National Public Gardens Day is May 10!
By Jenn Kennedy
Inviting communities to explore the beauty of their local green spaces, National Public Gardens Day is an annual celebration of public gardens designed to raise awareness of the important role that botanical gardens and arboreta play in promoting environmental stewardship, plant and water conservation, green spaces and community education.
Last year, Santa Barbara was the first city in the U.S. to collaborate on a citywide celebration of gardens—a model other cities now follow enthusiastically. This collaboration includes ten public gardens and some private venues as well.
“We live in a community with so many beautiful parks and gardens, which offer wonderful places to relax, renew, read or recreate. Santa Barbara City Parks are some of the most-visited parks in the south coast area, from the Alamedas to Shoreline Park and Chase Palm Park along the beach,” says Nancy Rapp, Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation director. “Thousands of people enjoy local parks, whether they are walking, running, picnicking with friends, enjoying a summer concert or strolling among the beautiful blooms of the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden across from the Old Mission…We are incredibly pleased to be part of the National Public Gardens Day partnership for a second year.”
Last year, numerous participants raved about a coveted walk with Grant Castleberg, a prominent Santa Barbara-based landscape architect/designer, who is also one of the creative geniuses behind Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden. As a result, Castleberg returns to lead a tour of Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, which includes the history of the park and interesting perspectives on design and plantings that make the park unique.
“Dating back in time, Santa Barbara has always been a well-gardened city, and this contributes significantly to the high quality of life that we all enjoy,” says Dr. Steve Windhager, executive director of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “For a mid-sized city, we offer visitors enormous diversity—from native plants to exotics to legacy gardens—there truly is something for everyone.”
“We see this day as a fantastic way to promote Santa Barbara as a ‘garden destination’ due to the truly diverse and plentiful gardens we have here,” says Joni Kelly, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s communications manager. “From ornamental (Lotusland) to historic (Casa del Herrero) to native (Santa Barbara Botanic Garden), we have a vast wealth of options for the plant lover. NPGD was our launching board to begin promoting Santa Barbara as a cultural and horticultural attraction.”
Presented by the nonprofit American Public Gardens Association (APGA) in partnership with Rain Bird, National Public Gardens Day celebrates all public gardens, botanical gardens, educational gardens, specialty gardens, entertainment gardens, arboreta, farm gardens, historical landscapes and zoos—and each institution participates in its own unique way.
From Boise to Little Rock and Portland to Tucson, cities are stepping up with fervor. Nationwide, public gardens will mark the day with special events and activities for schools, families and thousands of visitors to explore and discover their local public garden, while learning about each garden’s commitment to education, research and environmental stewardship.
National Public Gardens Day Highlights:
Water Conservation Public gardens utilize efficient watering practices and have industry insight about responsible irrigation systems. Homeowners can learn how to irrigate their own gardens by exploring and consulting with their local public garden.
Native and Adaptable Plants Choosing native plants or plants that have adapted to a local environment can ensure a garden will be healthy and require less water. Public gardens have huge collections of native and adaptable plants that homeowners can be assured will work in their own gardens.
Landscape Design Homeowners can find inspiration in botanic gardens, from the design of gardens; the types of plants used in particular environments; the selection of plants that do well in particular geographical locations and the way gardens are displayed, coordinated and arranged. Landscaping at public gardens can demonstrate which plants bloom at similar times, arrangements that look good together and how gardens can be beautifully displayed.
Gardening Methods Public gardens have staff dedicated to botany and are also home to specialists who understand a particular geographical region very well. Homeowners can access these industry experts at their local public garden and get advice on gardening techniques for plants in their own gardens.
Seasonal Considerations Public gardens have a selection of plants that are perfect for a variety of seasons. Many plants can still thrive in colder and drier seasons. Blooming can occur year-round if the appropriate types of plants or trees are selected.
Geographic Considerations Different plants are healthier in different regions, and it is difficult to know, before purchasing them at a nursery, which plants will do well in a homeowner’s garden. Public gardens display a broad selection of plants that succeed in a particular region. Knowing that a plant, tree or flower grows well in a public garden can assist consumers in choosing plants that will thrive in their own gardens.
National Public Gardens Day is May 10th!
Photo contests, guided tours, educational lectures and special activities will all be part of the Santa Barbara National Public Gardens Day. This extensive community collaboration is between the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department, Santa Barbara County Parks, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Casa del Herrero, La Huerta Garden at the Old Mission, Ganna Walska Lotusland, Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, Alameda Park, Chase Palm Park, Santa Barbara County Courthouse and Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens, as well as private residential gardens, with support from Santa Barbara Beautiful, Santa Barbara Foundation, Park and Recreation (PARC) Foundation, and University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County. As part of National Public Gardens Day, many local destinations will offer discounts. Reservations are required for some events. For complete information on the day’s events and schedule, click here.
This story was originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.