We built our house in the Sierra Nevada foothills in 2005 in the town of Bootjack just South of Mariposa, CA. The house is about half way down a West facing slope in an Oak Woodland plant community. The pad for the house is cut into the granite on the uphill side and filled to level on the downhill side. It's kind of like being on an island in the middle of a spectacular native plant garden. Given that I could never measure up to such natural beauty and the fact that I had no money and a bunch of plants in pots dug up from our various gardens along the way, I decided to just go with it and start the garden with what I had, which was a Butterfly Bush and a bunch of herbs.
Front under construction
I bought a few things here and there but mostly started lots of cuttings and lots of seed. The landscape, if you can call it that, is a style I would call "chumming for butterflies". There are about forty Butterfly Bush. This was before I was aware of the internet warnings of the dangers of Buddleia. I'm pretty old and most of my information still comes from books - old ones. Don't worry though, I started them all from cuttings off a single plant. In all these years they've only managed to produce a single offspring, so I think we're safe here. There are also more herbs than I can think of, fruit trees, berries, roses, shade trees, native shrubs, a mostly clover lawn, three raised beds for vegetables, and every flower I can get my dirt stained hands on. Four enormous dogs stand guard for me. The deer here are ravenous.
Back under construction
In the last six years I have learned more about plants and gardening than in all of my college and working years combined. Lack of money can be a blessing.
View from back
Just as with raising my children, raising my garden without the distraction of buying a bunch of stuff has forced me to focus on what is truly important, which is to really be with the people (and plants, and pets) you love, to know them well, and let them know you.