Home & Garden Columns

Garden Variety: Here Come the Fall Plant Sales — Native and Other

By Ron Sullivan
Friday September 22, 2006

When we start thinking good thoughts about rain, it must be the peak of fire season. That means fall planting season is coming soon, and it’s time to start looking for plants to fill in (or overcrowd) our gardens. Especially California natives, because this is a good time to plant them, to take advantage of the winter rains. Even drought-loving plants need a bit of watering help in their first year.  

The California Native Plant Society has made a big change in one tradition. The East Bay Chapter’s reliable October sale won’t happen at the Merritt College hort department this year, as the department has some expansion plans and wants the ground it lent the chapter in return for help with the department greenhouse. (Yikes. This must be what it feels like to watch your parents go through an “amicable” divorce.) 

Instead, the Native Here Nursery will host the Native Plant Fair on Saturday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 29, noon to 3 p.m. Very local plants from NH –the chapter’s restoration nursery—as well as “horticultural natives” from around the state will be for sale, along with seeds, bulbs, books, art, and other wares; experts and CNPS honchos will talk and answer questions, too. 

Lots of plants, says the sales committee, so enjoy a leisurely and informative weekend. More info and schedules to come on the chapter’s Web site, www.ebcnps.org—or you could volunteer by showing up on Friday or Saturday mornings between now and the sale, or contact the nursery, nativehere@ebcnps.org for other times.  

The other half of the erstwhile couple, Merritt College’s Landscape Horticulture Department, is having its fall sale on Oct. 7. There are always natives there, too, as well as fall-plantable veggies, annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees, who knows what? I find something weird and wonderful every year at my alma mater. You can grab coffee and pastries or a nice lunch burger (veggie or otherwise) and hear live music, buy art or tools, or just schmooze. 

There will be smart and friendly folks to tell you what you need to know about Aesthetic Pruning—the coming thing in tree care, combining traditional Japanese lore with recent discoveries about how trees work—and about flower arranging, Permaculture, garden and landscape design and construction, soils, bugs, plant diseases, and more.  

Here’s a new one: The Watershed Nursery’s Fall Open House & Native Plant Sale, Oct. 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., features 20 percent off all plants (except clearance items.) Watershed specializes in natives for habitat restoration, and has recently started having drop-in hours for the public, so you can get a look beforehand. 

Maybe you’ll want to scout the place out anyway; here are the directions from its Web site, www.thewatershednursery.com: “Head east (towards UC Berkeley) on University. Turn left on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Turn right on Cedar. After you begin to go uphill, turn left on Euclid, right on Hawthorne Terrace. Left on Le Roy Ave. Stay on winding road. It will turn into Tamalpais Rd. You will see a small sign 155 with an arrow to the left and down. Please park on the street and walk down the driveway. The nursery is located in a fenced-off area to your right past the pond.” 

Don’t fall in!  



Native Here Nursery 

101 Golf Course Road (across from the golf course entrance) Tilden Park, Berkeley 


Merritt College 

12500 Campus Drive, Oakland (Rte. 13 to Redwood Road exit; uphill to Campus Drive, turn right; up Campus Drive to, guess what? the campus) 436-2418  


The Watershed Nursery 

155 Tamalpais Road, Berkeley 



Ron Sullivan is a former professional gardener and arborist. Her “Garden Variety” column appears every Friday in East Bay Home & Real Estate. Her column on East Bay trees appears every other Tuesday in the Berkeley Daily Planet.