Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 4:30 am | Fog/Mist 60º


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: Fire Damage Extensive

Despite destruction, critical elements and collections escape harm. Garden closed until further notice

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden said it has sustained further damage to structures and the living collection as a result of the Jesusita Fire.

Fire officials accompanied Botanic Garden president Edward Schneider through the garden, allowing him to assess the buildings and grounds.

“The good news is that the Meadow, Discovery Garden, Teahouse, Desert and most of the Redwood Exhibits are untouched,” Schneider said. “Unfortunately, the historic Campbell Bridge, the beloved Pritchett Path, the popular Redwood Tree Ring Exhibit, Oak Woodland and Porter Path Exhibits were either destroyed or heavily damaged.”

The riparian corridor canyon also was damaged as the fire spread down to Mission Creek from Tunnel Road.

“This is, indeed, sad news for the garden and a sad time for the entire community,” said Fife Symington, chairman of the board of trustees. “However, we know how deeply people in this community care about this beautiful garden and how strong their spirit is. Now is the time for all of us to pull together to not only rebuild the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, but rebuild all that has been lost.”

Previously, the Botanic Garden confirmed the loss of structures on its grounds at 1212 Mission Canyon Road. The 1908 Gane House, the proposed centerpiece of the garden’s building project, the Vital Mission Plan, was destroyed. The Botanic Garden had hoped to rehabilitate the large Craftsman-style home and to seek historic landmark status for it. Also lost in the fire was a deck overlooking Mission Canyon Creek, a lathe house, and the director’s residence and garage.

The Botanic Garden is grateful for the valiant efforts made by firefighters to save the remaining structures, which include a herbarium housing the garden’s vast collection of scientifically valuable dried plant specimens; the Blaksley Library and Library Annex, home to the extensive horticultural and botanical book collection and rare book room; the historic Caretaker’s Cottage; and the seed bank, where the germplasm of rare and endangered species is stored. Firefighters credited access to fire hydrants recently installed on the premises by the garden to saving these buildings.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will remain closed and classes and tours — with the exception of Robert Haller’s field trips — are canceled until further notice. The garden’s communications systems are inoperable for the time being. Click here for updates and more information on the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

— Nancy Johnson Nancy is vice president of marketing and government relations at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.


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