By Brent McGhie, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, May 18, 2018.
The Butte County Master Gardener program began in 2008, and in 2013 the organization formed a partnership with the Patrick Ranch Museum. As a result of this partnership, the Patrick Ranch Museum dedicated about an acre of land for the Master Gardeners to develop a series of gardens that demonstrate sustainable gardening practices and highlight climate appropriate plants for the home gardener.
Most of California, including Butte County, is in a Mediterranean climate zone. From a global viewpoint, Mediterranean zones are relatively uncommon. In addition to California, Mediterranean climates exist only in limited areas in Chile, Australia and South Africa and around the Mediterranean Basin. These areas have a climate that is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool moist winters. It is our hope that by showcasing California natives and other plants that are adapted to this climate, we will inspire local gardeners to incorporate them into their landscaping plans. Master Gardener Kay Perkins has headed the Demonstration Garden project from its inception. She says “… a drought tolerant garden does not need to be rock and bark chip and cacti; you can have a beautiful garden that will attract wildlife as long as you choose native and Mediterranean plants that are adapted to our hot summers.” Click here for a list of Climate Appropriate Plants.
In 2017, Master Gardeners installed an herb garden within the Backyard Fruit Orchard and in the early spring of this year we planted a Summer Dry Garden. The Summer Dry Garden consists of plants that, once established, should be able to survive with just the water provided by winter rain. This garden should be a great resource for those who want to keep water usage at a minimum! Our most recent addition, just completed on May 9th of this year, is the Berm Garden. To create this garden, we built a retaining wall with repurposed material and backfilled it with topsoil. The resulting artificial embankment illustrates an effective alternative method of landscaping when you are faced with poor soils.
Master Gardeners are a volunteer organization, so all costs associated with plants, materials and labor that go into creating the Demonstration Garden are dependent on donations from individuals and local businesses, fundraisers, and countless volunteer hours. However, it's a labor of love and we encourage you to visit the gardens for landscaping ideas, or simply to enjoy the pleasant, tranquil garden environment we are establishing. The gardens are accessible for viewing whenever the Patrick Ranch Museum, 10381 Midway (between Durham and Chico), is open. Although Master Gardeners do not have regularly scheduled hours at the Demonstration Garden, they are often there planting and maintaining the grounds and are always happy to answer any questions you might have. Many of our educational workshops also take place at Patrick Ranch and workshop attendees often tour the gardens while they are there. For more information, please visit our website at: ucanr.edu/sites/bcmg. Garden questions can be directed to the Master Gardener Hotline at 530-538-7201.
If you would like to support the Demonstration Garden and other Butte County Master Gardener educational projects, you can make a tax deductible donation here.