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California Gardenscapes


San Diego Botanic Garden’s California Gardenscape area is divided into several ecological zones similar to those topographical areas found in Southern California.

Gardener Chris Garcia, who recently redesigned and now maintains this area in San Diego Botanic Garden, describes the areas found within this unique garden scape; how he created and developed these unique areas; and provides some helpful tips for home gardeners desiring to replicate one or more of these spaces in their own yards:

Overall, the ecologic zones in California Gardenscapes create a deeper sense of place with landforms corresponding to specific plant communities. The series of gardens facilitates a cadence around the path circuit, encouraging guests to slow-down, stop often and take-in each landscape vignette. This invites guests to consider not only individual plants but an entire drought-tolerant native landscape redesign of their own yard. But perhaps the greatest result is what cannot be seen; the connection one feels as a part of the natural ecology when constructing and caring for a native garden, so that the distinction between “natural” and “garden-like” becomes quite inconsequential.


Wildflower Meadow
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Montane Rock Garden
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Desert Garden
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Coastal Dune Garden
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Woodland Garden
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Blue-Grey Garden
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Foothill Garden
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Plant List

Adenostoma fasciculatum Chamise, Greasewood
Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. crassifolia Del Mar Manzanita
Artemisia californica Coastal Sagebrush
Baccharis vanessae Encinitas Baccharis

Ceanothus sp. California lilac
Ceanothus verrucosus Warty-stem Ceanothus
Cneoridium dumosum  Bush Rue
Constancea nevinii Wooly Sunflower, Catalina Silverlace

Coreopsis gigantea Giant Coreopsis
Corymbia ficifolia Red Flowering Gum
Dudleya brittonii Giant Chalk Dudleya, Britton’s Dudleya
Encelia californica Bush Sunflower
Eriodictyon crassifolium var. crassifolium Thick-leaf Yerba Santa

Eriogonum fasciculatum California Buckwheat
Eriogonum giganteum St. Catherine’s Lace
Heteromeles arbutifolia Toyon, Christmas Berry, California Holly
Opuntia littoralis Prickley Pear Cactus
Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum’ Desert Museum Palo Verde

Ribes speciosum Fuchsia-Flowering Gooseberry
Rhus integrifolia Lemonade-berry
Rhus lentii Pink-Flowering Sumac, Lentisc
Salvia mellifera Black Sage
Quercus dumosa Coast Scrub Oak

Yucca rostrata Beaked Yucca, Big Bend Yucca


Banner Photo:Mojave prickly poppy | Rachel Cobb