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McConnell Arboretum and Gardens - Redding Tourist Attraction

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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 of entertainment.


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, so 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 offered.

McConnell Arboretum and Gardens, 840 Auditorium Dr., Redding, CA  Call: 800-TURTLEBAY


The largest city north of Sacramento, Redding is the county seat of Shasta County 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.