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Campbell Historical Museum

garden: Campbell's Roots

Welcome to Campbell’s Roots, a water-wise garden that uses plants adapted to our dry climate which, once established, don’t require heavy irrigation. Additionally, these plants are beautiful and provide food for our local bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

The Mission of Campbell’s Roots is to be a community resource that demonstrates sustainable garden design and efficient irrigation techniques. We hope it will provide visitors with ideas that can be applied at their homes or businesses to create beautiful and sustainable landscapes. 



The Santa Clara Valley was once full of oak trees, willow groves, and sycamore woodlands. The Ohlone wore extensive trails into the landscape during their seasonal movements, and  used fire to create more open woodland and grassland, which encouraged seed production, cleared brush, and made it easier to harvest acorns.

As Spanish missionaries and settlers began to populate California in the late 1700s, they brought cattle to the region and  the grazing heavily impacted the landscape.

During the 1850s California joined the United States, and a new wave of settlers began to transform the landscape once again by growing wheat and hay.

By the 1870s, orchards thrived on the same soil that once contained oak trees. Willow groves were cleared to create pasture for dairy farming.

The 1950s brought yet another population boom, replacing orchards with homes and technology parks with landscaping that required just as much water.

After more than 60 years of neatly mowed turf grass and gardens that required high water use, today’s gardeners are taking inspiration from our native landscape and climate to develop more sustainable  landscapes.



Assess your garden. Areas that face east or north are generally cooler and shadier, while areas facing west and south are usually warmer and sunnier. Look at the shade cast by trees, hedges, and structures throughout the day.

Choose plants that thrive in the conditions you have and group them based on their water and sun-exposure needs. By putting plants in these “zones”, you make garden maintenance easier and minimize water use.

The health of garden plants depends on the proper balance of minerals, organic matter, air, and water in the soil. Find out if your soil is mostly sand or clay or a good loamy mix of the two--amend it as needed to make sure it provides a good balance of water-holding capacity, drainage, and fertility.

In addition to replacing turf grass with more drought-tolerant plants, incorporate hardscape areas such as patios, gravel pathways, and decks.


Watering should be deep and only as often as the particular plants really need. If you reduce watering in an area, be sure that any trees that might have been sharing the water continue to get enough! Whatever methods you use, do your best to eliminate runoff.

Drip and soaker irrigation systems use a hose with small holes to allow water to seep slowly into the soil. They use up to 80 percent less water than sprinklers! The slower distribution process allows water to penetrate more deeply into the soil, making it an efficient method for watering perennials and shrubs.  Additionally, these systems are easy to administer on a zone system.

Installing a rain barrel directly under a downspout helps to reduce your water bill and limits storm water runoff.

Bubblers and bubbler nozzles provide water to the root systems of individual trees and shrubs. Bubbler attachments give spray sprinkler systems greater adaptability, can be connected to the piping of any irrigation system, and can even be paired with a soaker system.

For more information about Water Wise Gardening visit the Santa Clara Valley Water District.


California’s native plants support pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds which require nectar as a primary source of food. Pollinators help to maintain healthy plants, provide food for other wildlife, and play an essential role in local crop production.  Providing a flower-rich garden is a significant action you can take to support pollinators. 

California has an estimated 1,500 native bee species and 200 butterfly species!

Campbell Historical Museum
51 N. Central Ave
Campbell, CA 95008
Ainsley House

300 Grant Street

Campbell, CA 95008



The Ainsley House is open March - December. The Campbell Historical Museum is open year round. Both

museums are closed two weeks during the December holidays.

Mailing Address
51 N. Central Ave, Campbell, CA 95008
Main Office Line
(408) 866-2119

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