Posted on | July 11, 2009 | 6 Comments
FOR THOSE who missed it, last weekend the LA Times followed up on the troubles at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. A very capable round up it was too. Yet, roughly three months since crisis gripped one of California’s most important botanic gardens, there remains a great unsaid. That is: As a matter of urgency, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden must reinstate Carol Bornstein.
The April decision to dismiss the former director of horticulture, a 28-year veteran of the garden, is described as a matter of cost efficiency. But if the garden can afford a highly paid PR to gloss over the crisis that has driven half of its volunteers from service, then there is no conceivable rationale for sacking a woman who is the living embodiment of the garden’s mission to foster stewardship of the natural world through inspired learning, rigorous scholarship, and premier displays.
Bornstein is, quite simply, one of the most important horticulturists working in California on improving the understanding and use of native flora. Her expertise is invaluable as we face the twin threats of global warming and an uncertain water supply. Enlisting native drought tolerant stocks to replace thirstier exotic imports is now a crucial prong in the conservation plans of almost every urban and semi-urban water authority in the state. Bornstein’s book, California Native Plants for the Garden, is the most important work on the subject.
Few outside of Santa Barbara are likely to care about whether or not the choice to build an expensive terrace was a correct one. But anyone familiar with California’s looming water crisis knows that the sacking of Bornstein was a colossal error with ramifications for all Californians. It must be corrected.
For a previous item on the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, click here.
This post was updated at 12.23 pm July 13 to include the Kulhmann photo of the garden and to specify that most water authorities now heavily promoting native garden conservation programs are concentrated in urban and semi-urban areas.