- Author: Erin Mahaney
I recently visited the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden near the town of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island. The small, well-maintained Garden emphasizes endemic Catalina and Channel Island plants. Many of these endemic plants, which grow naturally only on one or more California islands, are extremely rare. The Garden also contains a desert plant collection. Although these aren’t your typical eye-catching botanical garden plants, it is interesting to wander the paths through the collection and see so many species that are similar to those found in our own local chaparral ecology. I happened to be there when the sticky monkey flowers (Mimulus aurantiacus) and the Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) were blooming, which was a treat.
The focal point of the garden is the Wrigley Memorial, which was built in 1933-34 to honor the memory of William Wrigley Jr., who played a key role in the history of the development of Catalina Island. The memorial’s 130-foot tall tower provides a bird’s eye view of the garden below.
On Thursday mornings, people can volunteer at the James H. Ackerman Native Plant Nursery, which provides an opportunity to visit the interior of Catalina Island and become more familiar with the plant ecology while helping with nursery projects.
Granted, Catalina Island and the Botanical Garden are off the beaten path for us Northern Californians, but they are worth a visit if you get a chance! You can find more information at http://www.catalinaconservancy.org/.