Debra Lee Baldwin at Seaside Gardens (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Seaside’s Superb Botanical Garden Near Santa Barbara

I'm guessing the price of admission for most botanical gardens is around $20. Granted, many are huge, but what if I told you there's a botanical garden near Santa Barbara on 3-1/2 acres that's free? It's part of an equally impressive nursery---Seaside Gardens, in Carpinteria.

Recently a friend and I stopped at Seaside on a trip to Santa Barbara [learn why we went]. We hadn't planned to spend much time. Well! Seaside's display gardens have always been lovely, but it's astonishing how world-class they've become. The nursery itself also is much grander and more impressive than I remembered. The pot inventory alone...!

Succulent Garden8 (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

In the midst of Seaside's succulent garden is a swath of blue Senecio mandraliscae

I imagine you can relate: There's nothing as energizing as a great garden. We no longer felt tired after hours of driving, nor were we as rabid to get to our host's in Montecito (la-dee-dah). Plus we had to share the cool stuff we'd found. Gal pal (@roachpk on IG) filmed as I flitted, exclaiming over immense tree succulents, enticing pathways, and all sorts of exotics.

Map of Seaside Gardens

Map of Seaside Gardens

Santa Barbara's mild, maritime climate has long made it a garden haven, with numerous nurseries and plants from the world over. In the gallery below, you'll see my Seaside faves. Of course nothing can compare with actually going there and experiencing it with all your senses. And if you do, please let us know what you think!

Your turn...When it comes to botanic gardens you've visited, which is your favorite? Any on your wish list?

Gallery: Seaside Gardens Nursery

Related Info on This Site

Succulents for Coastal Southern California Gardens

Succulents For Coastal Gardens These do best in frost-free, low-rainfall regions within several miles of the ocean Succulents listed here are ideal for in-ground gardens from the Bay Area south to San Diego (and Baja California). Most will do fine inland too, but depending on location may need protection from frost, strong summer sun and…

Succulent Show in San Diego

Succulent Nurseries and Destinations

In San Diego and Beyond… Nurseries, public gardens and destinations in North America’s “epicenter of all things succulent” Planning your visit You might easily spend a week or more touring San Diego’s terrific succulent nurseries and destinations. Each has a distinct character, so as you winnow your selection, do read the descriptions and see the videos.…

Enjoyed this article? Please share it!


  1. Hans on July 3, 2021 at 7:17 am

    Definitely inspiring! Your comment about finding mature specimens as well as the comment about trees in the garden are spot on. It can take years (decades) for some plants to mature – but when they do the layering of heights creates unique opportunities to plant and explore. I wish i lived just a little bit closer and could visit w/out a long road trip!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 3, 2021 at 12:29 pm

      Hey, Hans! I’m so pleased to hear from you (your reputation as a succulent horticulturist precedes you) and that you liked the article. Btw, I checked out your Dry Oasis blog—very impressive. How might I go about subscribing?

  2. Barbie Adler on July 7, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Tom cole video is fabulous. Such a passion. Thanks

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 7, 2021 at 11:23 am

      Thank you, Barbie. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.