Gardens break records

With winter rains, this spring should have a spectacular showing of blooms.

The Ventura Botanical Gardens (VBG) broke visitor records recently, with over 1400 visitors on New Year’s Day, and over 600 on Christmas Day. After being closed for nearly a year after the Thomas Fire, visitors were enthusiastic about revisiting the Gardens to see how the fire affected it, as well as the dramatic physical changes made since then.

“On New Year’s we learned a lot about handling the logistics of so many visitors. Next New Years’, we hope to expand the tradition and make it more of an event, certainly with added restrooms, more parking facilities, and more docent led tours,” states Joe Cahill, Executive Director.

“We were touched by the tremendous visitor attendance and that they have shown an outpouring of financial and expressive support,” Tracy Long, President, follows up. “Our visitors are joining our membership ranks rapidly, as a way of showing their ongoing support for this gem on the hillside. With over 3,000 plants, new stone walls and steps, things have changed beautifully. And, while the plants are still small, getting many of them in the ground this time of year will give them a strong start for their future growth. With winter rains, this spring should have a spectacular showing of blooms. “

Visitors had questions about the new membership policies. The annual fee of $45 (about $3.75 per month) continues to be the most popular for locals. Membership has reached over 1,000 members.

“The family annual membership is even more affordable, at $75 for two adults in the same household—children 18 and under are always free.” Joe Cahill explains, Student groups and their adult leaders are free and can schedule free docent tours. Tuesdays are free for all visitors. Most major holidays are free. There are free scheduled guided tours offered on different days throughout the month for anyone interested in learning more. EBT cardholders are free. Membership includes free access to the gardens, discounts at local vendors, and other benefits. Each member gets several one-time free passes every year for family and friends. For non-members, the one-time only admission fee is $7.

“We are grateful to our partner, the City of Ventura, and their plans to reopen Grant Park soon,” states Barbara Brown, board member. “Visitors will be able to access the park and cross through Summit and Ferro at no charge. For hikers, runners, and walkers, Brakey Road is being considered for pedestrian-only access. Brakey provides shorter more direct access from City Hall and downtown for connectivity to Serra Cross and to over a mile of free pathways in the Ramble garden which features a growing California Native plant collection and native plant habitat restoration experiments. Visitors can look forward to the Ramble garden and pathways continuing to expand over the next 35 years. The Ramble is the largest garden of the VBG master plan.”

Free parking is available in the lots at the base of Brakey Rd in front of City Hall and off upper California Street and, of course, in the VBG parking lot. Both Grant Park and VBG will close for rain

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