Docents of the UC Botanical Garden will tailor tours to fit the needs, interests, and age or grade level of your group. Tours are offered year round, providing a fun, educational activity for summer day camps and youth groups, as well as students. Some tours accommodate a limited number of classes at one time. Children’s tours match California State Education Standards. Teacher materials are available with some tours and will be included with your confirmation and invoice.
Plant Wonders: a Sensory Walk
Use all five senses to experience nature in the Garden. Touch, look, listen, smell, and taste as you investigate plants from around the world. Learn about roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, and the life cycles of plants.
Discovering Flowers and Plants
Develop your powers of observation as you explore plant communities from around the world. Why are there so many kinds of plants? How do their differences help them survive in their diverse environments? Discover the purpose of a flower – what the flower attracts, how, and why.
Seasonal Theme options for Discovering Flowers and Plants
Pollinators in the Garden (Best in spring and summer)
The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds you can observe in the Garden are just some of the world’s 200,000 species of pollinators. Discover how insects, birds, bats, and wind are essential in the life cycles of many plants and crops.
Plant Travelers (Best in fall)
Can plants really travel? Marvel at botanical fruit and seed adaptations, such as slingshots, parachutes, hitchhikers, helicopters and other mechanisms, that propel plant seeds around the Garden.
Extreme Environments: Rainforests to Deserts (Year-round; Best rainy winter month option)
How have plants adapted to environments with extreme amounts of sunlight or water? Explore the plant communities of three unique glass houses: the Arid House, with one of the largest collections of cacti and succulents in the country; the Orchid, Fern and Carnivorous Plant House; and the Tropical House, where you feel as though you’re in a rainforest. The experience includes some plant favorites such as chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, and vanilla. This is a mostly indoor tour.
Food, Clothing, Shelter: People Using Plants (Includes exhibit in March.)
Humans depend on the use of plants to survive, prosper, and enrich our lives. Explore the Garden’s herb and crop gardens, desert and rainforest collections, and California plant communities to discover the everyday uses of plants by different peoples and cultures. Visit the Garden’s special Fiber & Dye exhibit to view the beautiful spectrum of color from plants and the natural history of clothing, paper and other fiber uses.
Patterns in Nature: Math in the Garden
Look closely at nature – trees, leaves, cones, cacti, ferns, flowers, honeycomb, and more. Discover geometric shapes, angles, symmetry, and patterns, even fractals and Fibonacci numbers! Learn how nature’s mathematical designs and patterns are adaptations helping plants to survive.
Trees in the Garden
How are trees different from other plants? How do they adapt to their environments, make food from sunlight, grow, and reproduce? In what ways are they essential to life on our planet? Visit trees from around the world, including the kinds of trees that lived when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and examples of the world’s tallest and most massive trees.
California Ecosystems and Habitats
Visit the Garden’s outstanding collection of California native plants. Explore plant communities including alpine fellfield, chaparral, coastal dune, desert, pine-oak woodland, pygmy forest, redwood forest, serpentine, and vernal pool. Compare the characteristics that allow plants to thrive in the Golden State’s unique ecosystems.
California Natives: Plants and People
Explore the creative ways California Indians have used plants in their everyday lives for food, shelter, clothing, tools, fiber, medicine, even music, toys and games. Which parts of the plant were used – roots, stems, leaves, seeds, bark – and why? We’ll examine California’s native plants and replicas of Indian artifacts to discover the plant knowledge, customs, and skills of California’s earliest peoples.
Evolution: Plants through Time
Journey through time from a barren earth 4.5 billion years ago to the astounding diversity of plants and animals today. Examine fossil evidence and discover plants in our collection that are relicts of ancient plants. See the kinds of plants dinosaurs might have eaten. Learn how plants have adapted over millions of years to a changing earth and climate, and have made it possible for other species to evolve.
Water Ecology: Ponds & Creeks (Not available in winter.)
Explore the Garden’s water habitats from gently flowing creeks to still ponds. Dip nets and examine plants, insects, microorganisms and seasonal creatures such as newts and tadpoles. How are pond and creek ecosystems different? Learn about photosynthesis, decomposers, and the importance of protecting these fragile environments.
We offer a wide array of tours suited for different areas of interest and levels of plant/garden knowledge. Upon request, all of the tours listed can be modified for an adult audience.
Plants of the World
Explore the Garden’s incredible diversity of plants from six continents, including environments as diverse as deserts, tropical forests, redwood forests, and wetlands. Each tour is a personalized experience of the Garden’s seasonal highlights and unique collections.
Beautiful Mediterranean Gardening
See how you can transform your garden using plants with minimal water requirements. Our unique collection from around the world provides attractive ‘waterwise’ plant candidates that will thrive in our Mediterranean climate. You will see annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees in a dazzling array of colors, forms, and textures.
The Garden has several interpretive tour brochures for self-guided exploration, available at the front entrance kiosk, including the seasonal brochure, detailing what is currently in bloom or of interest.
Accessible Self-Guided Tours
The Garden is mostly elevated, consequently the Garden is developing an accessible self-guide to exploration, that will be available at the front entrance kiosk and online. This guide will help you prepare for your visit by describing the location of wheel chair accessible ramps, paved paths, and benches. The accessible self- guide will include a map and plant facts along the route. The accessible self- guide will also be available in Spanish.