My name is Kerstin Commagere. I’ve been an avid plant person since I was fifteen. At that time I was attending high school in Idyllwild, California. My favorite book was an edible plant field guide. I’d spend lots of time wandering around in the forest trying to identify plants. I fell in love with the mountains while living in Idyllwild.
I got seriously involved in gardening with native plants in 1993 while living in Marin County. My San Rafael garden started as a medicinal and culinary herb garden. That same year I discovered Sara Stein’s book, Noah’s Garden. This book has been a huge influence on me. After reading it, I purchased some packets of native wildflower seeds from the Larner Seed Company, and scattered them around the yard. I’ll never forget seeing the rich blue flowers of Phacelia campanularia (Desert Bluebells) for the first time! I was hooked!
From 1996 to 1999, I worked for the Garden Company nursery in Santa Cruz, California, which was a great experience. At that time I was lucky to live in a house that was surrounded by a huge amount of land where I could garden to my heart’s content. In the summer of 2000, after years of longing to live in the mountains again, I moved to Tahoe.
The garden at my Tahoe house was a nearly a blank slate when I moved in. The front yard consisted of a brown lawn, a Colorado Spruce tree, and a few old Lilacs. The rest of the property looked like bare dirt, but as I dug around I discovered that the previous owners had been discarding much of their household waste by burying it in the backyard or dumping it behind the rear fence. We removed 15,000 pounds worth of garbage–old carpet, sheets of plastic, fish tanks, broken windows, an entire old roof, and two large satellite dishes–stuff like that. More garbage continued to materialize as the squirrels dug it up.
The garden is now full of native plants and wildlife. Each year Chickadees, Robins, Juncos and Jays nest in the yard.
With this blog I’m hoping to share what I’ve learned about gardening with native and non-native adapted plants. Enjoy!