Investigating Flora and Fauna in a Secret Native Garden - Atlas Obscura
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Tujunga, California

Investigating Flora and Fauna in a Secret Native Garden

Where creatures and California native plants collide.

A love of gardening naturally evolved into a love for the beautiful creatures who live in gardens—especially birds. 

The Tongva Native Americans named the area Tujunga, which loosely translates to "The Place where Mother Nature Lives." But, of course, as "civilization" moved in, the Tongva got displaced and the habitat became increasingly fragmented.

But there's a hidden native Californian garden in Tujunga called Quail Hollow that started as a way to create a "green buffer zone" between a private residence (that now expands across three lots) and the rest of the world. Since 2001, Quail Hollow has blossomed to over 30,000 square feet, now home to more than 3,000 plants. 

On a visit arranged especially for the Los Angeles Obscura Society with Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein, we'll be guided through the wildlife-friendly garden—along its many winding paths, past a meandering stream that attracts over 100 species of birds year-round, and through various “micro environments.” We'll explore a desert landscape (sandy soil in sun), an oak woodland, and chaparral and riparian sections, all reflecting Southern California's own wide range of coastal, inland, and mountain plant communities.

Bird highlights include over a hundred daily quail and such rarities as the Red-naped Sapsucker, Least Bell's Vireo, and California Gnatcatcher. Squirrels, jack rabbits, coyote and even an occasional bobcat frequent the yard. 

Our host is the garden's creator, Ken Gilliland, who's a full-time fine and digital artist in addition to being a teacher of art, photography, birding, native plants, and other environmental issues. As a special bonus, we'll get to peek inside his art studio on the property.


  • Quail Hollow is a private residence and not a public garden. Please be respectful of our hosts' privacy.
  • Capacity is limited to give attendees the most up close and personal experience.
  • Address will be emailed out to confirmed attendees a day or two before the event.
  • Severe weather / heavy rain cancels.
  • Binoculars and cameras welcome! But no tripods or other bulky equipment, please.
  • Wear shoes with good tread for walking on uneven pathways.
  • Wildlife is unpredictable and, by nature, wild. We can't guarantee what or how much you'll see during your visit.
  • A signed liability waiver will be required from all attendees.
  • No minors under the age of 18.

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