Garden Photo of the Day

Winter in California

Focusing on native plants

It may be winter, but in Donna Bodine’s California garden, there is a lot going on!

These are photos of what is happening now in my San Francisco Bay Area garden (Zone 10). I grow California native plants and also have an urban farm where I grow fruit trees, berries, and lots of vegetables in raised beds. My native garden is really starting to come alive. Plants in bloom now serve as food sources for early pollinators, such as hummingbirds and our native bumblebee.

I’ve been gardening with a focus on growing California native plants and food organically in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. The biggest challenges for me are understanding how to adapt my gardening practices in response to our ongoing drought, as well as climate change.

I started my own garden design firm (BeeLand Farms) this year to help people better connect with plants to achieve multiple benefits for their health and the environment. I use my own garden as a demonstration garden for my landscape practice.

Ian Bush ManzanitaManzanitas are my favorite winter-blooming shrub. ‘Ian Bush’ (Arctostaphylos densiflora cultivar, Zones 7–10) has the graceful winding habit and maroon-colored peeling bark of some of the larger manzanitas, but on a smaller scale. So it’s a great choice for a smaller garden. The pink-and-white heart-shaped flowers are gorgeous too.

Pink-and-magenta clarkia flowersFarewell to spring (Clarkia amoena) is a lovely, hardy, annual native wildflower. I wanted a second wave of wildflowers in the garden after the big spring bloom, so I started seeds in May 2020 and planted them out in July. The plants have been blooming since September 2020, with still more to come! Coyote mint (Monardella villosa, Zones 6–10) is mixed in with the clarkia.

pink ribes flowersThis pink flowering current (Ribes sanguineum v. glutinosum, Zones 5–10) grows in partial sun, next to California anemone (Carpenteria californica, Zones 8–10), checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora, Zones 5–10), and California bee plant (Scrophularia californica). I planted this shrub three years ago, and this is its first bloom.

Hummingbird sageHummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea, Zones 8–10) is a versatile plant that can grow in sun or shade, and it establishes itself well in our clay soil. Hummingbirds adore it, of course!

Basil Wild MagicBasil ‘Wild Magic’ (Ocinum herbalea) is a perennial herb (grow it as an annual in colder zones) here in the Bay Area that tastes like Thai basil. Letting this basil flower does not make the leaves taste bitter, so it’s a feast for bees and people too!

To see more from Donna, check out her instagram: @beelandfarms


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 02/04/2021

    Interesting plants and colors. Good luck and lots of success in your Beeland Farm endeavors!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/04/2021

    I believe this might also be Donna's garden for those who might be interested.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/04/2021

    All so very lovely, Donna.

  4. User avater
    cynthia2020 02/04/2021

    Hi, Donna. Thank you for showing what you have blooming now. I also looked at the gallery of photos on your website - I liked the view of a three year-old front garden design of native plants.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 02/04/2021

    So pretty to see all these flowers way over on the other side of the USA!

  6. btucker9675 02/04/2021

    Love the color of that pink flowering currant - have not seen that previously and it's really a charming plant! Thank you for sharing your pretty gardens.

  7. User avater
    johninsancarlos 02/04/2021

    Very nice! I've never tried planting Clarkias to bloom this time of year, but now I'll give it try!

  8. user-5117752 02/04/2021

    Just loved all of your pictures. We're now 44 days from the first day of spring and for us in the Western North Carolina mountains that can mean anything from snow to beautiful spring flowers and budding trees. I'd certainly like to try some of your plant ideas that might work in zone 7. Hoping I can find those Clarkias in a nearby nursery (not eager to pay shipping costs at this time).

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