Fine Gardening for Berkeley and the greater Bay Area 


We in the Bay Area are incredibly blessed with a climate that supports a dazzling array of plants for our gardens—and we have the pleasure of seasonal changes as well.

I adore plants, and, after a lifetime of living and working with them, am still excited about the spectacular variety of colors, shapes, textures, and smells that they come with. Plants are dynamic and constantly interacting with light, wind, temperature, water, and each other. My knowledge and love of plants is the foundation of my work as a gardener – which I put to excellent use as I prune, maintain, or design your garden.

There are many micro-climates within the Bay Area, and from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, we span climate zones 14 through 17. So whether you live near the ocean, on a hillside with strong winds, near a busy street with lots of exhaust dust, in deer territory, have a garden shaded by buildings or trees, or live east of the bay hills with a higher temperature gradient and a lot less humidity, I am familiar with a wide range of plants that will thrive for you. I know thousands of plants in a wide palate of colors for each season, and, having worked in hundreds of wonderful gardens, I know which plants work in specific settings.

Some examples of plants I love:

Fragrance: I love using bulbs (my ancestors come from Holland) including narcissus, freesia, lilies, bearded iris, and muscari (grape hyacinth). I adore roses, as demanding as they can be, from hybrid teas to shrub roses, Austins (Gerturde Jeckyll), and a plethora of old fashioned roses, we currently have an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Many fairly inconspicuous white flowered plants are also amazingly fragrant (they need to be to help attract pollinators) including citrus trees, jasmine, jessamin (Cestrum nocturnum), gardenia, nicotiana, and Michelia figo (whose flowers are actually light yellow). I also love using lavenders, sages, and herbs. Buddleia (butterfly bush), which comes with white, pink, purple, and purple-red flowers, and brugmansia (datura), which comes in white, pink, yellow, and salmon flowers, are wonderfully fragrant shrubs. Hedychium, ginger lily, provides rich fragrance in late summer. Daphne and heliotrope, both of which like shade and good drainage, are other favorites. Osmanthus shrubs with their tiny inconspicuous white flowers provide heavenly scent in the winter.

Veggies: I enjoy using vegetables in my plantings —scarlet runner beans are fabulous, using Indian field corn as a perennial grass, red or yellow chard, artichokes (they are amazing purple when they flower and the bees swoon), chives, parsley, and peppers all mix well with other perennials in gardens. Millet is a lovely annual grass your birds will appreciate too.

Annuals: I also love to use annuals—from our state flower, Escholzia californica (which also comes in pinks and whites), to cleome and Nigella damascena, (Love-in-the-mist), wonderful old-fashioned flowers, to papaever (poppies—I love how translucent and luminous they are), helianthus (sunflowers—so very cheerful), clovers, and verbasccum (mullein), annuals come in a fabulous parade of dramatic colors, sizes, and shapes.

Another favorite of mine is Ricinus communis, (castor oil plant), a dramatic, fast growing annual, red foliage, to 6’ that is happiest in full sun.

Annie’s Annuals in Richmond ( is a fabulous nursery to explore and fall in love with annuals. Check out their website for lots of additional photos.

I also love to use succulents, grasses (fabulous for adding movement to your garden), vines, tropical plants, plants that hummingbirds and butterflies feed from, plants with variegated leaves, purple, silver, or chartreuse foliage…the lists go on and on!

East Bay Nursery in Berkeley (, Berkeley Horticulture Nursery (, The Dry Garden (6556 Shattuk Ave. in Oakland, 547-3564), and Orchard Nursery in Lafayette (, are favorite places of mine and have a fairly extensive array of happy and interesting plants.
Call Medea Pluim

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