Botanic Garden gives students a place to relax

Peace and quiet. The birds are singing, turtles are swimming in the pond, and the flowers are blooming.

The idea of having a Mediterranean garden came around in 1999 when Pierce College had two acres of land to play with between the Life Sciences Buildings. Formerly known as the quad, it is now known as the S. Mark Taper Foundation Life Science Botanic Garden.

The Botanic Garden is home to a variety of plant life from Mexico, Australia, South Africa and even some from Saudi Arabia. Some of the plants in the garden include aloe elgonica, aloe conifera and silver torch cactus.

The garden also features the Evolution Walk, a trail path through the garden which demonstrates periods of time in the history of life. Each section has fossil records of that era, giving students a glimpse into which animals lived during what times. The distance from one side to the next represents the actual timeline of events.

Pat Farris, a biology teacher at Pierce, said they wanted to have a place where students can look at a different variety of Mediterranean plants and wildlife.

“We have different plants from Mediterranean areas,” Farris said. “We have different types of animals — from grey egrets, snowy egrets and red tail hawks.”

Farris also takes her Biology 10 class to bird watch at the Botanic Garden. She confirmed that there are bird feeders in the garden, but it currently costs too much to maintain it.

Every semester she takes 20 of her students to the pond located at the Botanic Garden and cleans the roots.

“Looks kind of like a wrestling match,” Farris said.

Keeping the garden well maintained is the job of Instructional Assistant to Horticulture Keith Peabody.

“I make sure that the plants are watered, and cut when they need trimming,” Peabody said.

He said he sees different types of animals living in the area.

“There is mosquitoe fish, ducks that come during the spring, and rabbits, ground squirrels,” Peabody said. “Love the whole design of the garden.”

Peabody said although most of the plants from the garden could withstand more days without water, they still need water on a regular basis.

“They still need to be maintained, if they are not watered or taken care then the plants begin to struggle,” he said.

He finished off with saying that you have to know what you are doing. Every type of plant blooms at different times of the year.

Many students come to the garden to find peace and quiet. Some use this area to catch up on their reading. They enjoy the nice breeze and fresh air that the outside provides for them.

With two wooden tarp shade areas around the garden, students can avoid the hot sun in the approaching summer season. They are located at opposite ends of the garden — one by the lake and one by the main path.

Jazmin Medina, 19-year-old graphic designer major, enjoys coming to the garden to read on one of the benches near the lake.

“Its quite nice. There’s turtles. I come to read out here where there’s shade,” Medina said.

She said that it helps her get her mind off things. It helps her stay more focused on the task she is doing, finding an area that fits her comfort zone, to finish the book that she is reading.

Another student that frequents the area is student Erick Carranza, a 23-year-old electrical engineering major, who enjoys walking by the garden in between classes.

“It’s cool to see the different variety of plants,” Carranza said, adding that it’s very relaxing and peaceful around the garden.

This Botanic Garden would not have been possible without three Pierce College instructors dedicated to making the garden a reality: Pat Farris, Kate Kuback, and James Rikel.