Ventura Botanical Gardens
By Robert Bernstein
Last week we were getting stir crazy and decided to head down to Ventura. I first did a Google search of things to do there and was surprised to see the Ventura Botanical Gardens. A place I had never visited or known about.
Here are way many of my photos from our outing.
We parked downtown and had lunch at the very popular Lure seafood restaurant. We then walked up the hill to the Ventura City Hall. A pleasant young woman sitting on the steps offered to take our photo there.
One thing I had never noticed before: A series of hooded faces all the way around the building. Each one almost the same, but each one a bit different.
According to the Ventura City Hall web site:
"Between the first and second floor windows of City Hall are 24 faces. They depict mendicant priests which served as a historical reminder that the City of San Buenaventura was one of the nine original Mission towns founded by Father Junipero Serra and Franciscan friars in 1782."
To the right of City Hall is a passageway to the entrance of the Ventura Botanical Gardens.
We were OK with paying $7 each for admission. But it is an open secret that you can enter for free if you come in from above near the Father Serra Cross at the top of the hill.
It was an exceptionally windy day when we made our ascent, making for a challenge to photograph the plants, flowers and each other.
The Gardens are built in a fairly steep canyon. You can ascend quickly on a path with stairs. But we opted for the long, winding route with switchbacks.
The path is dotted with stones engraved with sayings chosen by donors to the Gardens. Like this one.
The entire lower section of the Gardens is a representation of the flora of a section of Chile that has the same Mediterranean climate that we have in Ventura and Santa Barbara.
Not a lot of flowers. Much of it was similar to our chaparral. Here is the Senna plant native to Chile. I remember being given Senna after surgery.
But, just as in our area, there were occasional bursts of beautiful flowers.
There are numerous benches and landings with signs inviting visitors to rest and enjoy the views.
Here is a panoramic view of the canyon as we neared the top:
At the top we were treated to the blooming Fynbos Garden which we were told was the highlight of the season. These beautiful plants are native to South Africa.
This was the spectacular view from the Fynbos Garden down the canyon and out to the Channel:
At the very top was a plaza surrounded by wind blown pepper trees:
From there we had a lovely view of the beaches to the east. I was a bit tense as I posed, trying not to lose my hat in the wind!
After exploring the upper area of the Ventura Botanical Gardens we headed west on the road over to the Father Serra Cross.
The original cross was supposedly erected in 1782 when the Ventura Mission (Mission San Buenaventura) was built. It has been replaced several times since then. Since 2003 the one acre plot around the cross has been owned and operated by the private Serra Cross Conservancy to avoid First Amendment conflicts.
We looped back down Brakey Road which is closed to motor vehicles. A chance for some additional beautiful scenery.
Down to the pedestrian mall where we treated ourselves to Ben and Jerry's ice cream!