There are many beautiful native plants in this area that would enhance any flower bed and many of them can survive with very little additional water. My favorites are Penstemmon, Lupine, Flax, Scarlet Gilia, Oregon Sunshine and Sulphur Buckwheat. Also, making a grand statement in the garden with its tall clumps is the native perennial rye grass, not to be confused with the weedy annual rye grass.
If you don’t already have these growing on your property, the best way to get them is not from seed but from seedlings. I have tossed out gathered seeds at the same time that the plants were dropping their seeds and not had any germinate. Yet once I got a plant established, the seeds that it dropped (with no help from me) germinated with no problems. The seedlings should be gathered either in early fall or late spring, and it’s very important to gather the smallest seedlings you can find—those with less than 4 leaves are ideal. That means that you have to know what the leaves look like, as well as the flowers, but if you try to dig up native plants that are any bigger, they will probably die. They often have long taproots and if you break the taproot you have most likely killed the plant. I was able to find seedlings on a friend’s property and that was how I got my plants started. Be very careful to take as much soil as possible so as to not disturb the roots, and plant them in their new location immediately. They will then need to be watered regularly for a few weeks.
Another way to propagate some of the natives is by cuttings. Penstemmon is very easy to strike from a cutting, and if you can get a piece that has a few roots it is almost foolproof. Perennial rye grass, Oregon Sunshine and Sulphur Buckwheat will also grow from root cuttings, but it will not work for Flax, Lupine or Scarlet Gilia.
One thing to be careful about while you are out hunting, is to avoid the very pretty but invasive introduced plants. Two of these are Oxeye Daisy and Bachelor’s Buttons. They are lovely and they grow so very easily—too easily, and that is the problem as they threaten to displace our natives. It’s best just to enjoy them in the vacant lots and along the roadsides where they are already quite entrenched, but not to help them with their takeover.