Jessica Tade smiled as she looked at the newly renovated Arizona Garden at Casa del Herrero.
“People love it!” Ms. Tade, 41, the historical site’s executive director, told the News-Press as she led the way past new aloes and agaves in the longtime cactus garden at the site at 1387 East Valley Road, Montecito.
The Arizona Garden reopened June 17 after extensive work by volunteers from the Garden Club of Santa Barbara, which Ms. Tade said awarded Casa del Herrero two grants totaling $7,000.
“I look at this as an amazing collaboration,” Ms. Tade said, praising garden club members Amy Mayfield and Sharon Bradford in particular and the club in general. “It’s really beyond my expectations. I think the garden club knocked it out of the park!”
Ms. Mayfield and Ms. Bradford are chair and co-chair, respectively, of the club’s horticulture committee, which worked on the renovation.
“Historical restoration is a passion, and we have thoughtfully preserved and revitalized the Arizona Garden,” Ms. Mayfield said in a news release. “I was thrilled to be part of this hands-on project in our community.”
Ms. Tade said that when she became executive director about two and a half years ago, the Arizona Garden was in disrepair.
“It really needed some restoration. We partnered with the garden club to clean everything and install an irrigation system,” she said.
Leaves and other dead plant material were removed, and the garden is covered with rocks to keep out weeds and stone pebbles to mark a path for walking. People can get close to the plants without disturbing them.
Ms. Tade said the garden has a couple dozen or so plants, half of which are new since the renovation.
Among the new plants is the sapphire tower (Puya alpestris), which has had rare, deep turquoise blooms with orange anthers.
“Isn’t it neat?” Ms. Tade said as she looked at the colorful plant.
The garden continues to include previous plants such as its dramatic dragon’s blood trees (Dracaena draco), golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), Mexican fencepost (Stenocereus marginatus) and silver agave (Agave franzosinii).
Ms. Tade said the garden demonstrates the diversity of cactuses.
“People think it’s a green, prickly plant, but they’re so diverse in their different species and different characteristics,” she said. “There’s a lot of color.
“I think it’s surprising to come up to a cactus plant and see purple tips and flowers,” Ms. Tade said. “They have their own natural beauty.”
The renovated Arizona Garden continues a longtime Casa del Herrero tradition of diversity.
“George Fox Steedman and Carrie Steedman, who built the house in the 1920s during the era of great estates in Montecito, were looking at putting exotic plants into their garden space,” Ms. Tade said. “They built these really neat and interesting gardens.”
The Arizona Garden has reopened at Casa del Herrero, 1387 East Valley Road, Montecito.
Tours, which are for adults and youths 10 and older, can be reserved at
10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Admission is $25.
To book a tour, contact Casa del Herrero at 565-5653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.