You are currently viewing Adventures at the Theodore Payne Foundation

Adventures at the Theodore Payne Foundation

We landscaped our front yard last year and, as with many things in life, not all the plants made it.  We found the Convolvulus to be lacking in heartiness, so to speak.  It fried and died basically. So after much research and advice we decided to go with Mimulus Aurantiacus as a replacement. 

Now, mimulus may be a native California species and it may be drought tolerant, but it has proven to be almost impossible to find at nurseries, including my wholesale nursery sources.  What’s up with that?!

Enter the Theodore Payne Foundation.  They specialize in native and drought tolerant plants for Southern California.  I had heard of it many times over the years, but have never been there for a visit.  When I got word that they were having their annual plant sale, and I saw the online plant inventory – with Mimulus Aurantiacus prominently featured – I marked my calendar and made a gardener’s date to go.










Hidden away in behind industrial buildings in Sun Valley, the grounds of Theodore Payne are a welcome oasis from the concrete surrounds of Los Angeles.  Since I’m an “early nerd”, and because I’ve been to waaaay too many Huntington Gardens Member Plant Sales (with lines a mile long an hour before the doors open), I arrived half an hour early and was the only one there (I guess everyone had gotten it out of their system the weekend before when the sale began).  So I ended up helping Lili Singer, one of Theo Payne’s incredible educators, set up the outdoor information booth. 

Finally the gates opened and I headed straight for the perennials section with one of their Radio Flyer wagons.










Let it be known that, while cute and irresistible as far as wagons go, the Radio Flyer with its narrow wheels and limited traction is not the wagon of choice when traversing gravel.  Word to the wise: Use the fat-tired wagons next time!

I grabbed my Mimulus and, having satisfied my need for shrubbery, parked the wagon for a little tour of the place. Each section was organized by purpose: trees, ground covers, perennials, succulents, etc.










It was tempting to pick up a few other plants, but I restrained myself to just taking pictures.  After walking around the grounds, I went to the gift shop to pay for my plants.  The gift shop houses the original card file shelves that Theodore Payne used himself to catalog native species.  They are filled with native flower and shrub seeds for sale, neighboring other shelves with local honey, bags of native bulbs, incense and Theo Payne memorabilia.










They also have a lending library where you can sit down and read about all the different native plants, gardening techniques, design and more.  Lili was kind enough to show me around the library and gift shop (and convinced me that I needed to become a member).  It was the perfect end to a well-spent morning.

What natives do you have growing in your garden?  Share them with us here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.