Waterwise Gardening

Welcome to the Waterwise Garden

Welcome to the Waterwise Garden of Bear Valley Springs! A haven for passionate gardeners and nature lovers, this garden is a testament to the beauty and resilience of native and xeric plants.

For many years, we've faced recurring droughts, leading to the belief that "Brown is the new Green". However, we stand to challenge this notion with the Waterwise Garden. We believe that with a little knowledge and wise choices, we can cultivate gardens brimming with vibrant flowers, lush plants, and teeming with life, all while using a limited amount of water.

In partnership with the Bear Valley Springs Garden Club, our goal is to help you learn the art of waterwise gardening. We want to show you that it's possible to have a stunning garden while also being mindful of water usage and environmental impact. Our mission is to educate our community about the benefits of native and xeric plants, and how they can be a part of creating a beautiful, sustainable, and water-efficient garden landscape.

Step into the world of waterwise gardening, where every drop of water counts, and every plant is nurtured to thrive in harmony with the local environment. Visit the Waterwise Garden and discover how you can make your garden a part of the solution to a greener, more sustainable future.

Interested to learn more? Explore the tabs to understand more about our garden, our practices, and the principles of waterwise gardening. If you're in the area, why not drop by for a visit?

Working With Nature

Waterwise gardening, sometimes referred to as xeriscaping or drought-tolerant gardening, is a strategic method of landscaping that focuses on conservation of water, promotion of local biodiversity, and creation of sustainable outdoor environments. It is a practical approach to gardening, especially in areas prone to water scarcity or drought. This efficient and environmentally friendly gardening strategy offers multiple benefits for residents, local wildlife, and the broader environment.

1. Water Conservation

The most obvious advantage of waterwise gardening is its potential for significant water savings. By favoring plants native to the local climate, which are naturally drought-tolerant, and by grouping plants according to their water needs, you can drastically reduce the amount of supplemental watering required. Efficient irrigation techniques further help in minimizing water wastage, making every drop count. This is not only beneficial for the environment, but can also result in substantial savings on your water bills.

2. Supporting Local Biodiversity

Waterwise gardens often prioritize the use of native plants. These species have co-evolved with local wildlife and are typically better at providing food and shelter to local birds, insects, and other wildlife. By creating a waterwise garden, you contribute to the preservation and enhancement of local biodiversity. This creates a balanced ecosystem where plants and animals support each other, resulting in a more vibrant and healthy garden.

3. Improving Soil Health

Waterwise gardening practices, such as adding organic compost and mulches, improve the structure, nutrient content, and water-holding capacity of soils. Healthy soil is the foundation of any thriving garden. It fosters a robust network of microorganisms, insects, and worms that work together to nourish your plants, making them more resilient and less dependent on chemical fertilizers.

4. Lower Maintenance Requirements

Once established, waterwise gardens generally require less maintenance than traditional gardens. Native and drought-tolerant plants are more resistant to local pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. With the appropriate plant selection and positioning, as well as the implementation of efficient irrigation systems, your garden can largely take care of itself, freeing up your time for other activities.

5. Creation of Wildlife Habitats

Many species of birds, butterflies, and bees are attracted to the native plants featured in waterwise gardens. These creatures play essential roles in our ecosystem, such as pollinating flowers and controlling pests. By creating a waterwise garden, you are in essence creating a sanctuary for these beneficial animals, encouraging a natural balance in your garden.

6. Climate Resilience

In the face of climate change, waterwise gardening plays a crucial role in promoting sustainability. Drought-tolerant plants are more resilient to variable weather conditions, ensuring your garden remains beautiful and alive even during periods of water scarcity or extreme temperatures. As such, waterwise gardening helps in building resilience against the impacts of climate change.

7. Enhancing Aesthetics

Waterwise gardening doesn't mean compromising on beauty. With careful planning and design, a waterwise garden can be just as visually appealing as a traditional one, often offering year-round interest due to the diverse selection of plants that can be included. Native flowers can provide a variety of colors and shapes, and even drought-tolerant grasses and succulents have their unique charm.

By adopting waterwise gardening, you are making a commitment towards a sustainable future. It's a step forward in protecting our precious resources, preserving our environment, and promoting a harmonious relationship between humans and nature. We hope you find inspiration in our Waterwise Garden and carry its lessons into your own gardening practices.

Discover the Diversity of Our Garden

The Waterwise Garden is a living testament to the beauty and efficiency of waterwise gardening. It is a thriving ecosystem, carefully designed to showcase a diverse selection of plants that are adapted to our local environment and efficient in their water usage. This garden is not just an assortment of beautiful plants, but a vibrant habitat supporting crucial processes like pollination.

Understanding Pollination

Before we explore the diversity of our garden, it's important to understand the crucial process that keeps it alive - pollination. More than 150 of our common food crops, from apples to zucchinis, rely on pollinators to move pollen among flowers. This process facilitates fertilization, which ultimately leads to the development of fruits and seeds.

Pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds, moths, bats, butterflies, flies, and beetles, are essential for the survival of millions of plant species. The process of pollination requires pollen from one flower to reach another, which is often achieved through the accidental transfer by pollinators as they seek nourishment from flowers. This unique relationship between flowers and pollinators is a result of thousands of years of coevolution.

Every aspect of a flower, from the designs on its petals to the timing of its bloom, plays a vital role in attracting these pollinators. In turn, the pollinators unknowingly serve as crucial liaisons between flowers that would otherwise never interact, ensuring the successful pollination and propagation of these plants.

Diverse Plant Selection

Our Waterwise Garden showcases two main categories of plants: Native Plants and Adaptive Plants.

Native Plants are species that naturally grow well in our local zone. These plants are already established in our region and thrive with little to no additional watering once established. Our garden showcases a variety of these plants, offering inspiration on how they can be effectively integrated into your own garden.

Adaptive Plants are those that have been cultivated to grow well in specific zones, including Bear Valley Springs. These species might not be native to our region, but they are hardy and can thrive under the local conditions with minimal water usage.

Special Plant Groups

Aside from the main categories, our garden also highlights some special plant groups, such as Animal Resistant Plants and Plants for Pollinators.

The Animal Resistant Plants in our garden have been chosen for their natural resistance to local wildlife, including deer, elk, rabbits, and ground squirrels. These plants offer a way to maintain a beautiful garden without the worry of it being damaged by these animals.

Our selection of Plants for Pollinators are those known to attract vital pollinators, such as birds, butterflies, and bees. These plants not only enhance the beauty of your garden but also contribute to maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Visit our Waterwise Garden

Whether you want to explore these plant categories in person or prefer to delve into our comprehensive plant database, our Waterwise Garden offers abundant inspiration and knowledge. We invite you to discover the diversity and importance of waterwise gardening, which saves water, supports local biodiversity, and contributes to a sustainable future.

Inviting Nature into Our Backyards

In the Bear Valley Springs Water Wise Garden, we embrace the beauty and importance of our local wildlife. By choosing specific plants, we can create a vibrant ecosystem right in our own gardens that attract an array of birds, butterflies, and bees. These creatures not only add life and color to our surroundings but also play significant roles in pollination and pest control.

Feathered Friends

There's nothing quite like the melodious song of birds to make a garden feel alive. By planting specific types of plants, we can invite these avian wonders to our gardens. Many of our plants are specially chosen to attract a wide variety of birds, providing them with food sources and nesting materials.

Butterflies: Nature's Artwork

Watching butterflies flit from flower to flower adds a delightful charm to any garden. In our Water Wise Garden, we have numerous butterfly-friendly plants that provide them with essential nectar. These plants not only attract butterflies but also contribute to their survival by providing necessary sustenance. As part of your visit, you can learn how to bring this beauty to your own garden and become a critical part of their life cycle

Bees: The Unseen Garden Heroes

Bees are vital to the survival of our gardens and the wider ecosystem. They are essential pollinators, contributing to the growth of trees and flowers. While they might be small and often go unnoticed, their impact is immense. The Water Wise Garden features plants that are attractive to bees, helping to boost local bee populations.

Each plant in our garden has a QR code that you can scan to learn more about the wildlife it attracts. This way, you can tailor your own garden to invite the types of creatures you most enjoy. Our aim is to promote a balanced ecosystem that supports local wildlife, enhancing the beauty of our community and playing a part in preserving biodiversity.

In addition to making your garden a sanctuary for local wildlife, waterwise gardening also reduces water usage and fosters healthier soil conditions. It’s a sustainable choice that contributes to the betterment of our community and the environment as a whole.

Discover how to make your garden a haven for wildlife at the Bear Valley Springs Water Wise Garden. Your garden can become a crucial part of supporting our local biodiversity, creating a positive impact that extends beyond your backyard. Come visit to learn more!

Butterfly Garden: A Haven for Colorful Wings

What is a Butterfly Garden?

Butterfly gardening, as defined by Wikipedia, is a meaningful and interactive way to create, improve, and maintain a habitat for butterflies, skippers, and moths[. These gardens serve a vital role in promoting healthy pollination in the surrounding area. As Edward’s Lawn and Landscaping explain, butterflies are essential pollinators that, much like bees, collect pollen from flowers and plants on their legs and bodies as they sip nectar.

A butterfly garden, according to Kidsgardening.org, showcases a vibrant array of nectar-producing plants, attracting not only butterflies but often hummingbirds as well. It also offers plants that feed the caterpillar stage of the butterfly lifecycle. In effect, a butterfly garden becomes an educational platform for children to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly and the intimate relationship between plants and animals.

Butterflies of the Tehachapi Mountains

As reported by Jon Hammond in The Loop Newspaper, during the warmer months, the Tehachapi Mountains become a sanctuary for butterflies. Blooming wildflowers and garden blossoms offer an abundance of food and refuge for these nectar-feeding adult insects. Here's an overview of the butterfly species you might encounter here:

Painted Lady - Iain H. Leach

Spring: Painted Lady butterflies, considered to be the "most cosmopolitan butterfly in the world," migrate northward each March and April. Starting their lives as tiny caterpillars in Mexico, they transform into adults and journey north to populate the upper half of the North American continent.

Summer: The Western Tiger Swallowtail, typically the largest butterfly seen locally, is a common summer visitor[^4^]. Recognizable by their big pale-yellow wings marked with black stripes, they flock to cultivated plants like the Butterfly Bush.

Summer: The Monarch butterflies, though not as numerous as they used to be, are still a common sight[^4^]. The distinctive Monarch caterpillars, marked with bands of yellow, black, and white, feed on the Narrowleaf Milkweed found in abundance in the Tehachapi Mountains.

Monarch Caterpillar

The Variable Checkerspot butterflies are a sight to behold, especially during favorable years when their numbers dramatically increase[^4^]. They are mostly black and white with orange highlights when viewed from above, and mostly orange and white with black highlights when viewed from below.

Many butterfly species, such as the California Sister, exhibit bright patterns on the upper side of their wings while their undersides are more muted or camouflaged. This camouflage makes them hard to spot when they land among the dried oak leaves.

Medium-sized butterflies like the Buckeye, named for their six attractive "eye spots" on the upper side of their wings, enjoy feeding on Rabbitbrush.

Lastly, the small Cabbage White butterfly, initially introduced from Europe in the 1860s, is a common sight. Despite being a garden pest during their larval stage, as adults, they do no harm unless laying eggs on cabbage plants.

A butterfly garden in the Tehachapi Mountains, with its diverse butterfly population, provides a vibrant, learning-filled, and explorative environment.



  1. Wikipedia
  2. Edward’s Lawn and Landscaping
  3. Kidsgardening.org
  4. Hammond, Jon. (April 10, 2021). "Butterflies in the Tehachapi Mountains." [The Loop Newspaper]
  5. Photos courtesy of CalScape California Native Plant Society

All information provided by the Bear Valley Springs Garden Club.

Seven Principles to Create a Water-efficient Landscape

Waterwise gardening is a smart and sustainable approach to landscaping. By following a few fundamental principles, you can create a beautiful, vibrant garden that thrives with minimal water input. Here are the seven principles of waterwise gardening:

  1. Planning and Design: A comprehensive landscape plan is crucial for a successful waterwise garden. Consider the property's intended uses, the regional zone and micro-climates, existing vegetation, and the land's topography. Most importantly, group plants by their water needs.
  2. Soil Analysis: Soil can vary significantly within a property. Carry out a soil analysis to determine the right plants for each area and identify necessary soil amendments. Improved soil structure through amendments like compost can enhance water penetration and retention.
  3. Appropriate Plant Selection: Choose plants that are adapted to your site and group them according to their water needs. Consider factors like a plant's ultimate size, shape, color, and texture. You can maximize water conservation by selecting plants that require minimal supplemental water.
  4. Practical Turf Areas: Turf requires more water than most plants, so limit its size and use. Consider other ground cover options that may be more sustainable and equally beautiful.
  5. Efficient Irrigation: A well-designed irrigation system can conserve a significant amount of water. Water plants only when necessary and do it deeply to encourage robust root growth. Consider drip, micro-irrigation, or soaker hoses.
  6. Mulching: Applying a 3-4 inch layer of mulch can improve water penetration, retain soil moisture, prevent erosion, deter weeds, and maintain even root temperatures.
  7. Appropriate Maintenance: Maintaining your plants and irrigation system properly will preserve your waterwise landscape. A healthier, waterwise garden often requires less fertilizer, pesticides, and other chemicals, making maintenance easier and more cost-effective.

Want to dive deeper into each of these principles? Visit the Waterwise Garden and use the interactive signs to learn as you go!

Journey of the Waterwise Garden

Our Waterwise Garden embarked on its journey in 1998. Over two decades later, many of the original plants continue to thrive, demonstrating the resilience and longevity of well-chosen, waterwise plantings.

Recently, the Bear Valley Springs Garden Club undertook a year-long project to revitalize and beautify this water-conserving haven. We have updated the garden, while ensuring that it remains true to its original purpose: educating local gardeners about growing beautiful gardens with minimal water usage.

Strategically located at the corner of S. Lower Valley Rd and Cumberland, next to the parking lot at the CSD office, the garden is easily accessible to residents and visitors alike. A walk through the Waterwise Garden will unveil a plethora of plants, each one adding its unique charm and functionality to the overall landscape.

Garden Features and Enhancements

Each plant in the garden is marked with a sign that provides a QR code that will take you to a site where you can learn more about that plant

With the garden's recent revitalization, we've introduced new features to enhance your visit. Each plant in the garden is now clearly marked by bright signs. These signs not only identify the plant but also provide a QR code that you can scan with your phone. Scanning the code will take you to an informational site where you will learn about the plant's characteristics, care instructions, watering needs, and more.

As you explore our garden, you will also discover how plants can attract various types of wildlife. Our signs will indicate if a plant is known to attract birds, butterflies, bees, or a combination of all three. So, if you have a soft spot for hummingbirds or enjoy watching butterflies, we can guide you on what to plant in your own garden.