Plants, Life, Riverside is an ongoing interpretive project about plants in an urban setting. Where do plants live in this city of concrete, asphalt and stucco? Let’s find out.
Water is a precious commodity in southern California. It needs to be used wisely, managed wisely and conserved as much as possible. According to the Western Municipal Water District, 60% of all water used in a single family home is used to water its landscape. How can we manage this 60% as wisely as possible?
Riverside residents can find the answer to this question at the demonstration garden on the corner of Alessandro Blvd and Mission Grove Parkway. You may have seen this garden while traveling on Alessandro. More accurately, you may have seen the large banners hanging on the corner advertising community events such as Earth Night in the Garden, native plant sales or reminders to water less during a maintenance period.
If this is what you normally catch a glimpse of as you dart through the intersection, I invite you to explore what is behind these corner banners.
It’s official name is Landscapes Southern California Style. It is a demonstration garden managed by the Western Municipal Water District (WMWD), the water district that serves approximately 527 square miles of western Riverside County. Built in 1989, this garden is open to the public from 10 am – 4 pm daily (except holidays). Admission is free, as are the informational flyers in the garden’s Resource Patio. It only takes one visit to this informative garden to change your thinking about water conservation.
Upon entering the garden, visitors learn that early California settlers brought with them their taste for lush water-hungry plants. These were plants settlers grew at their previous homes located in high rainfall areas in the eastern United States. These types of plants were not practical choices then and they are not practical choices today, especially given the severe drought conditions in California. Fortunately, the WMWD demonstration garden presents homeowners with several water-wise alternatives.
Created by the WMWD with assistance and expertise provided by the University of California Cooperative Extension, the garden presents many ideas about how to create a California style garden that is beautiful, useful and healthy, while conserving water and saving homeowners time and money. Garden visitors can see examples of water-wise plants as they walk through the garden.They can also learn about irrigation, learn about the water cycle, and see an example of how to place water-wise plants around a patio.
One visit to the garden is almost certain to lead to many more visits because of the range of learning opportunities provided by the water district and local organizations such as the Riverside County Master Gardeners, the California Native Plant Society, the Iris Society and many others.
The Riverside County Master Gardeners work closely with the water district and host most of the educational events in the garden. They teach nine workshops per year, each drawing about 70 people. On the days they teach, up to 200 people visit their information table. The Master Gardeners now lead tours of the garden Wednesday through Sunday. To schedule a tour, download a request form on the Master Gardener’s website or the WMWD website.
If you’re interested in attending one of the free garden workshops presented by the Riverside County Master Gardeners and WMWD, here is a schedule of upcoming workshops:
Creating a Pet Safe Garden
April 12, 2014 at 11 AM
Presented by Cathy Konyn, Master Gardener
Edible Flowers in Your Garden
April 12, 2014 at 11 AM
Grow edible flowers that can add unique touches and flavors to food and drink. Presented by Jean Weiss, Master Gardener and UCR Botanic Gardens lecturer.
Local residents can also look forward to events such as Experts in the Garden scheduled for June 14, 2014 and the California Friendly Landscape Training class that takes a watershed-sustainability approach to gardening. The WMWD recently received funding for a customer handbook about how to be water-wise while living in a watershed. The effort to create this handbook will be led by WMWD horticulturist, Pam Pavela, who explained that water districts are taking a very serious approach to water management in the Santa Ana Watershed. Local water districts are working with the Santa Ana Watershed Protection Agency in an integrated planning effort titled One Water, One Watershed that addresses the water management issues for this region of southern California.
Landscapes Southern California Style is not the only demonstration garden in the Inland Empire. Demonstration gardens can also be found in Chino, Claremont, Montclair, Perris and Rancho Cucamonga. The newest garden in the Inland Empire is the Cal State San Bernardino Water Conservation Garden featuring desert plants, native plants and plants from Mediterranean regions. Residents can learn more about each of these gardens at IEGardenFriendly.com.
Did you know…
- Lists of California water-wise plants are created by water districts and cities after referring to the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species, a resource containing information about the water needs of over 3,500 taxa in six different climate regions of California?
- The Western Municipal Water District has an incentive to help residents replace their grass lawn with a more climate-appropriate landscape?
Learn more at WesternTurfReplacement.com.
- If you already have a water-wise landscape, you can show it off by entering Western’s regional landscape contest?