In the midst of a stage three drought, Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, Calif., has turned its water conservation efforts into an educational art exhibition. The resort has partnered with seven local designers to transform all nine of its water fountains into water-wise art displays.
“We are facing the driest consecutive four years on record,” said Kathleen Cochran, general manager of Bacara Resort & Spa. “Beyond reducing water consumption, we’re hoping our fountains will set an example of how landscaping in ways that reduce the need for excess water can still be beautiful.”
To bring this vision to life, Bacara commissioned Santa Barbara County’s top botanists, landscape designers, farmers, and artists. Each took ownership of one or two fountains at the property, and was given free rein to bring their talents to life through artistic displays of drought-tolerant plants, succulents, edibles, and even hand-blown glass.
“Over 20 years ago, Lotusland chose to adopt sustainable horticulture practices in the gardens, not only as a policy decision but as a way of life,” said Bob Craig, director of marketing and communications of Ganna Walska Lotusland, one of Bacara’s featured partners. “Many of these sustainable techniques not only eliminated the use of all chemical pesticides and fertilizers in the gardens, but helped reduce the demand for water. We are happy for this opportunity to share practical gardening techniques and our knowledge of water conservation.”
Bacara’s Community Art Exhibition Project features:
Purple Rosette by Ganna Walska Lotusland
Designed by Paul Mills, Lotusland’s Assistant Curator, this fountain features three concentric circles consisting of three different plants with different heights and tones of purple and pink: Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop,’ Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives,’ and Graptopetalum paraguayense.
Fontana dell’Amore by Saul Alcaraz Santa Barbara Glassblowing Studio
Each piece of this glass display was blown, shaped, or cut out by hand and assembled into a form that ensures no two finished objects are the same.
A Cascade of Color by Santa Barbara Succulent Art
Featuring bright and contrasting colors and textures, this fountain includes succulents “spilling” over the edge to simulate water in a fountain.
Water Food, Not Your Lawn by Something Good Organics
Designed by farmers Mathew and Carolyn Givens and Erik Powell to inspire water conservation, this fountain features heirloom eggplant, yellow bell pepper chives, basil, romaine lettuce, and more.
African Aquatic by Ganna Walska Lotusland
Designed by Paul Mills, Lotusland’s Assistant Curator, this fountain features two different African plants—Aloe wickensii and Chondropetalum tectorum—to inspire an underwater theme.
FountaSea by Terra Sol Garden Center
Margaret Peavey, co-owner of Terra Sol, utilized drought resistant succulents and bromeliads to create an undersea scene that reflects the oceanfront location of Bacara.
Silver Falls by ValleyCrest
Dichondra, a trailing plant, gives the illusion of falling water, while bright bromeliads add color.
Pure Life by Dalla Vita
With a refined tropical oasis vibe, this fountain pulls inspiration from the surrounding plant life to create a peaceful, yet tropical retreat, influenced by Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” way of life.
Rio by ValleyCrest
With the goal of complementing the resort’s existing courtyard landscaping, this fountain evokes a tropical look with Anthirium, begonias, and sweet flag.