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“Whenever I take people in there, I say—and it’s not a very large room—I say, ‘You’re now in the presence of millions and millions and millions of living beings. Fortunately, most of them are very small, and most of them are very dormant.’”

In the late 1920s, Susanna Bixby Bryant founded a garden devoted to preserving the diverse native plants of California. Well ahead of her time and against the advice of experts, she crafted a garden showcasing plants from across the state. Today, the California Botanic Garden, formerly known as the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden , is an 86-acre park in Claremont that highlights the climate zones and plant families of California. The garden is home to rare plants, a seed bank, and an herbarium (a research collection of plant specimens), which allow it to play a key role in preserving California native species as they face increased pressure due to climate change and habitat loss.

In this episode, host Brian Houck walks through the California Botanic Garden with Lucinda McDade, its executive director. They discuss the garden’s history, their favorite native plants, and some tips for growing them in your own garden.

A field of matilija flowers, poppies with white petals and yellow centers

Matilija poppies in the California Botanic Garden. Photo: Carrie Rosema

More to explore:
California Botanic Garden

Brian Houck: Hello, I’m Brian Houck, head of Grounds and Gardens at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Welcome to Art and Ideas. I’m your host for a three-episode series with artful gardeners in southern California.
Lucinda McDade: Whenever I take people in there, I say—and it’s not a very la...

Music Credits
“The Dharma at Big Sur – Sri Moonshine and A New Day.” Music written by John Adams and licensed with permission from Hendon Music. (P) 2006 Nonesuch Records, Inc., Produced Under License From Nonesuch Records, Inc. ISRC: USNO10600825 & USNO10600824

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This post is part of Art + Ideas, a podcast in which Getty president Jim Cuno talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work.
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