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Free Garden Tour Signups Now Open


Tour conjures up the native scenery

Contra Costa Times

Article Launched: 02/05/2008 03:09:22 AM PST


THE FOURTH ANNUAL Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour isn't until May 4, but now is the best time to register because the tours fill up early. This year's free, self-guided tour features 60 gardens made up of at least 50 percent native plants in such East Bay locations as Richmond, Walnut Creek, Brentwood and Fremont.

Several new gardens have been added, along with such annual favorites as the Tom and Shirley Butt's Point Richmond yard, which not only has native plants, it also is a certified wildlife habitat. The family's goats, an annual favorite at the Point Richmond Turkey Shoot promenade, are used to control brush on the property.

The tour, which annually attracts 5,000 registrants, was conceived by San Pablo resident Kathy Kramer as a way to promote more sustainable, environmentally friendly gardens in the East Bay and beyond.

Having pesticide-free gardens that replicate what the landscape was like before development is a way to conserve water while providing a hospitable habitat for wildlife.

Kramer was honored in November with a National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award for the program.

To reserve a tour spot and receive a guidebook, register online at http://www.bringingbackthenatives.net.

Bringing Back the Natives also will hold a series of private, guided select tours of signature native plant gardens. The tours will take place on weekends in April and May for a fee.

A Native Plant Sale Extravaganza will be held the weekend of May 3 and 4. Go to the tour Web site for a list of participating nurseries.

For more details, contact Kramer at kathykramerconsulting.net or call 510-236-9558 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

MORE GARDEN NEWS: Campus gardens at Mira Vista and Coronado elementary schools in Richmond have been adopted under a National Gardening Association program with funding by retailer Smith & Hawken.

The association developed the Adopt a School Garden program "to bridge the gap between those lacking resources to implement school or community gardening programs and people who have the ability to help."

The program is intended to bring students into the garden for plant-based education programs and hands-on learning. Cragmont Elementary in Berkeley also was adopted by the program. Learn more at http://www.garden.org.