In 2005 the Redbud Garden Club of Three Rivers, California, was asked by CAL Fire Captain Steve Green (now retired) to develop a fire-safe native plant garden at Station 35 in Three Rivers. Captain Green saw the value in a demonstration garden for this Sierra foothill community. The garden is open for public viewing year round, twenty four hours a day.
A fire safe garden using California native plants requires only occasional irrigation during the summer months. Many California native plant species and their cultivars reduce the risk of seasonal fires if appropriately maintained. Plants are well spaced and their proximity to structures are considered. Dead or dry material is removed as needed from the plants.
Three Rivers local Redbud Garden Club members designed and installed the garden, which was completed in 2006. Additional help was made by many local businesses, groups and individuals in Three Rivers, as well as the CAL Fire personnel. Over 35 community volunteers assisted with the planting. From the beginning, the garden has featured hardy, drought tolerant California native plants. The Redbud Garden Club was presented with an appreciation plaque by the CAL Fire Station personnel on February 23, 2011.
In the ensuing years, the fire safe garden has been expanded to include an additional memorial garden honoring Battalion Chief Rob Stone, who died fighting a wildfire in 2006. This area has a shaded picnic table, a dry stream bed and other features. A more irrigated area near the fire personnel's living quarters includes a lawn and volley ball court.
Funding from a private memorial grant, in honor of firefighter Glenn Howell who died in 1994, was instrumental in the purchase of native plants. Additional funding has come from the Redbud Garden Club and the Alta Peak Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.
The Redbud Garden Club has been instrumental in creating several public native plant gardens in Three Rivers as a way to educate residents and visitors for how to landscaping a Sierra Nevada foothill setting. The native plant garden project has been spearheaded by Linda Franson, with expert garden planning consultation from Melanie Keeley who is the horticulturist for Sequoia National Park. Many Garden Club members, called "Garden Watchers", routinely check on the gardens and assist the owners of each site in planning for the care and maintenance of the gardens. The Redbud Garden Club celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2011.
The CAL Fire Station is located on Hwy 198 in Three Rivers. Going east on Hwy 198, look for it on the right, just past the Bank of Sierra and the Valley Oak Credit Union, across the highway from the Village Market/Pizza Factory shopping center.