Spread out over 40 acres, our botanical collection consists of over 8,000 plants from the Mediterranean climate regions of the world. Completion of development for the full 107 acres is slated for the 2050s. Our current gardens replicate plant communities and associations as they occur in nature; some areas focus on ornamental displays or annual plantings.
The Chilean garden highlights unusual plants from the plant communities of central Chile, many not commonly seen in Southern California. This collection has been built through partnerships with botanic gardens in Chile and through collection expeditions there. It includes rare and endangered species under conservation.
The "Ramble" runs through the center of the gardens and represents native California communities in a naturalistic presentation. This is the largest section in our master plan and will encompass roughly one-third of the garden when complete. The Ramble is an experimental area focused on restoration and education, and not a formal garden. Visitors experience coastal sage scrub, chaparral and woodland plant communities typically found in Ventura County and southern California in general. The Ramble has expanded significantly since the 2017 Thomas Fire with new plants added, resulting in greater biodiversity of plants and wildlife— a treat for visitors in the spring and summer. Spring wildflowers are profuse in years with ample rain.
Two portions of the South African garden have been developed with plant collections representing the fynbos and karoo plant communities. This is the most developed of the gardens, adjacent to Summit Plateau where events are held, a roughly 2-mile walk from the entrance. The fynbos collection is the most colorful garden, while the karoo collection includes giant aloe trees and other specimens accompanied by expansive views of historic downtown Ventura, the beach, the Channel Islands, and the Santa Monica mountains.
Our collection of plants from the Mediterranean basin included a mature pine forest sadly destroyed in the Thomas Fire. However, small portions of the Mediterranean collection are now being updated with a diverse olive grove of 140 trees and 40 traditional cultivars from near the Mediterranean Sea. Conservation of these cultivars is part of the stewardship of our agricultural heritage.
While Australian plants have been incorporated into the entrance area and confluence gardens, design is still underway for the Australian garden. We also have an existing Eucalyptus forest with seven species forming a mixture of ornamental and weedy Eucalyptus.
Our commitment to conservation extends beyond plants. We are experimenting with innovative engineering techniques to capture water from fog, and implement new technologies for our irrigation system. We continue to develop more detailed design as we build more gardens and add signage enhancing the visitor experience. Our collection of plants increases by several thousand per year and as our existing plants mature and flower, there is always something new to see.
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