Oral History Transcripts

Since its founding in 1926, the Garden has been home to many memorable characters - horticulturalists, landscape architects, botanists, historians, conservationists, and nature lovers of many stripes. These folks and their work have shaped our collective understanding of the Garden today. We are fortunate that staff throughout the years have captured different voices and experiences through writing, photos and interviews. The Garden's Oral History Program has been led by librarians, interns, and dedicated voulteers to show life through the eyes of the influential figures of our modern history. Here is a sampling of the transcripts of a few of the completed oral histories. We aim to make all of them available here, in addition to the physical copies held in the Blaksley Library.

Mary Carroll

Mary Carroll

As the Garden's first director of education, Mary was instrumental in creating Garden publications, guiding the docent and Master Gardeners programs, developing interpretive displays on the grounds, and managing outreach programs to local schools. Along with these accomplishments, she discusses her discovery of botany, research work on both the Channel Islands and mainland, and writing the definitive history of the Garden.

Mary Carroll Oral History Transcript

Robert N. Muller, Ph.D.

Robert N. Muller

Director of Research at the Garden from 2002-2012, Bob reflects on growing up in Santa Barbara, teaching at the University of Kentucky, and writing the last edition of Trees of Santa Barbara.

Robert Muller Oral History Transcript

Carol and Geege Ostroff

Geege and Carol Ostroff

As on-site residents of the Garden since the early 1980s, Geege and Carol have been witnesses to many changes.

Carol and Geege Ostroff Oral History Transcript

Ralph N. Philbrick, Ph.D.

Ralph Philbrick

As director of the Garden from 1973 to 1987, Ralph established the Garden's reputation in research on the Channel Islands. He discusses his career in botany, the realities of running a botanic garden, and his active role in the community.

Ralph N. Philbrick Oral History Transcript

Betsy Thies

Betsy Thies

A 47-year Garden volunteer, Betsy describes the evolution of the Garden Guild.

Betsy Thies Oral History Transcript

Steven L. Timbrook, Ph.D.

Steven Timbrook

First executive director of Ganna Walska Lotusland, and Coordinator of Education at the Garden from 1976 to 1986, Steve describes the activities of the Garden under the direction of Ralph Philbrick and the challenges of preparing a private garden to become a public non-profit.

Steven Timbrook Oral History Transcript

Dieter H. Wilken, Ph.D.

Dieter Wilken

A pillar of California botany, this interview reflects Dieter's generosity in sharing his expertise with colleagues, dedication to good science, and his enthusiasm for writing and teaching.

Dieter Wilken Oral History Transcript