Meadow Revival Project

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has begun an exciting project to renew the wildflower display in the Meadow
Work on the project began in April of 2013 and is scheduled for completion in December of 2014.

This ambitious project received major support from the Hind Foundation. The Smart Family Foundation has generously funded upgrades that will increase growing capacity at our own plant propagation nursery in support of this project.


Seeding the Future begins NOW!

image of two young women amongst poppies and lupines in the historic Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Meadow, ca. 1940s, photo by Jack WilkesSince the Meadow was first planted to wildflowers in 1940, it has inspired generations of visitors. But the open expanse of the Meadow provides more than just knock out wildflower displays. It also affords views to the peaks of the Santa Ynez Mountains and to the majestic live oaks that frame the display. The middle of the Meadow was traditionally planted to low, showy displays of spring wildflowers. The Meadow borders were made up of a mix of taller plantings.

Over time, the Meadow gradually became less uniform in color, texture, and height and had fewer wildflowers. The planting of two mowed lawns in the 2000s further changed the character of the original Meadow design.

Restoring the Meadow to how it looked in the past was given high priority by the Cultural Landscape Master Plan completed in 2012 by the Garden.


Meadow in 1944

Discing of Meadow at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in 1953

Picture of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Meadow in 2012 showing lawn

Our goal for this project is to create a modern version of the historic Meadow. The interior of the Meadow will be planted to a uniform mix of seasonal wildflowers and perennial grasses. The Meadow borders will be reshaped and replanted as necessary. We plan to move the taller grasses such as deer grass, giant rye, cane bluestem and any shrubs into the borders.

A variety of different planting schemes have been used in the Meadow over the years including beach strawberry, sea dahlia and California poppy. But weeds have always been a problem. In the past, the Garden had to plow the Meadow regularly to control the weeds. Now, we are taking two full years to remove the standing weeds and to reduce the stockpile of weed seeds in the soil. In the end, we hope that with proper upkeep, the Meadow will never be overwhelmed with weeds again.

Work on the project began in April of 2013 and will be completed in December of 2014. The project will include a series of prescribed weed control activities including "soil solarization" and "grow/kill" treatments in the summer and autumn months. At the end of 2013, we will sow a selected wildflower seed mix for a temporary, but sure to be a spectacular, display in the spring of 2014. Weed control activities will resume in June of 2014 and final planting will occur in fall of 2014.

Project Activites and Timing

  • Remove all existing vegetation in center of Meadow, including the lawns and the upper third of ground-cover display (June-September 2013)
  • Kill weeds and reduce weed seed in soil
    •  - Grow/kill (July-November 2013 and May-July 2014)
    •  - Soil solarization (September 2013 and July-September 2014)
    •  - Targeted herbicide application for Bermuda grass, oxalis and bindweed
    •  - Hand weeding (primarily fall 2014)
  • Sow temorary wildflower seeds (2013, for 2014 spring wildflower display)
  • Design borders (2013)
    •  - Establish border boundary
    •  - Establish aesthetic and educational goals
    •  - Create list of plants to propagate
  • Implement plan
    •  - Procure seeds and determine correct time to sow
    •  - Propagate plants (2014)
    •  - Amend soil if required
    •  - Plant grass and perennial plugs (October-November 2014)
    •  - Sow wildflower seed (December 2014)
  • Develop on-going maintenance protocols
    •  - Weed control measures
    •  - Rodent control measures
    •  - Planting schedules and approved plant palette
  • Spring wildflowers in the Meadow (March-May, 2015)