Plant a Thicket

There are so many good choices for
thicket plants that it is hard to pick just a few. Whether you have a small corner in your backyard or the luxury of
a large lot and a nearby detention pond like Miles’s, these California natives
will serve you—and your backyard wildlife—well.


Start with
a foundation of coyote bush. This
dense, low-growing bush plays host to hundreds of insects, birds, and other
creatures, and will adapt to almost any growing condition. There are male and female plants; the
females produce cottony seeds in late summer. It can be used as a hedge or as a groundcover to stabilize banks.

 Add some
berry-producing shrubs. Blue elderberry produces blue to black
berries that are sometimes covered in a white powder. By the way, these berries are often used in jams, jellies, and
even wine, if the birds leave any for you to harvest. Snowberry sports small pink flowers in the
spring and small white fruit in fall. Creeping snowberry is a lower-growing option that can tolerate some
shade. Coffeeberry is a large
evergreen shrub that also tolerates shade and produces black berries.

 Next, consider a few treats for the
hummingbirds. Red-flowering currant is
a deciduous shrub that produces small red flowers in spring that are attractive
to hummingbirds. The fruit that follows
in the fall is dark blue, although there are red, pink, and white fruit
varieties, too. California fuschia
sports red trumpet-shaped flowers on lovely gray-green foliage. Allow a little native
honeysuckle to work its way through the thicket.

 Finally, add a few treats for
yourself. I love California
Sagebrush for its wildly fragrant leaves. Sticky-monkey flower is one of my favorite native flowers, putting out
yellow, orange, or red blossoms all summer. California lilac comes in low-growing and taller forms; all bloom
profusely with light blue to deep purple flowers. Flannel bush is more of a small tree than a shrub; plant it at
one end of your thicket and enjoy the hardy yellow flowers over a long blooming

Coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis)

Blue elderberry (Sambucus

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Creeping snowberry (Symphoricarpos

Coffeeberry (Rhamnus

currant (Ribes sanguineum)

California fuschia (Zauschneria)

honeysuckle (Lonicera

California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica)

Sticky-monkey flower (Mimulus arantiacus)

California lilac (Ceanothus)

Flannel bush (Fremontodendrom)