One of the most challenging things about going native is finding the right plants. Only a few nurseries in our area even sell native plants.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) has one such nursery – along with 86 acres featuring some 2,000 groups of California plants. In fact, RSABG is the largest botanic garden dedicated exclusively to California’s native plants.
We were especially excited to visit because the Garden currently has a larger-than-life art exhibition on display: David Rogers’ Big Bugs. Eight common insects created with natural materials are featured in their native surroundings – except they’ve got a definite size advantage!
Using the Big Bugs scavenger hunt as our guide, we spent almost 3 hours roaming the garden. And that was without even seeing the northernmost 55 acres!
There’s obviously a lot to see here including wild lilacs, California poppies, manzanitas, a desert garden, a Tongya Village, plus Joshua Trees, Torrey Pines, oaks and more. Take your time and wander through at your own pace.
Although there was a lot to explore, I think the real highlight for us was seeing the benefit of having all these natives – the very active local wildlife they support. We could hear the hum of busy bees, saw a ton of butterflies and lizards, plus a wide variety of birds.
One word of advice if you plan to visit with kids: RSABG is large and spread out, so don't try to see it all. Both of The Explorers were exhausted by the time we left and said they’d wished it was a little smaller. Not a complaint either has ever made.
Date of most recent visit: Sun., April 29, 2012
Who: Mom & The Explorers
Weather: Sunny & warm, high 70s
- Going on a scavenger hunt to find all the Big Bugs on display throughout the Garden
- Seeing & learning about so many different kinds of California natives
- Enjoying a little quiet time at Benjamin Pond (where the turtles like to sun)
- The wildlife – tons of butterflies, lizards, squirrels, turtles, ducks, bees & birds
- Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; closed New Years’ Day, July 4, Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day
- Admission to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is $8 for adults, $4 for kids 3 through 12; kids 2 & under are free
- Three sets of restrooms available
- No designated picnic area or food services on site
- Free parking
- The Grow Native Nursery adjacent to the Garden is open Nov. through May
- David Rogers’ Big Bugs art exhibition will be at the Garden until July 15, 2012
- The Garden’s Butterfly Pavilion is open May 12-July 29, 2012 ($2 per person)
- Claremont can get quite warm (especially in the summer months), so plan to arrive early & bring water, hats & sunscreen
- There’s a lot to see here, so enjoy it at your own pace; we spent almost 3 hours at the Garden and didn’t see the northernmost 55 acres!
1500 N. College Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
Looking for more fun L.A. nature adventures? Check out the Big List of Outdoor Adventures for Los Angeles Kids.
Note: This review is based on my family's personal experience. We did not receive any incentive to visit, nor any compensation for sharing my opinions. If you have any questions, read my disclosure policy.