Former Santa Barbara Botanic Garden employee Carol Bornstein, contacted by phone, said she has heard that several of the garden’s structures burned during the night, including the director’s residence, the historic Gane House, one of the nursery structures on the ridgetop, and the deck at the home demonstration garden. Calls to the garden and garden spokesperson Nancy Johnson have not yet been returned. Bornstein, a native plant expert who worked at the garden for almost 30 years, was terminated in April, amid controversy over planned new development at the garden. It was previously reported by eyewitnesses that 10 or more acres at the top of the garden were on fire Wednesday night, May 6.
Botanic garden Status Update as of 10am Friday:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden spokesperson Nancy Johnson spoke to the Independent’s Elizabeth Schwyzer at 9:45am on Friday, May 8. According to Johnson, the historic landmark Campbell Bridge, built in the 1940s, as well as the popular redwood tree ring exhibit in the redwood grove, have been destroyed. The redwood grove is still standing though singed, and the meadow is also intact. There is some charring in the manzanita exhibit and in the canyon. The status of the Porter trail is unknown, but the Pritchett Trail is heavily damaged.
As stated in an earlier report, the Gane House, a 9,000 square foot historic house on the ridge across Mission canyon Road from the garden’s visitor’s center, has been destroyed. The house was approximately 100 years old, and housed the Botanic Garden’s gardening equipment. A couple of trucks nearby were also decimated by the fire.
The garden is closed indefinitely. All classes and tours are canceled with the exception of Dr. Haller’s off-site field trips. The phone line is down; those seeking information should visit the garden’s website at sbbg.org.