O Christmas Berry

DECORATING THE HOUSE for the holidays is a cherished pastime for many. But what if you could let Mother Nature do the work for you? Margaret Graham of Mostly Natives Nursery in Tomales explains that planting local fruit-bearing shrubs like wax myrtles or toyons can give your yard a festive touch. The bright-red pomes produced by the toyon have helped it earn an especially appropriate nickname — the Christmas berry. The shrub is visited by butterflies and birds alike and has a mild, hawthorn-like scent. The benefit of this and other local vegetation is more than cosmetic. “The coastal ecosystem needs these plants,” says Graham. “All the native insects evolved to coexist with them.” This is the final nursery season for Graham and her husband Walter Earle; they are closing after 33 years and moving on to enjoy their retirement — but worry not, a new owner will open a shop under the same name in Point Reyes Station this spring.