History of the Gardens at Falkirk

The UC Marin Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens
at Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael

Falkirk Cultural Center is a lovely turn-of-the-19th century estate that is now owned by the City of San Rafael and is the site of children’s events, weddings, and community gatherings.

A number of years ago an agreement was created between the UC Marin Mater Gardeners and the City of San Rafael (in conjunction with MMWD) to turn a number of desolate, empty, and unused areas of the estate into Demonstration Gardens. The idea was to both rid the property of an eyesore and to offer Demonstration Gardens for Sustainable Garden Practices, complete with educational signage and plant labels.

In the last seven years or so these gardens were created by UC Marin Master Gardeners and are now in full bloom. They chose to create a number of Beneficial and Habitat Gardens where plant choices and practices that attract beneficial creatures could be exhibited.

There is a garden that exists under a large oak tree and illustrates how to grow a garden under an oak tree where plant choices include grasses and bulbs that require no irrigated water. Adjacent to the Under Oaks Garden is a working compost area with educational signs. The Mediterranean Climate Garden divides plants into which part of the world they are from - all Mediterranean climate areas (South Africa, Australia, Chile, Mediterranean Basin and California/Baja). This garden shows a vast array of flora, some of it endangered in its native country. There is a dramatic Succulent Garden with the outrageous and beautiful flora that succulents represent.  The elegant and newly restored 1927 Greenhouse is also a place of education and propagation for the UC Marin Master Gardeners.

All of the gardens use correct horticultural practices, with signage about irrigation, plant choices, hydro zoning, and more.

Additionally, the gardens are the home of the popular “Falkirk Garden Series”, talks with demonstrations or hands-on learning experience on various aspects of gardening (pruning, low-water use plants, propagation, etc.)  These are followed by a work party in the garden where attendees can join in the fun of working in these community gardens.

The Demonstration Gardens also work with schools and other organizations for collaborative experiences (Marin Academy, Marin County Volunteer Programs, Centerpoint, Scout Troops, etc.) and educational opportunities.

These are beautiful gardens, offering both passive and active educational opportunities for the community at large and, best of all, they are free!