Origin of Botanic Garden at Alan Hancock College
The Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society was originally formed as a community support group for the Burton Mesa Chaparral Garden*, overseeing the maintenance of paths and signs. Through the years the Society has grown to include other horticultural activities but maintains a strong interest in plants native to Santa Barbara County.
*Burton Mesa Chaparral Garden at The Lompoc Valley Center of Alan Hancock College
is also known as "Chaparral Botanic Garden" and "Lompoc Botanic Garden" (not to be confused with the "City of Lompoc Drought Tolerant Garden")
From an undated pamphlet when LVBHS dues were $2:
“History: In the main, two people are responsible for the Lompoc Botanic Garden: Henry Bauerschmidt and Warren Arnold. The late Henry Bauerschmidt, at the time a landscape architect for the Santa Barbara County Parks, recognized the worth of the Burton Mesa and conceived of the Botanic Garden here in its present location. He spurred the county to purchase the land, at that time a part of the federal Correctional Institution, from the Federal Government. Once obtained, he began the long, painstaking task of drawing up plans for the garden. Where he left off, Warren Arnold, a science teacher at Cabrillo Senior high School, took over. With members of his high school’s science club, he kept up the trails and the signs that Bauerschmidt had initiated. With the formation of the Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society in 1977, increasing attention is being paid to this local natural resource. As development proceeds on much of the Burton Mesa, preservation of this small part of the native plant community takes on ever-increasing interest and urgency. It is, as few other places in the Lompoc Valley are, a direct link with our past: the importance of these native plants goes beyond their natural beauty, for they are today much as our Chumash predecessors saw them centuries ago. The live oak and the manzanita were mainstays of the Indian diet, providing them with an ease of living not known among other Indians of the Pacific Coast. Many other plants of the community were important for their medicinal properties; and, perhaps most significantly, we are still learning of the important uses of this plant community to the Chumash.”
Then the pamphlet goes into more detail regarding the "chaparral community, chaparral adaptations, fire in the chaparral" and a bit more history of LVBHS links.
This is the time line that Warren Arnold has written about the development of the Society:
1. In the early 1960’s, a professional botanist leads the Sierra Club over property recently acquired by Santa Barbara County from the Army.
2. This newly acquired property becomes Ken Adam County Park.
3. In 1966, Cabrillo High School occupies its new campus in Vandenberg Village.
4. In 1970, a second botanic survey is made in Ken Adam Park and a list of native plants is produced.
5. Cabrillo Science Club, advised by Warren Arnold, forms a partnership with S.B. County Landscape Architect Henry Baurenschmidt to make signage for a proposed botanic garden at the north end of Ken Adam Park. George Keep, Head Ranger at Jalama Beach County Park is to oversee the work and provide materials. 1970.
6. H. Baurenschmidt lays out paths for the proposed botanic garden, with the idea that it will show examples of many different California plant communities. Many plants are introduced and an irrigation system is installed. 1970.
7. While installing signs at this newly formed botanic garden, Mr. Arnold and several students from the science club are seen by Vaughn Proctor, a reporter with the Lompoc Record.
8. Mr. Proctor proposes forming a group of like-minded citizens who could promote interest and support for what the Science Club was doing there. 1977.
9. Around a picnic table, under a large oak tree on the south edge of the botanic garden, “Friends of the Botanic Garden” is organized. May 1977.
10. A constitution and by-laws for the new group is approved. By June of 1977, because of the broad range of interests in the group, the name is officially changed to the Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society.
About our Plant Sales
This was written by Bess Christensen around 1999 or 2000:
Our Plant Sales: The History
After 22 years of increasingly successful plant sales, we thought our newer members might be interested in how this all came about.
The Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society began in 1977, with no source of income except the $2 annual dues. One of our founding member thought “the ladies” might establish a cottage industry by collecting and drying flowers to make notecards, bookmarks, etc., but this idea found little enthusiasm among “the ladies”.
In 1980 another of our founding members, David Lemon, then Research Director for Denholm Seeds, proposed a sale of plants that would be donated by the three seed companies then in the Valley. Burpee was still at its historic location on Floradale Ave., Bodger Seeds was then as now at its long time site on West Olive Ave. Denholm Seeds was at North A and Chestnut, where David's Oglevee greenhouses are now.
David proposed to the seed companies that instead of hauling their beautiful blooming annuals to the landfill when the pack trials were over, they donate them to the Society for sale to the public. The heads agreed; David arranged with his Rotary Club friend Gary Williams, manager of what was then Security Pacific Bank at the north west corner of North H and Pine for use of their parking lot, and the tradition began. Members then as now brought plants from their own gardens. The bank, under successive names and a new manger when Mr. Williams retired, has generously provided the sale site for all of the sales since. One year we shared the location with a barbecue, which was a nice addition – sales were much smaller then – but since then we've had exclusive use of the site, working our way through accommodation with the new ATM and drive-through windows.
Crowds waiting for the opening minute have grown so much that systems had to be set up to keep the buyers out of the way of the trucks bringing the plants from the greenhouses and still keep the customers happy. We never cease to marvel at the number of people who gather an hour before opening time.
Revenues have grown; this year's sale brought in $8,758, bringing the total for the 22 years to just under $95,000. Armies of helpers from the membership and their friends take care of the transport of plants to the sale site, and assist in selling. Proceeds have gone back into the community: to the Lompoc Library for books relating to botany and horticulture; to local schools as they apply for funding for particular projects; the Alpha Club for Flower Show trophies to the Environmental Horticulture Dept. at Cal Poly where our contribution now goes annually to the California section at the Leaning Pine Arboretum, and to UCSB for studies of local interest. One such dealt with the fire ecology of the Burton Mesa Chaparral community. We funded Tony Sehgal's excellent video on the Burton Mesa Chaparral; oversight of the Drought-Tolerant Display Garden on West Central in front of the City's wastewater treatment plant; and since the Society's beginning we have committed many dollars to the chaparral garden on what is now the Lompoc Allan Hancock campus. We share with the City Beautification Commission the cost of winter blooming plants for the gardens at City Hall, and the Society's bimonthly newsletter is an ongoing expense. We respond to requests for funds as the membership deems appropriate.
We try to give guidance to garden novices, many of whom love the colors but have no idea what would do well for their yards, and we're always happy to thrust a membership form to those who say “How do you join this group?” It's not an exclusive organization; $5 a year pays for your family membership.
This happened in 2016: The End of Our Plant Sales!
Floranova Ltd, the seed company that generously donated thousands of plants for our LVBHS plant sales for the last several years, and which was the only such company left in Lompoc, left town in 2016: moved to Chile. Therefore, we could not have a plant sale in 2016, and we do not anticipate any future sales on the scale of what we had for 36 years.
Drought Tolerant Garden
Evolution of the City of Lompoc Drought Tolerant Garden.
Copied verbatim from a City of Lompoc Utility Department 1999 Commemorative Calendar, as printed above the month of May:
“From 1986 to 1991 California experienced a serious drought. The City of Lompoc Water Department, Water Commission and the City Council gave priority to finding ways to protect our City from serious shortages and rationing. New and innovative ordinances were passed that would encourage City departments and the residents of Lompoc to reduce water usage without reducing our quality of life, or sacrificing services offered to the public.
Bess Christensen was a member and chair of the Lompoc Water Commission at this time. She and her husband had planted a drought tolerant landscape in their front yard and had quickly come to appreciate the beauty of the plants, the ease of care and the lower water bills. Mrs. Christensen took it upon herself to campaign for a demonstration garden of similar plants within the City. The Central Avenue frontage of Lompoc Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant was found for the garden, but it was much larger than first visualized by Mrs. Christensen and she realized that help was needed.
Mrs. Christensen also belonged to the Lompoc Valley Botanic Society, and she enlisted their help with this project. Because of the lack of experience and the complexity of the area the Society found that the design was beyond their capability and a landscape design firm was hired to provide the needed expertise. The Society paid for this work and City staff was asked to volunteer for the planting of the Garden.
It is well worth a visit to the Garden. There is off street parking along Central Ave about midway along the garden. A walk at anytime of year will find some plants in bloom. The colors of green and the fragrance of the leaves is always delightful.
Thank you Bess Christensen and the Lompoc Valley Botanic Society.”
LVBHS Awards and Honors
These awards and honors went to LVBHS or to members of LVBHS:
1. LVBHS received an organization award from the Lompoc Beautification and Appearance Commission 2014 on June 24, 2014.
2. AL THOMPSON received the Environmental Protection and Sustainability Award during the 2015 North County Looking Forward Awards Dinner on Sunday, June 7, 2015. Details of his contributions, were printed in the Lompoc Record. May 06, 2015 4:47 pm The Forward-view http://lompocrecord.com/news/opinion/editorial/commentary/forward-view/honoring-north-county-community-heroes/article_1024910e-1350-5365-84da-d2c1775ad2af.html
3. Members honored with trees and plaques at Recognition Grove in Beatty Park for their botanic or horticultural contributions. CHARLIE BLAIR, MARTHA GALISKY, DAVID LEMON, AL THOMPSON, MIMI ERLAND.
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