San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden

 On my journey up Highway 101 from Santa Barbara I took advantage of an opportune  break in the rain to swing by San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. It was on my upended agenda in any case, though it was to be a stop on a day of nursery crawling.The weather forecast pretty much dictated that said nursery crawl was not to be. Since it looked like the rain would hold off for at least an hour, and I knew this garden was relatively small (this would be my first visit) I exited the highway and instructed Hal, my trusty GPS , to take us there.

 The garden is located in El Chorro Regional Park, in the hills of the central coast region of California. There is a robust plan for a 150 acre garden that displays the plant communities from Mediterranean climates world wide.

    Certainly this plan seems daunting, but I saw many signs in the garden as it exists today that seemed to point to significant progress.

 Just inside the entry was  a bed of Leucodendrons  -is this Safari 'Goldstrike' ? I failed to look at the tag.

 Protection from critters -I assume deer but  maybe bunnies ? The garden is not fenced so either deer are not a problem or there is no intent to plant deer-fodder plants.

 The plant labels were excellent -I've been to plenty of public gardens that fail in this area. High quality labels that include plant families and geographic origin always get a big thumbs up from me.

 This succulent garden is small , but again well labeled and well grown.

 The bare tree in the background is a wonderfully shaped speciman of our native buckeye Aesculus californica , and the foreground is a variegated Portulacaria. I was distracted by the fabulous Aloe blooms to the point that I didn't look at the tag.

 This Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn'  was just a big blob of winter bloominess, but when I went around the back it turned out  to be a grouping. Either way it was pretty fabulous.

  An important addition to the garden, given our recent wildfire history.

 This was my favorite feature of the garden.Not much to see in this photo, but this entire hillside has what appears to be recently installed drip irrigation and a gently sloped walking path . I couldn't really see every plant that had been put in from my vantage point on the path , but it looked like there were many. 

 There were dozens of  Dudleyas on the level seen to the right in the photo above. Considering their size and condition I would guess they were all planted in 2018.

 As you walk the path you have a great view of our hills in their winter finery--in summer this will all be a golden brown studded with green of the oaks.

 This shade house  reminded me of the nursery area at the UC Davis Arboretum on a smaller scale. You can see a tantalizing glimpse of the plants inside-maybe destined for the garden or the April plant sale. 

 These next two photos are the view up the hill -close up and from across the road. This is a long view of the space where irrigation and some plants have been installed. Grading hillside paths, irrigation and drainage eat up lots of funding. I was really encouraged to see how well this has progressed. And the progression is only an educated guess on my part , since this was my inaugural visit. I could observe that what was above ground in the system --marking  flags, drip hose, valves etc had no appearance of weathering . It all looked pretty new.

 Even more pricey are the buildings and hardscaping. They have created a really nice event space, educational center and plant sales area.

  I'm looking forward to future visits to this garden and watching it develop. I hope their funding efforts continue to be successful, I intend to make a modest contribution myself.


  1. It's pretty nice! (Nicer than my local botanic garden.) The rain may have been an unfortunate companion on your trip but it the blue sky interspersed with clouds made a really nice backdrop for your photos.

    1. I have to say all my drives on this trip were just wonderful scenic-wise. They do have a very muscular plan , and the garden will be fantastic if they can pull it off.

  2. Looks like it will evolve into an interesting garden. Already has a nice infrastructure.

    1. I'm looking forward to seeing progress-I hope they don't run out of money !

  3. I had a somewhat different take--we visited October 2017--a sense that there isn't much community support for the project. The fine sign on things to come is dated 2012! I suppose there needs to be a cadre of very wealthy people who organize and provide the impetus for such things as botanic gardens, or a plutocrat like Huntington to get one started.

    1. I had low expectations based on blog posts from you, Gerhard and Queen of the Dirt. I think that's why I never bothered to visit before now. But seeing the really nice green built visitor center, the extensive irrigation and paths I have to believe they had a nice influx of funds from somewhere.


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