San Diego Botanic Garden
San Diego Botanic Garden
Sitting on land that overlooks the Pacific Ocean in the distance, The San Diego Botanic Garden is a quirky medium-size garden with plenty of little surprises. The smaller size does not diminish the wide variety of plants from all over the world, all coexisting in this shady enclave. Rare and exotic plants look right at home among the native plants of California and make for an eclectic overall display. This garden has a lot of personality but the name seems to imply a different experience and gives the whole thing a bit of an identity crisis. All labels aside, this is a wonderful garden that fits nicely into its surroundings.
Geographiclly-themed sections are fairly common in garden layouts but there were some global locations represented here that you might not expect. New Zealand was represented with it’s own section of popular plants, as well as South Africa. The Mexican Garden was a standout with its colored-tile fountain surrounded by a lively group of figurative sculptures “dressed” in clothes made of succulents. There is even a section devoted to the Kumeyaay people, the earliest inhabitants of the land.
I really enjoyed walking through the Subtropical Fruit Garden which displayed the wide variety of fruits that could be grown in this particular climate. There was a dense grove of banana trees heavy with fruits turning from green to yellow. The fruit trees were intermixed with ornamental plants and flowers below that added an extra layer of visual interest.
The location was previously the home of wealthy businesswoman Ruth Baird Larabee who populated her gardens with botanic souvenirs from her trips around the world. She arranged for her estate to be donated to the county upon her death and it became Quail Gardens, open to the public in 1961. In 2009 the name of the garden changed to the San Diego Botanic Gardens to encourage more interest and protect the future of the garden. The more prestigious name does give the garden more credibility but I would also argue that it is slightly misleading.
Final Rating: I came into this garden with slightly higher expectations for what the San Diego Botanic Gardens would be, and was left slightly disappointed. Thinking there was so much to experience ahead, I rushed through some of the gardens and then suddenly realized I had seen everything already. I was expecting an extensive garden experience but instead found a quaint garden stroll. Perhaps they should have kept the more fitting moniker of Quail Gardens. Either way, this garden is overflowing with charm and is truly worth the visit. THREE BLOOM RATING