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As I sit in my living room recliner trying not to think about the fact that my fourteen-year-old boy is out wandering dark streets dressed– in a rather impromptu fashion– as a “frat boy”, complete with toga (bed sheet) and sideways tie-on-the-head… I welcome the distraction of blogging about why I spent a few hours Sunday at the Old City Cemetery.

When I was in college, I did an internship at the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), Sacramento Chapter’s Native Plant Demonstration Garden at the cemetery. Having recently reconnected with my internship sponsor, she invited me to come by for one of their organized tours and asked if I’d take some pictures.


Seeds for sale, refreshments and literature


The tour


Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and California fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

The demo garden is an interpretive garden designed to show the public how native plants can be grown in an urban environment and how they provide much-needed wildlife habitat. It’s a win-win situation because many of the plots being cared for by CNPS volunteers are no longer maintained by family members of the departed.


Woolly Blue curls (Trichostema lanatum) and Bush/Golden Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

Many of the garden’s natives are attractive to bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, creating a much-needed refuge right off busy Broadway and Riverside. Most of the natives are also extremely drought-tolerant and can exist on natural rainfall once established.


Bee on Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum)


Bird’s nest in a manzanita shrub


Aristolochia californica
Dutchman’s Pipe Vine


Epilobium canum
California fuchsia, Hummingbird Trumpet


Heteromeles arbutifolia
Christmasberry, Toyon, California Holly


Heteromeles arbutifolia ‘Davis Gold’
Yellow Berry Toyon

Gardeners and photographers love the cemetery because not only is it a very restful place– extremely restful… doesn’t get any more restful– it also contains a beautiful Historic Rose Garden, the CNPS Demo Garden and many very tenderly cared for plots exploding with life and color. And there’s history there. And events. It’s actually a pretty happenin’ place.

If you’re interested in Sacramento history, California native plants, or roses, it’s also a great place to volunteer.

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