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Success with Native Plant Design Using a Plant Community Approach

CEU Accreditation: LA CES, 1.5; LEED, 1.5; APLD, 1.5

Presented by: Mike Evans & Orchid Black
Saturday, February 9th - 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Course Description:

Success with California's native plants depends on more than choosing the showiest native plants and putting them together in the landscape. Choosing a palette of plants based on natural communities and associations of plants is an ecologically sound basis for design, and leads to the most successful, longest-lasting and easiest to maintain landscapes. This course will focus on communities including Chaparral, Riparian/Alluvial Fan, Coastal Sage Scrub, Oak Woodlands, Meadow and Desert and how to match these associations to the micro-climates and soils on your site, as well as to features such as planted bio-swales. The best-looking and most reliable selections from these communities will be discussed. A descriptive plant list and plant community list will be made available.


Mike Evans was born and raised in southern California and demonstrated an early love for the outdoors. He worked with several nurseries both retail and wholesale, before establishing Tree of Life Nursery in 1976. The nursery specializes in native California plants. Tree of Life Nursery promotes a style of authentic horticulture, specifically the concept of appropriate landscaping with native California plants. Evans is affiliated with numerous conservation, horticultural and botanical organizations. He is past president (2005) of the International Plant Propagators Society, and past president (2001) of the California Society for Ecological Restoration. Evans was involved in water conservation during the 1980's as a founding member of the Xeriscape committee through Metropolitan Water District. In addition, he has been active in the California Native Plant Society, the California Botanical Society, and The Nature Conservancy. He served on the horticultural committee for The Jepson Manual project, the definitive California flora published in 1993. Evans is one of the original board members on the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy in San Juan Capistrano. He also serves on the boards for Casa Romantica Cultural Center in San Clemente, and the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society.

With his experience in native plant production, design, landscaping, and ecological restoration, Evans advocates a California that deserves to look like the true "California." He often is called on to write or lecture on the subject. His hobbies include hiking, surfing, photography, reading and writing. He serves as pastor of a Spanish language Christian church in San Juan Capistrano.

Evans is president of Tree of Life Nursery. In 2007, the nursery was honored to receive the Horticultural Award from the California Native Plant Society and the California Glory Award presented by the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.


Orchid Black is a garden designer whose practice focuses on California native plants. Her gardens have been featured on the Theodore Payne Foundation (TPF) Garden Tour and with the Friends of Washington Park and TPF. She has been active in the design and restoration of Washington Park in Pasadena, originally designed by famed horticulturist Theodore Payne, which won an ASLA Award.

Black teaches at the Theodore Payne Foundation and Sustainable Garden Practice for UCLA Extension, and gives lectures and workshops on native horticulture and oak culture throughout Southern California. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the California Native Plant Society. Black can be found online at

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