Gardening Classes and Water Feature Tours

You, too, can garden sustainably and conserve water with insights gained from the Classes and Water Harvesting Tours described below.

California's drought continues.  There is no better time to install a rain garden or a water capture and reuse system in the interest of conservation. Rainbarrels of all shapes and sizes are becoming readily available and landscape architects are increasingly including innovative systems for water conservation in their designs. You will be amazed at the amount of water that can be captured off of the roof of your home when you do the math. Here is the formula for calculating rainfall volume.

Private Water Harvesting Tours of Judy's half-acre "no water garden" and her low-tech water capture and reuse systems.

The two-hour tours include a discussion of permaculture techniques for water capture and storage.  There will be a chance to see the components of Judy's graywater and rainharvesting systems and learn of the logistics of installing such systems, their costs and benefits.  Participants will see an assortment of drought-tolerant plants  of varying shapes and sizes in the areas where Judy gardens and learn about some important resources for the sustainably-minded when it comes to water conservation for garden purposes.  A great references here is Judy's article Free Rain.  

Gardening with Nature in Mind
, Seed Saving and Preserving the Harvest and Propagating California Native Plants are offered fall and spring under Bringing Back the Natives auspices (see descriptions below). Class schedule posted at

Gardening with Nature in Mind

Join renowned environmental educator Judy Adler in this in-depth tour of her half-acre Walnut Creek garden. Judy’s suburban garden, part farm, part classroom, part nursery, and part nature preserve, features happy chickens, a rainwater harvesting system, a pond, and many California native and/or pollinator friendly plants. Judy’s was one of the first gardens to be certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, and it is now certified as a habitat for pollinators by the Xerces Society.

Contemplating incorporating chickens in your garden? Tour Judy’s coop and get the scoop on space, light, predator protection, nest boxes, and more.

Curious about pond construction and management, or installing a rain harvesting system? Judy’s rain water storage system stores more than 10,000 gallons of winter rainwater for summer use. Rain water is used to refill her large pond, and also to irrigate the edibles in her garden and orchard. Learn how-to, why, and the cost of installing a rainwater-harvesting system.

Interested in incorporating native plants with edibles and Mediterranean plants? The garden contains more than 400 plant species, many of them native to California, drought tolerant, and attractive to wildlife. Judy’s garden has been planted with more than thirty-five fruit trees, canes, and vines, including a number of unique varieties, such as Nubiana plums, Stella cherries, Seckel Pears, Sanguinelli blood oranges, Minneola tangelos, kiwis, Hachiya persimmons, and Fuji apples. The eclectic collection of plants in this garden is sure to delight. Bring your questions!

Want to learn more about the importance of saving seeds, and how to do it? Tour the recently-constructed seed-storage shed and learn how to prepare and store seeds.

Browse the Adler Horticultural Library, and receive printed resource information on the topics discussed throughout the day. Bring a brown bag lunch, and enjoy it in the garden. Plants from Mountain Mama’s Nursery will be available for sale during breaks, at lunch, and following the workshop.

You can count on Judy to share, with great honesty and humor, the reason for and real story behind each of the sustainable features of her 30 year old garden.

Judy Adler is an environmental educator and consultant who has received numerous prestigious awards for her work. She teaches ecology to hundreds of schoolchildren during unique outdoor field trip experiences through her business, Diablo Nature Adventures.

Seed Saving and Produce Preservation

This workshop will review the elements of ecology that are fundamental to healthy land management—be it the home garden, urban farm, or other landscape—in a sustainable way. Seed-saving is one of the most important of all of the sustainable gardening practices. During this workshop you will learn the mechanics of saving seeds and the social and political importance of doing so. We’ll review the basics of botany and plant and pollinator relationships will be discussed. Registrants will propagate plants by divisions and cuttings and take home the results of this exercise.

Participants will learn to recognize seeds from a variety of California native, Mediterranean climate, and food producing plants, and will be provided with a list of great resources for more in-depth information on the topics covered.

As a bonus, this workshop will include elements of food preservation (juicing, freezing, and dehydrating) and foraging from native and other arid climate plants.

Attendees should bring cuttings, divisions, and seeds to swap, and containers for taking home plants from the Adler Garden. This is your opportunity to view Judy’s diverse Mediterranean climate garden with its many mature, beautiful California natives.

This class is not meant to provide all of the answers, but rather to start the discussion, bring together like-minded souls and send those who wish into a new horticultural direction. If you are interested in taking your gardening skills to whole new level, then this is the class for you.

Native Plant Propagation

Join Judy Adler for a hands-on workshop where you will learn how to propagate native plants from seeds, cuttings and divisions and take home a variety of plants you have propagated yourself. 

Register for the Select Tours at


YOUR GROUP ACTIVITIES – You organize the group and we offer the program

  • Acorn Revegetation (Fall only)

  • Water System Tours

  • Botany Basics – Plants are crucial to life. Learn seed saving, soil enhancement, ecological gardening, plant propagation, plant-pollinator relationships, and more


Center for Food Safety
Organic Seed Alliance
Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park
California State Parks
Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association
Save Mt. Diablo
The Oakland Museum
The Xerces Society
Beyond Pesticides
Native Here Nursery


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