I don't usually visit botanic gardens in December, especially when they're running light shows, which I don't much care for. But I'd heard South Coast Botanic Garden had made some changes since my last visit in August so I popped by one morning earlier this week to check things out.
The large area near the garden entrance known as the Volunteer Flower Garden is gone, along with the iconic sculpture of a kneeling gardener that's been there as long as I've been coming to the garden. The original beds were admittedly something of a hodge-podge, cobbled together over decades, but they were always colorful and they contained a lot of well-established plants.
|Photo taken October 2019|
|Photo taken in June 2020 when the volunteers were still furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic|
|Photo of Geranium and Pelargonium bed in the Volunteer Garden taken in April 2020|
What replaced the former Volunteer Garden were geometric-shaped beds, some framed by Corten steel or an equivalent.
|The beds were recently planted and it looks as though the staff ordered whatever they could find to provide color this time of year, including Salvias, Pentas, Euryops, and Argyranthemum, with some succulents thrown in. It's a bit boring but, as I added many of the same plants to the beds I tore apart in my own back garden this fall, I can't be too critical. Hopefully, they'll put together more interesting combinations over the coming months.|
|They're using more succulents throughout the garden, which makes sense given the severity of our drought; however, I think the raised planter on the right could use more groundcovers to add interest and color.|
|The beds shown on the left, including the one with the tree marigold, Tithonia divesifolia, were tweaked rather than being created from scratch. The bed on the right with an ornamental banana plant surrounded by black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus) and oyster plants (Tradescantia spathacea) is new.|
The former Vegetable Garden is gone too, replaced by what may be best characterized as a picnic area. It sits in front of the Living Wall.
I love the Corten planters and the broad expanses of what I'm assuming is d.g. -- that's quite a bit of work and materials invested in getting the garden ready for the dry times ahead. The wood slatted wall is a clean visual for the stag horn ferns too -- it all looks promising!ReplyDelete
Succulents were once confined to the Desert Garden but they're popping up everywhere now - even in the Rose Garden. It'll be interesting to see what they do with the new children's garden once they finish their fundraising.Delete
Not much interest in botanical garden light shows. More to attract the non-gardener with small kids? I'm there for plants.ReplyDelete
The light show that does sound intriguing is the Bruce Munro Sensorio Field Of Light in Paso Robles.
The staghorn fern collection is a nice thing. Perhaps signs for the species are in the works.
At least they are doing some sort of work on the place. The food service must be to increase revenue and visitors.
The Chicago Botanical garden had a really nice pavilion by a pond with indoor seating, outdoor seating, and food service. It was really well done.
Is the SCBG parking lot still an undulating mess? Last I was there it was in terrible condition.
At $35 per person for non-members over the age of 2 (and $25 for members), my guess is that the light show isn't going to draw lots of families with kids, at least from the broader Los Angeles area. They're definitely looking for food service revenue. I noticed that they have an employment opening for a bartender too ;) It could become a great place to drop in for lunch, at least for members.Delete
I noticed that the main driveway had recently been patched and during my prior visit they were leveling the parking lot area directly in front of the entrance too. But the garden's past as a landfill means that the ground is always sinking in spots and the maintenance staff faces a never-ending task. The drive into the garden and the parking lot will probably never be flat. It doesn't bother me but then I'm used to it.
Oh gosh, thanks for the tour of the botanic garden. If I was out there right now, that's probably where I'd go. The potted planting area is lovely.ReplyDelete
I'd suggest a spring tour if you have any choice as to the timing, Beth!Delete
Not a big light show fan here either , though if I had small children I could see it would be enjoyable for them. The renovations look interesting , but I hate to see a mature garden yanked out..well maybe I don't since I do it often !ReplyDelete
Would you pay $25-35 per child to take them to a light show, Kathy?Delete
I hate yanking mature plants, although I've certainly have done it myself. I want to believe that what replaces them will be better, or at least as good, though/
I'm not a fan of any show that detracts from the plants. That's what we go to a garden to see, right? That said I am planning a post next week based on bits of a light show at the LA Arboretum. The plantings shown with your photo caption "I think the raised planter on the right could use more groundcovers to add interest and color." definitely needs something! Groundcover, small plants, mulch. Maybe the next time I'm in the LA area I can talk you into taking me to this garden.ReplyDelete
I've only seen the LA Arboretum's light show in the process of being set up so I'll be interested to see your photographs, Loree. LA County owns the land SCBG sits on but the SCBG Foundation is running its show.Delete
You should have gone inside the TARDIS, you know, it’s much bigger on the inside. The inside is a separate dimension.ReplyDelete
Yes, I know all about Dr Who's Tardis. However, an attempt to enter any of the boxes in SCBG's Rose Garden probably would have led to a confrontation with the garden's rangers.Delete
Ahem… the show is Doctor Who and the character is “The Doctor”.Delete
Wow, quite a few changes. They probably felt the pinch from lack of volunteers and had to do something. The green wall is looking good. I'm not a fan of light shows either, but I suppose some are better than others. Disney puts one to music in the fountain area that is pretty amazing. I would like to see the Van Gogh light show, but if C-19 continues, I'll probably miss it.ReplyDelete
Oh, the immersive Van Gogh light show is a whole different experience I think, Eliza - I've seen clips of that and it looks fantastic. However, it seems to me that a light show in the garden should highlight the plants, not eclipse them entirely.Delete
Not a huge fan of light shows, but they don't bother me much either. Botanical gardens need revenue, and if they can benefit from the dark cold nights of winter, I say go for it. The areas that are closed off is the guarantee to draw you back to cover what you missed on this visit. The familiar green wall and the new Staghorn fern display, (especially on the adjacent tree), is the best part. I'm sure there will be additional tweaking as time goes on.ReplyDelete
You're right of course regarding the need for public gardens to collect revenue. I'm afraid I'm just disgruntled about the secondary role I feel that nature, plants and the opportunity to learn and commune with them has been allocated in the process.Delete
I expect the newly planted areas will fill in and look a bit more natural over the next year or so. Have always wondered how the Corten steal planters affect the soil temperature. Sounds counter intuitive to use metal in a hot climate.ReplyDelete
Your question about the Corten metal planters is interesting, Elaine. I've never seen anything written on the subject but that material has certainly become popular in recent years, possibly because it holds up better than wood planters. These particular planters may be too large to have significant impact. Because SCBG was built on top of a landfill, the heat generated by the decades-old decomposition process underground has always been an issue in the garden - I understand that a lot of plants were lost in the early days. A raised planter ameliorates that problem so the impact of using steel, if there is one, could be neutral in this case ;)Delete
Somebody went on a Corten spree! Don't get me wrong, I love Corten. Right now, the Corten elements stand out too much for my taste, but I'm sure they'll blend in better over time as they begin to oxidize.ReplyDelete
Good to see more succulents being used. Not only do they need little irrigation, they also need very little maintenance.
All in all, positive steps, I thought!
I agree that the increased emphasis on succulents is a positive move but I think there's still room for improvement even there. SCBG created an expansion of the Desert Garden emphasizing Aloes a few years ago but it's still very sparsely planted. I expect shutting down the in-house propagation activity has been a factor there.Delete