As 5-year-old Stella Penn and her sister, Maxine, 3, enthusiastically play hide-and-seek in the backyard of their Eagle Rock home, the girls are accompanied by a merry band of lizards, butterflies and birds drawn to the yard’s low-water California natives, abundant fruit trees and the fragrance of Cleveland sage and Champaca trees.
The megadrought California is enduring right now is the worst in more than a millennium.
In the last two decades, we have only sporadically not been in a state of drought, and the first three months of 2022 were the driest on record. Now, nearly every inch of California is experiencing severe or extreme drought, or even worse: A thick, donut-shaped ring in the Central Valley is in an exceptional drought — the highest drought designation the U.S. Drought Monitor gives.
Nurseries made record sales during the coronavirus pandemic as many people looked to pick up gardening as a new hobby.
However, most plants people grow come from outside of California and can be harmful to nature, especially monarch butterflies. Many people don’t realize that California native plants can bring their yards to life, with butterflies, hummingbirds and more.
The Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley is leading the movement to transform the state’s landscape by promoting drought-friendly plants that will still thrive in people’s yards. It’s a unique nursery in that all its plants are native to California.