Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (and Wednesday Vignette)

A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I took a drive up north.  Our first stop was the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, which I last visited in May 2015 when Southern California's drought was near its worst.  I wondered if it might look very different after the heavier-than-normal rain we received this winter; however, it looked remarkably the same.  And it's still beautiful!

We were a bit early to see a mass display of the Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) but the meadow area near the garden's entrance didn't disappoint.

Orange and purple blooms dominated the meadow but there were other colors mixed in here and there


There were agaves and other desert plants both near the entrance and at the outskirts of the meadow.

From left, a mass of Agave shawii,  Agave sebastiana in bloom, and noID Yucca?


It was a very warm day and we appreciated the opportunity to stroll under the shade of the redwood trees.

A mass of wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) created a pool of green below the trees




We had a great view of the chaparral area along the Campbell Trail.  One feature caught my fancy and I'm offering it as this week's Wednesday Vignette.

Mature live oaks balanced precariously on top of a massive rock formation

A closer view from another angle (For other Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum)


There were other interesting rocks, like this one:

I don't know why but every time I see this rock, I think it's about to speak to me


We followed Mission Creek through the canyon area.

Although our rainy season has been over for some time, I still expected to see more water in the creek but perhaps the parched soil had already absorbed it

We weren't at much risk of getting wet at the stream crossing

We hiked up the trail on the other side of the creek

and found a reminder of just how old some of the trees at this site are


What I love most about Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is that it's very natural.  Unlike many other botanic gardens that provide visitors a little bit of everything - from manicured rose gardens to stylized Asian gardens and everything in between - the Santa Barbara garden is all about plants native to Southern California.  It doesn't seek to impress so much as it tries to enfold you into the unique natural environment of this part of the world.   There are flowers but not massed flower displays - you discover blooms at intervals as you pass through the garden.

Top row: Aesculus californica, Allium unifolium?, and Collinsia heterophylla
Middle row: Datura wrightii, Iris douglasiana, and Mimulus aurantiacus
Bottom row: noID yellow daisy, yellow Mimulus/Diplacus, and Penstemon spectabilis
(Note: most of these flower IDs are my best guess)


The garden deserved a longer visit than we gave it but it was hot and we were hungry.  We also had two more stops to make before we tackled the long drive home.  I have to make it back there one day during a different season, perhaps fall, when the temperature comes down again.



All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. Those live oaks are so sculptural! Beautiful trees. I think I would very much like to visit that garden. What a great lesson in native flora a trek through it would be!

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    1. I'm always surprised just how peaceful the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is, Anna. You should definitely visit if you find yourself down this way.

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  2. They had a fire there a few years ago, didn't they? It's come back nicely since then. Thanks for the tour!

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    1. Yes, the garden was directly affected by the 2009 Jesusita fire, although fire personnel managed to save most of the significant sections. Still, the fire and the drought, which affected Santa Barbara County even before its impact was felt elsewhere in the state, must have presented quite a challenge.

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  3. Sounds like my kind of garden - I love the feeling of being enveloped by nature.

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    1. It has a wonderful relaxed feel, Eliza - more like somewhere you'd go to hike, than take photos.

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  4. My favorite kind of garden. It looks beautiful! That Asarum caudatum looks just about as lush as any I've seen in the PNW. The live oaks and rocks would have captured my attention, too. Such beautiful trees.

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    1. Southern California's tree canopy is under serious threat according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times. I hope places like this botanic garden bring a greater sense of responsibility for protecting it.

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  5. This looks like a very peaceful garden. I can definitely see a face in the "speaker-to-Kris" boulder, so I'm not surprised you expect to hear it speak. Thanks for sharing your photos, I enjoyed them.

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    1. I figured that, if I'd been alone, the boulder would've spoken, Alison ;)

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  6. To me the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will always be about the Agave shawii, it's the first place I remember seeing them so lush and massive. I really do need to get back there, it's been years.

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    1. They have a very nice nursery on-site too, Loree!

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  7. Hi Kris, thank you so much for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden tour! I have visited this botanic garden many years ago and it was nice to see it, again. As you said the concept of this botanic garden, focusing on the native plants is pretty unique.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. It's worth a return visit, Christina, if you find yourself up that way!

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  8. That looks far more interesting than a collection of very varied gardens (which could be anywhere)
    This one can only be just there.

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    1. That's a very good way of putting it, Diana!

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    1. It is! California does have some pretty ones.

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  10. I haven't been to this garden for probably 20 years but I remember it well. As you said, it is not designed and floriferous the way many public gardens are. We were lucky and did get to see those poppies in bloom — a sight never forgetten. Loved the post on ground covers. And I will think twice about Liriope after your warning. I think I am already growing enough of those plants that want to take over the garden.

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    1. It's a beautiful garden and well worth a visit, Linda - it's changed some since the 2009 fire but its feel remains much the same. As to ground covers, Liriope muscari is a good plant - it's only L. spicata that wants to mount a takeover.

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  11. It's great that this place is dedicated to native flowers in their native habitat. It's very picturesque with the rocks and big old trees. And the poppies!

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    1. Well, spring in Southern California is all about the poppies!

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