Paul Wellman (file)

There’s some big news in our Santa Barbara gardening community. Jane Buchanan, past president and cochair of the Centennial Committee of The Garden Club of Santa Barbara, tipped me off to the fact that the club will be celebrating a milestone birthday. I did the math and confirmed that the garden club, which was founded in 1916, will indeed be 100 years old this year.

In commemoration, on April 4 the garden club gifted two major gardens to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG), which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Buchanan told me that The Children’s Centennial Maze, the first of its kind in Santa Barbara, and the historic Wooded Dell garden exemplify the club’s long history of community giving in the fields of horticulture, conservation, education, and beautification. A mayoral proclamation was presented to club members, followed by remarks from Dr. Steve Windhager, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden director, on the garden’s 90-year shared history with the garden club. Members were treated to tours of the two new gardens.

Buchanan also explained that The Children’s Centennial Maze was designed by artist and Garden Club member Lenore Hughes. Planted in the shape of a cloverleaf with approximately 250 Baccharis pilularis ssp. consanguinea, which is our local native coyote brush, the garden invites young children to play, explore, and discover nature’s surprises. The garden is the gateway component to the new Backcountry Adventure children’s area.

The Wooded Dell garden, adjacent to the Lockwood de Forest/Campbell Bench and Trail, is planted with a diversity of native species including iris, heuchera, salvia, ribes, rhus, rhamnus, quercus, cercis, ceanothus, heteromeles, and woodwardia, among others. Subtle design elements keep with the historic intent and invite the visitor to pause and reflect on nature’s horticultural richness. Both gardens were planted by Garden Club and Botanic Garden staff members under the direction of SBBG Director of Horticulture Betsy Collins and arborist Bruce Reed.

The maze was completed in one day, while the dell, with more than 400 native plants, was completed in separate planting sessions during a three-month period. The entire planning process was accomplished in two years, with Centennial Committee members and the SBBG horticulture team collaborating on the garden’s designs and plant selections.

These and all the gardens can be viewed during regular SBBG hours. A special celebration for the Botanic Garden’s 90th birthday called Cultivating the Wild: Native Gardens Tour will be held on Sunday, May 1. For information, see


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