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Welcome to the Southern California Horticultural Society,
where passionate gardeners meet to share ideas
and learn from each other

On the second Thursday of each month, we invite speakers to present a talk or program about their area of expertise. We are once again offering in-person meetings as well as live-streaming on Zoom (with registration).

Meetings may also include Plant Sales, a Raffle and expert discussion of plants brought in to the Plant Forum. Do you have an interesting plant to share? If you can't bring one in person, send in a photo and requested information on our Plant Forum Page.

For more information about the Society, please see our About SCHS page.

Next Meeting: 

Thursday, May 12, 2022 at 7:10 pm PST

Of Cultivars and California Native Plants - and "Nativars"

with Bart O'Brien


Headshot supplied by speaker.

To present our May webinar, the Southern California Horticultural Society is pleased to welcome back Bart O’Brien, Director of the ten-acre Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley, which is dedicated to horticulture, conservation, and research of California native plants. In this program, he will be talking about cultivars: what they are and what role they play in gardens, in plant conservation, restoration, and more. He will also explain the term “nativar” and how it figures into these situations.

The term cultivar was invented by horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey in 1923 in his paper, “Various Cultigens, and Transfers in Nomenclature” in Gentes Herbarum (at the bottom of pg. 135). O’Brien will be looking at the history of cultivars and the various pathways that result in selecting and introducing new ones. To that end, he provided some criteria to use as a guide when defining and thinking about cultivars:

  • Cultural and historical artifacts that are representative of the interests, fads, and fancies of gardeners and plantspeople over the course of time.
  • Selections of species directly from the wild, gardens, and plant breeding programs, as well as hybrid selections from these areas.
  • Plants that may be genetically modified, although at this time these are rare.

A fifth generation Californian, O’Brien is an authority on the flora of the state of California and of northwestern Baja California, Mexico, and is also an accomplished collector, grower, photographer, lecturer, and author. Before coming to the RPBG, Bart held a variety of positions (Director of Horticulture, Curator of the Living Collection, Director of Special Projects) at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (now California Botanic Garden) for 24 years. He is president of the California Horticultural Society, and was recently honored as this year’s recipient of the prestigious American Horticultural Society’s highest honor, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award. He is currently working on a listing of over 300 named cultivars of manzanitas (Arctostaphylos) for an upcoming issue of The Four Seasons, RPBG’s technical journal.

Are you curious about this intriguing topic? Do you want to know more about the earliest Californian native cultivars, how many there are, and what the future holds for these distinctive plants? Then join us as we delve into the world of California native plant cultivars and get answers from a renowned expert during this unique presentation!

Webinar Schedule:
7:10pm SCHS Announcements
7:15pm Plant Forum
7:30pm Program begins

register here!

Arctostaphylos 'Arroyo Cascade' photo credit - Carol Bornstein

Visit our Past Meetings page to re-watch previously recorded in-person meetings and webinars, download each meeting write-up, and reference any materials provided by our speakers.

If you have been enjoying our monthly webinars and would like to help support the SCHS until we can meet again in-person, please consider donating any amount you feel you can. Even better, become a member, with levels beginning as low as $15. for the year. You can find details about the various levels of membership on our website at Join SCHS.

Thank you for your attention - we always appreciate your support!

Other Events and News:

June, July, and August TBA - Programs being finalized with details coming soon!

  • Our Hort Happenings page lists events at local horticultural institutions for the coming two months. 
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Join us today and receive our monthly Newsletter, free admission to regular meetings and discounts on SCHS events. If you would like to support us without joining, please go to our Donate to SCHS page.

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To renew your membership online, log in and go to your Profile. You will see an option to renew for another year. (Or follow the link when we send you a renewal notice.)

You can always reach us by mail at:

Southern California Horticultural Society
P.O. Box 94476
Pasadena, CA 91109-4476

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