Katherine Greenberg’s garden was inspired by the oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral of the surrounding valley and the redwood forests of the East Bay hills. She started developing the 1.3 acre garden in 1980 after building her home on a Lafayette hillside. Mindful of the need to conserve water, Katherine selected California native plants that are natural companions in the wild and suited to the climate and conditions of the site. Once established, the plants receive little or no supplemental irrigation.

The front garden showcases grasses, sages, manzanitas, and California fuchsias for a chaparral effect. Many of these plants attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. The upper slope is planted with Pacific wax myrtles and oaks that blend with the natural oak woodland above the garden. A pergola shades the entrance to the house, and a gate by the front door opens to a patio that is used for outdoor living. A small meadow of grasses and perennials adds interest to this area. At the west end of the property, the pool terrace is shaded by the spreading canopy of a coast live oak.  From here a path, bordered by sedges, irises, and evergreen currants, leads to a gravel terrace and a grove of vine maples on the north side of the house. On the lower slope, drifts of grasses weave through manzanitas and sages. Farther down the slope, bays and willows grow along the creek, which attracts deer and other wildlife to the garden. Katherine’s garden is a tranquil place for people and wildlife. The colors and textures of flowers, foliage, fruits, and bark add interest in every season of the year. Katherine enjoys working in the garden, and her work is informed by more than thirty years of growing California native plants in her garden and a lifetime of observing native plants in the wild.


2010 Katherine Greenberg’s garden received a Garden Design Green Award 

Plant Introduction: 

California Flora Nursery introduced a new cultivar of Salvia sonomensis called ‘Greenberg Gray’ in 2016. Named for its lovely blue-gray leaves, this unusual form of Sonoma sage was found growing in Katherine Greenberg’s garden. Also known as creeping sage, Salvia sonomensis a low-growing native perennial with aromatic foliage and lavender-blue flowers that rise a few inches above the leaves to make a lovely display in late spring. An ideal groundcover for dry gardens with light shade, this species prefers good drainage and little or no water once established. It tolerates clay soil and occasional irrigation in Katherine’s garden. She planted it many years ago along a path, where it has spread to form a ground-hugging mat under several redbuds and manzanitas. Katherine sometimes lifts rooted sections and moves them to other parts of her garden. Salvia sonomensis ‘Greenberg Gray’ has proven to be very satisfying, with its fragrant gray foliage and seasonal flowers. It also has the advantage of being deer resistant and attractive to hummingbirds.



For more information about garden design services, tours, or lectures please contact:

925.283.4322 or katherine@katherine-greenberg.com


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