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Success Stories

Right Plant Right Place

When Paul Cannon and Hugo Campos were thinking of moving to Oakland, it was four towering coastal redwood trees that finally convinced them to put down an offer on a house. They have fond memories of entering the home’s garden gate and looking skyward in amazement at the grove of trees that loomed over the 4,500-square foot lot. Not having even stepped inside the house, “they were already sold.”

Other than planting a few vegetables and sunflowers as a child, Paul had very little gardening experience. So over the course of several semesters, he enrolled in a slew of landscape horticulture courses at nearby Merritt College, and their veritable forest floor of a garden became a testing ground where Paul could apply the knowledge he brought home from classes. For example, he learned that the seed, twigs and old growth that redwoods consistently drop increases the acidity of the soil as well as creating a nourishing layer of free mulch. Hence, when planting, he needed to choose species that could thrive in acidic soil and part shade.

Like any home gardener, Paul has killed his share of plants. But he’s happy to report that once he embraced the growing conditions created by the redwood trees he started having better results. He started working with plants such as heuchera, hebes, ribes, thimbleberry, ferns, fuchsia tree, and California grape and the pieces of a beautiful woodland oasis suddenly came together.

Many Bay-Friendly gardeners like Paul and Hugo have learned that picking the right plant for the right place helps eliminate pest and disease problems and can reduce the amount of inputs needed. Perhaps more importantly, taking a right plant right place approach enables gardeners to learn about the conditions of their yard – such as soil, light, moisture, drainage, and exposure – and then select plants that will thrive.