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Falkirk Gardens

Stroll through our beautiful demonstration gardens

The University of California Marin Master Gardeners, in partnership with the City of San Rafael,  created demonstration gardens, which include Under Oaks Garden, Habitat Garden, Beneficial Garden, Lathe House Garden, Succulent Garden, Five Mediterranean Climate Zone Garden, and the most recently added Herb & Bee Garden. 

Falkirk Gardens

Plant Sales

A few of the sales to look forward to in 2020 are California native plants, tomatoes, succulents, and pollinators.

  • July- Succulents. Saturday 7/11 from 8:00am-Noon @ Falkirk Greenhouse

Volunteer Work Days- Garden Parties with the Experts

Join Master Gardeners and work in the gardens. Volunteers meet the Second Saturday of the month from 9:00am-Noon, almost year round.  Contact Darcie Chellew to be connected with the Volunteer Coordinator.

Workshops & Educational Talks 

Master Gardeners offer a Continuing Education Talk and Demonstration each month at Falkirk Cultural Center.  It's a wonderful way to learn, gain hands-on experience, meet other Master Gardeners, and simply enjoy the beautiful gardens.

  • Every 2nd Saturday monthly, 9:00am- Noon
  • FREE to public with $5 suggested donation, unless noted.

Master Gardener Updates


Gail Mason, Master Gardener

The Greenhouse at Falkirk is now officially the “Mulryan - UC Marin Master Gardener Greenhouse.”  MG Larry Mulryan has saved Falkirk in any number of ways—primarily when he in 1973, as Mayor, facilitated the purchase of the estate and saved it from being razed to the ground.  Falkirk Cultural Center is now a treasured venue for public events, celebrations and general public enjoyment. Thank you Larry!

The city also recognized and honored the many devoted Master Gardeners who developed, installed and have maintained the seven beautiful Demonstration Gardens as well as the hardworking volunteers who rehabilitated what was a run down, dysfunctional building into a beautiful, highly functioning working greenhouse.

Looking to the future, we will be holding four or five workshop/demonstrations as Continuing Education over the next few months, beginning with our annual: Rose Pruning Talk & Demonstration with Don Chapman.



Punkie Ebert, Master Gardener

While many of the original plants in the California Natives Garden have thrived here for many years, the garden has experienced quite a transition this year.  In replacing ailing shrubs and overgrown grasses the focus has been on showing the dubious gardener that California natives are truly landscape-worthy:  The various low-growing Ceanothus, which flower at different times, will make a striking contrast to the silver-green foliage of the Quail Bush and Silver Bush Lupine.  A variety of Monkey Flowers smile from spring to fall along the walk.  Cheery blue-flowered Coyote Mint pop up here and there.   It does test one's patience waking for them to mature.

As always, please join us in working in the gardens.  We are here most Monday mornings 9:30-12:00 and always on the Second Saturday of the Month 9:00 or 10:00 – 12:00.

More about the Gardens at Falkirk

The following provides information about the development of the gardens including drought tolerance, habitats, pathways and reused materials, irrigation and water use, mulches, shade trees, as well as plants selected to be deer and fire resistant.

Low Water Use/Drought Tolerant/Habitat Plants

Each garden provides something special for our Mediterranean climate. The design of the Succulent Garden gives a nod to the Victorian era but also illustrates the range of these great plants for our present need for sustainability. Gorgeous, low-water use plants such as aloes, which  provide food for birds and bees, are highlighted. The bees go crazy over them all winter, since they supply blooms when most plants are sleeping. Check out the Aloe Hercules for boldness! And the Aeoniums, Echeverias, agaves, and the sedem yin/yang design.

Like a small arboretum, the Mediterranean Climate Garden exhibits dozens of species from all the Mediterranean climate regions of the world: Australia, South Africa, Central Chile, Mediterranean Basin, and California/Baja.

In the Australian section, hummingbirds and bees are attracted to the Grevellias and the Kangaroo Paws.

In the South African section, check out the bee-attractors, Long Leafed Waxflower and African Salvias, and watch the bees swarming over the Chilean Red Velvet Salvia and the Herbs in the Mediterranean Basin.

The bee and hummingbird-loving native California plants include Toyon, Elderberry, Coffeeberry, ceanothus, Manzanita, and native mimulus and madia for use under California’s live oaks and provide food to flying creatures.

Permeable Paths and Reused Materials

The paths throughout the gardens are made of permeable decomposed granite and much of the materials used are locally sourced. The seating in the Under Oaks Amphitheatre, Mediterranean Garden, and Succulent Gardens are large re-used granite stones from the church that once stood next door.

Irrigation and Water Use

All of the gardens are on a Smart Controller system located inside the greenhouse. The Mediterranean Garden and Succulent Garden have reduced water usage each year as the plants become more established. The irrigation was installed by Master Gardener Tony Mekisich in partnership with MMWD to serve as a model for low-water use landscapes. Drip lines and low-water pressure pop-ups are used. During the installation of the garden, five large swales were dug into the Mediterranean Garden to provide better water usage and to prevent erosion. Berms are in the Succulent garden, as well as the Mediterranean Garden. Plants were located at the top or bottom of the slope to provide organic water provision according to their needs. Plants under each of the Oak trees are not on a water system at all, in order to insure the health of the Oak trees.


A variety of mulches have been used in the gardens to demonstrate possibilities, including wood chips, stones, pebbles, lava and broken terracotta pots. Additionally, the natural oak leaf litter mulches the two areas under the live oaks.

Habitat Friendliness

All gardens are designed to foster wildlife. There is a bee box and a bee house in the habitat garden, and bird baths in three of the gardens provide water for birds, bees and butterflies, bird houses in three of the gardens (at least two inhabited) provide homes and shelter, and tree stumps and hollows offer habitat spaces for various creatures. Plantings throughout the garden provide food for bees, butterflies, and birds.

Trees for Shade

In the Succulent Rock Garden closest to the house, three Catalpa trees have been planted to provide some shade for this fabulous collection of succulents. In the Mediterranean Garden, an oak tree provides shade while a number of three-year old trees such as Mayten, Arbutus, the wonderful Blue Bush Wattle, River Wattle, and Ceanothus continue growing toward a shadier future. The Under Oak Garden has shade provided, appropriately enough, by a large oak tree.

Deer Resistant Plants

All of the plants in the Mediterranean and Succulent Gardens are home to families of deer, so these plants have proven to be unattractive to this group of deer.

Fire Resistant Plants

Most of the plants in the Mediterranean Garden and all of the Succulents are resistant to fire and are placed close to the mansion.

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