About the Garden

As a writer I find inspiration from the garden, both the plants and the creatures that come to visit. In early 2007 my husband and I bought a house in the middle of San Jose, the 10th largest city in the U.S. The house is on a small city lot and surrounded by other houses with very ordinary yards and busy streets. We fell in love with the wide open spaces inside the house. The yards were a different story. We decided to change all that.












The dirt was being suffocated by all that cement. The Mayten tree kept losing branches in every winter storm. The Crepe Myrtle streetside offered nothing for wildlife except some shelter. And the grass was 75% Bermuda grass.

The back wasn’t much better.












Here it was almost all Bermuda grass. There were a few ancient orange trees that were too diseased to save, something growing on the fence that the birds and bees ignored and a huge Japanese maple that we were told was lifted over the roof of the house by a crane by the previous owners. We decided the maple tree could stay.

The entire garden area, front and back, is just about 2,000 square feet.

We took out the lawns and got a rebate from the Santa Clara Country Water district. We took out a ton of cement, rerouted rainwater to stay on site, and use no pesticides or fertilizer (except on the non-native citrus plants in the courtyard.) The majority of the garden was installed in the fall of 2008. In the fall of 2011, we hired Jeffrey Caldwell to take the habitat level up a notch. The stone path on the sideyard and the planting of the dogwoods was designed and installed by East Bay Wilds.

Slowly, the yard is coming back to life.

According to Las Pilitas, we are Coastal Sage Scrub/Central Oak Woodland but we are not purists about planting only what used to grow in our area.  The entire yard is about 90% California native plants.

Most of the yard is now on a drip system though in the beginning I did a lot of the watering by hand.

All I want is a little piece of country in the heart of the city where the birds and bugs and butterflies will feel at home. I think we’re almost there.

© The site was designed by Susan Taylor Brown.
Unless otherwise stated, all text and photos have been created by and are the sole copyright of Susan Taylor Brown.