Ventura Botanical Gardens, in Ventura, California, is a public garden representing the plants of the five Mediterranean climates of the earth and serves as a gathering place for educational programs. The garden is a work in progress that at completion will include many amenities including laboratories, dining, event centers, and gifts shops.
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The Ventura Botanical Gardens was first conceived by a group of residents in 2005 with the common goal of showcasing and preserving native plant species of the Ventura coastal community. Their mission statement also includes providing educational and recreational enhancements and cultural contributions to the community.
The Garden is located in Grant Park which is set in the foothills of the City Hall and provides panoramic views of the coastline and mountains. The vision plan was developed with Mia Lehrer & Associates landscape architectural firm and the city leased 107 acres of park lands to Ventura Botanical Gardens in 2011. Four years later, the lease was modified to create a public/private partnership between the City of Ventura and the Gardens.
To date, the botanists at Ventura Botanical Gardens have completed field studies to create a foundational environmental assessment to continue the design plan of the garden which is a work in progress as of 2017. The staff also actively works to restore the California plant species native to the region and is always looking to acquire new plant specimens.
Joe Cahill is the current Executive Director of Ventura Botanical Gardens. A botanist for over 20 years with a background in gardens and non-profit work, Dr. Cahill is compliant with the Convention on Biological Diversity and holds his Ph.D. from University of California Riverside and a J.D. from Fordham University of Law.
Ventura Botanical Gardens is supported by members who contribute through dues on an annual basis, private donations, corporate sponsorships, grants, and events proceeds from fundraisers such as the Spring Garden Tour. The current location is open from sun up to sun down for public access with entrances at the trail at City Hall, Summit Drive, Ferro Drive, and Brakey Road.
Presently, the Ventura Botanical Garden has over 160 species of predominantly Mediterranean climate plants. There are sub exotic sub species intertwined that are left over from the gardens that existed prior to the development of the Ventura Gardens. Included in the Ventura collection is a pine forest that serves as the basis for the Mediterranean collection and is comprised of 60 georeferenced trees. There is also a small Eucalyptus forest with seven different species and the “ramble” which runs along the middle of the gardens and showcases plant communities native to California and consists primarily of coastal sage scrub and chaparral.
Chilean Garden-In 2014, Ventura Gardens commenced the planting of the Chilean Garden. The expansion of this garden remains one of the priority focuses for Ventura Botanical Gardens moving forward. This garden features giant Puyas, cacti, and other succulents chosen for their extreme beauty and tolerance for dry weather. This garden frames the Demonstration Trail.
Demonstration Trail- Developed in 2012, the trail begins behind City Hall and leads one mile along a historic stone wall and is partially wheel chair accessible. From the trail, walkers can enjoy impressive views downtown Ventura, the Pacific Coast, the Bay, Channel Islands and even catch surfers on the waves. The trail is for pedestrians only. No bikes allowed please.
The garden is always open to the public during daylight hours for self-guided tours. Docent lead tours are also free and include a wide variety of topics from botany to photography, technology, birdwatching and ecology. There is a set tour schedule that is available online and all tours are weather permitting. Tours will meet at the Demonstration Trail trailhead behind City Hall. Day and evening tour times are available and can be found on the Ventura Botanical Gardens website. Group tours can be arranged upon request. Tours with favorite guides or favorite programs that are not listed online can also be arranged by request by calling or emailing the Ventura Botanical Gardens.
Ventura Botanical Gardens always has an immediate need for volunteers to serve on events committees, organizing garden parties, help with public outreach, speakers series, plan non-fundraising events, administrative support, IT, developing membership strategies, supporting fundraising activities, and working in the gardens. All volunteers report to the executive director.
The Big Step- This campaign is used to fund the development of the trail and the next steps in planning and expanding. Unique and artistic benches are developed and placed alongside the trail to commemorate those who donate to the Big Step program in the amount of 10-30 thousand dollars.
Grant Park, 398 Ferro Drive, Ventura, California, 93001, Phone: 805-232-3113, website
Back to: Ventura, CA