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Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Receives Great American Gardeners Award For 2023 | Homes & Lifestyle

  • April 12, 2023

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a recipient of a 2023 Great American Gardeners Award for Garden Stewardship presented by the American Horticultural Society (AHS).

First presented in 2021, the award is given to a public garden that embraces and exemplifies sustainable horticultural practices in design, maintenance, and/or programs.

Since 1953, AHS has honored horticultural champions nationwide, selected among peers, that have made the world better through gardening.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is among six individuals and organizations honored with its 2023 Great American Gardeners Awards.

“We are honored to be recognized for our sustainable horticultural practices by the American Horticultural Society, an organization that has been setting the standard for gardening across the nation for over 100 years,” said Steve Windhager, executive director at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

“We hope that our garden, as well as the practices we employ, serve as a model for how native plants and thoughtful horticultural practice can preserve biodiversity, improve human well-being, and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” he said.

As the first botanic garden in the United States to focus exclusively on native plants, Santa
Barbara Botanic Garden has grown from 13 acres in 1926 to today’s 78-acre property featuring more than five miles of walking trails, an herbarium, a seed bank, research labs, a library, and a native plant nursery.

“Their steadfast dedication and commitment for almost a century to the research, practice,
education, and promotion of sustainable horticulture positions them at the vanguard of the
sustainability movement,” said Holly Shimizu, former executive director of the U.S. Botanic
Garden, and an AHS Board member.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s applied research in sustainable landscapes and water-wise planning/design in built landscapes were highlighted in the award announcement.

“They introduced over 30 California native plants cultivars and selections to the horticultural

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Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Gets Green Thumbs-Up from American Horticultural Society

  • April 4, 2023

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a diverse, natural wonderland in Mission Canyon blooming with colorful wildflowers, redwood and manzanita trees, and other native flora that make up its 11 distinct ecosystems. But the nearly century-old garden’s work supporting native habitats goes beyond the beloved local scenery the Santa Barbara community is so fond of.

A hub for research, education, and design in sustainable horticulture, the Botanic Garden was the recipient of a 2023 Great American Gardeners Award for Garden Stewardship from the American Horticultural Society (AHS) this month. The Garden Stewardship award was first given in 2021 and recognizes public gardens that embrace and exemplify a commitment to sustainability. 

Steve Windhager | Credit: Andrea Russell Photography

“We are honored,” said Steve Windhager, the garden’s executive director. “We hope that our garden, as well as the practices we employ, serve as a model for how native plants and thoughtful horticultural practice can preserve biodiversity, improve human well-being, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

For the country’s plant-lovers, it’s a big deal to be recognized by AHS, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected gardening organizations. And the Botanic Garden seems more than deserving of their green thumbs-up — it’s the first of its kind in the United States to focus exclusively on native plants and has flourished from the 13 acres purchased by philanthropist Anna Dorinda Blaksley in 1926 to today’s 78 acres of walking trails, an herbarium, a seed bank, research labs, a library, and a native plant nursery. 

Leah Makler, a graduate student in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, is one of the many lifelong Santa Barbara residents who has been a frequenter of the garden since childhood. She has volunteered and worked for the conservation and education departments

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