Nestled near the eastern edge of California State University, Northridge campus, as the California Towhee softly calls, sits an often-overlooked environmental gem in the heart of the San Fernando Valley — CSUN’s Botanic Garden.

Home to over 1,200 plant species, four greenhouses, a living library, and an outdoor classroom, the garden provides education and natural green space for the campus and the community.

“The garden provides a much-needed tranquil space for students and staff, and the public,” said Brenda Kanno, the botanic garden manager, and instructional support technician.

Though the greenhouses, which were dedicated in 1959, are not open to the public, Kanno said they provide an indispensable space for staff and students in the science program to carry out research.

“We have four greenhouses, with three being for our collection and one just for research,” she said. “Quite a few of our plants end up going up to [biology] classes for students to use.”

Beyond the research in the greenhouses is an expansive landscape in Kanno and a small staff are dedicated to maintaining it.

“We haven’t had volunteers [to help in the garden] since the pandemic began,” said Kanno. “We have suspended accepting volunteers for the time being as it is difficult to work in close quarters right now.”

Trees and shrubs provide shade and carve out alluring pathways in the landscape, urging others to see what is just around the bend. Among the plants in the garden exists a few of its oldest residents, such as a Ginko Biloba tree that towers in the northeast corner of the space.

There also are a few memorials within the garden. Located in a space near a grove of succulents lies a bench that serves as a remembrance for a previous student and avid garden attendee. The second is a boulder in honor of a former faculty member.

Kanno can identify nearly anything growing in the space. She keeps tabs on plants that may have planted themselves by migration and those who are needed to maintain the environment.

More information on the CSUN botanical garden and the hours can be found on their page.

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