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Garden History

Garden History

Alta Vista Botanical Gardens have been part of North County San Diego since 1999.
Read About the Garden in 92081 Magazine

What is the history behind Alta Vista Botanical Gardens? When was it first built?

Started in 1999, Alta Vista Botanical Gardens (AVBG) is located inside of the old Smitgen property, which once occupied a 16-acre site in the heart of Brengle Terrace Park in Vista. The property was purchased by the City of Vista in 1990 and had been included in the master plan that was developed in 1970. In May of 1999, the nonprofit Vista Botanical Garden Foundation was established through the private donations of Founders Dr. M.E. Darian, Rocco Valluzzi, Larry Hoekstra, JoAnn Hoekstra, and Joe Lentz. In a generous show of support for the Vista Botanical Forest (original name of AVBG), the City of Vista signed a 99-year lease and donated $50,000 toward the project. Since then, numerous civic groups, industry suppliers, and members of the garden have joined in the efforts to establish the Vista Botanical Forest, now named Alta Vista Botanical Gardens.

In July 2003, Dr. Darian and most of the board of trustees resigned, and a new group of volunteers came forward to form a board under the stewardship of Jim Porter, head of City of Vista Parks and Recreation. Over several months, the new board created a new mission statement and vision of what AVBG would one day become.


From the moment you pull in, there is serenity. And bunnies scamping. And turtles splashing back into the small pond. And surprises. And sculptures. And plants that make you turn back and look harder at the planting. Is that??! Oh…it is! And of folks who’ve loved and invested in this place over the years.

– Garden Visitor