Our botanical collection consists of over 160 species, predominantly from the Mediterranean climate regions of the world, mixed with a few exotic sub-tropical species that remain on the site from prior to the development of the gardens. Within the collection is a small Mediterranean pine forest consisting of about 60 trees, georeferenced and botanically identified, that are the basis for our Mediterranean collection. A small Eucalyptus forest is also part of the collection and comprises 7 species forming a mixture of ornamental and weedy Eucalyptus. The "Ramble" is a large swath running through the center of the gardens that will represent native California plant communities in a naturalistic presentation—currently it is a mixture of coastal sage scrub and chaparral species.
We have three main focuses for the development of our collection. First, we actively remove invasive plant species across the 109 acre site of the gardens. Second, we continue to restoration coastal sage scrub and chaparral— native California plants. Through seeding and plant installations, we are building plant collections and restoring/creating habitat in these areas. Third, we continue to expand our acquisition of Chilean plants.
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Our First Gardens
Our goal over the next 35 years is to build gardens representing the five Mediterranean climate regions of the world. Before the fire, garden areas planted several years ago were beginning to show maturity, and are now beginning to show signs of life and recovery. Once recovered, these plants will give visitors a sense of the Medi sister regions.
Many of our recently planted gardens were thriving, and will take time to regrow and mature enough to represent their homelands. In the meantime, the gardens are closed.
Our Chilean Garden will feature hundreds of plants, including giant terrestrial bromeliads called Puyas, Acacia trees and an array of plants chosen for their beauty, extreme drought tolerance and non-invasiveness.
Planting for our Chilean Garden began in February 2014, and upon completion, will be the largest Chilean garden in the world outside of Chile. Highlights include large Chilean wine palms, cacti and succulent garden, and matorral plantings.
The Chilean Garden frames our main walkway, offering dynamic views of the coastline, mountains and western Ventura County.
Development of our South African Garden began in early 2015, with the planting of five giant aloe trees. Plants, walkways and a bridge for the Fynbos Garden began in 2016, along with other South African plantings surrounding Summit Plateau.
The Ramble is intended to be less of a formal garden and more of an experimental area. Here we plan to explore ways to restore California native plant habitats. The Ramble is the largest section in our master plan and will encompass about a third of the garden when complete. Coastal Sage scrub and chaparral restoration is underway and a small meadow with spring wildflowers is popular in years with ample rain.
Our master plan also includes a Mediterranean garden. Plants are being acquired for planting beginning in 2017. We are also acquiring specimens for our Australian and California Gardens.
Our commitment to conservation extends beyond plants. We are experimenting with innovative engineering techniques to capture water from fog as well. New technologies are also being integrated into the development of our irrigation system.
We continue to develop more detailed design as we build more garden and add signage to enhance the visitor experience.