Woodland inspiration in Noe Valley

Kate Levis woodland-inspired part-native garden in beautiful Noe Valley

When started: The first plantings were in the fall of 2007, but I just planted a few things recently.

Neighborhood: Noe Valley

Notable features: The back yard is a woodland-inspired part-native garden with a lot of tried-and-true shady favorites under a redwood tree: trillium, island alum root, giant chain fern, fringe cups, redwood sorrel and coffeeberry. I have a spicebush by the sitting area. There are also some sturdy non-natives, including a very old pear tree, some dodonea purpurea, and an iochroma. The front sidewalk garden features penstemon, buckwheat, yarrow, island alum root and California poppies, as well as the non-native autumn sage salvia gregii.

Favorite plants: the redwood, dubbed “Armstrong” for its large windward bough.

Wildlife seen: California slender salamanders, skunks, raccoons, gray squirrels, Anna’s hummingbirds, robins, cedar waxwings, red admiral butterflies. Also the occasional rat, but far less often since the squirrels moved in.

Favorite thing about the garden: the redwood and the hummingbird. Out front, the penstemons.

Biggest challenge: The wind, and my own reluctance to water. Many of my plants can get by without any water in the summer, but they look vastly better with some watering. I’ve compromised with hand watering by hose on an as-needed basis. Dry shade gets a bum rap for a reason.

Advice for those who want to get started? Amend your soil before you start — it’s probably compacted. And test for lead.