Bringing the Wild to Urban Spaces
Last month, we noted how introducing the wonders of nature back into our every-day habitats replenishes our clarity of thought and our emotional balance. Nowhere is this more important than in our urban spaces. While urban properties pose distinctive design challenges, it is still possible and beneficial to take nature’s lead in design.
The expansive Weiss-Lindberg garden in well-trafficked, commercial midtown Santa Monica proves that restorative natural habitat can thrive in urban environments. The family aimed to draw birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects to the property. This meant using foliage adapted to the area’s coastal climate in the hopes of attracting more life into a seemingly humans-only habitat.
In the garden, native plants provide homes for flying friends and other fauna while delivering delightful bursts of seasonal color consistent with a thriving coastal prairie. A particularly powerful coastal companion combination includes:
- Asclepias, habitat for butterfly larvae with Verbena lilacaena, with pollen for mama butterflies,
- Lupinus albifrons, Salvia spathacae (Hummingbird Sage), and Sisyrinchium californicum, which provide haven for hummingbirds and a riot of texture and color throughout various times of the year, and
- Yarrow meadow, an IdealMow lawn alternative adapted to coastal environments.
Together, this mix creates a safe harbor for wild things, attracting them through the city streets into a midtown oasis. Each thrives in the cool year round temperatures and wind, fog and dew expected along the coast. In nature, most of this pallet tolerates poor drainage, some boggy areas, low nutrient and even sandy soils, making it a wonderful option for coastal urban environments. To maximize the health of the natives and minimize water use, raised garden beds house edibles for humans that demand more water and higher soil quality.
While native habitat and a succulent food supply are great draws, no oasis is complete without water. A charming, delicate pond boosts the bird and butterfly attracting potential of the property while adding an air of whimsy to delight its humans.