This spring, see unique landscapes that are sustainable, imaginative, and distinctly Californian by attending the 2016 Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour, an outreach event of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants in Sun Valley, Calif. The two-day self-guided tour, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3, features more than 40 private and public gardens in the Los Angeles area. On Saturday, gardens in Los Angeles, the Westside, and South Bay will be open to visitors. On Sunday, gardens in San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley will be featured.

The 40 private and public gardens featured on the Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour thrive in the local Southern California climate. Many have been designed by their owners to support native bird and insect populations, nurture pollinators, and conserve water. Photo by: Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour.

“California is home to more than 6,000 species of plants, many of which have flowers gorgeous enough to rival the rose. Show-stopping fremontias, sages, apricot mallows, penstemons and, of course, wildflowers abound. The gardens on this tour also support local butterflies, birds, and many other beneficial members of our ecosystem,” says Margaret Oakley Otto, tour coordinator.

“California is home to more than 6,000 species of plants, many of which have flowers gorgeous enough to rival the rose,” says tour coordinator Margaret Oakley Otto. Photo by: Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour.

Many of the gardens on the tour are designed to conserve rainwater, a dwindling resource protected by mandatory water restrictions across the state. “Several gardens feature catchment designs that slow rainwater runoff so it has time to sink back into the earth, replenishing local aquifers. These can be invisible, or look like meandering dry creeks, or even take more creative and unusual forms. Rocks and pebbles are often used to add visual interest, and also hold soil in place,” says Otto. (RELATED: Rain Gardens)

A variety of garden styles and sizes are represented on the tour, including container gardens and lawn-free succulent gardens. Photo by: Philip Oakley Otto.

A wide variety of garden styles are represented, including container gardens and lawn-free landscapes featuring drought-resistant native plants. The owners - many of whom did their own design and installation work - will be on hand to share tips about successful sustainable gardening, methods of irrigation, and approaches to ongoing maintenance. Professionally designed gardens and public landscapes are also featured on the tour, with Theodore Payne Foundation docents available to answer visitor questions.

To harvest rainwater, some of the gardens feature attractive catchment designs that resemble meandering creeks. Photo by: Philip Oakley Otto.

Single tickets for the two-day event are $30 per person for Theodore Payne Foundation members and students and $35 per person for nonmembers. Tickets for couples are $50 for members and $60 for nonmembers. The gardens will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit theodorepayne.org. The tour website, nativeplantgardentour.org, includes details, photographs, and plant lists for the participating gardens.

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