What's Going On In The Garden

Spring 2018

New Directional Signs added to the Garden

SBBG is very excited about our new directional signs and signs that identify the garden-themed area once you arrive.  When entering the garden, visitors are greeted with a directional sign that lists the various garden themes.

Directional Sign

Once the visitor arrives at a particular garden-themed area, a sign identifies that area.  Signs have been made for the Tropical House, Vegetable Garden, Cacti and Succulents, The Orchard, Monocot Meadow, California Natives, The Rose Garden, Water Garden, Ground Covers, The Plumeria Grove, and The Gathering Spot.  Here are some examples:

Monocot Meadow   

Plumeria Grove

Gathering Spot

Spring 2017

Improvements to the Garden

Garden Mileage SignSpring 2017 is almost upon us and several new items have been added to our garden.  The tropical house now showcases orchids.  The botanic garden has become more sustainable with added composting equipment, compost piles, and the use of compost in the garden beds.  In addition, some clever vegetable garden structures have been built and will be showcased in May's Walk and Talk.  These include an adjustable trellis that supports the fruits off the ground such as melons, zucchini, or cucumbers.  A typical construction wood flat has been converted into a vertical planter, and a whimsical sign has been added that shows the distance to other famous botanic gardens.  (see photo to the right).

The garden is also updating and redoing many of the plant identification plant signs to help you identifying the plant's latin and common names.  And, a few more Plumeria varieties have been added to our collection.  Other improvements have been the recent pruning of many of our larger trees including the Canary Island Pines, the Southern Live Oak, and the entrance pine to the native garden.  And, two very large and messy Dwarf Blue Gum trees were totally removed due to safety concerns.

More later!!!

Fall 2016

SBBG announces new Plumeria Garden

The long awaited Plumeria Demonstration Garden is now planted and ready for observation.  This garden will show off different varieties of Plumerias.  San Diego has an ideal climate for these unusual, fragrant, and beautiful blooming plants.  And while we most often associate Plumerias with the Hawaiian Islands, these plants are actually native to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America all the way down to Brazil.  And, believe it or not, they are in the same family as our common Oleander.

The garden is a joint effort with the Southern California Plumeria Society and one of their more enthusiastic members Jeff Sharp.  Jeff is also a member of the South Bay Botanic Garden at Southwestern College, lives across the street from the college, and has been instrumental in getting this new garden started and in donating plants.  Our thanks go out to Jeff and the Plumeria Society.

More thanks go out to this same group (the Southern California Plumeria Society) as they are currently working with our LNT program in setting up an internship to fund a student in learning the propagation and care of Plumerias along with proper greenhouse management and other propagation techniques.  We look forward to working with the Plumeria Society to help our students get hands-on practical skills in this area of plant production.    If you are interested in joining this organization, simply click on their name above.

If you visit the new garden watch for new plant identification signs for each plant and new plants added to the collection in the coming months.  The garden is located in the extreme northwestern corner of the botanic garden, behind the putting green.  Here are some pictures:  (coming soon)

Summer 2016

Monocot Meadow Makeover!  Saturday, June 4th  8 am to 11 am

Join us as we invade our own Monocot Meadow and do some dividing, planting, and sprucing up.  Plus, at 11 am we will have a potluck lunch.  Bring any dish you like from salads, to sandwiches, to chips, or desserts.  SBBG will provide the drinks.  Park inside the garden to avoid a parking citation.

Spring 2016

Gathering Spot Grand Opening
"The Quad Squad performs"

The Gathering Spot hosted a great event on Friday, April 29th with a free hot dog lunch to all participants.  Providing the entertainment was a super barbershop quartet entitled the "Quad Squad".  The music and food were outstanding and the weather was perfect.  The garden was ablaze with color including self-sown calendulas, blooming native plants, and our surrounding vines of cat's claw, blood-red trumpet vine, and bower vine were all in their glory.  Thanks to SBBG volunteers, Eddie and Tyler, and all who have helped to make this a great meeting site.

The Gathering Spot Main Entrance:

Main Entrance Gathering Spot

The Quad Squad performs:

Quad Squad Performs April 2016

Our Barbeque Area:

Gathering Spot BBQ

And, acknowledgements to all those that help us create this great space!

Gatheirng Spot Entrance Sign

More on the Gathering Spot below:

The Gathering Spot, located at the South Bay Botanic Garden at Southwestern College, is a beautifully landscaped area designed for smaller college and public events. With multi-tiered lawns, seating walls, a covered deck, BBQ with serving area, and sustainable features such as permeable pavers, this location is a wonderful setting for outdoor public activities. Dedicated to Dr. Bill Nelson, the former owner of Pacific Tree Farms in Bonita, and a donor of many of the trees you see growing at the South Bay Botanic Garden. 

This garden area evolved over a 30-year period from 1981. However it became too small and inadequate to handle many college events. A redesign initiated in 2013 by students in the Landscape Architecture program resulted in multiple concepts and plans. Once the final design was selected (created by Landscape Architecture student Onie Hadloc), construction began in the summer of 2014. By using donations, student lab learning experiences, volunteer work, and squeezing out funds from college supply budgets, the project completed in the Fall 2015.

Those wishing to use the Gathering Spot for an event must make advanced reservations by contacting the Facilities Office at Southwestern College. Enjoy!

Acknowledgements and Thanks!:

Dedicated to:
• Dr. Bill Nelson – Owner of Pacific Tree Farms and long time advisory member of the Landscape and Nursery Technology program.

Designed by:
• Landscape Architecture degree student – Onie Hadloc
• Landscape Architecture program instructor – Michelle Landis

Donated and Discounted Landscape Materials provided by:

Belgard Pavers – Seth Seaton - Sidewalk pavers
RCP Block and Brick – Retaining wall blocks
South Bay Botanic Garden - delivery of pavers


Constructed by students of the following Landscape and Nursery Technology classes:
• Landscape Construction 2013, 2014, 2015 – Instructor: Michael Watts
• Plant and Horticultural Science – Instructor: Leah Rottke
• Turf Management – Instructor: Bill Homyak

Plants propagated and grown by LNT Nursery student worker:
• Michelle Kriz

Project overseen and also countless labor hours provided by:
• Eddie Munguia – Horticulture Field Site Lab Assistant

Volunteer hours provided by:
• South Bay Botanic Garden volunteers
• LNT Students and Staff

Fall 2015

New "Disappearing Stream" in the Dry Feet Garden

The South Bay Botanic Garden has now finished a more practical and water-conserving water feature at the garden.  Our "disappearing stream" begins with two separate small waterfall features that merge together into a stream simulating those you might see in our local mountains.  The stream then disappears underground to be recycled to the top of the waterfalls again.  This type of water feature has become more popular as there is no pond to take care of and none of the typical hazards and potential dangers of a pond. In addition, since the water disappears into an underground storage reservoir, there is much less evaporation and fewer re-fillings.  It is also a great way to assist local wildlife in our urban landscapes such as birds, insects, and lizards without the hassles of a pond.

To further conserve, our disappearing stream only runs during normal visiting hours.  

By the way, the Dry Feet Garden features plants that do best in very dry soil.  In fact, our plants are growing in decomposed granite (DG), which we often find in our local foothills and mountains.

This feature was constructed by the LNT 75 - Pond Design, Installation, and Care class taught by adjunct instructor Tom Del Hotal.  A lot of hard work in hot summer conditions resulted in this very nice new feature to our botanic garden.  Thanks class!

To find this feature, simply walk all the way to the back of our garden, behind the Native California Garden and the large deck.

Spring 2015

Gathering Spot coming along and shooting for a May opening!

The Gathering Spot has been a long and tedious project, often slowed by both budget and supply delays.  However, we are now on the final stretch and should have the area open for use by the beginning of May. 

Currently, the walks are being installed using two types of sustainable pavers.  The first type is a classic paver which is laid on a sand base and then the small gaps between them are filled with a polymer sand that seals the gaps and keeps out weeds.  While these pavers do not let water seep through, they are a better alternative to concrete sidewalks.  Why, you ask?  Well in general, these types of walks are longer lasting and can move and adjust with the soil below them.  This is far better than concrete which can crack and require replacement.  And, consider that some roads built by the ancient Romans using a paver system are still in use!

The second type of paver is called a permeable paver.  It is laid on two different sizes of gravel and has larger spaces between the pavers.  These larger spaces are then filled with a fine gravel which allows any rainfall to penetrate down through the pavers and into the ground or into a drainage system which can be directed in a bio-swale.  The intent here is to avoid any water from getting into our sewer systems and allow for water to replenish existing ground water.

Once the pavers are completed, we can install the last lawn area, finish the outdoor BBQ, and add new plantings.  It should become a super place to hold botanic garden events, college ceremonies, and other similar activities.

Spring 2014

Gathering Spot making progress towards late Fall opening!

The new Gathering Spot is slowly but surely "gathering" speed towards our projected opening date of December, 2014.  Recently, the classes of "Turf Management" and "Plant and Horticultural Science" pitched in their efforts in building the seating walls, adding soil, installing irrigation, and laying sod.  (see picture below). 

The sod is a drought-tolerant and water saving hybrid Bermuda grass called Tifway.  This grass was chosen after seeing how various events held on the lawns affect the grass and for its lower water needs.  Hybrid Bermudas can tolerate traffic, blankets and tarps laid on them during events, and recover quickly if any damage occurs.

Our next phase of construction will include the layout and installation of permeable pavers for the walks and patios.  These pavers allow water to penetrate through into the soil below and reduce and eliminate most runoff.  After pavers are installed, an outdoor BBQ, serving counter, and a pizza oven are planned.  These items will be installed by the fall Landscape Construction class.

Special thanks go out to Eddie Munguia (horticulture field site manager) and Alan Canedo (student worker) for their hard work in getting these areas ready for the various stages of construction.

Gathering Spot New Lawn

Fall 2013

New Design and Installation in Progress at the Gathering Spot

The South Bay Botanic Garden at Southwestern College is currently undergoing a re-design of the Gathering Spot.  The Gathering Spot has been a nice quiet landscaped area where campus activities, small graduations, and other social events have occurred.  This area was dedicated to Dr. Bill Nelson, past owner of Pacific Tree Farms in Bonita, who frequently donated unusual specimen trees to the botanic garden.


The renovated area will contain a larger lawn area for seating a higher number of people.  It will also have a newly constructed barbecue and serving area along with a larger patio  for socializing.  What makes this area even more special is the way in which it involves students taking classes in both the Landscape and Nursery Technology and the Landscape Architecture programs in its design and construction.

The initial design was a result of students in the LA 104 - Landscape Graphics and Planting Design class all creating new conceptual ideas for this project.  This occurred last spring and the winning design, drawn by student Onie Hadloc, was selected after being evaluated by both students and LNT faculty and staff.  Now that the design has been chosen, the installation process is now in process with the Fall 2013 LNT 125-127 - Landscape Construction class.  The first phase involves the creation of seating walls, retaining walls, and permeable pavers for the walks and patios.  Later construction will involve the Sprinkler Installation class in installing the latest in water-saving irrigation systems and controllers.  Then, the Spring 2014 LNT 132 - Turf Management class will install the new lawns using a drought tolerant variety of either hybrid bermuda grass or paspalum grass.  Here is a photo of the first phase of construction work:

Gathering Spot Concrete Work

Finally, the new site has been adopted by a local supplier of pavers, wall systems, and outdoor kitchen hardscape blocks.  Belgard Hardscapes has graciously offered to supply all the hardscape units for the new project and also offered to bring in experienced landscape contractors to demonstrate to students the proper installation methods.  The South Bay Botanic Garden and Southwestern College thank this fine company and Seth Seaton, their representative on this job. 

This entire project is being overseen by LNT adjunct instructor Michael Watts and installed by his Landscape Construction class.  Look for possible completion of this project by the end of the Spring 2014 semester. 

Formal and Rose Garden gets an Irrigation Update - Water Savings Ahead!

The Formal Garden, which also houses our rose collection, recently received an irrigation improvement that will save 1,000's of gallons of water each year.  This garden has always been irrigated with pop-up spray heads.   These heads did an adequate job of watering but applied water at a rapid rate of about 1.5 inches per hour.  With our tight clay soils, it made it almost impossible to achieve proper water penetration deeply to the roots.  The solution: install a drip system.

The new drip system consists of two types of drip distribution methods.  For the boxwood hedges that define the space, Netafim brown tubing was used.  This tubing has preinstalled holes in the tubing, each located 12" apart, that apply a little less than one gallon per hour each.  By running this system about one hour, each plant will get around 1 gallon of water that is applied so slowly that water can penetrate very deeply.   This results in a deeper root system and plants that will not need to be watered as often.

The second distribution system uses micro-spray sprinklers for the roses and the planned irises.  These sprinklers are supplied with drip tubing and operate at low pressures and low distribution rates and will allow us to water just beneath the foliage of the roses and not require that we water the entire square footage of the rose bed.  In addition, since roses do not like overhead spray on their foliage, this system will result in less diseases such as powdery mildew.

The system was installed with the help of horticulture field site manager Eddie Munguia, new student worker Alan Canedo, and volunteer help from Eddie Palmerin.  Also, students from the class of LNT 92 - Sprinkler System Maintenance helped to run many of the new drip irrigation tubing lines and installed many of the micro-spray heads.

Since some of the roses were not performing well, look for new additions this late winter as the bare root rose season appears.