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Embark on a Journey of Botanical Wonder at Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens, UCLA

Westwood Botanical Gardens

Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens:
A Horticultural Haven at UCLA


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Updated on May 17 2024 7:27am

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Immerse yourself in the beauty and knowledge of Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens at UCLA.


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Nestled within UCLA's South Campus, the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden is a breathtaking 7.5-acre oasis that serves as a public garden, outdoor classroom, and research facility. Steeped in history and boasting an astounding collection of over 3,500 plant species and varieties, this living museum invites visitors to embark on a self-guided audio tour, immersing themselves in the beauty and knowledge that abound.

As you step into this horticultural wonderland, you will be greeted by a vibrant tapestry of plants sourced from various botanical resources over the decades. The garden's mission is clear: to promote botanical knowledge by curating collections that showcase the fascinating realms of biogeography, conservation, and natural history. It endeavors to inspire not only an appreciation for the environment but also a cultural understanding of the profound relationship between plants and society.

The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden's allure lies not only in its extensive plant collection but also in the serene and health-enhancing environment it provides for the community. Amidst the lush greenery and fragrant blooms, visitors can find solace and tranquility, finding respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Wandering through this living museum, you'll encounter an array of captivating collections thoughtfully organized to highlight different aspects of botanical diversity. Plants are grouped according to geographic regions, such as California and Hawaii, as well as taxonomic classifications like Palms and Bromeliads. Additionally, thematic collections such as the Ancient Forest and climatic selections including Desert and Mediterranean plants offer a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of plant life.

Delving into the rich history of the garden, you'll discover that it traces its roots back to the early days of UCLA. Established in 1929, shortly after the campus opened in Westwood, Los Angeles, the botanical garden was initially conceived as an academic laboratory. With funding from the California State Relief Administration, the garden's first manager, George C. Groenewegen, utilized horticultural donations from esteemed institutions like the United States Department of Agriculture and the Huntington Botanical Gardens to lay the foundation for a diverse plant collection. By 1947, the garden was already home to approximately 1,500 different species and varieties.

In the 1960s, under the guidance of Mildred E. Mathias, the garden's visionary director from 1956 to 1974, the garden blossomed into a "university garden" and opened its gates to the public. Mathias's passion for botanical education and her desire to share the wonders of the plant world led to the establishment of public tours, fostering a deeper connection between the community and the garden. In 1996, "The Nest," a charming amphitheater crafted by the garden's dedicated staff and volunteers using Northern Californian incense cedar and boulders from Duarte, California, became a cherished gathering spot within the garden.

A remarkable feature of the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden is its unique ability to accommodate tropical and sub-tropical plants, thanks to its frost-free climate. Visitors can marvel at specialized collections of ferns, palms, eucalyptus, and figs, some of which were brought to the garden during its early years, before they became widespread in the Los Angeles region. The garden's meticulously arranged plant displays, whether based on geographic, taxonomic, or cultural needs, provide students and visitors with an invaluable opportunity to explore the intricate relationships between various specimens.

Whether you are an avid plant enthusiast, a nature lover seeking serenity, or a curious learner eager to delve into the world of botanical wonders, the Mildred E. Mathias.

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