Sonoma Botanical Garden launches fire, water wise California native plant project

Sonoma Botanical Garden announces new collaborative project to showcase California native plants that are fire-resistant and water-efficient and help sustain local wildlife.|

Sonoma Botanical Garden announced a new project on Jan. 31 to plant a California native demonstration on the nonprofit’s grounds.

In collaboration with Sonoma Ecology Center and Habitat Corridor Project, the garden will feature environmentally sustainable flora and will be unveiled in stages over the next few years.

The pioneering Sonoma County partnership will develop a fire and water wise demonstration garden to showcase the beauty, viability and practicality of native plants. Such flora can safeguard against wildfires, promote water conservation and sustain local wildlife.

The project aims to create an educational landscape surrounding Sonoma Botanical Garden’s Welcome Center. According to a press release from Sonoma Botanical Garden, the initiative represents a significant stride toward sustainable landscape design and environmental stewardship in Sonoma.

“We’re thrilled to embark on this innovative project alongside Sonoma Ecology Center and Habitat Corridor Project, which is generously supported by the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation,” Jeannie Perales executive directors of Sono ma Botanical Garden said.

The collaboration leverages the expertise and resources of three regional organizations who are dedicated to conservation, education and ecological resilience, according to Perales.

Additionally the project will build on Sonoma Botanical Garden’s recently opened California Oaks Trail and the organization’s mission to inspire appreciation of beauty and value of native plants along its Asian plant collection, Perales said.

The project, which recently broke ground, will be unveiled to the public in steps over several years. The garden will offer an immersive experience for guests to explore and understand the vital role native plants can provide in the future of California gardening.

The fire-resistant and water-efficient collection will serve as a demonstration of practical techniques for homeowners, landscape professionals and community planners to create similar landscapes that support biodiversity, according to the press release.

“The Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation is supporting Sonoma Botanical Garden’s new focus that will connect more people with nature and educate them about the beauty, resilience and importance of our native plant species,” Delle Maxwell, the foundation president, said.

The demonstration garden will serve as an educational hub with public programs for all ages and special tours designed to connect locals with California flora.

Bob Schneider, the design and implementation project manager with Sonoma Ecology Center, said botanical gardens are places of beauty, respite and appreciation of the natural world and can serve as sites for biodiversity and conservation.

“California is a biodiversity hot spot, and Sonoma Valley in particular is home to a lot of plant diversity. We are excited to showcase more of our region's native plants, as well as demonstrate fire-wise landscape design principles,” Schneider said.

April Owens, executive director of the Habitat Corridor Project, said the garden will bring a substantial habitat to support the biodiversity that has been lost in Sonoma Valley. It will also provide an opportunity to demonstrate how to utilize local plants in California landscapes.

Sonoma Ecology Center is honored to diversify Sonoma Botanical Garden’s native plant collection with both common flora in the nursery trade and rare and protected plants in Sonoma Valley, Owens said.

Visitors can learn the value of adding larger California native shrubs to support pollinators such as butterflies, birds and bees and the benefit of swales ― grassy depressions that control stormwater velocity ― and rain gardens to collect and filter water and plant design for defensible space, according to Owens.

For more information on Sonoma Botanical Garden, visit

Learn more about the Sonoma Ecology Center at, the Habitat Corridor Project at the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation at

Sonoma Botanical Garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 12841 Hwy 12 in Glen Ellen. Call 707-996-3166 or email with questions.

You can reach staff writer Emma Molloy at

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