tall
Asclepias fascicularis Narrowleaf Milkweed    3 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall
Ceanothus oliganthus  Hairy-Leaf Ceanothus 20 sq. ft. 5 ft. tall
Eriogonum arborescens  Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat 10 sq. ft. 3 ft. tall
Eriogonum fasciculatum  California Buckwheat 10 sq. ft. 3 ft. tall
Penstemon spectabilis  Showy Penstemon 4 sq. ft. 4 ft. tall
Salvia brandegii  Island Black Sage 8 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall
Salvia clevelandii Cleveland Sage   10 sq. ft. 3 ft. tall
Salvia munzii  San Diego Sage 8 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall
Sphaeralcea ambigua Desert Mallow   4 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall
Stipa pulchra   Purple Needle Grass    1 sq. ft. 1 ft. tall
Zauschneria cana   Narrow leaf hummingbird fuchsia  2 sq. ft. 1-2 ft. tall
Zauschneria  catalina  Island hummingbird fuchsia 2 sq. ft. 2 ft. tall.


Example 1.  Native garden for Northern California

quantity
sq. ft. each
subtotal sq. ft.
price each
price subtotal
Arctostaphylos densiflora Sentinel 3
10
30
8
24
Arctostaphylos Sonoma Manzanita
3
10
30
8
24
Asclepias fascicularis 3
2
6
8
24
Ceanothus Snowball
3
10
30
8
24
Eriogonium parvifolium 3
10
30
8
24
Monardella villosa
3
1
3
8
24
Penstemon heterophyllus
3
1
3
8
24
Ribes indecorum 3
8
24
8
24
Salvia brandegii 3
8
24
8
24
Salvia Celesital Blue 3
6
18
8
24
Salvia spathacea
3
6
18
8
24
Stipa pulchra
3
1
3
8
24
Zauschneria californica 3
2
6
8
24
Zauschneria  catalina 3
2
6
8
24



231 sq. ft.

$336


Example 2. Native Garden for Southern California

quantity
sq. ft. each
subtotal sq. ft.
price each
price subtotal
Arctostaphylos pungens
1
20
20
8
8
Asclepias fascicularis 3
2
6
8
24
Ceanothus oliganthus
1
20
20
8
8
Eriogonium arborescens
3
10
30
8
24
Eriogonum fasculatum 3
10
30
8
24
Penstemon spectablis 3
4
12
8
24
Salvia brandegii 3
8
24
8
24
Salvia clevelandii 3
10
30
8
24
Salvia munzesi
3
8
24
8
24
Sphaeralcea ambigua 3
4
12
8
24
Stipa pulchra
5
1
5
8
40
Zauschneria cana
3
2
6
8
24
Zauschneria  catalina 3
2
6
8
24



225 sq. ft.

$296


Ideas for class activities

Weed and plant
Make a simple flower key. (you really only need a few different flowers for it to become difficult)
Find an insect on a plant.
Press flowers. Show them how to make a simple plant press.
What insect uses which flower and why (hummingbird, bee, butterfly)
What butterfly larva uses what plant?
Calculate how much water is given the garden and covert that to rainfall. Compare to lawn.
Quizzes 
Why are the scientific names in italic? What is the difference between scientific names and common names? How are scientific names created?
A crude drawing of a school garden. Parking lot on one side, fence one side, building wall on other and walkway on the side your looking at.  - grid24_24
This is a crude example of a school garden. assuming full sun and the shade from the building bad. (It's a one story building not a 10 story one.) The dimensions were 11 feet by 21 feet. If your area is longer and narrower. stretch the drawing. If you have a bigger area multiply the numbers.