Find out more about GLOW, happening until January 10th, 2021!

Do you like pretty lights?
Do you like immersive soundscapes?
… Do you like PLANTS?

While South Coast Botanic Garden always has that third thing (the plants!), the lights and the sound work to enhance and change all the green stuff you’re accustomed to. Take a half-mile loop around to see such sights as:

  • The desert-like cactus patch to the right of the entrance is now a coral reef. Strangely, it works perfectly.
  • The Banyan Grove is no longer dark under the leaves – it’s become a bright field of greens and blues and fast-paced violin music, while lights twinkle in the air between the trunks.
  • There’s a river made of light. If you look down and walk carefully, you’ll find yourself being swept away. No splashing allowed.
  • They turned the modern-art spacious ball sculpture into an octopus. There’s an octopus near the rose garden!
  • The living wall is still a living wall… (drumroll)… that’s now in full color! And they make it look like fireflies flying around.
the cactus portion of south coast botanic garden gets new life in a new light at night
Check out these snazzy coral cacti!


(Check here to volunteer!)

I cannot recommend enough how pleasant it is to volunteer here. First off – your office is an internationally-recognized garden that was once a landfill. You’ll be walking on land that proves that humans can undo decades of quarrying and trash piling.
Other benefits include:

  • Not sitting at a cubicle
  • Meeting dozens or hundreds of people that also like nature and fun lighting
  • Unlimited photo opportunities
  • Snack bag
  • The kind of place where dancing and glow sticks are encouraged, even if you’re not an expert at glow-stick dancing
  • … Volunteering hours if you need them?

I was excited to visit GLOW on the second night it opened, and I’m even more excited to volunteer for the last shift of the last night it’s open. Such a blast!

Step 1 – The Entrance

When you walk in, the first thing you’ll do is go under the water. Look up when you’re walking toward the palm circle, and you’ll see a long stretch of waves twinkling above you.

A tree near the entrance of the garden, lit up in vibrant purple, blue, magenta, orange, and green.
Just beside the palm trees, you’ll find the most colorful tree yet!

After making it through the entrance and into the palm circle, you get your first real look at what’s in store for the night:
Lights. Colors.
A whole lot of both.

the light show at the rose garden in south coast botanic garden
The show repeats every 5 minutes

Then you’re in for a light show at the rose garden, set to the pace of music.
It runs about 5 minutes, so you’ll always be able to catch the beginning if you hang around for it to reset.

There’s been some argument over the color.
Purple? White?

Have to say hello to the octopus…

hanging lights between the fig trees combine with intense classical music to give the feeling of a rainstorm
Yes, the lights do twinkle down like rain!

Next stage is certainly one of my favorites: The Banyan Grove with many hanging lights. And a rain storm.
Completely flips the grove around from normal.

The river of light running through the center of the park
My phone doesn’t do it justice.
This river is amazing, and sometimes dizzying.

Take a U-turn or a slight right to fall into the river path.
Be forewarned – paying attention to the ground may leave you feeling like you’re walking on water. And you may start walking very quickly to keep up with the flow.

the cactus corner of south coast botanic gardens, done up with monster lighting to become a coral reef
Tomato, to-ma-to.
Cactus, Coral.

And now for my home away from home.
By day, a humble stretch of desert with a truly odd assortment of cacti.
By night, a coral reef that begs the question – are we the fish?

The living wall of succulents, now with LED fireflies!
The colors change constantly!

To finish the night, the living wall.
I’m not sure what SCBG’s policy on the matter is, but I’d like to move this into my bedroom. It should be able to wrap around all four walls, which means I’ll need all of it.

And if you want to go to the garden during regular hours…

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you had a pleasant time checking out the plants. If you’re in the mood for more nature, please stay in touch!


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