Unusual Plant Chandeliers Find a Garden Home

The East County Catalpa trees had died due to drought conditions; now, they'll find a different sort of life in Encinitas.

EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT AN ARBORIST, and even if you didn't delve too deeply into horticulture while in school, you surely dote upon trees. And you've likely noticed the impact of the drought on our branch-bearing friends, whether that's the liquidambar in your backyard or an oak tree you pass on the way to the office. And while many of our state's trees have weathered on through the last few years, other trees assuredly have not, including some handsome Catalpa trees in Campo in San Diego's East County. But the deceased trees, found on Dehesa Road, will soon find a different kind of life, and a fresh chapter, in an expansive place synonymous with blooming possibilities, and blooming shrubs, and flowering buds, and all manner of gorgeous treedom: San Diego Botanic Garden.

THE NATUREFUL ENCINITAS DESTINATION... partnered with Weldon Exhibits of the Bay Area to create "beautiful 'plant chandeliers'" for the Dickinson Family Education Pavilion. Other smaller plants, like bromeliads and orchids, will be planted along the Catalpa branches, creating a living, up-in-the-air garden. The pavilion, which is still being built at the 37-acre garden, will be both a display place for the "massive" and unusual branch-twisty fixtures, while also serving as a reminder of the cycle of plantdom and the dramatic impact the drought can have on a tree. "Catalpa wood is very decay resistant and the trees have a very graceful branching structure making them perfect for planting them with the wonderful diversity of plants from the tropical forest canopy," said Julian Duval, President & CEO of the SDBG.

IT ISN'T OFTEN... that a tree taken down by drought gets another twist in its story, one that involves public education, museum-like display, and the chance to serve as the beautiful base for several smaller, very-much-alive plants. Want to admire these truly one-of-a-kind plant chandeliers when the pavilion debuts? Watch the San Diego Botanic Garden social media pages for updates and openings.

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