Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

A friend and I visited Santa Barbara Botanic Garden last weekend (when I should have been spreading mulch).  Although I lived in Santa Barbara for almost 4 years as a college undergrad and have visited the area at intervals over the years, I haven't been to the Botanic Garden in quite awhile.  My last visit was sometime prior to the 2009 Jesusita Fire that damaged the garden and other portions of Santa Barbara County.  Six years after the fire, I was pleased to find the garden looking beautiful and busy with visitors.

One of the first things you see upon entering the garden is the incredible meadow, currently dominated by the bright orange blooms of California poppies.

Views of the meadow from different angles

Bright yellow lupines (top row) dotted the meadow and pink flowers (Clarkia unguiculata perhaps?) provided a punch next to the orange poppies here and there but my favorite flower was the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri).  


Although we missed the peak period of spring bloom, there were still lots of flowers.

Most of the flowering plants weren't labeled but here are my best guesses:
Top row - Aesculus californica, Aquilegia desertorum, Eriogonum grande rubescens
Middle row - Eriogonum umbellatum, Heuchera 'Old La Rochette', Iris douglasiana
Bottom row - Isomeris arborea (which died suddenly after 2 years in my garden), Opuntia littoralis, Penstemon (no ID)


There were other plants of interest too:

Clockwise from top left: Agave shawii, Asarum caudatum, Yucca whipplei (almost in bloom!), and Dudleya (no ID)


We took a walk through the Redwood forest area.

There's nothing like a Redwood to put your place in the world in perspective

Although some people clearly need a reminder not to mess with the trees; however, on the good news page, the tree shown above was the only plant we saw carved up

Views from the forest area - doesn't that rock look as though he could speak?  (Or is that just me?)


We walked the canyon area and strolled through the woodland area following the stream.


Views along the stream, which was mostly dry

My favorite view in the garden

I loved these 2 seating areas too


We didn't spend any time sitting.  I spent a good amount of time in in the native plant nursery checking out the stock.  Despite my intention to avoid any further planting until fall, I left with 5 plants: 3 Erigeron 'Ron's Pink,' a Physocarpus capitatus, and a Vaccinium ovatum.  The Physocarpus was probably a mistake as our area may not have sufficient winter cold but my fingers are crossed it'll manage the zonal stretch.

With my rule against spring/summer planting broken, you can imagine how our stops at 3 nurseries on the way home went.  But that's a story for another post.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

31 comments:

  1. Haha, Kris--your zonal denial is opposite to ours! But I remember living in California and wanting hydrangeas and hostas--both of which required more cold than we had. It's just another one of those factors which makes reliance on the USDA plant hardiness zone info just a little too simplistic (at times).

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    1. I don't put a lot of store in the USDA zones either, Emily, but I do pay attention to the Sunset zones, which more accurately capture the positives - and negatives - of my local climate. Unfortunately, even in Sunset's assessment, a Physocarpus in my garden is pushing things quite a bit.

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  2. The botanic gardens are beautiful...I love the meadow areas and wooded glades. It's more like a wild garden which is just fantastic. Santa Barbara is such a pretty part of California :-)

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    1. It is indeed a wild garden, with mostly native plants. It offers a stark contrast to my own local botanic garden.

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  3. There's something uniquely nice about this botanic garden. Perhaps it is it's less formal nature?

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    1. There's nothing at all formal about this garden. No section dedicated to manicured roses - in fact, no roses at all that I saw. Even the demonstration family garden was comprised of California natives.

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  4. That rock looks like a pirate to me.

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    1. A pirate is exactly the right characterization, Jessica. I bet he snarls at children who try to clamber up his sides!

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  5. Oh, to have a meadow...that one is divine.

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    1. It was magnificent. It got me fantasizing about planting Matilija poppies on my back slope...

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  6. I love botanic gardens like this, informal with natural areas. The woodland area is beautiful.

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    1. Even with very little water running through the creek bed, it was very peaceful.

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  7. It looks pretty good; I thought the fire had devastated a lot of it.

    Looking forward to seeing your shopping results.

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    1. I was pleased to see that the garden has recovered well since the fire.

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  8. Looks like you had an absolutely lovely day! California poppies always make me smile I agree - that rock totally looks like a sentient being, about to strike up a conversation...

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    1. I think the rock was about to tell me to back off (before I backed off).

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  9. I visited this garden in 2012 and loved it. Andrew on the other hand found it hugely lacking. I think he's been forever tarnished but the Huntington.

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    1. The Huntington offers something for everyone - and does that in a big, splashy way. The Santa Barbara garden has a narrower scope - it exists to spotlight the natural beauty of California natives.

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  10. A great day out, and of course you bought more plants. Looking forward to seeing your new treasures.

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    1. It was the cooler weather - it felt like a real spring day rather than the beginning of another hot summer - and I couldn't stop myself from responding to the siren call of new plants.

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  11. So moody, so evocative. This garden is a great treasure and you captured a really interesting essence.

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    1. Thanks Susan. It's a beautiful garden and, as some of the other comments here show, deserves acknowledgement for offering a different kind of botanic garden experience.

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  12. I've never been to the SB Botanic Garden but will go the next time I'm in town. The overcast weather you had made for fantastic photography.

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    1. Yes, even though we arrived in late morning, I got some good photos.

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  13. I'm happy to see such a great selection of native plants in use. I wish gardeners in each of our areas would spend more time retro-planting natives, discovering the unique representations of our microclimates and giving back beleaguered co-dependent wild creatures some of their lost habitat.

    And you are totally right -that rock does seem to be harboring unspoken sentiments. Perhaps he is there to sound the alarm when the drought gets -that- bad? (When your rocks begin to sing dirges about the lack of rain, pay attention!).

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    1. I think part of the issue people have with natives has to do with fit, Deb. People tend to assume that something that is "native" must fit their environment, which is overly simplistic. California is a very big state with lots of different climate conditions and microclimates and one size definitely doesn't fit all. Even I made a mistake on the Physocarpus, assuming that a plant suitable to Santa Barbara, should also work for me (130 miles away albeit still along the coast). Not so, in all probability.

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  14. It must have been a beautiful day for the visit. I hope the Physocarpus works out for you, Kris - you never know...! Your photos do nothing to remove my hankering for some Matilija poppies; I'm not sure how to get any. Sunset's info on seed germination isn't exactly encouraging!

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    1. I admit to coveting Matilija poppies myself, Amy. They get big and need lots of room but now that the yucca is gone on my back slope, I'm thinking they might have the room to spread out there (if/when that hideous Yucca debris finally decomposes). I've also heard they're difficult to start from seed. Las Pilitas, a native plant nursery, carries 2 species if you're willing to order them by mail, although they're not in stock at the moment.

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  15. An exciting place!
    Hope you get your tanks filled with rainwater soon.
    It has been raining a lot.
    Mariana

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    1. We got 1 inch (2.54 cm) of rain, Mariana, which may not be much by your standards but is very good by ours. It was enough to fill 2 of my rain collection tanks and partially fill the third, really big, tank.

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