Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Santa Barbara

Last Sunday Rene and I made our way over to Santa Barbara with plans to see the botanical gardens and to hang out at the beach.

To our surprise it only took about an hour to get there and the weather was beautiful – sunny but not hot and humid. On our way to the botanical garden we passed this beautiful old church, which ended up being Mission Santa Barbara. I remember learning about the California missions in third grade and can even recall the sad excuse I turned in for the project – a 3D map of California. Well, it was either my 3D map of California made out of play-doh and painted with watercolors or a 3D model of my favorite mission, Mission San Carlos, with was next to impossible. I ended up getting a “C” on this project for effort and feeling disappointed with my grade. I felt that I deserved a “B” because it took more effort than the results showed, oh well.

Seeing this beautiful church so soon after my trip to Italy only deepened my appreciation for it. Despite being a simple, humble church (and I only say this in comparison to St. Peter’s Basilica) it is beautifully maintained with an adjacent park and rose garden. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to organize a tour of the church so Rene and I didn’t have a chance to visit the chapel and took pictures of the exterior instead and visited the rose garden. My favorite variety is called “peace” and it is light yellow mixed with pink and lavender at the edges. It smells heavenly. We promised ourselves to visit again with our families. Next stop: the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.

The Santa Barbara botanical garden was
established in 1926 (the same year our tour guide, Will Brown, was born) by Anna Dorinda Blakesly Bliss as a memorial to her father. The garden is entirely composed of native California plants and also serves as an educational facility and nursery. Rene and I saw a few plants “engineered” by the garden’s horticulturists and got to hear about how plants are brought from the wild to the nursery. Apparently, you can’t just uproot a native plant and stick it in your garden due to ecological and botanical reasons, so it is best to purchase native California plants from the nursery. The plants from the nursery are supposedly hardier and are bred to withstand elements they don’t experience in their natural environment. The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden has also re-introduced certain plants back to their native areas. It’s funny how we take it for granted the wild things that grow in California and never think about how they affect our environment. I also never noticed how beautiful some species are – for example, the live-forevers. Yes, that is the real name, and my favorite variety is the Santa Barbara live-forevers.

After touring the garden, Rene and I stopped by the nursery to add some more native plants to our collection. We ended up buying four plants, two for our collection and two for my Mom.

After visiting the mission and the garden, we made our way to the outlets and visited a few stores. Thankfully, the roads were clear by this time and we made it home safe and sound.

No comments: