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New Mexico State University

About our Demonstration Garden

Tour of the Garden
Garden Photo History

The Los Alamos Demonstration Garden (Demo Garden) is a Public Education Garden maintained by the Los Alamos Master Gardeners organization (LAMG), in conjunction with the Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation Department (Parks Department) and the New Mexico State University Los Alamos County Cooperative Extension Office. The Garden is located on the South side of Central Avenue, between Ashley Pond and Oppenheimer Drive. It is always open to the public and is handicap accessible.

The Demonstration Garden was started in 1990 by Solveig Palanek, Los Alamos County Cooperative Extension Service Horticultural Agent at the time, and Tom Trujillo, PRIDE Committee. Initial financing came from grants and donations, specifically from Keep New Mexico Beautiful grants. Donations from the cable television provider and from UNM-LA were also received. Private donations in amounts ranging from $100 - $5000 were also received from private citizens and not-for-profit organizations.

     Crabapple Row

The original garden was half the size of the current garden and occupied the Eastern end of the current garden. It was designed as a xeriscape garden and was anchored by trees and shrubs. Circular gardens on Central Avenue included (from East to West) Herb, Perennial, Turf, and High Mountain themes. A significant portion of the original landscape design has changed over the years as the emphasis became that of a demonstration garden.

      Perennial Garden

Graduates of the Los Alamos Master Gardener Program were the early curators of the Demo Garden, supplying most of the labor. In 1995, LAMG adopted the Demo Garden and became stewards of the garden, in coordination with the Parks Department. Since that time, members have volunteered in excess of 500 hours each year in design, expansion, improvement and general maintenance of the garden.

Funding for plants, equipment, landscaping and other supplies is obtained from the Los Alamos Master Gardener Program, offered through the Extension Service of New Mexico State University, in addition to contributions from the Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation Department. Over the years a number of grants and memorial donations have also been received. Commemorative and memorial plaques can be seen throughout the garden, marking these special gifts.

In 2003 the Master Gardeners submitted a winning proposal to Los Alamos County under the Los Alamos Citizen/County Partnership for Recreational Improvements Grant Process. Using funds from this grant and thousands of hours of volunteer effort, the garden was expanded to the West. This included the design and building/layout/planting of: structural walls; pathways; a sensory garden comprised of raised beds, flower boxes, and a fountain; an outdoor meeting space topped by a pergola; a wildflower garden; a casita (little house) that serves as a storage shed and demonstrates the fire safe “defensible space” landscaping at the urban/forest interface; and a small berry and vegetable garden.

      Sensory Garden

Since 2005, redesigns of existing beds and new additions have taken place. These include: an Ornamental Grass Garden; Artemisia Garden; relocation and expansion of the Herb Garden; an Industrial Strength Garden and Oasis Garden (repurposing the original circular Herb and High Mountain gardens; the three circular beds demonstrating differing watering needs); a Shade Garden; a Cactus Garden; and an Upright Rock Garden. A significant ongoing effort is devoted to revitalizing older sections of the Garden, such as the planned re-design of the East end to incorporate a Hope Garden.

Many plants in the Demonstration Garden have identification markers. Handouts listing the plants and providing details for each garden area are available in information boxes located throughout the garden. Additionally, a complete database of all plants, along with images, is maintained by the LAMG organization and is available here.

The Los Alamos Master Gardener Mission is to promote knowledgeable, effective, and safe horticultural and gardening practices in furtherance of New Mexico State Universities' Cooperative Extension Service; and to promote goodwill in our community by participating in horticultural and educational service projects. The Demo Garden is the pinnacle fulfillment of this mission and serves to support a variety of additional LAMG projects.

For example, the Demo Garden is showcased as part of the LAMG Garden Tour that takes place every other year and features private gardens in Los Alamos and White Rock. The event is free to the public and has experienced a steady increase in attendance; from 250 the first year (1995) to over 1000 in 2010. Additionally, gardening workshops for elementary schools are held during the school year, and programs and activities including 4-H members and YMCA Summer Camp occur yearly.

In 1996, LAMG was recognized by the Los Alamos County Council for its work on the Demo Garden, and in 2010, the Demo Garden was included in the planned Los Alamos Creative Cultural District.

Guiding Principles


Tour of the Garden