Native Plant Garden

Vallecitos donates California native plant garden
to Heritage Park to connect to area’s cultural past

With a desire to show the community the beauty of a nature-inspired water-wise garden, the Vallecitos Water District donated a California native plant garden to Heritage Park. It was a collaborative effort between the Vallecitos Water District, the City of San Marcos, and several other local organizations. It is unique in that it features the exclusive use of California native plants in the landscaping. The native garden was installed in one day by hundreds of volunteers during a community event in 2008. Greg Rubin, from California’s Own Native Landscape Design, volunteered his free time to design the garden and install the preliminary irrigation. 

The two key components of the garden are a Victorian Formal garden and an ethnobotanical  garden (that demonstrates the cultural use of plants). The south portion of the garden (Victorian Formal) uses box hedges of garden Franciscan manzanita to contain colorful seaside daisies, while utilizing sunset manzanita and coffeeberry to create foundational accents around the  pavilion structure. Spires of Gowen cypress complete the formal look. The north section of the garden (Ethnobotanical) incorporates California native plants like salvia, Mojave yucca, basket bush, and golden currant and includes a walking trail made of decomposed granite. Highlighted in the ethnobotanical garden are the cultural uses of plants used by the Native Americans that used to live in the area.

 In general native gardens use sixty to ninety percent less water than conventional gardens. Maintenance is also reduced by fifty percent. Fertilizer is generally not necessary as the plants are native to California and therefore thrive in the native soils. In addition to the native plants, some other water saving features of the Heritage Park native plant garden include low-volume sprinkler heads and redwood bark mulch to retain moisture in the soil. The key to a native garden design is a strong backbone of seventy percent evergreens, with colorful foliage and flowering perennials. The end result will be plants blooming all year round! This community garden provides beauty, while clearly demonstrating examples of a drought-friendly landscape. The general public can view the garden during normal park hours and possibly make a determination about how they wish to introduce native plants into their own yards. For more information or brochures on native plant gardening, please contact the Vallecitos Water District conservation office at (760) 744-0460 or

Original rendering of the native garden

*Original rendering
of the native garden