WaterWise Demo Garden
Maloney Waterwise Demo Garden Annual Community Volunteer Day
Master Gardeners, SCC volunteers, and volunteers from St Andrews Presbyterian Church, in their annual community workday, and from Sonoma Church of Scientology all worked together to maintain and improve this beautiful and water-efficient garden.
•The 4,000 sq. ft. garden was weeded, pruned, mulched and re-invigorated
•Several plants were replaced, and one Toyon grown too large for its space moved.
•Several yards of mulch were spread for water retention and weed supression
•The succulent garden was renovated, and a section sheet mulched to eliminate some Bermuda grass that had returned
•The raised-bed vegetable gardens in the back were re-planted
The garden was designed to be a demonstration and teaching tool for the community, to show that reduced water use can go hand-in-hand with beautiful landscaping. A mere block from the Plaza, the garden is very visible to both residents and visitors. East Region Master Gardeners conduct in-garden seminars and demonstrations, as well as hold a portion of the Sonoma Library Lecture Series in this garden at the Community Center. It is
Some Sonoma County Master Gardeners (including your Editor and Webmaster) have long felt that the County needed more teaching and demonstration gardens. Several of us in the East Region had discussed the idea of installing a centrally located, publicly visible, WaterWise demonstration garden. MG Cathy Williamson had coincidentally talked with Sonoma City Public Works director Milenka Bates to inquire whether the City would provide a suitable plot, and various were reviewed, but nothing ever really clicked.
These two projects converged at a meeting in May, 2009 and it was clear that a four-agency joint venture to accomplish two objectives at once made sense. Thus was born the Sonoma WaterWise Demonstration and Teaching Garden, a collaboration between Sonoma County Master Gardeners, City of Sonoma, Sonoma County Water Agency, and the Sonoma Community Center.
We quickly identified focus areas for the four parties: SCMG would be responsible for garden design, oversight of installation, and creation of a maintenance plan for the completed garden. Carrie Pollard at the SCWA had the contacts to acquire significant in-kind donations of material and labor for the project. Milenka Bates committed the City to a certain amount of funding for materials and labor. SCC provided the 4,000 sq. ft. parcel, of course, and committed to obtaining SCC member and community volunteers to do most of the preparation and installation.
Master Gardener and garden designer Jan Bryant was recruited to create the garden design and plan. MGs Cathy Williamson, Harriet Derwingson and Steven Hightower acted as project managers, with assistance from Ann Peden and several other East Region MGs.
SCWA requested that the design and plant selection result in water usage of no more than 30 percent of the water use for the existing lawn. SCC had several requirements regarding garden design, given that that area is much used for public events and gatherings, art exhibits and other high-traffic uses. Several design meetings were held to discuss style, layout, plant selection, and a scheme evolved where the garden would contain various sections highlighting different aspects of low water design (see sidebar).
Out of these deliberations Jan, who became quite passionate about the garden, and would later say “it's been an amazing project” completed a detailed design complete with photos of representative plant types, which was presented to and overwhelmingly approved by the Community Center board.
City work crews excavated two large ovals of existing lawn to prepare for hardscape/art exhibition areas, using the spoils to create two berms for the subsequent beds. Steel edging donated by Sonoma Materials was installed around the ovals and decomposed granite donated by Nun’s Canyon Quarry installed. Master Gardeners created a drip irrigation plan, HydroPoint Systems of Petaluma donated a “smart controller” (partially supported by a SCWA rebate) and local landscaping contractor Dave Waldron’s crew installed the drip system as a donation. Standard above-ground drip was used for most of the planted beds, and in-line emitter line was utilized under mulch in the low bunching lawn substitute areas of Carex pansa. Lucero Landscaping donated labor for installation of the lawn substitute area.
Master Gardeners have completed a garden management plan, have trained SCC staff in upkeep, and continue to manage ongoing garden maintenance with local volunteers. SCC Director Swett said "The community support for this has been truly amazing.”