| A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
The Gardens of Santa Barbara
Our online tours begin in Santa
Barbara because we used to live there and are very familiar with
the many public and private gardens in that city. Since
then, we have visited many other gardens in the West.
Links to other online garden previews are listed near the bottom
of the page.
||A vista of the older, central
part of the
Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden
. Low water usage is not the dominant theme of this area.
If your summer includes a
trip to Southern California, consider visiting the many
gardens in the resort town of Santa Barbara. While
there are beautiful gardens everywhere in the city, here are
four extraordinary gardens to visit and enjoy.
Several years ago after the
very severe, prolonged drought in
Santa Barbara, their Parks Department converted a large part
of the Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden to a low-water usage
Happily, the Park Department
includes a brochure and detailed plant list in a box near
the southwest corner of the garden to aid visitors in plant
identification and horticultural requirements of the
Garden is appropriately located at Garden and Arrellaga
streets in Santa Barbara
and there are plenty of places to simply sit and enjoy the
beauty of the garden.
There is no entry fee at this public park.
||In the outer sections of
the garden the emphasis is on drought-tolerant
plantings. You will see beautiful examples of
flower borders and dry creek beds, as well as plants
to use in dry shady areas.
Dry, shade is one of the most challenging
environments for low-water usage gardens because
plants that like shade usually like lots of water.
The photo, left, shows
drought-tolerant fescue lining a decomposed granite
path leading to a rocky dry creek bed.
The route to the Santa
Barbara Botanic Garden from the Mission Rose garden is well
marked. Just follow the signs up
Canyon. This 80+ acre botanic
garden is devoted to native plants of all regions of
California and you can preview the
Garden on this website.
Near the entrance, there is a
small area devoted to plants of the Great Basin, Mojave,
and Sonoran deserts. But because the mission of this
botanic garden is to show all ecosystems in California,
their desert garden is modest in size. To see more of the
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, including the redwood grove
and spring meadow,
||As you make your way from
the Alice Keck Park Memorial to the Santa Barbara
Botanic Garden, you will pass by the
Barbara Mission Rose Garden. It is
definitely not low water usage, but the roses are
especially beautiful in early summer. If you are a
rose lover, this garden is worth a stop.
There is no entry fee.
||As you make your way back
down into the city on Garden Street, you will see
the restoration of the old Presidio of Santa Barbara
in progress. No garden to note, but an excellent
glimpse into the original European settlement of the
city. The Santa Barbara Historic Society is a block
away on Garden.
The photo, left, shows a stack of adobe
bricks for use in the rebuilding.
You will have to call ahead and make
reservations to visit the
amazing garden of opera singer Ganna Walska in the Montecito
area of Santa Barbara. The two daily tours of the
garden are lead by docents and there is a fee. Demand for
the tours--the only way to see the garden-- is high so call
well in advance.
On part of her estate Miss Walska
created a traditional formal garden with high hedges, a rose
walk and reflecting pool. But it is her private plant
collections that are astonishing! If she liked a
plant, she bought dozens of them no matter what the cost or
rarity. Palms, bromeliads, cycads, aloes, a blue
garden, a water garden, a Japanese garden, an Australian
garden, topiaries -- they all reflect her personal gardening
passions and they will take your breath away.
Take these Hot Gardens
online preview tours:
Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden
Huntington Gardens Desert Garden - near
Descanso Gardens - near Pasadena
Arlington Garden - in Pasadena
Gardens - Malibu
South Coast Botanic Garden
- southwest Los
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden - Claremont,
Barbara Gardens - Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa
Public Gardens - Tucson, Arizona
Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden - Phoenix,
Park Gardens - San Diego, California
Tropical Garden in the Dominican Republic
Shore Acres Gardens - Coos Bay Oregon
Luis Obispo Creek Park - San Luis Obispo,
- Van Nuys, Los Angeles,
Japanese Garden - Long Beach,
Gabriel Mission Gardens - near Los Angeles
San Fernando Mission - Los Angeles
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Our 8 Most Popular Hot Gardens Newsletters:
Flowering plants that reliably bloom in scorching mid-summer heat.
Australian plants and trees that grow well in hot, dry climates.
Weather-proofing palms for winter; cold weather palm trees.
A white garden
for night time
Topiary can be easy to create
and add charm to your garden.
Techniques to combat death by heat exhaustion of plants in pots.
Cactus as security barriers
for your property.
South African aloes
brilliant late winter color in your garden.
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2003-2017 Carol Lightwood All Rights Reserved.