Walking Santa Barbara Botanic Garden & …

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Hindsight told us – we should have devoted a whole day to Santa Barbara’s Botanic Garden. We only gave it a morning. And it was the best Botanic Garden we’ve ever seen.

SB Botanic GardenMaybe part of the reason for it’s fantastic-ness was the setting. In the hills above Santa Barbara, this first vista across a meadow to the mountains was stunning. We headed that way towards the Redwood Section. Being set in the hills, this is not a flat walk, so I went slowly and didn’t explore everywhere.

Botanic path Down this canyon at Mission Creek is dam and aqueduct built in 1807. It supplied the Santa Barbara Mission (that we would visit the next day).

Botanic damAt least half of the Santa Barbara Garden seems to be wild nature. The rocks and twisting oaks intrigued us. (There are two side trails that winds up the hill from the main Canyon Trail.)

Botanic rock trees Botanic woods and rock

Botanic woodsIn some places we saw new plantings of coyote bush and others (??). In some places the lilacs were blooming in subtle purples and whites.

Botanic lilacWe passed a real bridge to return to the main garden and then passed what we were told was a more challenging rock crossing. I decided I could handle this rock crossing.

Botanic creekWe climbed out of the canyon to a Japanese Teahouse and Garden near the Manzanita Section. The dog (yes, leashed dogs are allowed) and I waited in the shade by the entrance,admiring the turtles and mallard

Turtles and Mallardwhile Mike headed up hill on the other side of Mission Canyon Road. After I saw the pictures, I wished I had tried the climb.

Botanic mountainsLupines and Fremontia together.
Botanic lupines fremontiaGorgeous colors and shapes. Wow. Cactus and giant coreopsis.

giant coreopsis cactusMike liked that he was headed to a natural area.

Botanic Natural AreaIn reading about this area later – much of it was destroyed in a fire in 2009. The ceanothus or lilac in the area is being replanted.

Picnic tables and a few water fountains are scattered around the Garden. A gift shop and a bathroom are near the entrance. More Information? Click Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Santa Barbara Natural History Museum

The other place we didn’t leave enough time for was the Natural History Museum not to far from the Garden, in a lush landscape of oaks.

History entranceWe walked through halls of insects, mammals, geology and paleontology. I definitely wished I had more time in the geology section.

Of course, we loved the birds the best. Recreated scenes went from this active hawk grabbing for quail

History hawk on quailto the serene diorama of a tidal marsh

History heron marshI loved the way the birds were organized by what they ate (insects or mammals) and where they ate (on the fly or on the ground). This helps so much with bird identification.

Hunger was calling, as we did not have time to visit the planetarium or explore the outside area.

History outsideThe collections and the presentation of different parts of our natural world were excellent. Well, for another trip.

Visit the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum online. They are also responsible for the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf that we had passed.

Words by Lynn Millar, pictures by Lynn and Mike Millar, available upon request.

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