Dida Merrill

Dida is dedicated to the service of showing people the wonders of native plants, ecosystem preservation, and research.

Dida Merrill, guest services associate at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, has had a lifelong love of the natural world. She was a zoology major at University of California, Santa Barbara, until taking a required botany course (which happened to be taught by botanist, teacher, and the Garden’s onetime educational botanist J. R. “Bob” Haller, Ph.D.) changed the trajectory of her life. She switched to environmental studies for graduate school, where she met her husband. They were invited by the Community Environmental Council to transform the El Mirasol property, now Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden in downtown Santa Barbara, into a demonstration garden for alternative agriculture and medicinal herbs and to showcase renewable energy systems.  

This led to being invited to create a series of environmental centers, the most recent being the Environmental Horticulture Center and Botanic Gardens at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. There Dida organized plant sales, facility design, special events, and volunteer and student teams. She edited books on the environment, alternative energy, and agriculture.  

Now retired and having recently moved back to her beloved Santa Barbara, Dida is so excited to be part of the Garden team! The Garden has been a part of her life since she first came to Santa Barbara as a student, and she remained a member even when she and her husband moved away. Dida is dedicated to the Garden’s service of showing people the wonders of native plants, ecosystem preservation, and research — and of sharing the sheer beauty of such a gorgeous global destination. Spare time enjoyment includes making and listening to music, gardening, hiking, volunteering, and socializing.  


Guest Services Associate