Native American Garden

Native American Garden grows at the center of campus

New project to open by fall

July 26, 2023
Author: Imran Ghori
July 26, 2023

Trees and plants are sprouting in the center of the UC Riverside campus as the new Native American Garden nears completion.

A landscape contractor began planting trees, bushes, and other vegetation this spring in a 20,000-square-foot area in the upper mall outside the Highlander Union Building, or HUB, next to Pierce Hall.

The garden is intended to pay respect to the region’s original Indigenous inhabitants featuring a variety of trees, plants, and vegetation native to the region and its tribes. It includes varieties such as chaparral, oak, sage scrub, palo verde, and desert vegetation. 

Locating some plants proved more difficult than others, said Vilma Kern, project manager with the Office of Planning, Design and Construction.

The UCR Botanic Gardens helped find and provided some plants while the Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District assisted by propagating and storing some plants at its garden nurseries before they were ready for planting, Kern said.

As part of the planting, the contractor tested the soil and planted trees and vegetation to see which adapted best to the environment. Some of those plants have started to grow, Kern said.

“You can already see how beautifully it’s coming together,” she said. “It’s just gorgeous.”

The garden will include a circular gathering area that can be used for performances, teaching, and other gatherings. One of the last remaining elements of the project is the installation of the concrete benches and a center flagstone for that perimeter. The benches will include lighting underneath and connect to an electrical and sound system that can be used for events.

Another visual piece is a new mural by Los Angeles-based artist River Garza, whose work includes Indigenous themes, that will hang on a fence next to a generator building near Pierce Hall.

The project is expected to be completed in August and will formally open to the campus in September.