Ventura Botanical Gardens in the time of COVID

Enjoy a free day at the Gardens.

by Barbara Brown

As fascinating as sitting in front of our computer screens is, sometimes we just have to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the day. If you are looking for a place to go where you can socially distance comfortably, the Ventura Botanical Gardens (VBG) is offering free admission on President’s Day, Monday, February 15.

Visiting now, after the rains and as spring approaches, you’ll begin to see bursts of color. In the South African Gardens, the Fynbos plantings are starting to bloom with a wide range of Leucadendrons and Leucospermums (including the red pincushion protea that looks much like Fourth of July fireworks). Also the Karoo Garden, located behind Summit Plateau, is in full bloom. This garden boasts an abundance of aloe, which blossoms brightly in reds and oranges, and provides the silky substance that is part of the hand sanitizer we use every day during this pandemic. From here, you can see an expansive view of the Santa Monica Mountains, the California coastline and the Channel Islands.

While you are visiting the Gardens, you may want to search out the Chilean Soap bark tree. This tree provides the adjuvant, a chemical compound affecting immunity, which is part of the shingles and COVID-19 vaccines. Near the Soap bark tree are several Chilean Wine Palms, a protected species once used as a part of wine making in Chile. They can grow to nearly 80 feet tall and live over 1500 years. These trees are an important component in the conservation mission of VBG.

In the Mediterranean Gardens above Rotary Plaza, you’ll notice 130 newly planted olive tree saplings. In no time, this grove will grow to create a quiet place to sit and contemplate nature. These 40 cultivars will also provide an opportunity for conservation and research for an agricultural resource that humans have developed over millennia and will enable us to examine what cultivars do well in regional agriculture as our climate changes.

Located at Grant Park in the City of Ventura, the Ventura Botanical Gardens’ goals include encouraging visitors to strengthen their connection to nature. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm — closed on Mondays. Admission is $7 but members are free, children 18 and under are free, and EBT cardholders are free. Fridays are free. Leashed dogs are welcome on Wednesdays and Fridays. COVID protocols are in play. Masks are required for entrance and must be worn within 6 feet of others. During the pandemic, restrooms are closed.

For more information, visit To stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the Gardens, join us on Facebook.

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