Botanic Garden Variety

Spring Comes Early In S.B.

barney%20flowers.jpgSpring Is Here? Well,
technically not, but you’d think so by strolling around the
magnificent Santa
Barbara Botanic Garden
. Bright orange California poppies are popping up in the meadows
and water is gushing over the 1807 dam that once provided water to
the Mission.

The warm sun was bathing the 85-acre Botanic Garden in the
foothills above the city when Sue and I wandered around on Monday.
Red-tailed hawks were screaming above in the
blue sky and turtles were sunning themselves on rocks in the little
pools. To my mind, spring had sprung. I spotted a spread of
California’s fast-disappearing native grasslands thriving in the
Meadows Section.

One family was picnicking while another was wheeling a baby
around on footpaths. The Santa Ynez Mountains
loomed sharp and clear to the north. We followed the paved path
downhill into the canyon, where redwoods
shaded the underbrush. Signs warned us about walking off the path
and tramping on the fragile soil over the roots. (Watch for poison
oak.)

Aside from the cornucopia of a zillion kinds of native plants in
the Garden and the grand old twisted oaks, the main attraction for
me has always been the old dam. barney%20cliff.jpgMission fathers and Chumash workers
built it to satisfy the thirst of the increased population and
agricultural needs after the Mission was founded in 1786. Then the
droughts of 1794-95 hit.

You can walk over the dam, treading on original fired red clay
tiles. Mission Creek water gushes through the
opening, easing its way along the boulders downhill. Originally,
the dam was 110 feet across, 22 feet high, and 18 feet thick,
according to the Botanic Garden. It was fashioned from lime mortar
layered with river rocks.

From there, it followed a course one and a half miles down
through an aqueduct to the Mission reservoir and then to the
fountain in front of the Mission. barney%20lake.jpg Mission Dam is both a state and county
historic landmark. You could spend hours wandering the trails or
sitting on one of the benches tucked away here and there. But be
sure to nose around the Garden Shop with many varieties of native plants
and check out the gift shop. I came away with a butterfly
feeder
.

The Botanic Garden is open year-round: From March through
October, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; from November through February, 9 a.m.-5
p.m. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors, military, college
students, and teens; $4 for children 2-12. Kids younger than that
are free. On the weekend, MTD bus line No. 22 runs to the front
gate. For info call 682-4726 or visit sbbg.org.

Correction: In my February 13 online column, a
subhead (written by someone else) read: “Cappello gets sued.”
Actually, as I wrote later in the column, Barry
Cappello
, representing News-Press owner Wendy
McCaw
, was mentioned in an unfair labor practice complaint
filed by the Teamsters union against the News-Press.
News-Press%2520101%2520Protest2.jpg

According to the Teamsters, which represents newsroom employees
forming a union, it was illegal for Cappello to make statements in
newspaper articles warning employees that certain activities, like
displaying a banner over the freeway, deserved
punitive action. These are actions protected by federal law, the
union said. In a letter to me, Cappello termed it “ludicrous” that
the union would call his replies to reporters’ question threats. He
termed it free speech.

Sound of Music: Watching the Santa Barbara
Symphony
’s Oscars pop concert Friday night, I wondered this: If
the musicians were playing the same score as the movie scenes being
shown on the big screen above them, how come I couldn’t hear the
actual film music?

A couple of musicians I chatted with at intermission cleared up
the mystery. The film clips had the music part of the sound track
erased, allowing us to hear what the stage musicians were playing,
along with voices and background sounds of what was going on in the
movie. Biggest problem, they said, was working with one of the
films, The Adventures of Robin Hood, a 1930s movie on old
film stock.

(S.B. Botanic Garden photos by Sue De Lapa)

Barney Brantingham can be reached at (805) 965-5205 or
barney@independent.com. He also writes a Thursday column
in
The Santa Barbara Independent’s print edition and on
Friday
The Indy publishes Barney’s Weekend Picks
online
.

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