WaterWise Garden

Located at the corner of National & Linwood, just south of the Springfield Art Museum
open from dawn to dusk for public strolling

The WaterWise Demonstration Garden was established in 1992 primarily to demonstrate the efficient use of water in landscaping, while at the same time providing an interesting and attractive area for strolling and relaxing in an urban setting.

 The WaterWise Garden is divided into three zones:

  • high water use zone which depends on frequent irrigation
  • moderate water zone which utilizes less irrigation
  • low water use zone which receives no supplemental irrigation

Plants are chosen for each zone based on their water needs; shade/sun requirements, height, color, and blooming season also influence plant selection. Visit here for a list of plants and shrubs on display in the WaterWise Garden, along with their water requirements.

Our Watering Policy

The WaterWise Garden has been designed to demonstrate wise water use. Some plants simply require lots of water, like roses and hibiscus, and gardeners need to be aware of this when designing their gardens. Plants like these are included in beds that receive at least one inch of rain per week.

Other plants, such as lilacs and phlox, enjoy a “normal” amount of water and are placed in beds that receive approximately half an inch of rain per week. Still other, such as digitalis and heuchera, enjoy “normal” water but can do with significantly less if they are planted in some afternoon shade and also mulched.

Plants in the dry, xeric beds are selected because they can survive with little or no watering beyond what they receive from normal rainfall. Even these plants need to become established, however, before they develop the deep roots and structure that allow them to withstand drought.

We water newly-planted specimens several times during their first summer in order to get them established. We have very occasionally watered the perennials in the xeric beds when the temperatures topped 100 degrees and there had been no rainfall for many weeks.

The trees, large shrubs and established grasses have not received supplemental watering.

Trees and Shrubs:

Cersis [Redbud]
Juniperus coniferata “Blue Pacific”
Nandina Physocarpus [Ninebark]
Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’ [sumac]
Viburnum carlesii [Korean spice viburnum]
Vitex agnus-castus [Chaste tree]


Calamagrostis [Feather reed grass]
Festuca glauca [Blue Fescue]
Miscanthus sinensis
Pennisetum alopecuroides [Fountain grass]
Schizachyrium scoparium [Little Bluestem]
Sporobolus heterolepsis [Prairie Dropseed]


Opuntia vulgaris [Prickly Pear]
Sempervivum [House Leeks, eg. Autumn Joy]
Yucca filamentosa and Yucca glauca <b>Perennials:</b> Agastache ‘Ava’
Acanthus mollis [Bear’s Breeches]
Acuba japonica*
Agastache foeniculum
Centaurea Montana
Centranthus ruber
Cytisus [Broom]
Euphorbia amygdaloides
Iberis sempervirens [Candytuft]
Liatris Limonium [Sea Lavender]
Mirabilis [Desert Four-O’-Clock]
Solidago [Goldenrod]
Zinnia grandiflora
* Survives but needs the help of afternoon shade


Plants for Dry Gardens: Beating the drought
by Jane Taylor, published by Frances Lincoln Limited, 1993.

Dry-land Gardening: A Xeriscaping Guide for Dry-Summer, Cold-Winter Climates
by Jennifer Bennett, published by Firefly Books, 1998.


 Our WaterWise Garden has a Registered Monarch Waystation

The Monarch is truly an amazing butterfly… Each season, four generations are born. The first three generations live about two to four weeks, but the 4th generation migrates to warmer climates in Mexico and California and then returns to North America in the spring, living a total of six to eight months and traveling close to 2500 miles!
The monarch migration is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, yet it is threatened by habitat loss in North America – at the overwintering sites and throughout the spring and summer breeding range as well. Monarch Watch, founded in 1992, is an organization whose mission is to create, conserve, and protect monarch habitats through public awareness, education and research. Through this organization, “Monarch Waystations” (or habitats) have been certified in more than 5000 home gardens, schoolyards, parks and commercial landscaping.
These gardens focus on Monarch conservation by providing a much-needed habitat for feeding, mating and rearing young. Without milkweeds and nectar sources throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, Monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that gather for the migration each fall.
Our WaterWise Garden (and the Dr. Bill Roston Butterfly House) are registered as Monarch Waystations through the Monarch Watch organization. The requirements for certification, in addition to providing milkweed plants, include garden size, location, nectar sources and a commitment to manage and sustain the site to ensure Monarch conservation and protection. For more information on how you can register your own garden, visit this link: Monarch Waystations.
 Rebecca Nickols, Class of 2007
(who created the Monarch Waystation in our Xeriscape Garden)

For a list of “Tough Plants From the Summer of 2011” click here.


Get Directions to the WaterWise Garden:

View WaterWise Demonstration Garden in a larger map