Gateways to the Communities

Gateways to the Communities Exhibition Opening Events Thursday, April 4 through Saturday, April 6

Free with Garden admission or membership.

An inspirational fusion of horticulture, science, conservation and art revitalizes the California Plant Communities at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

Step off the pavement onto a new trail designed to help you explore the diversity of plant life in California. Brightly painted arbors are your threshold—gateway—to plant community interpretative hubs along the Communities Trail.

Along this new loop path you can learn how each area will evolve so that RSABG may more effectively demonstrate California plant associations while also connecting horticulture, conservation and research.

Fifty-five acres make up the California Plant Communities at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

The California Plant Communities offer visitors a chance to experience the distinct regional association of plants that share growing conditions. But the communities are some of the least publicly appreciated areas in the Garden. Scott LaFleur, director of horticulture, is working to change that.

“I want to make the communities more understandable to visitors,” said LaFleur. “The Gateways to the Communities will help us tell the story of our collections and share information about the connections between botanical research and conservation horticulture.”

The Gateways project is a long-term undertaking and a critical aspect of RSABG master planning that involves reorganization of the California Plant Communities. The communities’ overhaul will help RSABG better convey plant diversity and adaptations within specific geographical boundaries such as the California islands, Baja California and scrub communities.

It will rearrange the communities and gardens to put the right plant in the right place, while preserving accessioned plants that cannot be moved. Following the Master Plan, The Gateways project creates the Communities Trail, a main loop around the California Plant Communities with educational signs and occasional respite with shade, water and plant and communities information.

More than a dozen arbors donated to RSABG will soon become the thresholds—gateways—to each plant community. The brightly colored arbors will be interpretative hubs along the Communities Trail and will offer visitors an opportunity to experience the creativity and ingenuity of the RSABG horticulturists who in addition to caring for the Garden’s beautiful plant collections are creating amazing environmental art in the California Plant Communities.

Listen to an audio tour of Gateways to the Communities.