Four Hidden, Water Smart Gardens in Balboa Park | San Diego, California

When most people think of gardens, they think lush tropical foliage, bright colorful flowers and the sounds of a trickling water feature. In California, and especially San Diego, water is becoming a very precious resource and lush gardens are increasingly becoming incompatible with modern day water limitations. Today’s garden tour adventure will feature Balboa Park’s beautiful, water-savvy gardens within a natural environment.


The Desert Garden
With more than 1,300 plants, The Desert Garden contains succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world. The garden covers approximately 2.5 acres. The peak blooming period is January through April, but the garden is beautiful anytime of year.  Enter the garden near the pedestrian bridge by the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. The garden is free to the public 365 days a year. Download the tour map with plant reference guide.


Florida Canyon Native Plant Preserve
With over 150 acres of natural habit, Florida Canyon will show you the original landscape of Balboa Park. Choose your favorite hiking trail and venture out to see the natural landscape filled with Coastal Sage Scrub and the native wildlife that call it home. You can even join the park rangers for a tour with the San Diego Natural History Museum. The garden is free to the public 365 days a year.


Australian Garden
Enjoy a little of Down Under in San Diego. With similar climates, many native Australian plants grow well in San Diego. The Australian Garden contains a range of beautiful Australian natives including Grevellia, Acacia, Callistemon, Banksia, Hakea, Stenocarpus, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, and Eucalyptus. The garden is located in Gold Gulch, just southeast of the Spreckles Organ Pavillion. The garden is free to the public 365 days a year.


California Native Plant Garden
Adjacent to the Florida Canyon Nature Preserve, this five-acre demonstration garden is located on the west side of the Balboa Park Tennis Club. The quarter-mile long footpath features over 100 drought tolerant California native plants suitable for home and landscape use. During your walk, you can explore some of San Diego’s 2,600 types of native plants. Parking is available immediately adjacent to the California Native Plant Garden. The garden is free to the public 365 days a year.


Images are courtesy of Gary Waldrop Photography.