Betsy Collins, Director of Horticulture for The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, walks us through the gardens and facility dedicated to the conservation of California native plants. There are more than 6,000 species of plants in California.
As a “living museum” the garden serves to educate and inspire love for California native plants.
At the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, all plants are carefully numbered, tracked, and recorded. All plant records are kept in a database.
Their Spring-flowering meadow filled with Yellow Lupine is one of the most distinguishing features of the garden. It is in the process of being converted to a wildflower meadow.
There is a large redwood tree section of the garden. Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world, and are an iconic tree along the west coast.
There is an herbarium room at the garden, which houses pressed plant specimens. This is where plant collections are documented and kept. Each pressed plant specimen contains all of the plant features required for identification. It also has a record of where the plant came from.
There is also a seed bank at the garden. Pure seeds are collected, sifted, and finally frozen in order to keep them viable. When prepared in this way, seeds can last 100-150 years.
One freezer houses extremely rare plants, and is kept under lock and key to ensure they remain viable. This collection is called the conservation seed collection.
Another freezer contains seeds from the living collections at the botanic garden. These seeds are used when creating a new plant display, or if a specimen is damaged in the garden and needs to be replaced.
Keeping these seeds is imperative to ensuring the continuation of each plant variety.
The garden is located in a high-danger fire zone. In 2009, lots of the gardens were burned in a wildfire, where about 75% of the gardens suffered some level of fire damage. The fact that the gardens have bounced back quickly shows how hardy and adaptable Californian vegetation is.
To learn more about The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, visit their website.