So I get up at way dark o'clock and head out from Sacramento to the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley, traveling over ribbons of asphalt, then along the spiny top of the mountains, before plunging into a deep, west-facing ravine. I head down a rutted dirt road. My destination is Yerba Buena Nursery, California's oldest retail plant nursery specializing in native plants.
The nursery was founded in 1960 by Gerda Isenberg, a pioneer in the native landscape movement. On her family's 3,000-acre cattle ranch, Gerda built a nursery dedicated to natives, many of them are today rare or endangered in the wild.
I'll let you in on our conclusions in a minute. In the meantime, here are some images of what we saw as we walked the garden in early spring.