The waterwise garden demonstrates how to conserve water resources and discourage insect pest infestation. The garden surrounds the Museum’s building and is an excellent demostration of an urban water conservation garden.
Many of the plants and techniques featured in the garden can be adapted to use in private landscapes, such as front yards and gardens. The plant pallet, selected by landscape architect Eric Barnett, is derived from both the historic and environmental requirements of the site. Water-conserving shrubs (such as Artemisia and Lavandula), grasses (such as Pennisetum) and perennials (such as Amaryllis) from Mediterranean-type environments are mixed with cultivated varieties of North American natives (like Gaura and Calylophus) and California natives (like Penstemon and Arctostaphylos) to provide a variety of foliage textures and a spectrum of seasonally-changing floral color.
The larger, standard plants are trees (the palm Chamaerops humilis and the South African Calodendrum capense) chosen to compliment the Renaissance Revival outlines of the structure. Raised planters now occupy areas once covered by turf grass, giving greater visual exposure to each series of shrubs. A digitally-controlled irrigation system is augmented by soil moisture and precipitation sensors (which prevent the system from running when ample water is available). Heavy mulching slows loss of soil moisture between waterings.