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San Diego Botanic Garden, a place of year-round beauty.

Explore four miles of garden trails, enjoy restful vistas, flowering trees, majestic palms, and the nation’s largest bamboo collection. Thanks to our mild climate, plants from all over the world thrive here. Our diverse topography provides a variety of microclimates giving the visitor a sensation of going from a desert environment to a tropical rainforest, all within 37 acres.

Located 30 minutes north of San Diego in Encinitas, California, San Diego Botanic Garden features numerous exhibits, including rare bamboo groves, desert gardens, a tropical rainforest, California native plants, Mediterranean climate landscapes, succulent gardens, an herb garden, firesafe landscaping, a subtropical fruit garden, and native coastal sage natural areas. In June of 2009, we opened the Hamilton Children's Garden, the largest interactive children's garden on the West Coast.

New Plans for the New Year

I am writing this a bit before our annual meeting when officers will be elected by our board. I am very pleased to report and thank Jim Ruecker, our past QBGF Chairman, who has agreed to continue in this role for another year. Having the San Diego Botanic Garden’s leadership in place for the New Year is a very important starting point but I also want to share other things we can expect for the Garden in 2012.

In this issue of Quail Tracks, we recap our Gala in the Garden where Paul Ecke III presented well-known artist and humanitarian, James Hubbell, with the Paul Ecke Jr. “Award of Excellence.” In its role as our largest important fundraiser, the Gala also produced the seminal funds for a new Welcome Center that will replace the admissions booth we have clearly outgrown. So, later in 2012, you can expect the new Welcome Center which will provide a new look for the entrance of the Garden. Most importantly, it will better serve visitors and the growing number of members who have discovered the Garden as worthy of their support.

A leading gift for the Welcome Center was made at the Gala by the Leichtag Foundation through their CEO Jim Farley. The Leichtag Foundation is one of our major corporate sponsors and has played a pivotal role in nurturing the relationship the San Diego Botanic Garden has with the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. Important ground work has been made for this relationship and I am confident we will see results in 2012.

In the July – September 2011 issue of Quail Tracks, I reported that the Director of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, Oren Ben Yosef and the JBG Head Scientist Dr. Ori Fragman Sapir were able to visit and see some of the rich floristic diversity of San Diego County. They both visited twice and it was clear a bond had developed that would result in a long-lasting relationship between our respective gardens.

In the interest of further encouraging this sister garden relationship, the Leichtag Foundation this past November provided funding for three of us from the SDBG to visit Israel and the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. Dave Ehrlinger, SDBG Director of Horticulture, Anne Spindel, SDBG Docent and past Docent Chair, and I shared a trip of a lifetime.

Jerusalem Botanical GardensJerusalem Botanical Gardens

We were not only warmly, but royally received and hosted by Oren and Ori. We were in Israel for 10 days and traveled extensively with Oren and/or Ori nearly the entire time. The few days when they could not be with us they provided a very capable professional tour guide and driver.

We traveled from the Galilee to the Negev desert and of course focused on the botanical richness of Israel; but you could not look at the plants without being immersed in the incredible human history of the land from which the plants grew from. I hope you can join us at the SDBG annual meeting on Saturday, January 7th where the program will be a presentation on this trip the three of us will never forget.

We stayed in Jerusalem for three days which included an extensive tour of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. We met many of their staff, volunteers and board members. As part of a symposium on interpretation held at JBG that included their leadership as well as public garden representatives from all over Israel, I gave a well received presentation on SDBG. Thankfully Jim Farley and Charlene Seidel of the Leichtag Foundation were in Jerusalem while we were there and participated in a meeting we had afterward with Alan Berkley, Chair of the JBG board, and JBG senior staff to discuss how we would move the relationship between the two gardens going forward. These discussions continued into the evening where we were guests at Alan’s lovely home for dinner.

Jerusalem Botanical GardensJerusalem Botanical Gardens

Our talks brought results in that we now have language for a memo of understanding which will formalize the relationship between the two gardens. We also agreed to focus on something tangible and worked on concepts for reciprocal exhibition projects. The JBG will help us with the design, interpretation and acquisition of appropriate plant material to develop an Eastern Mediterranean section with a focus on plants from the Holy Land for our Mediterranean Garden. We will, in turn, help JBG with design, interpretation and plant acquisition for their intended SW North American display.

While the permit process for plant importation can take some time we hope to have our Eastern Mediterranean section come in fruition during the coming year.

In June 2012, Oren and I will meet at the American Public Gardens Association national conference in Columbus, Ohio where we hope to provide a presentation on the relationship we are growing between our gardens. We also expect Ori to join us on our Baja trip that leaves March 1st 2012, which will provide background for the SW North American section at JBG. There may be some individuals of the JBG membership that will also be on this trip and there may still be opportunities for members of our Garden to participate. If you are interested, please check our website for more information.

It is hard for Dave, Anne or me to select one highlight from our trip, but something that ranks at the top would be the ancient grove of olive trees we visited with Ori near the village of Roma in the Galilee. Each is a unique living sculpture and some are easily over a thousand years old yet still producing olives. You cannot help be emotionally impacted when presented with trees of this age and beauty and this was just one of the many treasures of Israel our brothers and sisters of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens have shared with us.

Julian Duval


Julian Duval


Photos from the SDBG visit to Jerusalem.
Courtesy of Julian Duval.