At Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the nursery's full of native California plants

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont says it's the largest garden dedicated to California native plants, a place where visitors can stroll 86 rolling acres and see flora in bloom from February through April. Now there is another reason to visit: the park's Grow Native Nursery. The nursery, which opened earlier this month, offers 1,500 plants and is staffed by horticulturists ready with expert advice. The plants for sale now? Manzanita, ceanothus (including unusual varieties), penstemon, salvia, California fuchsia, current and "some real oddballs that come out of the research work we do," says Rancho Santa Ana horticulturist Barbara Eisenstein. Check out the soap plant, used by Native Americans to produce a good lather. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays at 1500 N. College Ave. (909) 625-8767,

-- Paula Panich

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