Overlooking the spectacular
Sundial Bridge and
adjacent to the
Turtle Bay Museum, possibly the most expensive new
walk bridge in the U.S., is McConnell Arboretum. Opened in May 2005, the
facility was constructed as the fourth phase of Redding's Turtle Bay
Exposition Park, an incredible complex that contains an aquarium and is
surrounded by 200 acres of undeveloped riparian forest and oak savannah
situated along the banks of the Sacramento River.
Although Redding has long been
known as the Houseboat Capitol of the West, this new addition to the Redding
family provides one more reason to make the Northern California city your
home-base for adventure vacations. While many have stopped in Redding
(gateway to the Shasta-Cascade wonderland) to see the world-famous Sundial
Bridge that opened in 2004, the McConnell Arboretum & Gardens completes the
visitor experience. You can tour the Turtle Bay Aquarium, shop for unique
gifts in its boutique gift shop, dine along the river banks with an
affordable meal or healthy salad, walk on the Sundial Bridge and see the
McConnell Arboretum, extending your stay for a complete morning or afternoon
McConnell Arboretum is a unique garden not only because of its location
which offers direct linkage to the Sacramento River Trail, but also because
its vision. It was created
using water-wise methods and seeks to inform and educate visitors about
critical issues of conservation in gardening. Climate, rainfall and geographic
conditions were all examined in determining the appropriate plants, soils
and watering methods for the sustainable gardens inhabiting the space.
As endangered Chinook
salmon return from the Pacific Ocean to their birthplace to breed next to
the arboretum in the Sacramento River, environmentally-friendly ecosystems
were designed at McConnell not only to protect the rare fish in the
waters below the complex, but also to promote concepts necessary for the
future generations who will act as guardians of the planet. Such efforts
save money in the long-run and do make a difference. For example, the U.S.
government's efforts to mitigate problems such as pollution and river dams
that caused the Chinook salmon population to dwindle to only 186 in 1994, may total $1 billion!
The good news is that concerted efforts to fix the channels and waterways
for the fish have been successful. In 2005 wildlife managers expected more than 15,000
endangered winter-run chinook salmon to thrash their way up the Sacramento
River, the largest number in 24 years! Man's impact on the environment is
exactly what McConnell Arboretum & Gardens is focused on.
Committed to carrying the message about
sustainability of natural systems and human activity, McConnell has driven this idea through
vehicles such as signage, brochures, tours and special events. Climate
zones, drought tolerance and soil preparation are a few of the working
points for creation of the beautiful, yet environmentally-friendly gardens
that bring joy, color, fragrance and even life-enhancement to those both
young and mature who visit.
Exploration is a delight
as you wind along paths through a variety of gardens that include South African Garden,
Pacific Rim Garden, Australian Garden, Chilean Garden, Medicinal Garden,
Mediterranean Basin Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children's Garden, Fitzpatrick
Celebration Garden and Carl & Leah's Meadow.
The Butterfly Garden
contains nectar and plants attractive to butterflies. Several species visit the garden and while they pay no admission fee for entry
into the Arboretum, they enjoy the gardens equally. They are especially fun to watch,
bring your camera to snap a photo of a butterfly sitting on a leaf or
flower, or in flight.
While the Butterfly
Garden is guaranteed to delight, one special garden adult guests enjoy is
the Medicinal Garden. It includes examples of plants that have been used for
centuries as anecdotes and home-cures for a variety of ills and annoyances
that range from stomach aches to bad breath. Ten planting beds
represent the human body, including the head, arms, stomach, lungs and other
internal organs. Plants in the Medicinal Garden representative of species
used in traditional herbal cures are actually the basis of medicines and
supplements used today. Consumers can even purchase and grow some of the
plants available at the Turtle Bay Garden Center outside the Arboretum.
Pacific Rim Garden features plants from
countries that touch the Pacific Ocean. Sounds of Water, a unique and
beautiful water sculpture by ecological artist Betsy Damon provides a
refreshing oasis as well as teaching visitors about water use in California
and the types of plants associated with water conservation.
Other geographic gardens
represent Australia, Chile and the Mediterranean regions. There's a
large collection of trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers from southern
and western Australia in the Australian Garden. Chilean Garden contains
plants guests can successfully grow in California. Mediterranean Basin
Garden includes varieties of lavender, rosemary, rockrose, and yarrow.
Encompassing portions of 15 countries in Southern Europe, North Africa, and
the Middle East, Mediterranean basin is one of nature's finest growing
regions for fragrant, hearty plants used in everything from foods to
perfumes and soaps.
The Children's Garden is home to Mosaic Oasis, a whimsical and fun complex
with a drinking fountain, ornamental fountain and play structure designed by
local mixed media artist Colleen Barry. This area is fantastic for taking
photographs. The tile work provides a backdrop not seen elsewhere. There's
also a Children's Garden and Picnic Grove where kids can romp and play.
Another romp and play area or relaxing retreat is in Carl & Leah's
Meadow, named for the McConnell family. The meadow provides a relaxing
retreat with wildflowers, smells of lavender and rosemary and other familiar
flowering plants. The meadow also offers several surprises with a variety of
little known Mediterranean plant species such as rockrose and yarrow.
If you are planning a wedding, what better place to celebrate than at the
Arboretum's Fitzpatrick Celebration Garden. It is designed with several
garden "rooms" perfect for weddings, corporate events, parties, and
receptions. The Arboretum welcomes special event planners, corporate event
planners, brides, grooms and all who need an outdoor room that includes the
beauty and romance of nature to check out the facilities and services
and Gardens, 840 Auditorium Dr., Redding, CA Call: 800-TURTLEBAY
largest city north of Sacramento, Redding is the county seat of Shasta
and the center for government, retail trade, wholesale trade, commerce and
recreation. Redding, bisected by the Sacramento River, is located along
Interstate 5, equidistant between Seattle and Los Angeles, 160 miles north
of Sacramento and 230 miles north of San Francisco.