California’s Old West

Introducing the Lush Desert

Rather than represent a single desert habitat, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Desert Section displays plants from across the varied deserts of eastern California. These deserts all share a harsh environment with little rainfall, lots of sun, and strong winds. These conditions have created unique plants found nowhere else in the state. Many of the plants in this section come from two of the most iconic deserts in the world: the Mojave and the Sonoran.

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Born To Be Tough

California’s deserts range from thousands of feet (upwards of 1,000 meters) above sea level to 280 feet (85 meters) below and receive anywhere from 1.5 to 10 inches (over 3 centimeters to more than 25 centimeters) of rain a year. With these extreme conditions, plants of the desert must make the most of mild spring temperatures and winter rains. Most desert plants bloom spectacularly from late winter to early spring and then remain dormant until the rains return in fall.

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