Wildlife habitat residence among 2009 yard award winners

In Local News

By Barbara Giasone

The Orange County Register, Calif.


Aug. 12–FULLERTON — Drought-tolerant gardens are popping up throughout the county. Add a National Wildlife Habitat certification, and it’s another dimension for the ecology-minded.

Donna Myrdal proudly displays the habitat honor in her front yard at 764 Arroues Drive after spending four years developing a landscape that not only reduces water use, but attracts a flurry of birds, insects and animals.

For her efforts, Fullerton Beautiful has designated Myrdal and two other residences in the city as winners of the 2009 Yard Awards. All will be presented with honors at the Aug. 18 City Council meeting.


It’s a sunny morning at the home of Myrdal and her husband, Brian Boucer.

Lizards are lounging between a small wall constructed of broken concrete. Bunnies are scampering through the lower yard toward the golf course. Finches are feeding from a metal yard ornament while toads have vacated their board-topped hole to explore the grounds.

Watching from Myrdal’s upper deck, it’s as if wildlife has found a permanent home in the middle of a bustling city.

“You should have seen the place before we bought it four years ago,” said Myrdal, pointing to the lower yard where a cement sports court has been replaced with a winding path lined with native plants. “Cedars and trees were so tall in the front yard, they blocked the house. Poor drainage led to pipes being strewn on the driveway.”

Myrdal, with the help of a landscape architect, went to work redesigning the quarter-acre. She shopped for drought-tolerant plants at the Fullerton Arboretum, where she volunteers in the native plant area, and at Tree of Life and Plant Depot in San Juan Capistrano.

“I was particularly looking for plants that would attract birds, bees and butterflies,” she said. “Monarch butterflies visit to drink the nectar from several plants and to lay eggs on milkweeds, which are the only plants their caterpillars eat. Bees, insects, birds and butterflies pollinate flowers.

“And I have nature’s pest control: lizards, spiders and toads that take care of the excess insects.”

She also checked with the Web site, www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife, for ways to certify her wildlife-friendly garden. The four ingredients included providing food for wildlife, supply water for wildlife, creating cover for wildlife and giving wildlife a place to raise their young.

“Of course we do get the occasional California king snake and raccoons,” Myrdal said. “Luckily, coyotes can’t jump our fences.”

Kay Miller, membership chairman for the 120-strong Fullerton Beautiful group, said Myrdal has always been ahead of the game and believed in ecology early on.

“And I think a lot of her inspiration came from the Fullerton Arboretum,” Miller added.


Fullerton Beautiful will also honor Michele Zachariah at 646 W. Wilshire Ave., for her drought-tolerant garden and succulents, and Annadaire Gutierrez, for her artificial turf.

A special honor will be given to the city of Fullerton Landscape Maintenance Department for planting the drought-tolerant demonstration garden outside City Hall, and for its efforts in looking at alternatives to water-thirsty lawns.

To see more of The Orange County Register, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ocregister.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, The Orange County Register, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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