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.
Información en español
Our First Gardens
Our goal over the next 35 years is to build gardens representing the five Mediterranean climate regions of the world. Garden areas planted several years ago are beginning to show maturity and give visitors a sense of these sister regions.
Many of our recently planted gardens are thriving, but will take time to grow and mature enough to represent their homelands. In the meantime, visitors are enchanted by the spectacular and ever-changing views of the ocean, city and mountains.
Our Chilean Garden features 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 trail, 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. A new trail through fynbos plantings 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.
Opened October 2012, our first trail begins behind City Hall and climbs gently for a mile and a half. It passes historic stone walls and has hand-built stone enhancements. The trail is six feet wide, with a decomposed, compacted granite surface. The first majestic viewpoint is wheelchair accessible.
Two new trails are in development, the first opened in September 2017 along the uppermost reaches of the garden. It is about 700 feet long and 8 feet wide traversing what will someday become our Mediterranean Garden. The second new trail is expected to open by the end of 2017 and is 400 feet long trail including a bridge that winds through the fynbos garden as part of our South African area.
Along the trails, visitors encounter historic stone walls, remnants of old agricultural terraces, and new stone walls built to support plantings. New stone stairs, popular for exercising, are in the works. Eleven lookout points with benches and sculptural elements are features for visitors to stop and enjoy the remarkable views of downtown Ventura, the 180° vistas of the Pacific Coastline, the Marina, Oxnard and Mandalay Bay to the east, Surfer's Point, the Rincon to the west, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Channel Islands.
We are asking the community to keep bikes off the trails for surface damage containment and erosion control.
Park in the upper parking lot behind City Hall; the trailhead starts there.