Goleta Valley Historical Society invites you to experience a historic ranch preserved for our community.


The Goleta Valley Historical Society completed the first phase of its Arboretum Restoration Project at Rancho La Patera.  The first and largest phase included complete restoration of the gardens, trees and pathways surrounding the Stow House.

When the project is completed the ranch will be one of only a few remaining properties in the region that has maintained the ambience and integrity of a late 19th/early 20th century specimen garden. In recognition of their historical significance the gardens will eventually be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for Cultural Landscapes.  For more information about the Arboretum Restoration Project, click here.

The gardens adjacent to the Stow family residence reflect the Stow’s passion for interesting horticulture and experimentation, typical of the late 19th century.  Drawing from the European model of “display” or specimen garden, Sherman and Ida (Hollister) Stow began their garden collection focused on the exotic and unusual.

Some of the oldest trees in the garden include the “Cow Itch Tree” (Lagunaria), Star Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), Eugenia, Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis), Bunya-Bunya (Araucaria bidwillii), Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo), Giant Bamboo, Moreton Bay Chesnut (Castanospermum australe), and Victorian Box (Pittosporum undulatum).

In addition to the exotic collection are the beautiful Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia) and a single Redwood tree (Sequoia).  Now tall and stately, the Redwood began as a mere seedling in a coffee can.  The seedling was presented to Ida as a gift from her husband on their first anniversary (1874).   Planted outside their bedroom window, it symbolized to her the “growth of their family.”  A Redwood grove was also planted as a picnic area at what is now known as Stow Grove Park.  Stow Grove currently has 300 Coast Redwood trees, some standing as tall as 130 feet.

Interested in historic gardens?  Love to garden?  Become a volunteer!