To create and maintain public gardens for the preservation, education, cultural contribution & enhancement of the entire community.
The Ventura Botanical Gardens is in the process of becoming the treasure a small group of Ventura residents first dreamed of late in 2005. They came together to formulate plans for a world-class botanical garden showcasing and preserving native plants and providing educational, recreational, and cultural enhancement for the Ventura coastal community.
Grant Park, set in the foothills above Ventura’s City Hall, presented the perfect site, with its breathtaking 360-degree view encompassing the coastline, mountains, and lush agricultural greenery. The eminent landscape architectural firm of Mia Lehrer + Associates was engaged to develop our Vision Plan, and in 2011 signed a lease/option with the City of Ventura for 107 of the 109 acres of parkland. In 2015, the 40-year lease was signed to create a public/private partnership with the City of Ventura.
Field studies were completed compilating existing site conditions and a baseline environmental assessment was created. The restoration of California native plant species and acquisition of new plant specimens began. The first construction, a trail that would someday be the primary walkway through the gardens, was completed in 2012. The walkway begins behind City Hall and climbs gently for nearly a mile, providing a number of viewpoints with spectacular vistas of the city, the sea, and the Channel Islands beyond. In January of 2014, the planting of the Chilean Garden began. When complete, it will be the largest Chilean Garden in the world outside of Chile. The new Cape of South Africa/Fynbos Garden began with a dry creek bed, additional walkways and plantings of protea and ericas. Artistic benches and sculptures enhance the gardens along with new educational signage. Additional signage, benches, stonework, and stairs are in the works.
In 2018, the Merewether Welcome Center was completed. It includes the Courtyard Gift Shop, an informational kiosk, and much-needed restrooms. In 2019, the Miriam Schwab Entrance Plaza opened and in 2020, construction on our new nursery began.
When completed, the Ventura Botanical Gardens will include gardens representing the earth’s five Mediterranean climate zones with public gathering areas and facilities for educational programs, botanic laboratories and collection spaces, and a range of amenities including dining facilities, and event center. The Gardens will also offer a natural canvas to showcase regional and international environmental sculpture, stonework, and other visual arts.
We have nearly 2,100 members and our Perennial Society, those who have committed to five years or more of ongoing port, has exceeded the 300 mark. We are also funded through private donations and bequests, corporate sponsorships, grants, admissions and proceeds from events. Our roster of members include Master Gardeners, landscape architects, botanists, wildlife biologists, horticulturists, business and community leaders and neighbors from all walks of life. We hope that you’ll join us. View our membership opportunities here. If you would like to make a donation and be a part of Ventura’s history, you will also be leaving a lasting legacy. View our ways to give opportunities here.
In addition to the walkway entrance behind City Hall, other unmarked entrances include Summit Drive, Ferro Drive and Brakey Road (map).
For a more complete look at our future plans, take a look at our Vision Plan (PDF).
Please join us by making a contribution or volunteering your time to work on special projects. We welcome your talent, your enthusiasm and your support.