[heading] by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Soul of Photography [/heading]

As you embark on to the grounds of San Diego Botanic Garden you become encapsulated by its beauty. The tranquil sounds and stunning nature resonate throughout the grounds. You will be awestruck. You will become a kid again. You will want to throw a penny to make a wish in the waterfall that streams from the top to the bottom of a portion of the Garden. You will take a moment to climb around the tree house and discover how exhilarating it is to traverse through unknown, natural surroundings. You will make pretend music with the mariachi bands and delight in your laughter. You will seek to climb to the very top of the Gardens so you can gaze at the Pacific Ocean and realize you are literally on the edge of the continent. You will relish in the beauty and take in the incredible aromas of your surroundings. You will be delighted and you will be in a place of true reverence. Our team had the privilege to visit the Garden, photograph and video the splendor of it all and talk with those whom make it thrive. Delve in and be sure to head over to check it out. There’s something for everyone. Do not wonder.



  • The oldest tree is an olive that is a hundred years old.  It was transplanted to the Hamilton Children’s Garden when it opened in 2009. 
  • A skyline gum, over seventy feet tall, was planted on site nearly eighty years ago.
  • SDBG has the largest collection of bamboo in any USA public garden.
  • The rarest plant is Del Mar Manzanita, which is federally endangered. 
  • The most popular attractions at SDBG are the Hamilton Children’s Garden tree house, the Bamboo Garden and Seeds of Wonder.
  • Hamilton Children’s Garden is the largest children’s garden on the West Coast and SDBG also hosts the smaller Seeds of Wonder Children’s Garden.





92024: What is the history behind San Diego Botanic Garden?  How did it come to be?
SDBG: San Diego Botanic Garden began as the private estate of Charles and Ruth Larabee.  The Larabees landscaped the property around their modest home with exotic plants collected during their international travels.  As active Scout leaders, the couple sought to personally educate young people about nature by using the estate’s gardens as their teaching site.  In the spirit of continuing public horticultural education, Mrs. Larabee left her private residence and its grounds to the County of San Diego in 1957. The County opened Quail Park to the public in 1971, and managed the property until 1993 when the Garden was privatized as an independent, nonprofit organization called Quail Botanical Gardens. In 2009, the name was changed to San Diego Botanic Garden.

92024: How is the San Diego Botanic Garden funded?
SDBG: San Diego Botanic Garden is supported by members, individual donors, foundation grants, corporate partners, special events, rentals, admissions and program income.

92024: Julian, what is your role as President/CEO of the SD Botanic Garden?
SDBG: My role in short is where the proverbial buck stops.  Personally, I thrive on everything the Garden stands for which makes it very easy for me to represent and promote it.  I enjoy speaking about it to anyone who will listen including opportunities to talk with the casual guest to the Garden, enjoin the media and certainly with possible and already involved donors.  This is an important part of my job but my board also has right to expect that I have a vision for the Garden and can inspire others to want to help pursue it.  The mission of the San Diego Botanic Garden is well stated as “to inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature” As a confirmed nature nut myself I have my dream job.

92024: How do you ensure the upkeep of the Garden is consistently met?  How often do you redesign/update sections of the Garden?
SDBG: Our gardeners and horticultural staff are constantly working at maintaining the gardens here. There is always a lot to do – weeding, watering, pruning, etc.

Although some areas don’t need too much attention, generally many areas are “spruced up” a bit every year or so while larger scale redesigns and updates are done every 5-10 years.  Some very public areas that include flower beds may be replanted a couple of times a year.

92024: How does one go about supporting / volunteering with the Garden?  
SDBG: To support the Garden, we encourage memberships.  A family membership pays for itself with just three visits!
If you’re Active Duty military, we are offering a 2/3’s discount on a family membership with valid Military ID until August 13, 2013.  Frances Hamilton White is a generous donor and is always willing to lend a hand to our active military.  She will be paying the 2/3’s of the cost. Volunteers must complete an application and background check, in addition to attending our Volunteer Orientation.

92024: At the Garden, you believe in “living green.”  How are you committed to having a sustainable environment?
SDBG: Carpool to San Diego Botanic Garden and Go Green.  If you have four people or more in your car when you come to San Diego Botanic Garden we will waive the parking fee.

We strive to conserve rare and endangered plants and their ecosystems and to promote sustainable use of natural resources.  The most important botanical collections are: bamboo, palms, cycads, aloes and agaves. Many of these species are of conservation concern.  In addition, there are dozens of other plant species in our collections of conservation significance, including native plants in natural areas that are listed as federally and state endangered and threatened species.

There are approximately eleven acres of natural areas and restored natural areas in the Garden.  The local southern maritime chaparral and coastal sage scrub plant communities are some of the nation’s most endangered vegetation types as they are small in size and restricted to coastal areas.  Over the past century these Southern California coastal areas have been in high demand for urban development.

The Garden has built “Green Roofs” on our restrooms for natural insulation.  Also, you will find solar panels on our roof down in the Hamilton Children’s Garden used to power the restroom.
We also just installed EV Charging Stations for those who need to charge their electric cars.  These guests also receive free parking.

We print all material on 100% recycled paper.

92024: What sets the Garden apart from other places of similar nature?  Why is it so popular among locals and tourists alike?
SDBG: We offer the west coast’s largest interactive children’s garden: Hamilton Children’s Garden.  Along with daily children’s activities that inspire creativity.
We have so many hands-on activities and events that cater to all ages.  We have plants that many have never seen before.
The mild climate in Encinitas enables us to grow plants from all over the world.  Not many other botanic gardens are able to maintain such diversity.

92024: What changes/physically have been made to the San Diego Botanic Garden since its establishment?
SDBG: Since we’ve became Quail Botanical Garden Foundation in the early 1990’s.  From a public park we have expanded in acreage.   Almost all geographical gardens were established after we became a 501(c)3. Hamilton Children’s Garden was established in September 2009.

92024: Please describe the special services you have available at the Garden. (Weddings, Birthdays, Activities, Library, etc…)
SDBG: With a mild year-round climate, the Garden offers a variety of garden settings for your event, from our large Gazebo Lawn Garden to our intimate Waterfall View Deck and secluded Walled or Lawn House Gardens.
SDBG offers a list of approved caterers and florists that are familiar with the Gardens, our facilities, rules and regulations.
You may also rent out the picnic areas in the Seeds of Wonder children’s garden and the Hamilton Children’s Garden for birthdays.

We offer a variety of classes just about every week and events monthly.








Gala in the Garden

Time: 5 pm – 9:30 pm
Nature and Learning: Infinite Possibilities.
Description: Discover the wonder of the Hamilton Children’s Garden during our largest fundraiser of the year. Enjoy music, floral displays, the very best in food and drinks, and an opportunity to indulge your inner child in the Hamilton Children’s Garden. We are pleased to announce that the 2012 Paul Ecke Jr. Award of Excellence honoree is Janet Kister. Janet is owner of Sunlet Nursery in Fallbrook, past president of the San Diego Farm Bureau and past trustee of San Diego Botanic Garden. As a leader in agricultural education, Janet’s work and passion exemplify the Garden’s mission to inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature.
Contact Information: Jennifer Turner; 760-436-3036 ext. 218
Ticket Information: Tickets are available now for $200 each at www.sdbgarden.org/gala-tickets.htm


18th Annual San Diego International Orchid Fair and Sale 2012

Saturday, October 6: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday, October 7: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Description: Join us for the splendidly colorful San Diego International Orchid Fair where countless varieties of orchids grace the grounds, some in exhibits and some for sale.  Learn from the experts how to care for your newly purchased orchids at “Orchids 101,” our ongoing lectures on culture and care.  Have your orchid judged. The show is an official AOS (American Orchid Society) judging event and there will be ribbon judging as well. To register your plants for judging bring them to the Ecke Building on Thursday, Oct. 4, 4 – 7 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 5, 9 a.m. – 12 noon. Someone will be available to help you classify your plants. Please make sure they are pest-free, flowers are staked, and plants are clean. Judging begins at 1 pm sharp on Friday, Oct. 5, so please have your plants registered by 12:00 noon.
Contact Information: Diana Goforth; 760-436-3036 ext. 204
Ticket Information: Free event with membership or admission

OCTOBER 20 & 21

Annual Fall Plant Sale 2012

Description: Plant donations from over 100 local growers, wholesalers, retail nurseries, and individuals make this one of the most interesting and diverse plant sales of San Diego County. Plant selections include California natives, cacti, succulents, bromeliads, fruit trees, and sub-tropicals. Visit our Botanic Attic for garden-related items. Also be sure to check out our huge selection of used books and homemade goodies such as specialty jellies. Enjoy a silent auction and the popular sit-down Bakery Shoppe, which serves cakes, cookies, pies, and coffee.
Cost: Free with admission or membership.
Suggestion: Bring your own wagon to haul your plants.

[tabs] [tab title=”At A Glance”]

Year of Establishment: 1960
Location:  230 Quail Gardens Drive, San Diego, CA 92024  
Hours of Operation:  9 am – 5 pm
Phone: 760-436-3036
Website:   www.SDBGarden.org
Email Contact:  hmain@SDBGarden.org

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$75* – Family/Dual covers a family of one or two adults in the same household and their children under the age of 18.
*Grandparents may choose this level to include their grandchildren under the age of 18.

$50 – Individual benefits one person age 13 to 59. General admission for one adult.
Senior – A discount of $10 off a basic membership is available to seniors

$40 Optional Third Card – Add a third named card to any membership level for a care-taker or additional adult family member.

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