Native Garden

The Nipomo Native Garden features plants found growing on the Nipomo Mesa prior to European discovery of California. Plantings are organized in an associative framework to build an educational environment and illustrate plant community dynamics. These organizing principles provide a garden that clearly demonstrates the unique character and rich biological heritage of the Nipomo Mesa.


The Nipomo Native Garden is a 12 acre area in Nipomo, bordered by Pomeroy, Camino Caballo and Osage, that has been preserved within the county parks system as a unique botanical garden. The Nipomo Native Garden was formed in the mid 1990s as a sort of botanical time capsule, a sanctuary for our beleaguered native habitat. The garden provides a vast pallet of educational and research opportunities through the demonstration of an evolving network of plant and animal communities, in short, a native ecological system.

Membership currently stands at several hundred supporters from throughout the county and beyond. With the dedicated efforts of these people, students doing community service, groups such as the California Conservation Corps., Americorps., and Girl Scout volunteers, much progress has been made. Presently the garden includes: marked trails, a complex irrigation system, labeled plants, an illustrated plant and trail guide, owl and bird houses, raptor poles, boggy wetland, and an amphitheater for meetings and BBQs. Members receive a perodic newsletter.


Monthly gardening day is held the first Saturday of each month. It is suggested that volunteers bring gloves, hat, weeding tool or shovel, and sun protection.

Periodic plantings including our annual December big planting. We often follow these Saturday events with a pot luck barbecue. The Nipomo Native Garden supplies the hot dogs and drinks.


Individual membership $10
Family membership $15
Make check payable to SLOPOST-NNG Account. Contributions are tax deductible.
Send to Nipomo Native Garden, 480 Calle Cielo, Nipomo CA 93444
All memberships receive our newsletter.

Please note: We would like to inform teachers that student may earn required community service hours, either at the monthly garden day, or by special projects which we can arrange.


The Nipomo Native Garden is located on the corner of Camino Caballo and Pomeroy Streets across from Nipomo Regional Park. Take the Tefft Street exit from Highway 101, then turn right on Pomeroy.

For further information, contact:
Larry Vierheilig at 929-6710
Charlie Gulyash at 929-3589


“There is no ‘better’ or ‘worse,’ only different. That difference has to be respected whether it’s skin color, way of life, or ideas. The Chumash have a story about this.

It begins with a worm

who is eaten by a bird.

The bird is eaten by a cat

whose self-satisfaction is disrupted by a mean-looking dog.

After devouring the cat, the dog is killed by a grizzly bear

who congratulates himself for being the strongest of all. About that time comes a man who kills the bear

and climbs a mountain to proclaim his ultimate superiority.

He ran so hard up the mountain that he died at the top.

Before long the worm crawled out of his body.”

Kote Lotah

Arroyo Willow

Salix lasiolepis: commonly known as the arroyo willow, is a member of the family Salicaceae. Originally from California, this deciduous shrub or tree can be seen in bed ‘Q’ in the Preview Garden. It grows from 9 to 15 feet high and a little wider. It is a fast grower and has yellow catkin flowers about 2.5 inches long during the winter. Its leaves are light green and grow to about 4 inches long. It grows naturally along streams like other willows, so dry streams are its natural setting. Arroyo Willows are separated into male and female plants. Ours is female, as shown in the close-up of the catkins with their black- tipped pistils. It is a good soil stabilizer. It is essential for food and cover, but can’t survive deer. It attracts butterflies and butterfly larvae. It needs well drained soil and tolerates sandy soil but not clay soil or rock. It likes water and should be planted in full sun or some shade. It is not too ‘garden tolerant’ and prefers a natural setting with no human influence. It grows along streams even if they dry up in the summer.

The Chumash trimmed and used branches as poles to build huts. They used the bark for rope and chewed the bark to relieve toothaches (it contains salicylic acid which is found in aspirin). They also used the willow to make bows, tools and cradle boards to carry babies.

Salix lasiopis BENTH [Arroyo Willow]

The Spanish refer to it as Saus or Sauz.

In Northern Chumash language [Obispeno] the Arroyo Willow is known as tsa’, in the Central Chumash language [Barbareno, Ineseno {Samala}, and Purisimeno] it is known as shtayit, and in the Southern and Island Chumash language [Ventureno and Cruzeno] it is known as khaw.

Earth Wisdom

Earth Wisdom
A California Chumash Woman
By Yolanda Broyles-González; Pilulaw Khus

256 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 2011
Pilulaw Khus has devoted her life to tribal, environmental, and human rights issues. With impressive candor and detail, she recounts those struggles here, offering a Native woman’s perspective on California history and the production of knowledge about indigenous peoples. Readers interested in tribal history will find in her story a spiritual counterpoint to prevailing academic views on the complicated reemergence of a Chumash identity. Readers interested in environmental studies will find vital eyewitness accounts of movements to safeguard important sites like Painted Rock and San Simeon Point from developers. Readers interested in indigenous storytelling will find Chumash origin tales and oral history as recounted by a gifted storyteller.

The 1978 Point Conception Occupation was a turning point in Pilulaw Khus’s life. In that year excavation began for a new natural gas facility at Point Conception, near Santa Barbara, California. To the Chumash tribal people of the central California coast, this was desecration of sacred land. In the Chumash cosmology, it was the site of the Western Gate, a passageway for spirits to enter the next world. Frustrated by unfavorable court hearings, the Chumash and their allies mobilized a year-long occupation of the disputed site, eventually forcing the energy company to abandon its plan. The Point Conception Occupation was a landmark event in the cultural revitalization of the Chumash people and a turning point in the life of Pilulaw Khus, the Chumash activist and medicine woman whose firsthand narrations comprise this volume.

Scholar Yolanda Broyles-González provides an extensive introductory analysis of Khus’s narrative. Her analysis explores “re-Indianization” and highlights the newly emergent Chumash research of the last decade.

In the world of book publishing, this volume from a traditional Chumash woman elder is a first. It puts a 20th (and 21st) century face, name, identity, humanity, personality, and living voice on the term Chumash.


Artifacts Unearthed

By Edhat Subscriber

A team of archaeologists working during the Nacimiento Water Project unearthed a large collection of Chumash artifacts, ranging from bowl mortar and pestles, a milling stone slab, and a number of other stone tools, bone fragments and shells. More than 500 pieces were found and are estimated to be 5,000 – 10,000 years old. The property excavated is located on River Road in Paso Robles, and is owned by American Perspective Bank (APB). Continue reading “Artifacts Unearthed”