Three Rivers, California: Public Native Plant Gardens

Three Rivers currently has five public gardens which were designed and planted by members of the local Redbud Garden Club. These gardens are in highly prominent sites, mostly along Highway 198 (Sierra Drive), so that the community and visitors can benefit from their beauty.  About 8 years ago the club began reviewing its historical garden projects with a closer focus on their sustainability, since plantings in earlier projects didn’t always survive the harsh climate extremes of Three Rivers.

In 2004, the Club was asked to develop a Fire-Safe Demonstration Garden of Native Plants at the CAL FIRE Station. They teamed up with a number of local groups and individuals to plant a garden that is beautiful, sustainable, and friendly to the environment…and that features magnificent foothill plants. They were fortunate to have help from Melanie Keeley, the horticulturist of Sequoia National Park (and Alta Peak Chapter Board Member), who had the expertise to guide them in correct plant choices and planting methods.

The Club has developed Garden Watcher teams who monitor sites to ensure their continued health and vitality. They also do the fine-tuning, like pruning, so that the gardens remain community treasures as well as educational tools and inspiration for the home gardener. The goal is to have gardens maintained and funded by the agencies whose sites they are on, although the Redbud Garden Club continues to support some gardens where this is not entirely possible.

Veterans Memorial Building
43490 Sierra Drive (Hwy 198)

The native trees, shrubs and wildflowers in this garden, initially planted in 2005-2006, brought the site into harmony with the natural landscape nearby and reduced the expensive water consumption on site, a prime concern for the Veterans Memorial Board. The Club was fortunate to have labor provided by Mountain Home inmates who removed large areas of overgrown plants so that new plantings could be established. So many redbuds, deer grass and other plants successfully reseed themselves here that this garden is becoming a nursery for seedlings that we transplant to other newer gardens. A second phase of the Memorial Building Garden has been designed and will be installed in the near future.

CAL FIRE Station
40900 Sierra Drive (Hwy 198)

The Garden Club was requested to develop a fire-safe native plant garden on the newly developed building site in 2005 by a fire captain who saw the value in a demonstration garden.  The garden required the teamwork of many individuals and entities and showed Club members the extent to which the community would be interested in “smart gardens.” Fire Station personnel have continued to expand the garden so that the grounds now include two memorial gardens, one with a shaded picnic table and dry stream bed, and a more irrigated area with a volleyball court and a lawn outside their quarters.  CAL FIRE is only seasonally staffed, therefore it has maintenance lapses and irregular irrigation that reinforce to us the value of native plants in tolerating difficult conditions.

U.S. Post Office
40857 Sierra Drive (Hwy 198)

The Post Office is a hub of Three Rivers where many residents have post office boxes and visit daily. The lovely native plant garden, originally planted in 1996, was extensively reconfigured and redesigned in 2007, at which time a formal dedication of the garden was held in memory of long time Redbud Garden Club member, Jean Darsey.

Tulare County Fire Station,
41214 South Fork Drive
, at the intersection with Hwy 198

The Garden Club, partnering with the County and fire personnel who staff this station year round, designed and planted this native plant garden in January 2009.

The fifth public garden is at the Three Rivers Library, on Eggers Drive behind the Three Rivers Elementary School.

Garden Watchers of the Redbud Garden Club

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