We are often asked, “Where can I find out more about California natives?” In the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas we are truly fortunate to have an incredible amount of resources readily available, whether you are just looking for a book or a semester-long class on landscaping with natives or restoration ecology.

Listed below are some of the resources available. Please feel free to let us know who or what we have omitted so that we can make these listings as complete as possible. We have divided the resources listings into the following categories:

  • Classes, Workshops, Guided Hikes and Tours
  • Volunteer opportunities – Habitat restoration, plant propagation and exotic plant removal
  • Books
  • Organizations, Clubs and Societies
  • Gardens and Arboreta


Classes, Workshops, Guided Hikes and Tours

Attending classes, workshops and going on guided hikes are all great ways of learning more about natives. Listed below are some of the organizations that offer regular classes, workshops, tours and hikes.In Santa Cruz, details of many of our local horticultural and conservation events can be found in the Sentinel’s Home and Garden Section (published every Thursday).

Cabrillo College, Department of Horticulture www.cabrillo.edu
Monterey Peninsula College, Dept. of Horticulture www.mpc.edu
University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum ucsc.edu/arboretum
University of California, Davis Arboretum arboretum.ucdavis.edu
University of California, Berkeley Botanic Garden botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu
San Francisco Botanic Garden at Strybing www.strybing.org
California Academy of Sciences www.strybing.org
California Native Plant Society: www.calacademy.org
East Bay Regional Parks www.ebparks.org

Volunteer opportunities – Habitat restoration, plant propagation and exotic plant removal

An excellent way of learning about natives is to volunteer with a local habitat restoration group. This is also a great way to meet new friends and a really fun way of doing something positive for your local flora and fauna.Here are some of the local organizations that have regular volunteer workdays.


We are frequently asked what books we recommend for learning more about gardening with natives, their identification in the wild and gardening for wildlife. Some of our top choices are listed below. For ease of use, we’ve tried to group the books under relevant headings, but there is some overlap between the various categories, so please don’t consider them in isolation.

Some of the books listed below are out of print, but you can often find good used copies on line.

Growing and Gardening with California Native Plants

  • Brenzel KN ed., 2001, Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Publishing Corporation
  • Harlow N and Jakob K eds., 2003, Wild Lilies, Irises and Grasses – Gardening with California Monocots, Univeristy of California Press
  • Harlow N. ed, 2004, Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region, East Bay Municipal Water District
  • Keator Glenn, 1990, Complete Garden Guide to the Native Perennials of California, Chronicle Books
  • Keator Glenn, 1994, Complete Garden Guide to the Native Shrubs of California, Chronicle Books
  • Klebsch B, 2003, The New Book of Salvias – Sages for every Garden,
  • Niehaus TF and Ripper CL, 1976, Pacific States Wildflowers, Houghton Mifflin Company
  • Perry B, 1992, Landscape Plants for Western Regions – An Illustrated Guide to Plants for Water Conservation, Land Design Publishing
  • Pettinger A and Costanzo B, 2002, Native Plants in the Coastal Garden – A Guide for Gardeners in the Pacific Northwest,
  • Schmidt MG, 1980, Growing California Native Plants, University of California Press

For those who want to delve deeper and further a field

  • Casebeer M, 1999, Discover California Wildflowers, Hooker Press
  • Casebeer M, 2004, Discover California Shrubs, Hooker Press
  • Crampton B, 1974, Grasses in California, University of California Press
  • Morhardt S and Morhardt E, 2004 California Desert Flowers – An Introduction to Families Genera and Species, University of California Press
  • O’Brien B, Fuentes L and Newcombe LF eds., 1997, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Occasional Publications Number 1 Symposium Proceedings – Out of the Wild and Into the Garden I, California’s Horticulturally Significant Plants April 30th-May 2nd 1992, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
  • Ornduff R, Faber PM and Keeler-Wolf T, 2003, Introduction to California Plant Life, University of California Press
  • Pickart AJ and Sawyer JO, 1998, Ecology and Restoration of Northern California Coastal Dunes, California Native Plant Society
  • Rowntree L, 1980, Hardy Californians, Peregrine Smith

Invasive Plants

A Plague of Plants – Controlling Invasive Plants in Santa Cruz County, 1998 – Booklet published by the Wildlands Restoration Team www.wildwork.org


  • Crampton B, 1974, Grasses in California, University of California Press
  • Greenlee J, 2000, The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses,Michael Friedman Publishing Group.
  • Grounds R, 2002, The Plantfinders Guide to Ornamental Grasses, Timber PressLandscaping with Ornamental Grasses, 2002, Sunset Books
  • Ondra NJ, 2002, Grasses – Versatile Partners for Uncommon Garden Design, Storey Publishing

Wildlife Gardening

  • Bauer Nancy, 2001, The Habitat Garden Book – Wildlife Landscaping for the San Francisco Bay Region, Coyote Ridge Press
  • Carroll S and Salt SD, 2004, Ecology for Gardeners, Timber Press
  • Merilees Bill, 2000, The New Gardening for Wildlife – A Guide for Nature Lovers, Whitecap Books

Floras and Field Guides

  • Crampton B, 1974, Grasses in California, University of California Press
  • Hickman JC ed., 1993, The Jepson Manual – Higher Plants of California, University of California Press
  • Matthews MA, 1997, An Illustrated Field Key to the Flowering Plants of Monterey County and Ferns, Fern Allies and Conifers, California Native Plant Society
  • Thomas JH, 1961, Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California – A Manual of the Vascular Plants, Stanford University Press


  • Gilmer M, The Wildfire Survival Guide, 1995, Taylor Publishing Company
  • Gilmer M, California Wildfire Landscaping, 1994, Taylor Publishing Company

Organizations, Clubs and Societies

Audubon Society www.audubon.org
California Horticultural Society (“CalHort”) www.calhortsociety.org
California Native Grass Association www.cnga.org
California Native Plant Society www.cnps.org
California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) www.cal-ipc.org
Community Alliance with Family Farmers www.caff.org
Gardening with Natives Gardening with Natives
Mediterranean Gardening Society mediterraneangardensociety.org
Return of the Natives Return of the Natives
Sierra Club www.sierraclub.org
War on Weeds
Wild Farm Alliance wildfarmalliance.org
Bringing Back the Natives bringingbackthenatives.net
Friends of Soquel Creek www.friendsofsoquelcreek.org
Wildlands Restoration Team www.wildwork.org
National Wildlife Federation www.nwf.org
Xerces Society www.xerces.org

Gardens and Arboreta

  • Gamble Garden, Palo Alto
  • Mendocino Botanical Garden
  • Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
  • Rowntree Garden, Carmel
  • San Francisco Botanic Garden at Strybing
  • Santa Barbarbara Botanic Garden
  • Tilden Park
  • University of California Berkeley Botanic Garden
  • University of California Davis Arboretum
  • University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum