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Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Receives $220,000 Grant for Meadow Revival Project

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Receives $220,000 Grant from the Hind Foundation Meadow Revival at the Garden

By Joni Kelly for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden |

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is pleased to announce the receipt of a $220,000 grant from the Hind Foundation, based in San Luis Obispo.

The organization provides funds for community-oriented projects and programs that encourage people to work together to build an enduring legacy for future generations.

This generous grant of $220,000 will be used over the next two years to help fund the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Meadow Revival Project. This project is aimed at returning the Garden’s Meadow to its historic condition as a stunning living display of native California spring wildflowers and grasses.

“We are so grateful for the overwhelming support the Hind Foundation has given us,” said Dr. Steve Windhager, executive director of the garden. “These funds will truly make an enormous difference, not only in helping us restore this historically-significant landscape, but also in enriching our visitor’s appreciation and understanding of grasslands and the importance of conserving them.”

The Meadow’s Return to Glory

The garden’s iconic meadow is the centerpiece of the historic-landmarked landscape, one that was created through collaboration between renowned landscape architects Beatrix Farrand and Lockwood de Forest III. The meadow was intended to be an open expanse that led the eye to the peaks of the Santa Ynez Mountains beyond. This seminal visual experience has been cherished by generations of visitors.

Alterations to the meadow, including the installation of two large native lawns and the encroachment of larger shrubs and perennials, have created a less than uniform look to the display that is not in keeping with the original design intent.

The garden’s recent HLAC-approved Cultural Landscape Master Plan identified restoration of the meadow as a top priority. A new planting design that supports the garden’s educational and aesthetic goals for both the interior and borders of the meadow will be developed and tested. If the planting scheme develops as expected, it will grow upwards of 70,000 plugs of grasses and other perennials for planting in the meadow’s interior. These will be over-sown with wildflower seed to provide the spectacular spring show that has delighted generations of visitors. The perennial grasses will provide texture and color throughout the year.

Infestations of weeds, however, have ultimately spoiled every meadow planting scheme since the 1930s. Given this history, much of the project will be focused on eliminating the standing weed crop and reducing the weed seed bank in the soil. Staff will develop a weed abatement plan that targets the specific populations of weed species on site. Two full cycles of weed abatement will be conducted in the summers of 2013 and 2014 using measures such as grow/kill, solarization, hand-weeding, herbicides, burning and possibly goats.

“We foresee that much of the meadow will be bare or covered with plastic for many months during the summer and fall of each year,” said Betsy Collins, director of horticulture for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “What this substantial grant will enable us to achieve is a beautiful meadow display that is historically appropriate, helps us educate the public about California’s fragile grasslands and is visually appealing 365 days a year.”

— Joni Kelly is the communications manager for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

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