San Diego Botanic Garden - with less than 11" of rain a year, the emphasis is on sustainability

Annual rainfall at the San Diego Botanic Garden is less than 11 inches
When foreigners visit Southern California, it's hard to grasp the concept that most areas are desert and that annual rainfall in San Diego, near the border with Mexico, is less than 11 inches. Indeed, coming from England, where we spend so much of our time moaning about the wet weather, the idea of so little rain may at first, seem appealing. The urbanisation and gentrification of coastal areas in Southern California give the illusion that water is plentiful, but in reality it's a precious commodity. 
The treehouse at the heart of the Hamilton Children's Garden
The emphasis at the San Diego Botanic Garden is on water conservation and sustainability and as part of its commitment to making visitors aware of the importance of this natural resource, it has created the really memorable Hamilton Children's Garden. When I visited last week, this area was filled with busy children, who were captivated by a range of innovative water saving gadgets, water smart plants and the magnificent tree house (above) at the heart of the garden. 
There are 37 acres to explore at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas
Sustainability is at the core of the 37-acre garden in Encinitas, north of San Diego. It was originally a farm, and then became the private residence of Ruth Baird Larabee, an avid plant collector. She donated the land to the county of San Diego as a park and wildlife sanctuary in 1957. When it eventually opened to the public in 1971, it was known as "Quail Gardens". It finally became the San Diego Botanic Garden in 2009 and today it houses over 3,300 species of plants from all over the world, divided into different garden areas.
The tropical rain forest area at San Diego Botanic Garden
Although there's an impressive array of Californian plants here, Australia and New Zealand, Africa, the Canary Islands and Mediterranean, plus Central and South America are all well represented in the succession of gardens that make up the landscape here. You'll find bamboos, palms, cacti and succulents from all over the world, as well as bromeliads and epiphytes. And there are also areas of tropical rain forest, a subtropical fruit garden and a walled garden, plus the nation's largest bamboo collection. 
The succulent display garden - a range of plants requiring very little water
The garden certainly feels like it's having new life breathed into it and is well worth a visit if you're staying in the San Diego area. Open daily throughout the year (except Christmas Day) from 9.00-5.00 and open until 8.00 pm on Thursdays during the summer months. Cost is $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for children (ages 3-12). Parking is $2.00 extra. There's also a plant centre on site.
The arid landscape of the Desert Garden reminds you where you are geographically


  1. Fabulous Charlotte, the sort of landscape and plants we like!

  2. Can't wait to meet you at Fling this week! Your photography and stories are fabulous!

  3. Welcome to San Diego! Jeannine

  4. Always wanted to go to San Diego. Maybe I need another trip to California.


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