Garden Travels: Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden

Nestled at the base of the mountains, alongside the historic Santa Barbara Mission, the Mission Rose Garden is not to be missed during garden travels.

Do you like roses?  I do.  In fact, I used to have over 40 different varieties growing in my first garden.  Years later, even though I have far fewer roses, I still love to take opportunities to visit rose gardens whenever I travel.

Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden

One of my favorite rose gardens to visit are those located by the beautiful, Santa Barbara Mission, which is located in the coastal community of Santa Barbara, California.

As a Southern California native, I often go out of my way to come back and visit, taking time to stroll along the beaches and of course, visit some of my favorite gardens.

Santa Barbara Mission Gardens 6

Every child who grow up in California, learns of the history of the 21 Franciscan missions that dot largely coastal communities beginning from San Diego and ending in San Francisco.  The construction of these missions began in the late 1700’s and were finished in the early 1800’s.

The Santa Barbara Mission is called “The Queen of the California Missions” and it’s current building was completed in 1820.  The mission incurred extensive damage from an earthquake in 1925, which was repaired.

Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden 2

The Mission Rose Garden is located on the site where the mission’s tannery vats and water works used to be.  Beds of roses are surrounded by vast grassy areas where you can see people picnic, play frisbee or where you might see a wedding taking place.

Pink Rose Santa Barbara Rose Garden

Accredited by the All-America Rose Selections Committee, the newest rose introductions can be seen growing in the garden alongside old favorites such as the pink flowers of ‘Bewitched’ and the red and white ‘Double Delight’.  In fact, there are over 1,000 rose varieties to explore and visitors can see which ones you may want to add to their gardens.

Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden 4

Before selecting a rose for your own garden, it’s important to see them grown in your area where you can see their true colors up close and see how fragrant it is.  Not all roses are especially fragrant, so if fragrance is important to you, visiting a rose garden is a great way to see which roses smell best to you.  Of course, if fragrance isn’t as important to you as the look of a rose, viewing them up close is still important where you can observe the shape of the flowers, how many petals they have and how vibrant their colors are.  The foliage of rose bushes can vary as well, depending on the species and variety, ranging from light green, to dark green.

Santa Barbara Mission gardens 4O

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this rose garden and was trying to figure out how many more I might be able to add to my garden at home in Arizona.  In the meantime, I spotted some beautiful variegated Agave americana growing by the mission.  The gardens closer to the mission are made up of a combination of drought tolerant shrubs and perennials as well as succulents like agave.

Santa Barbara Mission Gardens 3

The Santa Barbara Mission and its gardens are open to visitors.  You can find out more about this special place here and if you are ever close to Santa Barbara (about 2 hours north of Los Angeles), I highly encourage you to visit during your garden travels.

Do you have a favorite rose garden that you like to visit?

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. When she is not writing or helping other people with their gardens, you can find her growing fruits and vegetables, and planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.