Free Garden Tour Focuses on California Natives and Urban Homesteads

Sonoma County Free Eco Garden Tour April  30th sign

The annual Eco-Friendly Garden Tour is coming up on April 30th! Now in its sixth year, the Tour is sponsored by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership and focuses on low-water-use, sustainable landscaping. Tour participants will learn water-saving strategies and garden tips from homeowners while perusing gorgeous gardens and mingling with neighbors. The 2016 Tour stands out due to collaborations with two local organizations, Daily Acts and the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Milo Baker Chapter.

The Petaluma based non-profit Daily Acts will be leading afternoon guided tours of urban homesteads in Petaluma, Cotati, and Windsor. These gardens optimize precious resources to create bountiful landscapes that offer beauty, wildlife habitat, and fresh food. Homeowners have designed their landscapes as mini watersheds, collecting rainwater, repurposing graywater, and nurturing the soil to keep as much moisture on site as possible. Resiliency-building features like chickens, bees, and ‘Do-It- Yourself’ upcycling projects will be showcased as well.

Petaluma Home owned by the Eldridge Family that will be in the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour in Sonoma County

Petaluma Eldridge Family Eco Friendly Garden

Included in the Tour is the Petaluma garden of Lisa and Gilbert Eldridge. Over the past 35 years the Eldridge’s have transformed a dingy lawn and lava
rock landscape to a scene of sustainable abundance featuring 21 fruit-bearing trees and vines, perennial and seasonal edibles, native and pollinator plants, rain catchment systems, and places to socialize or sit quietly.

Trathen Heckman of Daily Acts whose garden will also be featured on the tour suggests that the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour is:

“like a trip through a Willy Wonka Wonderland for sustainable gardening enthusiasts. It is chock full of inspiring treats, sharing the smell, touch and experience of sustainability. People see incredible gardens while meeting inspiring gardeners and engaging with others who share their passion. Once exposed to such people and places, one feels more empowered to go home and take action, to plant food, recycle their greywater, catch the rain and share with others.”

To increase their positive impact, participants can also register their own garden actions as a part the Community Resilience Challenge at The Community Resilience Challenge is an annual community mobilization campaign that runs throughout the spring and inspires thousands of citizens, leaders and groups to take action to save water, grow food, conserve energy, reduce waste and build community. Participants register their actions online and all actions are aggregated on a map to build a picture of the growing resilience movement.

In addition to the homestead gardens, CNPS Milo Baker will be presenting California native gardens in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Glen Ellen, Kenwood, and Villa Grande. The gardens being presented are either owned or designed by CNPS members. Each of the gardens will have California native plant experts on hand to provide information to visitors. Several of the gardens will include other activities such as native plant talks, demonstrations, and sales of books and plants.

Santa Rosa wildlife garden owned by Pat and Bryan Sesser

Santa Rosa Pat and Bryan Sesser’s Wildlife Garden

One of the gardens featured is the Santa Rosa wildlife garden of Pat and Bryan Sesser. On a quarter-acre lot the Sesser’s have created a sanctuary for wildlife using mostly California native plants. The sloped back garden is terraced providing the visitor with a unique walk through an abundance of California native flora, including many flowering perennials such as penstemon, buckwheat, blue-eyed grass and monkeyflower.

Betty Young from the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society comments on the importance of California native plants in our landscapes:

“Many communities of native plants in California are in naturally dry areas and so are adapted to flourish with little or no summer water. Others are at home in swales or other wet areas. Aside from saving water, planting natives provides habitat for our local butterflies, birds and other pollinators. A beautiful garden with color through the year, alive with gorgeous and useful pollinators, is easy when using natives.”

The Tour is free, but please register at:


Contact Information
Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership / Sonoma County Water Agency
Gregory Plumb | Water Agency Programs Specialist: | (707) 547-1933
California Native Plant Society Milo Baker Chapter
Wendy Born:
Daily Acts
Brianna Schaefer | Programs Manager:

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