San Diego Botanic Garden
Formerly known as the Quail Botanical Gardens, the SDBG is San Diego’s largest and most diverse botanical destination. The Garden is 37 acres and chock full of some of the most impressive specimens from around the globe. And to think, it’s all on a plot just off the 5 in Encinitas. The centerpiece of this great garden is a 60 foot waterfall. From here the different habitats radiate outward: desert, semi tropic, local chaparral, Mediterranean, bamboo, African, New Zealand, fruit and many more. The children’s garden is a wonderful place to bring the little ones; it’s the largest children’s garden on the west coast!
The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College
One of the newer gardens in San Diego, the Garden was opened in 1999 by several San Diego water district authorities and Cuyamaca College. The 5 acres displays the beauty that can exist in responsible water-wise gardening. As a person who learns best by example, this garden really floats my boat: you can walk the shaded paths to gather ideas for plants and arrangements for your own yard (and all will cut down on your water bill!). Add to that some beautiful architecture, a children’s learning garden, and a new butterfly pavilion and you’ve got yourself a perfect outing.
South Bay Botanic Garden
This garden spent its past life as a teaching garden at Southwestern College but in 2008, it was given the distinction of Botanical Garden. It’s a hidden gem in the South Bay. Pay careful attention to the hardscape and landscape as all are designed and implemented by current students at the college and showcase things that can easily be translated into your own yard. A special tropical greenhouse has a waterfall and stream to enjoy if you can stand the humidity. While you’re walking around look for a student trimming something–chances are they can give you all the secrets about where the turtles hide in the pond and where to find ripe fruit to whet your appetite.