The trend of converting suburban yards into native gardens has been an ongoing tradition for ages. The idea is to move from a purely ornamental garden, which often includes exotic, harder-to-cultivate plants, to a more indigenous mindset; curating a garden that wants to grow.
For Castro Valley locals, Eugene Shabelyanau and Danny Galindo, creating a native plant oasis has literally been a blossoming passion project for the last four years. Converting their home garden to native varietals has not only made their gardening much more sustainable and friendlier to the local environment but has launched them into creating a whole new business making deliciously fragrant artisanal soaps from the ingredients in their garden.
“Last year alone I have used White Sage, Woolly Blue Curls, Pozo Blue Sage, Mugwort, Chamomile, Lavender, Sagebrush, Calendula from our garden in various soaps,” Eugene wrote. “Each one has unique properties that also make a unique bar of soap.”
However, providing quality ingredients for their soaps wasn’t the only inspiration for their garden.
In addition to being a part of the Bay Area’s annual Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour, Galindo and Shabelyanau were featured in this year’s CV San District’s Sustainable Home Calendar that showcased ‘different ways residents and households can practice sustainable lifestyle habits, from zero waste routines to healthy wastewater habits.’
“A native garden is essential to the health and sustainability of local ecosystems. All of the wildlife in our area has been around native plants for millions of years,” Danny wrote. “...local insects, birds and animals have survived by adapting very special mechanisms for exploiting the resources they have come to depend on from native flora.”
Starting a native garden is a great step toward better household sustainability practices, but it also has a lot of other benefits including:
Supporting local habitats of native animal and plant species
Strengthening ecosystems crucial to pollinators like honeybees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
Reducing utility bills for watering
Eliminating toxic runoff from the pesticides and fertilizers necessary for an exotic plant garden
Danny also noted that for those who haven’t explored much with gardening, a native garden is a great way to get started. Resources for converting your garden are plenty on the web, but if you’re interested in taking a virtual tour to get some inspiration first, you can sign up to get a personal look at Danny and Eugene’s personal Castro Valley Eden.
If you’re interested in taking a virtual tour of Eugene and Danny’s garden, please sign up here!