Gardening Nature's Way

A back-to-natives movement is bringing ecological harmony to the American backyard

WHAT LOS ANGELES ATTORNEY MICKEY WHEATLEY HATES IN A garden is the big showy blooms that most everyone else loves. So three years ago, right after buying his first house, he set out to uproot the prize roses the previous owners had planted. While neighbors looked on in horror, he tore out the camellias too. In their place he put California poppies, fragrant sage and drought-tolerant manzanita. "Where everything is lush and green, maybe it's appropriate to grow roses," explains Wheatley. "But here it just doesn't feel right. For me it's almost a spiritual thing. The plants in my garden belong...

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