Keep up with California Botanic Garden!
In these challenging times as we stay socially distant but not apart, we are working hard to bring California Botanic Garden to you. From virtual tours to online classes, visual galleries to a podcast, there are many ways to stay connected. This webpage brings together all the content we are producing so you can be sure you're keeping up with CalBG! You can also follow us on our Facebook and Instagram. If you are able during these difficult circumstances, we would appreciate your support. Please consider making a donation below.

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September 16, 2020

Conservation Stories: A Virtual Lecture Series featuring Naomi Fraga

This is a recording of a previous lecture. This fall, join us via Zoom every third Tuesday of the month from 6 pm - 7 pm for an evening of conversation about conservation. You must register online to receive the Zoom link. The suggested donation is $10, but there will be an option to register for the talk free of charge.

Naomi Fraga Ph.D., CalBG Director of Conservation Programs

Discussing the San Bernardino Mountains with CalBG Executive Director, Lucinda McDade

Tuesday, September 15 | 6 pm - 7 pm

Naomi Fraga joined the staff of CalBG in 2001 as an intern in the herbarium. As she gained experience through education and hands-on learning, she became responsible for programmatic leadership and management of the field studies program - early version of today’s conservation program - in 2003. Since 2015 she has served as the Director of Conservation Programs. Naomi earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in Botany from Claremont Graduate University (at California Botanic Garden) and her B.S. in Botany from Cal Poly Pomona. Naomi is passionate about plant conservation and her research focus includes plant systematics, floristics, rare plant biology, and pollination biology. In addition to her role at the Garden, Naomi serves as the Secretary for Southern California Botanists, as chair of the Environment and Public Policy Committee for the American Society for Plant Taxonomy, and as Treasurer for the Amargosa Conservancy. You can learn more about Naomi's research on her website monkeyflower.org

August 31, 2020

Podcast Episode 9: Diversity in the Plant Sciences

#BlackBotanistsWeek, a campaign first organized in July 2020 to "promote, encourage, create a safe space for, and find more Black people (and BIPOC) who love plants!," sparked a nation-wide dialogue on the vital and ongoing need to make the plant sciences more inclusive, accessible and diverse. Black people (and BIPOC) have faced systemic racism in related professions, in addition to plaguing discrimination that haunts people of color outdoors and in the field - such as the incident that happened to Audubon Board Member Christian Cooper in New York's Central Park.

On this episode of Forever California, we hand the mic to Naomi Fraga, PhD, Director of Conservation Programs at California Botanic Garden, as she stewards a panel discussion on diversity in the plant sciences. Joining Naomi are scientists, activists, professors and community leaders who share their experiences discovering botany and moving the needle forward for inclusion in the field.

Panelists include:

  • Tanisha Williams, PhD: one of the founders of #BlackBotanistsWeek and a Postdoctoral Researcher Bucknell University
  • Ann Sakai, PhD: Professor, University of California, Irvine
  • Muriel Poston, PhD: Professor of Environmental Analysis, Pitzer College
  • Joel Abraham, PhD: Associate Professor, California State University Fullerton

August 31, 2020

Nature Journaling

This is a recording of the Nature Journaling class held on Saturday, August 29. Join us for a moment of observation and reflection through the lens of nature journaling. By using a combination of art, writing, and science, nature journaling helps to form a deeper connection to the natural world around us. Hone your observation skills and free your creativity in this two-hour webinar with the guidance of botanical illustrator Brittany Burgard. In this class, you will learn about the historical context of nature journaling, practice warm up exercises to get you started, and spend time labeling and fine tuning the details of your illustrations. Use these skills on your next walk through the Garden to take a breath, slow down, and discover something new.

July 30, 2020

Freeze Wild

Get ready for an epic and utterly delicious fusion of California native plants and ice cream for our first-ever Freeze Wild event! California Botanic Garden partnered with Bert & Rocky's Cream Company in Claremont to create three unique flavors of ice cream that speak to the true flavors of California. Join CalBG staff David Bryant, Director of Visitor Experience, and Lucinda McDade, Executive Director, as they taste these frozen treats and share the botanical backstories of these wild flavors.

July 11, 2020

Podcast Episode 8: What a Seed Wants, What a Seed Needs

California Botanic Garden is home to the California Seed Bank, the largest collection of seeds that are stored to safeguard the future for native plants. We have banked conservation seed collections of roughly one-third of all species native to California. We endeavor to collect seeds from every species to ensure the survival of our invaluable and absolutely irreplaceable flora. Part of the job of Cheryl Birker, Seed Conservation Program Manager, is to conduct germination trials to test the viability of seeds in storage. To do this, she has to figure out that perfect recipe, the perfect trick, to trigger plants to grow. On this episode, we’ll learn about these germination trials and techniques  - from smoke water to “disturbance” - that Cheryl has implemented to get seeds growing as well as the fundamental purpose and incredible work that goes on at the California Seed Bank at California Botanic Garden.

June 14, 2020

Arrange Wild

This is a recording of our Arrange Wild class, a virtual program where participants learned how to make a flower arrangement with California native plants. We were thrilled to bring a little bit of our blooming garden right to people's homes! In this recording, you can follow along as we go through how to arrange a beautiful arrangement using native flowers grown right here at California Botanic Garden. Linda Prendergast, head of Native Designs, a CalBG volunteer group that grows California native plants for use in exquisite flower arrangements, walks us through how to skillfully arrange a fabulous floral showpiece. As you get to know the aesthetic characteristics of these beautiful flowers, Peter Evans, Director of Horticulture, will bring insight into growing and maintaining these native plants at home.

May 29, 2020

Podcast Episode 7: A Squirrelly Saga

Squirrels are one of the most animated and assured kinds of wildlife visitors will encounter here at California Botanic Garden. These fluffy, scruffy and nutty denizens love our California native plants. There are actually three species that reside here - the western gray squirrel, ground squirrel and eastern fox squirrel. Of the three, the fox squirrel is invasive, a species that was brought to Southern California by human means. Its presence here brings up questions about the future of our western gray squirrels in the garden, as fox squirrels have been displacing and extricating our native tree squirrel here in the LA basin.

On this episode, we talk with squirrel expert and Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences of Cal State LA, Alan Muchlinski. Alan has been researching the impacts of fox squirrels on our native western gray squirrels for decades and has spent the past 11 years studying the populations of these two squirrel species at the Garden. He has discovered some interesting relationships and surprising correlations about our resident squirrels. Tune in to hear more about this epic saga of the most squirrelly nature.

May 16, 2020

Taste Wild

This video is a recording of the Taste Wild virtual event hosted by California Botanic Garden (CalBG). Participants enjoyed a delicious spread of desserts lovingly crafted with native flowers, herbs and other ingredients. The virtual event provided a tasting experience with CalBG staff, As You Like It Events & Catering and Abe Sanchez of the Chia Café Collective (CCC). As You Like It prepared all of the desserts and provided culinary expertise and recommendations. Abe shared the amazing culinary uses, cultural legacies and health benefits of the remarkable species incorporated into each dessert. CCC is a group of local tribal members and collaborators that honors indigenous people and their vast traditional knowledge and spiritual relationship to the land, as well as the nutritional and medicinal bounty of native plants. Naomi Fraga, Director of Conservation Programs at CalBG, provided insight about the ecological context of each plant species.

May 5, 2020

Virtual Tour: Tasty Native Foods

There are remarkable flavors and extensive culinary heritages that surround California native plants. Indigenous people have been stewarding California's flora for thousands of years; the fact we get to enjoy native plant recipes today is a testament to that legacy. Join David Bryant, Director of Visitor Experience, on a tour of some of his favorite edible plants that grow well in a Garden and provide a bounty of herbs and even fruit!

May 1, 2020

Podcast Episode 6: The Butterfly Connection

There are many species of native butterflies in California. These winged gems, symbols of beauty, depend on California native plants for survival. We call this the butterfly connection!

We are unfortunately unable to open our beloved Butterfly Pavilion this year, an exhibit that showcases native butterflies and their favorite host and nectar plants, but we are excited to share the wonders of these remarkable organisms with you virtually. Join us in conversation with Butterfly Pavilion volunteer and Professor Emeritus of Biology of Cal Poly Pomona Steve Bryant and Butterly Specialist, Marion McGinnis, as we discuss native butterfly species and how to attract and raise them! Whether you have a big backyard or a balcony, you can cultivate plants that support and draw in these gorgeous creatures. From the iconic monarchs to dazzling tiger swallowtails, California dogfaces to the masses of painted ladies, California is abounding with butterflies. But these important pollinators could use many more native plants as further habitat is disturbed and developed. Give them a hand (or host or nectar plant) and support our local butterflies!

April 24, 2020

Podcast Episode 5: Hidden Lake Bluecurls

A hidden lake, a sky island, an incredibly rare plant: these may sound like the makings of a fantasy novel, but they are parts of an amazing conservation success story. Hidden Lake bluecurls (Trichostema austromontanum ssp. compactum) live only along the shoreline of Mt San Jacinto's only lake, one that appears and disappears like a mirage depending upon annual precipitation. This adorable plant — tiny, aromatic and purple-flowered — was once considered so threatened that it was federally listed. Thanks to the remarkable work of California Botanic Garden's Conservation Programs, California State Parks and US Fish and Wildlife Service, this species has been successfully delisted because of important protective measures and field research conducted by these agencies.

In this episode we hear from our Director of Conservation, Naomi Fraga, PhD, about the different conservation programs she oversees at the Garden and the saga of the Hidden Lake bluecurls!

April 24, 2020

Virtual Tour: City Nature Challenge!

Join graduate student Marty Purdy on an adventure through the Garden to learn how to capture effective photos to submit to citizen science platforms like iNaturalist. We are participating in the @CityNatureChallenge, a global biodiversity celebration happening from April 24 - May 3 consisting of two parts. First is a period of sharing observations of nature in and around our neighborhoods followed by a period of identifying the species that were observed.


We hope you join us to learn more about the nature around us! As we stay safe at home and in our neighborhoods this year, we have a chance to better understand the biodiversity in our cities and communities.

April 17, 2020

Podcast Episode 4: Native Plants Next Door

April 11-19 is Native Plant Week! We are celebrating a bit differently during these challenging times by taking a moment each day to appreciate the fabulous native plants that live right next door. On this week's episode, Native Plants Next Door, we're partnering with the fabulous California Native Plant Society to discuss the local plants that live in our communities and the actions we can take to care for these botanical neighbors.

Across California, our communities are associated with distinctive native plants - plants that provide vital resources for the wildlife that depend on and love them. In our neighborhoods, native plants are often right in front of our eyes, right under - or over! - our noses. From the stately coast live oak on the street corner, to a flourish of wildflowers in a roadway median, to the chaparral that brushes up against the backyard. For many of us, our home gardens also contribute native plant neighbors. Whether in small or large patches, these native plants contribute to improve environmental quality for all of us and are intrinsic to what makes California, California.

April 12, 2020

Virtual Tour: Barn Owls!

Join Lisa Pritchard, CalBG's Education Coordinator, as we look for evidence of barn owls in our California fan palm oasis! Sure enough, we'll stumble on an owl pellet and Lisa will walk us through how to dissect the bony treasures within! Will she uncover the skeleton of a vole, shrew or other rodent?

As you walk your neighborhood, see if you can spot evidence of barn owls. If you want to try your own owl pellet dissection, we recommend @Acorn Naturalists as a great source: https://www.acornnaturalists.com/.

April 10, 2020

Podcast Episode 3: Chaparral Ferns in the SoCal Sun

The majority of ferns used in California landscapes are non-native and water-loving; low-water-use alternatives are rarely available. We're working to introduce five native, low-water-use fern species to the nursery trade that are uniquely adapted to California's Mediterranean climate.

Join us in conversation with Ashlee Armstrong, CalBG's Grounds Manager and leader of the Chaparral Fern Project supported by the Saratoga Horticultural Research Endowment. We'll discuss this multi-year project that has taken Ashlee and fellow staff out into the wilds of Southern California to collect these marvelous chaparral ferns and established them in test plots at CalBG. Ashlee will share progress on our horticultural trials aimed at testing the viability of chaparral ferns in the home landscape.

Lucinda McDade, Executive Director, will shed light on the ecology of these chaparral ferns including how they interact (or not) with herbivores.

April 7, 2020

Virtual Tour: Who's Thirsty

Join David Bryant, Director of Visitor Experience, on a rainy day adventure and meet some California native plants that are more thirsty than most! From giant chain ferns to seep monkeyflowers, there are some fabulous plants that appreciate a bigger gulp of water here in our Golden State and in our home gardens. Find out who on this virtual Garden tour!


April 4, 2020

Podcast Episode 2: Native Gardening 10FUN

California native plants are the perfect choice for home gardeners in California! They can be exquisitely beautiful, are often quintessentially water-wise, support a vibrant web of life and speak to an aesthetic unique to California.

In today's episode, we're going to learn some foolproof native plants to consider in your home garden or landscape. In conversation with Peter Evans, Director of Horticulture at California Botanic Garden, we'll discuss some hardy species and cultivars to consider that can handle brown thumbs while looking absolutely beautiful. We'll also ask members of our Horticulture team about what plants they've found to be fairly indestructible and garden-friendly in their experience cultivating California natives.

April 2, 2020

Online Class: Leaf Printing

Join Lisa Pritchard, our Community Education Coordinator, in making this fun, easy, nature-inspired craft that's great for kids and adults alike!

Be sure to send us your photos if you make this craft and we will share them!

March 30, 2020

Virtual Tour: Shady Characters

Let's meet some shady characters at California Botanic Garden! There are some marvelous California native plants to consider for shady gardens, shadier spots in the yard or even in containers on shady balconies and patios! Take a walk with David Bryant and meet these low light beauties!


March 27, 2020

Podcast Episode 1: Lo & Behold

On our very first episode, we are taking flight, well nearly with Lo & Behold. That's his full name, but we tend to call him Lo, or little owl. Lo is a ridiculously cute great horned owlet who has quite an owldessy. He has fallen out of his nest not once, but twice, and to keep things light in these very challenging times, I'm going to fastforward and say he is safe now and cuddled up with mom in a Cadillac of owl's nests. Thanks to the amazing work and intervention of my colleagues at California Botanic Garden, Lo has been routinely rescued and expertly placed back in increasingly fool-proof nests.

March 25, 2020

Virtual Tour: Grow Native Nursery

Grow Native Nursery has reopened for pickup orders! We are excited to make our California native plants available for purchase on our new ecommerce site. All orders will receive a 10% discount; Garden members get 15% off!

March 22, 2020

Virtual Tour: Channel Islands

Join David Bryant, Director of Visitor Experience, and Lucinda McDade, Executive Director, on a fun-filled tour of some rare and remarkable plants from the Channel Islands, growing at California Botanic Garden! These are challenging times and we hope these tours spread a little botanical joy. Please consider supporting us at www.calbg.org. See you on the next tour

March 21, 2020

Virtual Tour: Sages all Around Us

California is rich with fragrant sages — marvelous plants that are important for native wildlife, beautiful in a Garden and steeped in ethnobotanical history. Join David Bryant on a sage tour through the Garden and discover some of our favorites!


March 20, 2020

Virtual Tour: A Sensory Walk

While the Garden is closed in response to LA County and statewide orders, we will be working to bring our California native plants to you! Follow David Bryant, Director of Visitor Experience, through a sensory trail today and find out about the sights, smells and tastes of some of our fabulous flora.