Here’s an update on conditions, taken from the complete press release by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden:
Fire officials accompanied Botanic Garden President Dr. Edward Schneider through the Garden, allowing him to assess the buildings and grounds. “The good news is that the Meadow, Discovery Garden, Teahouse, Desert and most of the Redwood Exhibits are untouched,” said Dr. Schneider. “Unfortunately, the historic Campbell Bridge, the beloved Pritchett Path, the popular Redwood Tree Ring Exhibit, Oak Woodland and Porter Path Exhibits were either destroyed or heavily damaged.” Further damage was also sustained in the riparian corridor canyon as the fire spread from Tunnel Road down to Mission Creek.
…Yesterday, the Garden confirmed loss of structures on its grounds. The 1908 Gane House, the proposed centerpiece of the Botanic Garden’s building project, the Vital Mission Plan, was destroyed. The Botanic Garden had hoped to rehabilitate the large Craftsman-style home and to seek historic landmark status for it. Also lost in the fire was a deck overlooking Mission Canyon Creek, a lathe house, and the Director’s residence and garage.
I’ve been distressed to read over the last couple days that at least part of Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens has burned in the Jesusita Fire that’s tearing through the community. Has anyone heard anything more detailed?
This morning’s Los Angeles Times described how the garden’s Gane House has burned:
In Mission Canyon, the century-old Gane House at the 78-acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden was engulfed in flames, leaving little more than three brick chimneys standing.
“We’re very heartbroken,” said Nancy Johnson, the garden’s vice president of marketing and government relations. “We were hoping to restore it to its grandeur.”
Lost inside were all the gardening tools, horticultural materials, the metal shop that made tags to identify plants, the overstock of books published by the garden, and the office contents and computers of the head gardener and facilities maintenance man, Johnson said. Biofuel gardening truck parked outside also appear to have been destroyed.
And yesterday’s Silicon Valley Mercury News ran a news wire story that mentioned:
[Carol] Ostroff said she evacuated Tuesday and stayed with friends nearby until they too had to evacuate on Wednesday.
“The wind kicked up, and we watched this firestorm on the hill,” Ostroff said.
Ostroff, who along with her husband acts as caretaker for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, sells tinctures and herbal wreaths from her home garden at the local farmer’s market.
“My garden is my life,” she said. “If I lose my garden I’m out of a job. My husband’s out of a job too.”
The SBBG has been an important force in Southern California native plant horticulture, having introduced many interesting additions that are a part of many gardens. My garden alone has Salvia leucophylla ‘Amethyst Bluff,’ Galvezia juncea ‘Gran Canon,’ and Artemisia californica ‘Canyon Gray.’ I hate to see such a resource turned to ashes.