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Group proposes new North County botanical garden

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad is already a diverse community, with a long list of attractions and activities for visitors and residents, but if a group of North County residents have their way, a world-class botanical garden would be added to the list.
Kenneth Brennecke, representing a group of seven plant enthusiasts, spoke at a recent City Council meeting and proposed a “joint effort” between his nonprofit organization and the city to help secure the land. Following a letter to the city and a discussion with the mayor, Brennecke pitched the idea to City Council at the Aug. 4 meeting.
“This was more of a ‘get acquainted meeting,’” Brennecke said, adding that no action was proposed or taken by the council. However, he said he is proposing that members of City Council take a tour of what he calls a “prototype garden,” located in Vista on private hilltop property that is owned by another group member.
Collectively, the group of seven has years of horticultural experience, Brennecke said.
Brennecke, a Ramona resident, helped establish the American Bamboo Society 20 years ago and was recently involved with the Alta Vista Gardens project in Vista. However, he said he is no longer on the board for the project. The Alta Vista Gardens project and the prototype garden are both located in Vista, but that is where the similarities stop, he said.
“Our prototype garden has been built on horticultural principles,” he told the council. “If we had a piece of land (in Carlsbad), we could develop a full canopy on the property in 15 years.”
When residents think of a botanical garden, Quail Botanical Gardens, the popular attraction to the south in neighboring Encinitas, may come to mind. But this garden, said Brennecke, would be bigger and more sophisticated, and a home to rare and endangered plants.
“We are hoping to get something bigger off the ground,” Brennecke said. “People by nature are not very good stewards, so botanical gardens have a higher purpose. They can be a public garden that the people can enjoy, but also have a well-funded conservation and research programs.”
The group has been looking for land somewhere between Irvine and Chula Vista.
“We believe that Carlsbad would be an ideal location for garden, because of the climate and the general area,” Brennecke added. “It would be a tremendous benefit for the Carlsbad community.”