Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a recipient of a 2023 Great American Gardeners Award for Garden Stewardship presented by the American Horticultural Society (AHS).
First given in 2021, this award is given to a public garden that embraces and exemplifies sustainable horticultural practices in design, maintenance, and/or programs. Since 1953, AHS has honored horticultural champions from across the country, selected among peers, that have made the world better through gardening. The Garden is among six individuals and organizations honored with its 2023 Great American Gardeners Awards.
“We are honored to be recognized for our sustainable horticultural practices by the American Horticultural Society, an organization that has been setting the standard for gardening across the nation for over 100 years,” said Steve Windhager, Ph.D., executive director at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “We hope that our Garden, as well as the practices we employ, serve as a model for how native plants and thoughtful horticultural practice can preserve biodiversity, improve human well-being, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”
As the first botanic garden in the United States to focus exclusively on native plants, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has grown from 13 acres in 1926 to today’s 78-acre property featuring more than five miles of walking trails, an herbarium, a seed bank, research labs, a library, and a native plant nursery.
“Their steadfast dedication and commitment for almost a century to the research, practice, education, and promotion of sustainable horticulture positions them at the vanguard of the sustainability movement,” said Holly Shimizu, former executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden and an AHS Board member.
The Garden’s applied research in sustainable landscapes and water-wise planning/design in built landscapes were highlighted in the award announcement.
“They introduced over 30 California native plants cultivars and selections to the horticultural trade. In addition, their research on habitat restoration and pollinator networks has positioned the Garden as a regional leader in applied ecology,” added Shimizu.
Through sustainable garden features, the Garden captures thousands of gallons of rainwater every year that is used for irrigation. Solar energy also provides 70 percent of the power needed at their LEED-certified Pritzlaff Conservation Center.
To support sustainable gardening practices to local and regional home gardeners, the Garden retails native plants in its nursery and provides hands-on educational programs on using native plants in gardening. They are also researching how planting natives enhances the quality of life in communities.
“Our Great American Gardeners Awards honor the best of the best in gardening and horticulture across the nation. We are thrilled to include the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in our family of award winners and are thankful for its inspiring work,” said AHS President & CEO Suzanne Laporte.