Planting with natives gives extra joy, as pollinators visit. It’s been such a pleasure to see my native plants grow in my median strip. Some of absolutely thrived, while others have taken a while and now, after a year, are well-established. I learned that yarrows can take over, especially the white one! And the small bicolor penstemon is a bit fragile. I urge you to take advantage of the many local sources of true expertise on natives that we have locally, and this weekend is a great time to do that!

Free packets of Larner’s “Native Wildflowers for Pollinators” seeds will be given away this Saturday at two of the nurseries at the times listed below, while supplies last.  Jennifer Dirking (the native plant fan extraordinaire who made the Keystone Species signs) will have a table with seeds, information, and Keystone Signs.

Shop for natives in-person at East Bay Wilds, the Watershed Nursery, Oaktown, or Annie’s Annuals, and a percentage of your purchases will go to support the Tour.

Sat. Nov. 18 Native Plant Extravaganza (includes free talks)  The next Native Plant Extravaganza is coming up; shop for native plants during the Extravaganza next Saturday, and a percentage of your purchases will go to support the Tour.

The fall Native Plant Extravaganza takes place on Saturday, November 18, from 10:00-4:00; shop for natives in-person at East Bay Wilds, the Watershed Nursery, Oaktown, or Annie’s Annuals, and a percentage of your purchases will go to support the Tour.  Or… shop online…Order online from Green Thumb Works on either Saturday or Sunday Nov. 18 & 19, and a percentage of your purchase will also go to support the Tour.

Here are the addresses, and the list of free talks that will be given on Nov. 18:

Berkeley– Oaktown Native Plant Nursery, 702 Channing Way, Berkeley, (510) 387-9744.  Oaktown grows more than 200 different varieties of California native plants, including 15 types of grasses. View Oaktown’s plant list here.

Seed Giveaway: Jennifer Dirking will have a table at Oaktown from 10 am – 12 pm, with some native gardening information and free packets of Larner Seeds “Native Plant Pollinator Wildflower Mix,” while supplies last. Seed source:

Talks in the Nursery at Oaktown Native Plant Nursery
12:00 “Plant combinations for Bay Area gardens: Creating a mix of native plants that will thrive together” by Suzanne Carter. Oaktown’s owner, Suzanne, will lead you through a simple design process to come up with pleasing plant combinations for the home garden. The emphasis will be on plant size, proper spacing and color.

 Oakland – East Bay Wilds is located at 2777 Foothill Blvd., Oakland; note that the entrance is on 28th Ave. This nursery is normally only open to the public on Fridays, so don’t miss this chance to shop on a weekend!

While at East Bay Wilds, browse Pete’s extensive, eclectic collection of garden benches, tables, chairs, statues, planters, antiques, and tchotchkes available at great prices – a percentage of these purchases will also go to support the Tour. See the plant list here and see photos of gardens that Pete has designed and planted with natives here. (If you are interested in a consult, design, installation or maintenance for a California native landscape, email Pete at or call (510) 409-5858.)

1:00 “How to choose and place native plants in your garden” by Pete Veilleux, owner of East Bay Wilds

Richmond – Annie’s Annuals, 740 Market Ave. Richmond, (510) 215-3301. Did you know that Annie’s grows, sells, and ships more than 275 different varieties of California native plants? After entering the nursery turn left to find the natives section. Not sure what to plant where? Their helpful staff is happy to answer your questions and offer suggestions. See Annie’s native plant list here.

11:00 “Creating your own native wildlife sanctuary” – how native plants benefit our gardens and beyond, and how to support helpful insects, pollinators, birds and more to maintain a healthy ecosystem” by Charlotte Canner from Our Water Our World

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Finally the Spring Market Blooms!

by arlene on May 22, 2023

April showers bring May flowers…or so the old adage tells us. But rarely do we have showers as late as April, let alone actual rains in May. And all that rain did delay our spring housing market. Now, finally in May, we are seeing the increase in inventory we would normally have experienced at least two months earlier. Suddenly listing agents like me are finally bringing on the properties we’ve been working on for months, and in some cases for a year or more!  Buyers have more options, but for the best homes—updated properties that are well-located and well-presented—there is still tremendous demand.

A case in point: I was delighted to hear offers last week on my lovely listing at, The Dahlia House, loved by the same family for almost 75 years, and where the husband had grown prize-winning dahlias that neighbors still remember. I had been working on that home for almost a year, partly doing more fixing than expected, thanks to those crazy rains! First we installed a French drain when water intruded into the newly-finished lower level, and then a tree fell over in the backyard (that was a first for me!!) But the good karma of this property continued, and the absence of the tree opened up the back garden. The buyers are now confident that their newly-finished lower-level spaces will remain water free. And they rewarded us with a gorgeous offer. Another first in my 27-year career: a buyer bringing in an offer using the street address as the offer number! Given that the list price was $1,415M, the sellers are thrilled!

Twilight at 860 Grizzly Peak

The same day that I heard offers on 1932 Marin, I was heading up Marin Ave. to prepare for a video shoot of my newest listing at 860 Grizzly Peak. It will debut as you read this newsletter, and the website will just be going live at That property is another first for me: a home with ZERO street presence! But once folks take the walk down the recently-paved private drive they will be rewarded by seeing a mid-century gem! It’s a two bedroom, two bath home with an open living area with walls of glass, a new deck that looks directly out to the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’d like to see a true hidden retreat, come visit me next Sunday May 28, 2-4:30 pm. This past Sunday over 100 people wandered down the long drive to check out this hidden tree house!

Interest rates have mostly stabilized, and there is broad belief that they will actually go down in the fall. So buyers can opt now for an adjustable rate, and then refinance if/when that happens, and it feels like buyers have adjusted to this new interest rate environment. Luckily for me and my sellers, the last two listings where I have received offers, the successful buyer has brought in a cash offer, thereby providing certainty to the sellers, as well as a very quick close in two weeks or less. But the downside of all those cash offers? Because they need not have an appraisal, those cash buyers can offer prices that would not withstand the logic test of an appraisal, and so our Bay Area prices continue to climb, once again. Finally the Spring 2023 market is in full bloom!

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Earth Day Events Nearby 2023

April 19, 2023

Celebrating Earth Day 2023 Here are just a few of the special events you can enjoy as we celebrate the 53rd International Earth Day in the East Bay: Saturday April 22: Berkeley Bay Festival, 11 am – 4 pm Celebrate Earth Day at the Berkeley Marina. Enjoy live music, food, and activities for all ages. […]

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Go Solar NOW! Major changes to Solar in 2023

January 19, 2023

Despite hearing resounding objections from the public, scientists and even many politicians, in December of 2022 the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)  approved changes to modify the amount of money paid by PG&E and other utility providers to solar customers for excess electricity that homes provide to the grid. I partnered with a solar provider […]

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Focusing on Giving Thanks this Holiday in 2022

November 17, 2022

Holidays in 2022 are still going to be in transition, just like so many aspects of our world. We are fortunate that COVID is less deadly now, but the virus is still evolving. Some families may be aching to have a large family gathering again, while I know quite a few people are still being […]

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Support Local Businesses for Gifts and Celebrations!

December 16, 2021

The diversity of the East Bay is quite inspirational – it offers a little something for everyone. We know that many restaurants and small businesses have folded as a result of the pandemic, and others are having a difficult time staying open. To protect the variety of local businesses that make our community unique, let’s […]

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New spa bathroom in North Berkeley home with both vintage and modern mahogany!

August 22, 2021

I remember those first days of school when I was kid, when the teachers would always ask us to prepare a report on how we spent our summer. The timing is perfect for me to report how I spent my summer this year, and it was largely preparing a listing for sale. Normally that would […]

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Starting At Home: Stabilizing And Nourishing Our Environment

April 16, 2021

Did you know buildings produce as much smog as all of the light-duty vehicles in California? That’s about 40% of all of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, Berkeley was the first city in the country to adopt an electrification mandate for new construction and major rehabilitation. More than 30 California cities have followed similar […]

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How has the pandemic changed what homebuyers will be looking for in the coming year?

January 20, 2021

 I answered the question for the SoundOff! section of SF Gate for Sunday, January 17th. Here is a somewhat expanded response: In a word, most buyers simply want MORE than pre-pandemic, and the following trends are expected to continue: More space within the home: With families spending most of their time at home, they want […]

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Surprises Aplenty in the 2020 Real Estate Market!

December 30, 2020

Surprises were commonplace in this most uncommon year. One of the first major surprises was just how quickly the real estate market transitioned from on-hold in March, to a very active market as soon as we were declared an “essential service” the beginning of April. I’m grateful for the few buyers of mine who were […]

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