A Pocketful of Positivity: The Native Flower Garden That’s Brightening UCSF’s Parnassus Campus

Imagine a colorful, peaceful haven in the heart of a bustling city, where native flowers bloom, and pollinators buzz with life. This vision has become a reality at the Parnassus campus of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where Sutro Stewards and UCSF have partnered to create a serene native flower garden that offers both natural beauty and respite for the hospital’s patients.

A Collaborative Effort: Sutro Stewards and UCSF

The Sutro Stewards, a volunteer-based organization dedicated to conserving and enhancing the ecological health of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, have teamed up with UCSF, a leading research and teaching institution, to create this unique urban oasis.

By working together, these organizations have combined their expertise in ecology, horticulture, and community engagement to transform a concrete-heavy space into a flourishing garden teeming with California Native flowers.

The garden is located on Parnassus Avenue, just across from the main hospital building, by the Student Union.

The Blossoming Garden

The Parnassus native flower garden is home to a diverse array of California Native flowers, including the eye-catching Douglas iris. This vibrant purple-blue flower not only adds a splash of color to the garden but also plays a vital role in supporting the local ecosystem.

As the garden blooms with an assortment of Native flowers, it attracts a variety of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. These pollinators are essential for maintaining the health of the garden and the ecosystem at large, as they help to propagate the plants and maintain biodiversity.

A Restful Presence for Hospital Patients

Besides providing an essential habitat for pollinators, the Native flower garden at the Parnassus campus also offers a restful presence for the hospital’s patients. The sight of blooming flowers, the soft rustle of leaves, and the gentle hum of pollinators all contribute to creating a serene environment where patients and staff can pass by and see at least a glimpse of a relaxing, natural environment.

The garden serves as a powerful reminder of the healing power of nature–for the planet and people alike–and the importance of preserving and cultivating green spaces within our urban landscapes.


The collaboration between Sutro Stewards and UCSF has resulted in a beautiful Native flower garden at the Parnassus campus, which not only brightens up the urban landscape but also provides a crucial habitat for pollinators and a restful haven for hospital patients.

This project demonstrates the power of community-driven efforts and the importance of integrating green spaces into our cities to promote biodiversity, enhance the environment, and support the well-being of the people who inhabit them.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

Leave a Reply

Back to top button