East Bay Wilds began as a small gardening service called ‘Pete’s Gardens’ in 2004. Pete had reached a point where his 17 years in social services both in the USA and throughout Latin America was no longer cuttin’ the mustard. Exploring our remaining wild places and gardening with native plants have been passions [obsessions?] of his since he was a youngster.
Pete grew up in New Hampshire where his father has a similar contagious obsession about exploring the wilds. He grew up in a house that the family built out in the woods in the Connecticut River Valley. Most of his memories are about exploring the woods, creeks, rivers, beaver ponds, and collecting insects, plants, rocks, wild foods and leaves for an unending stream of projects. After a day in the woods, he would spend hours reading through his parents’ library of field guides, attempting to attach a name to everything he found.
In 2003, he began the native plant nursery. At first, he would give away his horticultural progeny, but then people began to offer him money for the plants he propagated and then to have him design small landscapes for their yards. Pete says that he owes a lot of thanks to those folks who had faith in him and allowed him to experiment with their yards. He’s learned a lot from those early days and now he regularly designs and builds hardscape for use with native plants for long-lasting, self-sustaining landscapes, which help people get the maximum use and pleasure from their small (and not-so-small) patches of earth.
One of Pete’s goals is to help people make the connection between their yards and the greater, wild world around us. He wants people to experience the beautiful harmony that he sees around him when exploring the woods, meadows and high rocky outcrops around the Bay Area. He also wants people to recognize when this harmony is not present – when one or more non-native, invasive species has run amok and is destroying the harmony.
It has become increasingly apparent to Pete that what we experience as ‘pretty’ or ‘attractive’ or ‘serene’ is nothing more than the confluence of creatures which have developed complex relationships between each other and their geographic environment over eons. Every plant native to a particular site has dozens or more creatures feeding, or in some way living off it. This constant barrage of tiny bites is what gives natives their wonderfully twisted, ancient and world-worn appearance. It also makes them essential for the survival of every creature in that environment.